Thursday, August 27, 2015

Author Interview: Steve Bargdill

Hey everyone! As promised, here is my author interview with Steve Bargdill, author of 'Wasteland' series and 'Banana Sandwich'. After the interview, (yes, you have to scroll down!) are excerpts and links to his work. Images are throughout!

Without further ado, Steve Bargdill!

  1. Please tell us a little known fact about you.

When I was thirteen, I was really upset that Santa Claus was not real. I mean, I had known for a long time he wasn’t real, but at thirteen I thought the world was at a loss because he wasn’t real. That Christmas Eve, I snuck out of the house at around midnight and left candy canes and tree ornaments on people’s doorsteps and doorknobs. And I got caught. On my way home, I heard my parents calling out my name, searching for me. I tried to sneak back into the house without getting caught, but of course that didn’t happen.

  1. What was your favorite genre to read growing up? Is this the genre you currently write in?

Oh most definitely fantasy. The Shannara series. Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom: Sold. And okay, I hate to admit it, but I picked up my mom’s romance books by Roseanne Bittner. I still remember the novel Wyoming Woman, which is ironic because I grew up in Ohio, and then moved to Wyoming. And I even wrote to Roseanne Bittner—my one and only fan letter. She wrote back and really encouraged me to keep writing. My dad collected antique books, so I also read things like The Hardy Boys Mysteries and The Pickwick Papers and all the Tarzan novels by Burroughs when I was like ten. Then there was some Louis Lamoure thrown in for good measure.

I read the poems of Langston Hughes in high school too, and had no idea what he was writing about, except I knew his writing was gorgeous. My high school English teacher introduced me to James Thurber, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jack London.

I remember reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovichby by Aleskandr Solzhenitsyn when I was sixteen, seventeen years old just cause. About a guy in a Russian prison camp, and the book was like thick. I mean in pages, but I just Googled it, and it’s only like 182 pages in the hardback, but in my mind I remember it as being a thousand pages all about a single day.

As a teenager though, I always came back to the fantasy genre. The Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, Ender’s Game, and I remember some weird little novella thing about a guy being sucked into another dimension because dragons liked stories from our world and he had to go on a quest and there was a foul-talking dwarf and a damsel in distress…I don’t know. That could be just something I made up in my head still floating around all these years later.

As for the genre I currently write in: I don’t know. I don’t think I can be pigeon-holed like that. Wasteland certainly has fantasy and dystopian elements. Banana Sandwich is about a bi-polar pizza delivery driver. Breath: An American Story, a piece I’m working on right now,  I’d consider—if I had to label it—American Gothic. The Yellow Mountains of God, another in-process piece, is about a Lutheran pastor who kills a man in Appalachia. I Want an Indian is a collection of poetry, short stories, and personal essays in relation to Native Americans. The I Want an Indian writing is slow slow going though. It’s difficult to wrap my head around a culture of people I only am aware of from an academic point of view. With the anthology, I’m really trying to personalize my experience as an outsider looking in

In the past, I’ve written fantasy, but nothing I would feel comfortable putting out into the world to share. My first novel—which I will show no one because it is that awful—was/is a fantasy novel about a world stuck in an eternal winter, which, you know, how much more Narnia can I rip off, right?  

  1. What inspires you to write?

First and foremost, I want to entertain. I want to write a damn good story and have people walk         away going, “Wow, that was an awesome story!” That’s probably egotistical.

Beyond that, writing really helps me make sense of my personal life. Wasteland, I’d say is ninety percent fiction. The story takes place in the Nineties, in Columbus, Ohio, in a boarding house on Twelfth Avenue across from Ohio State University, down the street from a bar called Street Scene, and a coffee shop called Insomnia’s, and yeah I was in my twenties living in Columbus, Ohio in a boarding house on Twelfth Avenue…

It was a dark, confusing time in my life. Writing Wasteland was cathartic. And fifteen years later, I was still processing this information, this life experience that didn’t make any sense to me, but yet there it was smack in the middle of my life.

I mean, I never drove a cab, I never had stigmata, I never worked on a nuclear reactor, I never had a woman I loved die on me, I was never on mind-altering drugs, and all of that’s in Wasteland. I was just really lonely and really lost, and I think that is the ten percent of the book that is true, that inspired me to write the thing.

Banana Sandwich came out of a fifteen year off and on career delivering pizzas. In addition, I’ve known people that have really struggled with bipolarism, and I wanted to know more about how they dealt living with that particular disorder. The purpose of the book is mainly to bring awareness to that disorder.

Breath: An American Story comes out of dealing with my grandmother’s death and a conversation I had with a young college senior, and how she was considering a graduate degree, but her parents weren’t going to support her, and lots of personal questions with my wife about today’s economy, the demise of the American small town—how the so-called American Dream is playing out in today’s world.  Stuff that just doesn’t make sense for me, stuff that I think doesn’t make sense for a lot of people. And I really want to speak to that. I don’t think I answered any profound questions, but the people who have read early drafts, they’ve asked me, “How did you get my town so right?” Well, I didn’t get their town right, I got my hometown right, but what’s going on there, the lack of jobs, the take over of Main Street by large corporations, the minimum wage paying part-time employment opportunities, the dearth of higher education, the idea that we can still pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and everything will be okay—that stuff is going on everywhere. I wanted to address it.

  1. What sort of atmosphere do you need to write?

Authors all the time talk about their writing caves. What the hell is that? Seriously, I have two kids, a wife, a small three bedroom where you can hear everything, two part-time jobs, my home office is in a dank basement shared with the cat litter box.

The ideal atmosphere to write is when I have a pen and a piece of paper and five minutes. And       my six-year-old can be screaming, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!” and my fourteen-year-old can be telling some crazy story that happened at school, and “Dad! Can I stay over at so-and-so’s house?” And trips to dance rehearsal and orchestra recitals and let’s go to Wal-Mart one more time, please because we need toilet paper—AGAIN.

When everyone is out of the house and it’s quiet, you bet your little butt I’m taking a nap.

My wife is incredibly supportive. Never mind she’s in school full-time as well, and oh yeah, did I mention she writes too?

When I was in graduate school, the University of Wyoming gave me a really nice office on the fourth floor of Hoyt Hall. It had a window that overlooked Prexy’s Pasture, and I could look out and watch the students rush from class to class. And I could go down the hall a ways and talk to Brad Watson who has written some awesome stories himself, or my next door office neighbor was poet and essayist David Romtvedt, and I was just surrounded by these amazing people.

I often imagine myself in that office writing. It’d be the perfect absolute perfect writing cave. I’d have some coffee going, a bit of music, I’d chat a bit with the other writers’ that reside in the             building, and I’d compose the all-time great American novel, bigger and better than The Great           Gatsby.

This, of course, never happened. I did a lot of homework. Finished off reading an entire book on spatial theory, and read The Rape of the Lock, and lots of pedagogy stuff too. And this kind of work, it’s enjoyable and good for me. But perfect writing environment? Doesn’t exist. It’s work, and it’s passion, and if you don’t have either, you’re not going to write.

  1. What is your all time favorite book?

This is an unfair question and I refuse to answer directly. It’s like asking a coffee addict what their favorite coffee is. Sure as hell isn’t Sanka Instant—but, you know, some days…Sanka Instant, I have that memory of dating my wife and meeting her parents, and that’s what they had in the house, and that instant coffee taste brings back that exact memory. How can I give up Sanka?

Can’t. Won’t do it.

I’ve read those crappy ten cent paperback books you get at library book sales because not a single patron is reading them, and you wonder how in the hell they even got published, yet here  I am reading them. So obviously I’m not the only one enjoying them.

So my favorite book? Right now? This instant? Moby Dick, because that’s what I’m reading right now.
  1. Who is your all time favorite character that is not your own.

This is just as an unfair question as the one that preceded it. Who is my all-time favorite character?    


I’ll be honest, I don’t have one.

Archie in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth—I like him because he just bumbles along. Things happen to him; he does not happen to things. The unnamed narrator in Amitav Ghosh’s Shadow Lines because though I’ve never been to India or London, the character thinks like me. Or, I think like him? Oscar Wao in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao because he is pathetic and the antithesis to The Heart of Darkness—“beautiful” is the last word of the novel instead of “the horror.”

You know, seriously, I could keep going. How about Rose of Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath? That last scene, her husband left her, her baby died, and she finds a homeless man near death of starvation, and she literally nurses him back to life.

Or you know, Frodo who is confronted with an adventure so much bigger than himself, yet he goes forward. Dresden, because he’s fun. Harry Potter. Miss Havisham, Anne of Green Gables, Antonia, The Cat in the Hat, Leopold Bloom, Paddington Bear, Hamlet.

  1. Who is your favorite character of your own creation?

This question is by far easier! Sometime ago, I wrote a short story by the name of, “Neighborhood Mums,” and it was the first story I ever published. And the narrator, nameless, steps outside to walk his dog, and he notices the mums from his front flowerbed have been stolen. So, he goes through the neighborhood searching for these stolen flowers. And he’s this incredibly racist person. Hates everyone. Yet, and I can’t tell you anymore because then I give away the entire story.

But I like him because readers have either one of two reactions toward him. Either visceral hatred or complete utter love. But then too, the ones who hate him admit, reluctantly, that you have to like the guy. And the ones who love him admit, reluctantly, that he’s kind of an ass.

As a writer, if you can illicit that kind of reaction from your readers, one of hate and love at the same time, that’s an incredible feeling. I’ve had moments when I’ve made people literally cry after they’ve read something I’ve written, I’ve had people laugh out loud, and I’ve had people walk away shaking their heads. And those are all very good indicators that I’ve done my job as entertainer. But to illicit two opposite emotions in the same person at the same time about the same piece of writing—that’s pro-writer stuff.
But, if  you asked me how I managed that, how I created that on the page, I couldn’t tell you. Luck? Probably luck. I’d like to be able to do it again, for sure though.

  1. When did you decide to become a writer?

I have no idea. I have always written stories. I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. My wife tells this story about me, about us in Nebraska. We were living in a really crappy apartment. It was always cold, we were so incredibly poor, had a baby that was just a few months old, and we had the computer in the basement, and my wife tells me she remembers me down there typing away wearing a coat and fingerless gloves. I don’t remember that.

I mean, I remember splitting a McDonald’s Big Breakfast between the three of us, my wife selling blood for money, pawning our wedding rings almost on a weekly basis, freelancing for three newspapers, working all the time. There was a meat packing place I worked at; I’d push the cow carcasses off the trucks and into a refrigerated warehouse for processing. I mean, that stuff I remember, like dragging my daughter to an interview for a piece I was doing for one of the newspapers, and I had to take her ‘cause my wife was at work and I couldn’t afford a babysitter.

But writing in the basement with fingerless gloves? Yeah, no recollection, but that’s because writing is just something I’ve always done. No matter what. 

  1. Where are you from?

Originally, this little town: New Knoxville, Ohio. No one knows where it is at.  Because, you know, I mean small. My graduating class was eighteen people, and one was an exchange student. The next biggest town was St. Marys, and that town you may have actually heard of because it made NPR news a few summers back. Pollution problem with the lake. The lake has killed dogs and sent people, who thought it was okay to go swimming, to the hospital. I mean, back in the day, I’d start a fire in one of the shelter houses out by the lake, and sit there through the night listening to the water against the rocks, the crackle of the driftwood I had gathered for the fire—I mean, we’d all do that.

We moved back to St. Marys for a while about five years ago. My daughter had this white bathing suit and we took her to the lake beach. It was the last time we went. She came out of the water, and her bathing suit had turned brown, and we could never get it cleaned. It was shortly after that that they put up no swimming notices, then no fishing notices.  I worked at this small gas station convenient store third trick, and fishermen would come in and tell stories of catching fish with their organs on the outside of their bodies, or fish with a random third eyeball. I don’t know if those tales are true or not; they never made the news.

Now, when we go home to visit family, we drive past the lake to look at it, and those drives feel like funeral dirges.

  1. Why do you write?

I don’t know.

I mean, this is fundamentally a very different question than “What inspires me to write?” Lot’s of stuff inspires me. But I’m not sure why I write.

I know that when I don’t write, I get cranky. Like a smoker who doesn’t have his cigarette. The      coffee addict who decides one day just to quit caffeine.

If I had to give up writing, what would I do? Devote myself to Facebook, TV? I already do enough of that. Writing is what I do. Who I am.

  1. What’s the best piece of writing advice you have ever been given?

Go back to school; go to the University of Iowa. Got that advice from Patricia Wrede.

  1. What’s the worst thing someone has ever said about your work?

I got a two star review for one of the short stories included in Wasteland. The short story in question is Pills and Cigarettes, and it’s about a guy who is coming to terms with his sexuality, and if you read T.S. Eliot’s poem Wasteland, well a lot of that poem is about sex too. The headline on the comment is “when vanity publishing goes wrong.”

And the Amazon reviewer also wrote, “Bargdill did a serious disservice to Eliot with this title.”

I’m not sure why the person wrote what they did. It felt like they had an ulterior motive because in the review, the person says they read through the available free pages and didn’t like what they read, but bought it anyway, and the story only got worse from there. When I read that, I thought, well, if you didn’t like the first few pages, why did you even bother to buy the rest of it?

I was really angry after initially reading the review. I can take criticism, but I really wondered why they wrote what they wrote; it felt like a personal attack.

I had another Wasteland reader email me and tell me I needed Jesus in my life, and that if I wanted, they could help me with that. And I thought, did you read the book, because the whole thing is about redemption in a hopeless world.

  1. Has your writing ever been compared to another, famous author? If so, who?
Cormac McCarthy. I’ve read The Road and No Country for Old Men, and I don’t really see the comparison. Banana Sandwich, I was told, reads like the book Go Ask Alice, and I didn’t even know what that book was, but was written in the 1970s by Beatrice Sparks in the form of a diary of an anonymous teenage girl who gets caught up in drugs.

I find the comparisons ultimately humbling.

  1. What inspires you to write when you hit a block?
I don’t hit blocks. Authors all the time talk about writer’s block, and how it’s messing with their lives. The thing is, I teach writing and writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s an excuse. I don’t remember who said it, but when you can’t create, you should simply then work.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are times when I stare at the blank page for hours, but I also know that is my subconscious working out problems. There are also periods of time, long stretches of not writing, but then that’s when I’m thinking about my next project, mulling it over. And I have my problem children. Yellow Mountains of God keeps stalling out, but only because the story keeps getting more complicated, and I keep struggling with it, keep working at it. The plot is there, and I could write it straight through, but if I didn’t allow myself to struggle with the writing, the story wouldn’t be any good. It’d be just okay. And I’m not about being just okay.

  1. What advice would you pass on to new authors/young authors?
The industry has really changed. I sent out my first pieces of writing when I was sixteen. At that time, you sent stuff out directly to publishers and or agents and hoped. There were official gate keepers back then. Now, publishing is in free-fall. Independent authors all over were making lots of money with Amazon, until recently when Amazon decided to change how it paid out royalties, and now these people have to find real 9 to 5 jobs. Writing is a penniless, thankless job. It’s difficult to get noticed, to gain an audience for your work. Don’t let Amazon or any publisher be your single point end game. Figure out who you are as a person. Don’t give up your day job. Don’t stop writing. Love what you do. Struggle willingly; it’s where inspiration comes from. Be thankful for every opportunity. Live passionately.

  1. What is the best thing someone has said about your work?
  1. And last, but not least, something really random:
~ What is your dream vacation?
To have one.
~ What’s your favorite alcoholic drink?
~ What is your favorite meal?
~ Motorcycle or SUV?
My wife won’t let me have a motorcycle.
~ Real books or eReader?

Steve, you're awesome! Thanks for such an engaging interview! As promised, links and excerpts below:

About Steve Bargdill

Steve Bargdill received his bachelor's in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Iowa December 2012. Originally from Ohio, he has lived in Dayton, Columbus, Troy, St. Marys, and New Knoxville as well as West Branch Iowa, Lincoln Nebraska, Muncie Indiana, and currently lives in Laramie Wyoming with his wife and two children.

Since 1998, Steve has mainly worked in the pizza industry. However, he has also worked as a day laborer, a truck driver, and a beat reporter for a couple of newspapers. He has worked at grocery stores, gas stations, and convenient stores. As a teenager, his dad forced him to stack lumber, which built character. He recently earned his Master of Arts in English from the University of Wyoming in May 2015. Currently he teaches developmental writing at Great Bay Community College in New Hampshire.
He believes literature weaves through our everyday lives and that stories explain who we are as a society.

Links for Steve Bargdill:

Website     Blog     Goodreads     Facebook     Google+

Twitter: @stevebargdill

Jack had the perfect life until his wife died of brain cancer. Confused and lost, alone, Jack found himself living in a boarding house in Columbus, Ohio not knowing why or how he got there.
Told through six inter-related short stories, the reader is confronted with plagues, aliens, serial killers, and ageless fortune tellers. Cab drives through the middle of the night, burying the dead on Highway Eighty, hearing the voice of God in a foxhole, demons emerging from mirrors, and mysterious angels strung out on heroin.
Filled with drugs, sex, and cigarettes, Wasteland is loosely based off T.S. Eliot’s poem of the same name and takes you through the night streets of 1990s Columbus.
They whispered to each other, “Beautiful.”

Buy on Amazon

Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic. She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a
college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she to live her life.
“These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists, it is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and surging and crying out for someone to listen.”

Buy on Amazon

You can't order a pizza by banana phone. It can't be done. Pick up any banana and put it to your ear and you get dial tone. Simple as that. Just doesn't work. Now if you want to call Jupiter, a banana phone is your ticket. I knew a guy once who lined his hat with aluminum foil to stop the outer space transmissions from reaching his brain. Which is just crap. Everyone knows aluminum foil isn't going to do the trick. You got to use something like Adamantium, which you can't use anyway because it's a made-up comic book metal bonded to Wolverine's skeleton. Which brings me back to the banana phone, because Wolverine kind of looks like a banana if you think about it. I mean, his costume is yellow, right? And bananas are yellow, except for when they over-ripen. Then, they are black. And the only thing aluminum foil is going to block are the government transmissions—and those are boring anyway. They tell you to do stuff like mow the lawn, wash dishes, buy more stuff, rinse your mouth with fluoride fortified mouthwash. It's the outer space transmissions that are interesting. Once, I received instructions on how to build a warp drive for my van. And the line of work I'm in, that comes in real handy.
I used to work for this upscale pizza shop. They tried to be all fancy with artichoke and broccoli toppings. Those whole wheat and gluten free crusts. I quit because they always gave me crap about my piercings. Or maybe I was fired. Yeah, that's how it really went down. I was fired. So I went to work for this other pizza shop, but we don't do much except sit on the store steps smoking blunts and ordering delivery from Domino's. Jordan brought in a bunch of bananas one night too. He picked one up and put it to his ear and tried to order Domino's. But like I said, it can't be done because all you get is dial tone. What is truly annoying is when you go to the Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, and you're going through the produce section. Inevitably, there is that person wearing a bath towel as a dress and still in hair curlers, his butt crack hanging out like clothes on a line. They have that whole display stand of bananas. Normally, the bananas are still green. Those don't work. The yellow ones work fine, and when five or six bunches of yellow bananas all start ringing at the same time, you don't know which one to answer first. Sometimes, I put a banana to each ear and carry on a couple of conversations at one time, which is easier to do than you might think.
This is how it all started too. I was in the Wal-Mart examining cumquats because who the heck buys cumquats? Why does the Wal-Mart even have cumquats? It's the Nineties, and I don't know anyone who eats cumquats except total health nut freaks. I'm certainly not a health nut freak. Give me a good juicy medium rare steak any day. Baked potato with cheddar cheese, chives, and tons of sour cream: that is a meal. Not some deformed looking orange. I'm standing in the middle of the Wal-Mart produce section examining the cumquats, but in actual reality, I avoid as much eye contact with the guy wearing the towel. Then the bananas started ringing. I looked around searching for a hidden camera. I remember that show by Peter Funt in the Eighties, Candid Camera. I asked the towel-dress guy if he heard the bananas ringing. He didn't say anything to me. I asked again and he said ‘No.’
I heard them. All of them. I didn't know which one to pick up. I answered one, because what are you going to do, right? ‘Hello,’ I said, and they all stopped ringing.
Carol? This is Jupiter.’
I think maybe Jordan was teasing me when he tried to order Domino's from a banana phone. I like Jordan like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream, but sometimes, he can be an ass.

Monday, August 24, 2015


I've got some things in the works. I've got other jobs I do now, aside from school and my part time retail job.

My sister-in-law and I are teaming up to do a newsletter. And then, once book two is out, I have one story I've already started work on as well as some other stories. I've got a couple short stories I might compile into a book along with the flash fiction I've done. I just wish I could get permission to use the pictures I found to inspire the flash fiction.

But I know that I just need to get my name out there, get more stuff for people to read. I've got so many ideas brewing in my brain faster than I can write them out.

But first things first.

I've kept Adversarius free on Smashwords for the longest time. I want my stuff to get out there, but I suppose getting more writing out is just as important. But I only have reviews for Book One on Amazon. I have one lonely review on Smashwords. I've kept Book One free to encourage people to put up reviews.

Now Adversarius is over on Barnes and Noble and not a single review, but lots of downloads. Meh.

Anyway, pricing for Adversarius is going back up. I'll be putting out my short story for free and then figure things out from there.

I just don't like the idea of an e-book being more than $2.99. After I'm done with my e-books, I remove them from my device. If they were paper books, I'd stick them on my bookshelf. But I don't typically read a book more than once. There are very few that I get all nostalgic over and want to have on my shelf, but still, there they sit.

How do you deal with pricing? Where are your books sold? Do you stick to just Amazon or is your book everywhere?

Have a good rest of your week!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Fantasy Art & Funnies...

Hey all!

I'm late, but I didn't miss it completely. Phew! Just got a little behind in things.

Next week, look for an author interview from my good friend, Steve Bardgill, author of the 'Wasteland' series!

Now, on with the Fantasy art and Funnies!

This week's Fantasy art: As usual, I try to find the name of the artist. All the art you see here is pinned on my Pinterest page, either under Dungeons & Dragons or Fantasy Art. Feel free to follow me on Pinterest!
Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition art by Alexstoneart on Deviantart
Art by Catrin Welz-Stein
Art by Chaoyuanxu on Deviantart


All right! You all have a good weekend. I hope I inspired you and made you giggle. That is my goal.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Funnies & Fantasy Art...

It's Friday! Woohoo! (For some.) Aw, man! (For others.)

It's one of those things. You either love Friday or you hate it, depending on your work schedule.

So if you've been through a long week, well, let me just say, it's always good to have a laugh and relax at the end of the week. Recuperation is important!

There is also a lot of stress in the world. My Facebook newsfeed keeps filling up with depressing crap, I gotta say. So the other day I shared a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons memes and some artwork. I told people, "Have a giggle and gasp at the beauty of someone's imagination and creativity and just BREATHE!"

That's what I'm telling you, now, too.

Just. Breathe.

Okay, so on to the fantasy art! Again, my little bit of a disclaimer:

I tried to find the artist name to give credit where it is due, but failed. Please tell me if you know who it belongs to!

"At the Gates" by Andreas Rocha


Art by Asim Steckel

Okay, now for the funnies:

Yeah, I don't know how many times I've asked that last question. My monitor refuses to answer on the grounds it might intimidate itself..

Have a good weekend everyone!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Review: "By Darkness Hid" by Jill Williamson...

Title: By Darkness Hid

Author: Jill Williamson

Publisher: Enclave Publishing

File Size/Book Length: 1393 kb/506 pages

ASIN: B00266Q078

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

About the Book:

Half of the kingdom is shrouded in Darkness. On the side that still sees the sun, two young adults struggle to understand the magical abilities thrust upon them. 

It's called bloodvoicing. Some say it's a gift. One of the newly "gifted" wish it had never come. 

Jill Williamson’s award-winning epic fantasy series, Blood of Kings, tells the story of Achan, an orphan who’s been a stray all his life. When an enigmatic knight offers to train Achan for the Kingsguard, he readily accepts. But his new skills with the sword do not prepare him for the battle raging between the voices in his head. 
Vrell Sparrow is not who she seems. She masquerades as a boy to avoid marriage to a powerful prince who seeks to exploit her. But Vrell feels called to help a young squire who recently discovered his bloodvoicing gift, even if doing so puts her in the path of her enemy. 

While Achan learns to use his new ability, Vrell struggles to shut hers down. All the voices strive to learn Achan and Vrell's true identities—and a different kind of voice is calling them both to adventure, romance and a truth that just might push back Darkness for good.

My Thoughts:

You all know by now how rare it is for me to praise a fantasy book up and down, sideways, backwards, etc. Well, this book gets all that praise that I reserve for fantasy. I'm old school fantasy, I love finding good, clean reads when it comes to fantasy. Jill Williamson's book is AMAZING! Yes, that is the word I'm using to describe this book. It's dark, it's funny, it's well planned out and the characters are so well developed, even the secondary characters. You learn things gradually, not in one lump of information overload.

Achan is the kitchen boy new to 'bloodvoicing'. He's not thrilled at all with the 'gift', nor is he particularly happy with his 'Prince'. He's a 'stray', marked for service and a lifetime of humiliation. Gren is the love of his life, but they can't be together. Achan gets a taste of what a life could be like if he weren't a stray and I get the impression he likes his invisibility. But of course, there is a lot going on under the current and Achan's life changes drastically.

Vrell is yet another awesome character. I. Love. Her! She doesn't seem like it right now, but she's going to be a strong woman. She's stronger than she thinks at the moment.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series VERY much! And Jill Williamson currently has another series related to this one in the works. I believe the first book is out and the second is being worked on as we speak.

Now before anyone gets all up in arms about this being a cliche fantasy story, let me just say that YES, some parts were predictable. YES it's one of 'THOSE' stories and I'm trying not to do spoilers here. If you've read it, you know what I mean. But there are lots of twists and turns and quite a few surprises, despite all that. The only other thing I want to warn readers about is the e-book formatting got a little wonky in places, but once you know that, the flow of the story is smooth and quick. But if that is the only bad thing I can find about this book, well, then you know we have an awesome book!!!

My Rating:

5 out of 5 Skull and Crossbones. Duh. Lol!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Excerpt From "Veritas, Shadow of the Rose: Book Two"...

Because I have delayed the release of book two, I thought I'd give you a peek.



Alabassin Li'endrin wandered the halls of his new 'home', restless with anxiety, expecting guards to seize him and deposit him into a cell deep below the castle. He thought often of Kayta as no one heard from her — or the group escorting her back to Paridzule — for a long time. Alabassin trusted Black Rose to have good reason for not delivering her into the hands of what remained of her family at once, but he wished the man would hurry. People in the castle were anxious, emotions and tempers flared often, so Alabassin did his best to make himself scarce around people such as Lady Kienna. Her temper was legendary in Relavia. He had no wish to be present when, and if, she got angry. Warring with Paridzule for ages, he learned everything he could about the kingdom at a young age. Their strengths and weaknesses, the best places to strike. Everything his father could find and use against his lifelong enemy, guaranteed Mandorak exploited it. Alabassin often felt the Ni’adzul family was closer to kin than his own at times.
Lost in his thoughts, Alabassin exited the building out a side door near the kitchens. The aromas beckoned him to stay and accept the samples the cook insist he try. Instead, he made his way over to the training grounds. As he approached, he saw a tall, blond woman leaning against the wooden railing. Every so often she barked out commands and the warriors who fought paused to listen. At the sound of his footsteps, she turned.
“Lord Alabassin,” she said. She inclined her head at his approach. She shaded her bright blue eyes from the suns, her full red lips tilted down at the corners. Her icy demeanor did not escape his notice.
“Trinara,” he responded, with a terse nod of his own. “You can drop the 'Lord' bit. I gave up my titles when I defected and swore fealty to Kienna.”
“I'll believe it when I see it,” she muttered. She turned away from him, her attention focused on the warriors.
“Any word on Kayta?” he asked. He tried to ignore the bite in her comment. He knew her nerves were just as frayed as everyone else's and tried not to rise to her bait for an argument.
“No, not yet. Damn it all to hells, Trinsin!” Trinara slammed her fist against the rail. “That is the third time Annisse has bested you today! You're twice her size, man. Focus on what you're doing and stop getting distracted by her breasts!” The man Trinara chastised turned crimson and hung his head.
“Go easy, Trinara. Everyone is just as worried about Kayta as you are, now that the majority of the warriors know she's alive and well.”
“Go easy? Why, so we can give your father yet another advantage? Sod off, Alabassin,” she snarled. Trinara placed a foot on the lower rung of the fence and launched herself over the top. She stormed off to yell at her warriors, so Alabassin sighed, and turned to leave. A little way off to the side, Hedric leaned against the castle walls, arms folded across his chest.
“Don't let her get to you, Alabassin,” he said. “She’s nasty when she's worried. No one can get near her.”
“No worries,” Alabassin said. He shrugged a shoulder. “When you've lived with my father, you get used to being treated as if you are crap on a boot.” He joined Hedric in the shade, watching the warriors train.
“Maybe that will change,” Hedric said. Alabassin glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. He tried to gauge if he was sincere, or if he was being sarcastic.
“Any word yet? Has he moved across the borders?” Alabassin asked, curious of his father’s movements, or lack thereof.
“No, not yet. I don't know what he's thinking, marching just before winter. Not a smart move if you ask me.”
“He doesn't care,” Alabassin said. He shrugged again and leaned up against the wall next to Hedric, mimicking his stance. “I'm sure you know by now, he'll sacrifice his own people to get what he wants. It won't affect him in the slightest. I remember reading one of my grandfather's journals once. He wrote something to the effect that lives of the 'mere mortals' — meaning citizens of Relavia — were insignificant. I think the majority of the Li'endrin bloodline thought of themselves as gods. I think they are just insane.”
“That's obvious,” Hedric said with a derisive snort. The two men chuckled.
“But, throughout that history, my father's included, I have learned one very important thing,” Alabassin said after a reflective moment.
“Which is?” Hedric asked. He raised a brow and turned to look at the young prince.
“No Li'endrin does anything without reason. It doesn't matter how insignificant the tactic, they are calculated, and well thought out. Even something as trivial as moving his armies at a time of year that his enemy might consider a huge mistake. Do you understand?” Alabassin stared hard at Hedric.
“I understand,” Hedric said with a nod. The two men lapsed into silence for a few moments, each lost in their own thoughts. Hedric ruminated over Alabassin’s information. Alabassin wondered once more about Kayta’s location.
“I wanted to thank you, Hedric.” Alabassin said after a long pause.
“For what?”
“For giving me a chance and getting to know me.”
“Anyone willing to marry into this family has to either be crazy or brave, Alabassin. Good thing you are both.”

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Funnies & Fantasy Art (Modified)...

I'm trying to bring back my Friday posts. I had good success with the funnies and the fantasy art. I'm modifying things a bit, though. I won't be including the "Faves" part of things. I might, once in awhile, but after a couple years of blogging, I ran out of faves!

For this Friday post, I will include a couple of favorites.


My favorite food is pizza. I know. Not surprising. However, let me just say that Italian food in general is my favorite. I could eat it every day of the week!

My favorite color is royal blue. Followed closely by red and black.

My favorite music is anything but country. I'm just not a country girl, but I have listened to it and I'll only admit to this once, I have a few favorites in that genre of music, too.

Fantasy Art:

I have a LOT of fantasy artwork on my Pinterest page. Under "Fantasy Art", of course. There are times, though, when I have done extensive searches for the artist and have found none. This makes me wary of posting those images, but I'm going to just put this disclaimer up there:

I tried to find the artist name to give credit where it is due, but failed. Please tell me if you know who it belongs to!

I do know the artists for the work below and have put it in a caption.

Artwork by Andreas Rochas

Artwork by Claudio Pilia

Artwork by Chris Ortega


All right, hope those gave you a bit of a giggle at the end of your work week. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I know. Smack me upside the head.

Book two was supposed to be released July 31st, however, I had a couple  messages about errors. So, I'm running it through the proverbial mill once more and have found these errors.

But this is pushing my release date back.

I have to say, giving it this final, final polish is making it much better, so I'm okay with the delay, even if everyone else is throwing their hands in the air and rolling their eyes.

Or looking like this:

I know. I'm right there with you.

I'll keep you all posted on the book. It doesn't help my focus is split between editing and school, so I'm working as fast as I can.

Have a great rest of your week!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Flash Fiction Monday...

Just a little something to get you going for the week. This bit of Flash Fiction was inspired by this picture on Pinterest. Someone had added a comment to it, saying it needed a story. So I wrote a little one.

"Here we are," he said, as he looked out over the water-filled streets.

"You'll go with me a little farther," she asked as she gripped the man's hand a little tighter.
"No one will harm you while you are in the boat. Stick to the middle, where none can reach."
"What if I fall asleep and drift to the side?" she asked, her voice echoed off the empty buildings.
"Hmm." He thought about this a moment. The cat swished it's tail, as if it, too, awaited his response. "Perhaps I should go with you. Just a little further."

Have a good week, everyone!