Tag Archives: reallies

Mascot Time! (The Wolf of Descarta Art Contest)

Right, I know. I already have Balmus all over this site, and thanks to Caelicorn, he looks absolutely amazing!

Given my comic book/anime/video game influences, most of the characters in The Wolf of Descarta are designed to be pretty slick looking–all except for one.

The dreaded Coquil.

There’s no sense in keeping the Coquil a secret any longer. My novel’s excerpt on Amazon.com nearly concludes the chapter in which Balmus and his notorious guild of player killers, The Order of the Blood Moon, knuckle down with this bizarre creature in Bladescape (who just happens to be guarding a legendary weapon). If you’ve read 7 Fantasy Cliches That Need to Disappear (For the Good of All), you already know that I’m easily irritated by the cutesy, overpowered helpers that infest the Fantasy genre.



So I decided to throw in a cutesy, overpowered monster that hulks out and nearly murders all my heroes just four short chapters into the novel.

My inspiration for the Coquil came from an MMORPG called Dark Age of Camelot (and probably my not-so-secret desire to take a battle ax to an Ewok).


Now this game was old school. You didn’t start off with a nifty armor set and bearing a majestic sword and a shield–more like sporting a loin cloth and armed with a rock and a stick.


To be honest, you didn’t feel very hard core at the beginning of DAoC. Most of the time you’d be grinding and get waylaid by things like bunnies in the woods. Winning at PVP was easier than walking through the friggin’ forest or through a farmstead! I distinctly remember finally getting my chainmail and an imposing greatsword, strapping on a crimson cape signifying my guild, and feeling so very accomplished–maybe about 40 seconds before I was ruthlessly mauled to death by a homicidal badger just chillin’ on the hillside.


Mushroom, mushroom!

You heard right. A stupid badger.


Mushroom MUSH-room!

And yes, someone already did this:

Badger Mushroom Snake2

Argh! We’ve got a Snake!

While I’m at it, does anybody remember those stupid, overpowered rabbits in Final Fantasy VII with carrots for swords? Urrgh! Screw them too!


WTF?! Cloud’s dead?!

So the Coquil–in all its a pink, fluffy evilness–is product of pure rage at the comedic irony of being beaten down by seemingly helpless woodland creatures that should have been laying chocolate eggs for Easter and clucking like a chicken or some damned thing.


What? You steppin’ to me, hero? You’d best beware–I cluck, and it don’t make a damn bit of sense! Neither does the beat down imma give you!

Now, in my infinite wisdom, I think the Coquil should be the mascot for the blog. The trouble is that I can’t draw to save my life. This is where you come in.

For the next two weeks (ending December 6), I will be accepting fanart submissions of the Coquil at blackknightofbladescape at gmail dot com. The winner of the contest will receive free, autographed copies of both The Wolf of Descarta and RealLies (hopefully in time for the holidays) and a permanent link on this blog to his or her artist page.

No purchase is necessary to participate. Just head over to Amazon and read the free excerpt. Once you’ve got a good idea of what this ruthless, quadrupedal abomination looks like, sharpen your pencils–or fire up your software–and get cracking. The top three entries will be posted on Monday, December 9 and receive what accolades I can bestow upon you in the form of written praise. 🙂

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Filed under Fantasy, My Writing, Rants, Science Fiction, Writing

My Second Interview with TZPP

Yours truly is now being featured on TZPP’s front page. Come check out my interview with editor Danielle Romero about the first installment in my new book series, The Dream Box, which is scheduled for release this fall.  

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August 20, 2013 · 2:15 am

Five Benefits of a Small Press


As of last week, I signed my life away on a three-book deal with TZPP. I’m expecting the first round of edits for my novel, The Dream Box, sometime this weekend. The project’s tentative release date is Black Friday.

This is my first experience dealing with a younger press as opposed to the industry giants in New York, and I have to admit that I’m pretty happy with it so far. I’ve always been a “shoot for the moon” sort of guy, but as you may have read in Rejection: Greatest Hits, some of these larger, more established presses can be surprisingly unprofessional. All things considered, there are some real advantages to signing with an underdog, which I shall attempt to illuminate:

1) The Contract and Your Rights

I can’t speak for every small press, but my publisher made it clear to me going into the signing process that nearly every aspect of my contract was negotiable. I confirmed with Professor of Great Renown that it was an industry standard contract save for a few sticking points, which I came back and successfully negotiated with no issues. My royalties, which I won’t share publicly, are fairly generous. I didn’t need to find a literary agent (what a joke so late in the process, right?) to hustle for me. Nor did I have to deal with the kind of silent treatment I received from a certain unnamed mega press who one day shall be named on this blog and shall live forever in infamy. But not today. ‘Tis not yet the time for naming…

Is He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named singing Journey or... :-0

Um, is He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named singing Journey? Man, I sure hope that’s all it is…

2) Personal Connections

Frankly, it feels amazing to know your publisher believes in you and to work with editors who seem to really want you to succeed. My publisher has given me gentle nudges (and the occasion kick in the rear) to get me writing again after personal mishaps–and this after generously promoting me on an anthology cover when he could have picked from a dozen other authors. Several of the senior staff members at TZPP (including my publisher) began following this blog after the press accepted just one short story, and we’re always promoting each other personally through social media and other avenues as opposed to staying on our respective sides of the “professional” fence.

Before I had my foot in the proverbial door, this was the sort of interaction I absolutely coveted.


At present, I’m not feeling any of that “cutthroat” mentality you read about–rather, there seems to be a true sense of loyalty. Not those patronizing shenanigans, either. Loyalty. I hope it holds.

3) Valued Input

After I signed, I did that thing all rookies do: “You know, I have some ideas for the cover design…” I did this knowing that most publishers could care less what an author thinks about the way a book is marketed. After all, it’s the author’s job to write and the publisher’s job to figure out what will sell, right? Wrong–although it’s a common misconception. The author first has to write something salable and pitch it to editors and/or agents, but seldom does he (or she!) get any credit for being sales oriented. There’s usually a sense of “You’ve brought it this far, but we’ll take it from here.”

My publisher, on the other hand, was kind enough to let me submit my input for the cover design for all three books. I was really surprised. Even some of my heroes have complained about the cover art they’re stuck with looking absolutely nothing like their original vision. I think every writer dreams of having some kind of creative control beyond just the words on the page. I didn’t imagine it would come this soon.

4) Collaborative Opportunities

TZPP has been assembling a team of writers to create an installment series through collaborative world building. I’ve been interested in this project since the get-go, and it sounds like it might finally be getting the green light. I haven’t had the opportunity to create by committee since college. Not to completely geek out here or anything, but those meetings in bars where we closed Mill Avenue down trying to figure out what a Postmodern version of hell would look like to Frank Herbert were more fun than most of the college parties I attended at ASU. Getting paid for the sort of thing you’d do for free during your college days is the very definition of living the dream.


Patience, Philosoraptor! I was just getting there…

5) Growth

Every mega publisher out there today (before having a conniption about Kindle) started as a small press. Joining an already successful conglomeration wherein your book deal–your dream–might have been nothing more than some high-powered agent’s proviso for some bigger book deal would leave me wondering if I really made it on my own steam. The idea of helping a younger publisher grow and receive renown, on the other hand, hardly leaves room for that sort of doubt. Every writer seeks (needs) validation–whether through publication, sales, reviews, awards, a cult of die-hard fans willing to commit seppuku over the end of a book series, or–my favorite–all of the above.

A sane person would try to prove it to him- or herself before proving it to the world, but unfortunately for most of us, the process only works in reverse. Authority (i.e. being an author) isn’t something that can be assumed–it must be granted, bestowed. Only an audience can do this. The opportunity to grow with a publisher is probably the purest way of proving to the world that I was meant to do this.

Then, perhaps, I will have proven it to myself.

Is He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named singing Journey or... :-0


Uh, yeah. Thanks Bae–err, Voldemort, err, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named!

-Whew!- Close call!

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Filed under Fantasy, My Writing, Publishing, Rants, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing