Longtime followers of this site will remember that Spark is based on two of my German Shepherd dogs. The one who talked with his tail was named Sam and he died in 2019. Last week, our old female shepherd named Chloe passed away of old age. Both dogs were very intelligent in their own ways so they were special to us.
Chloe was always rowdy, learned quickly, and was diligent as a backyard guard. She was something of a gourmand, preferring special food, especially chicken and rice. She also loved puzzle toys for dogs, was always ready for a trip anywhere (though she did not like water), and loved chasing geese at a nearby private lake (she never caught one, but loved the chase).
Chloe’s mother was a real German police dog so she had a few things she would not do including play fetch. She would chase the ball and pick it up but never return it. She was always the warning barker and very alert for aggression.
When we first acquired Chloe as a puppy, she was very serious. We always said she didn’t unpack her bags for about a year. It was that long until she actually wagged her tail when we arrived home. But Chloe always loved attention as well as playing.
Her way of playing was to charge me and try to take me down with a snarl. She was just playing and never did anything, but she loved acting like she was much bigger than fifty-five pounds. We thought she was very rough, so we took our time getting her to socialize with people which she figured out. In the end, she loved visitors as long as she knew them herself or knew that we welcomed someone into the house.
While Sam was the one who talked with his tail and got a lot of attention in blog posts and my newsletter, Chloe was the “face” of Spark. She was an almost perfect model for the color of Spark’s coat as pictured on the book covers. Have a look at the carousel of pictures of Chloe if you have a chance.
Chloe’s passing was not unexpected like Sam’s since she was aging and struggling with hip troubles. She seemed to have chosen her place. Last week, she wanted out during some very nice weather, appearing very energetic and lively. I checked on her often since she usually wanted in soon after going outside. But she liked the weather which was sunny with very mild temperatures and some nice breezes, so she stayed out for several hours on Monday. Last Tuesday, she wanted out again and I checked on her several times. She seemed content, unconcerned with coming inside the house. But when I checked on her about 2PM, I found she had passed away in her sleep amid the shade and the gentle breeze on the back deck. Here’s to Chloe and her faithful, exuberant spirit – RIP.
Read about this reaction to The Bow of Destiny from a reader this week.
A reader contacted me this week about her reading of The Bow of Destiny. We’ve had an email conversation which I totally enjoy (anyone interested in talking about the books, just send me and email, comment here, or catch me on a social media channel).
Here’s a quote from the message after the reader finished the book:
“This morning I went back and reread the short story about the mystic Withling order. It was more meaningful after reading the book. Now I’m reading the first chapter again to understand Athson’s visions. I’ll have to buy the next book in the series when I’m in a place with good internet. Your writing reminds me of Lord of the Rings– a big compliment as that was one of my favorite books growing up and what got me interested in reading.”
The referenced short story is What Is Needed which is backstory for the Withling order. That’s a good place to start the series if you like.
I’m not going to giveaway anything regarding the content of Athson’s visions, but it’s interesting the reader wanted to review those parts. Athson is a complicated character who knows things are not right with him, but he believes he still makes good decisions.
As to The Lord of the Rings, that is a high compliment. My hope is that I’ve taken the classic epic fantasy and given it a more current treatment of the genre.
Updates from Archer’s Aim including the official 2022 Reader Survey, The Unseen Hand news, books by fantasy authors, and giveaways.
Before we get deeply into the newsletter, I wanted to mention there’s a newsletter survey at this link which you can use to provide me some of your thoughts about the newsletter. I’d be happy to hear from you and this short questionnaire should not take more than a few minutes of your time. I’ll report back on the results of the survey at a later time so you’ll be aware of any changes which might be made in the future. Thanks in advance for your time. Now for the rest of the newsletter!
It’s that time of year when everyone is taking summer vacations. My wife and I recently went to Chattanooga, TN to enjoy time on some interesting rides.
First, we took an evening riverboat cruise on the Tennessee River. I’ve been on one of these several times in the past, but I took this opportunity to observe activity during the cruise in case I want to depict something similar in one or two of my book series, namely The Cursed Mage Case Files or The Black Glove Assassin.
Next, we went on a couple of different train rides. Likewise, I used some of the time to take note of the surroundings and even the sway of the train cars underfoot.
The first train excursion was a dinner on a dining car where the meals were prepared on the train. It was a short couple of hours but both the food and the service were excellent. I was very interested in the movement of the staff in narrow confines and even witnessed a spill on the next table. The waiter was newer and less experienced handling a tray with the movement of the train. However, during the clean-up a more experienced waiter handled a tray expertly with one hand while removing the sodden tablecloth with the other. Quite a feat. I’ve made notes for a similar event to occur should I need it in a book.
The second train trip was a longer one of about five hours that traveled along the Hiawassee River past a power plant, within view of a dam, and along the the famous loop around a mountain. The route included crossing over and under the railway first through a narrow ravine then back around the mountaintop and over the tracks on a trestle. This stretch as built to go over a mountain more economically.
The rail car was originally built for cross-country travel and afforded an upper level for observation and the excursion traveled through remote and scenic terrain. This ride in the observation car gave me a view of the narrow sleeping quarters once used by travelers. I’ve been in a sleeper car previously for a trip in the UK, so it brought back a few memories.
Overall, I gained some solid details to use in either of the aforementioned series. I was reminded of Brandon Sanderson’s Allow of Law Trilogy where train travel was a central part of the story in one of the books, featuring a fight through several of the rail-cars. Something to consider for the future!
News about The Unseen Hand:
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on The Unseen Hand and I’m still targeting 6/15 for a completion date for preparation of release in the next few months. I’m thinking of a major pre-release of this book and the third one, The Nine Jewel Heist coupled with a re-release of The Order of the Dark Rose.
This event will be extended for several weeks and I anticipate revealing the details which should be special for fans before these two new books are released on even Amazon. My plans will likely generate several special messages so keep a eye out for those. This will be a pre-release, and regular release over several months but should provide some excellent opportunities for you to take part.
In other news
Additionally, I’m planning a pre-release event of The Bow of Hart Saga into print distribution later this summer. I’ll communicate the details in the next several weeks with an opportunity for you to provide feedback on the event before it ever starts. If all goes well, you’ll have a chance at some special editions and other perks ahead of wide print distribution to bookstores. I’ll make sure you have plenty of notice about the feedback phase.
Other projects include the following books:
A Charm in the Hand, the first book of The Black Glove Assassin should be finished will be finished with the current phase of revision the first week of June and sent to my editor. The hope is to release the book by December which will likely be part of a larger pre-release event too. I’m pleased with the progress made on this book and look forward to engaging the final phases of completion during the summer.
All Things Forgotten, book one of Treasure Stolen – Returned took up much of the last week of work in May. My hope was to meet a goal for a promotion submission, but that did not happen. However, the book is now much further along to the extent that it has entered my publication schedule for this year, and inclusion with an extended pre-release and release event too.
My publication priorities remain in order:
The Bow of Hart Saga in print with a pre-release event – mid to late Summer
Books two and three of The Cursed Mage Case Files with a re-release of The Order of the Dark Rose all including print distribution using an extended pre-release and release schedule to be communicated. Occurring during the late Summer and throughout the Fall season.
All Things Forgotten, book one of Treasure Stolen – Returned with print as part of a pre-release and release schedule to be communicated. This is on-track for October, but we’ll see…
A Charm in the Hand, book one of The Black Glove Assassin with print as part of a pre-release and release schedule to be communicated. Late November or early December depending on my editor’s schedule.
Featured Books & Authors:
I haven’t included this feature in the newsletter in a while, but I think it’s a good time to bring it back!
This is a book I’ve started recently and I like the style of the work. Here’s a look at the cover and blurb:
In a land where the wolf wind and mists roam like ghosts, the conflicted son of a witch was knighted by the king. Knighted to repay a debt to his father.
His name is Calec.
He alone holds knowledge from both the knighthood and the mysterious witches of the woods.
When the king’s sheep are found lying in the snow, riddled with black rashes and hemorrhagic eyes, Calec is summoned to discover the reason for their deaths. Then, as human victims arise in the city, Calec uncovers an eerie string of clues. He seeks the aid and determination of pious Eristin—his betrothed and niece of the king—but to catch the murderer they must find answers, answers hidden beneath a web of secrets ensnaring the royal family, a witch, an innkeeper, a priest, and a former thief.
And Calec never suspected he’d have to choose between the only two things he’s ever loved.
Heidi Skarie, Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge, the first book of a space opera series.
I’ve also recently started this book and enjoyed the opening. I’m looking forward to reading the entire book. Here’s a look at the cover and the blurb:
He wanted to rule the stars. He shouldn’t have murdered her family…
Toemeka Ganti won’t rest until the universe is rid of the sinister sorcerer-deity who killed her parents. Working undercover to liberate a peaceful people from his ruthless usurper, she attempts to develop a weapon that can break through the tyrant’s shields. But she’s barely begun her work when she’s captured by the despot’s dark agents.
Rescued by a mysterious and handsome warrior-priest, Toemeka and her team join forces with the planetary resistance. But without her device to knock out the enemy defenses, their budding rebellion could swiftly be crushed. And her time to complete it has almost run out…
Can Toemeka free an oppressed planet and light a spark of hope throughout the galaxy?
John Hundley’s The Draculata Nest, book 1 of The Red Wolf Saga which I’m just starting. Here’s the cover and blurb of the book:
A lone wolf. A nest of vampires. Can he find the monster who turned his girlfriend before he loses her forever?
Lone wolf Clifford Crane is grieving the death of the lover who transformed him. Without her in it, he wants nothing more to do with her world or her pack.
Trying to find a new purpose in life, he returns to college. But when he rescues a beautiful young classmate from a vampire, he finds himself at the center of a feud between rival nests of the undead.
Danielle has been bitten. To save her he’ll have to track down and kill the one who did it. In a city teeming with bloodsuckers, that’s no easy task. He’ll need help from a powerful vampire. And that help comes with a price.
Can Clifford find the fiend he seeks in time to save her? Or will they both become pawns in a game of supernatural intrigue, a game where the losers die?
Herman Hunter’s initial book, The Revenant and the Tomb is another book that I’m digging into (yes, I’m getting around lately with reading). Here’s his cover and blurb if you’re interested:
In a seedy tavern, two men meet.
One, an old and seasoned guide who knows the way to a tomb where riches are rumored to exist. A place somewhere on the fabled mountain called the Horn of Torgiv, in a region notorious for evil things and dark deeds.
The other is a mysterious young man named Halsedric, who seeks something other than wealth. What he seeks is something old, dark, and diabolical.
What waits in the dark depths of the tomb? And will it lead to their ruin?
Journey to the Horn of Torgiv and discover the dark secret hidden beneath the gray stone of the mountain.
A spear and sorcery fantasy about power, secrets, and betrayal.
A prophecy declares the king’s son will bring peace to the land. He will remove the yoke from the people’s shoulders and the fear from their hearts.
The night the boy is born, Faelan receives orders that threaten the child’s life. He must choose to either follow his assignment or secure a brighter future for the people.
Alliances will be tested, secrets may or may not be kept, and the future of Minnland will hang in the balance.
A Few Final Notes
I’m moving announcements into text format as much as possible so, with that in mind, I’ve started a text subscription since it’s faster and less time-consuming to read. If you’re interested, here’s the sign-up.
Monthly Question for Marston’s Station: Have you read Sanderson’s Alloy of Law Trilogy? If so, did you enjoy the train scenes? Share your answers with a reply or in Marston’s Station.
Thanks for reading as usual. Please share this email with fellow fantasy fans. Let me know if you are interested in a free review copy of The Order of the Dark Rose as well as one for early reviews of The Unseen Hand. There are only about 18 free copies of either book available so don’t hesitate to email me if you are interested.
If you have already notified me you want in with either book, thanks for your participation.
Until next time with my best wishes,
P. S. Scroll down to see some specials. Feel free to share them with friends!