Monday, February 28, 2011

George Straatman releases Closures in Blood final part of his horror trilogy the Converging

The Converging: Closures in Blood by George Straatman
A quarter century of loving effort by George Straatman is now complete.

The Converging: Closures in Blood is the concluding volume of George Straatman’s epic Converging horror trilogy.

About the novel

After apparently vanquishing the demon, Cynara Saravic…the now-immortal Elizabeth Simpson returns to America to begin a desperate search for the only man she has ever loved and the one person who can grant her absolution for the sins she has committed while under the demon’s dark thrall. Abhorred as an abomination by both Heaven and Hell, Elizabeth must run a deadly and insidious gauntlet to find David Stillman, unaware that she has become the catalyst for an apocalyptic war between good and evil. Pursued across a dying America by legions of religious fanatics and satanic assassins, Elizabeth is forced to turn to her avowed enemy…a dark mistress who represents her only hope of eluding her relentless pursuers and finding some sense of closure to the dark nightmare of her life…and a hope of personal redemption. Populated by a cast of dark and richly detailed characters, Closures in Blood is a frenetic rollercoaster ride into darkest depths of the Converging universe…a place where the vile and the righteous will find a grim measure or resolution in the explosive conclusion to this master work of dark horror.

George Straatman shares his thoughts about his creation

1. What are the primary themes of this final segment?

As the title would imply, the novel’s plot revolves around putting a measure of closure to the story elements that have bridged the trilogy. By the conclusion of this novel, all of the primary characters who have populated the world of the Converging will have found a sense of resolution by the novel’s closing page. In addition to this, the story deals with the protagonist’s search for personal redemption and atonement for her culpability in Cynara Saravic’s twisted tapestry of evil.

2. Is there one common theme that ties the three segments of the trilogy together?

This is first and foremost, a horror trilogy and its roots are fixed deep in the dark soil of the supernatural thriller genre, but really, the story transcends the genre to become more of an intense drama about one woman’s thirty-five years search for a degree of normalcy after the foundations of her life have been eradicated by cataclysm events. Elizabeth’s painful and often tragic journey is really a metaphor for perseverance and a sustained belief in the compelling power of hope. The horror elements merely serve as a vehicle through which this story is told.

3. How long did it take to complete the full Converging cycle?

The full cycle took twenty-five years to write from the first moment I took up a pen and began the first page of the original novel until the moment I decided that I was happy with the end product of Closures in Blood. The characters of the story become constant companions of sorts…who I’ve come to care about and develop an emotional attachment to.

4. The first two novels were characterized by intense and dark horror…that could often be considered disturbing…does this atmosphere prevail in the final installment?

Most definitely…I’ve attempted to infuse the novel with a pervasive sense of desperation in which Elizabeth’s search for David Stillman is undertaken against a frenetic background of terror and incessant pursuit. The central concept of the Converging has always been about a wide array of forces coming together at one juncture in time with catastrophic results and Closures in Blood is fraught with this element. I wanted the story to unfold like an avalanche…or more correctly, a convergence of avalanches…all coming together with a brutally violent finality. Every character in this novel is much like a piece of an intricate jigsaw puzzle…the commonality of each of these pieces is Elizabeth Simpson, who serves as the lens through which they are all focused…with extremely explosive results. This novel certainly serves up the most diverse collection of characters of the series…and this diversity adds to the volatility of the plot.

5. Was there a single facet of this story that would stand out as the most difficult to write?

The segment of the story that dealt with the teenage runaway, Cassandra Jasic was perhaps one of the most difficult that I’ve ever written…the scene in which she reveals the story of the abuse she suffered as a child was difficult to write…and equally difficult to read. Ultimately, horror is an emotional response and Cassandra Jasic’s hellish ordeal goes a long way toward justifying the depth of psychosis she demonstrates in the story. The tone of segments such as this one is critical…an author has to be attuned to the need for presenting this type of material in a way that does not make it gratuitous or even worse…appears to condone the actions being depicted.

6. With the conclusion of this series, is there any one character with whom you feel most connected?
Though I’ve enjoyed all of my characters immensely and feel a strong affinity for each, I would say that Elizabeth Simpson is the individual for whom I have the most empathy…I often reflect on the things that she endured over the course of the three novels and I’m suffused by a profound sense of sadness. Cynara Saravic presented me with the most perplexing technical challenges as a character, but Elizabeth Simpson is the one who resonates emotionally through the trilogy…her closure is, for me, the most emotionally poignant.
7. Are the any specific moral concepts contained within this final novel?

It would be difficult to write a two thousand page story without inculcating some personal philosophy into the fabric of the story…The story is violent and bloody, but beneath this, there resonates a subtle judgment on the nature of this violence. The story also holds an implied statement on the nature of seduction and the way that an individual’s personal prejudices can ensnare them into accepting things that both dangerous and illogical. This subtext is most clearly demonstrated by the characters of Gregor Ingram and Contayza Prowzi, whose inherent prejudices allow them to be deceived into seeing Elizabeth Simpson as the ultimate manifestation of evil.

Elizabeth Simpson takes center stage in this novel and it is through her that I have implicitly conveyed my own personal view on violence and moral integrity…Through all of her travails and loss, Elizabeth retains an inviolable sense of dignity and grace and vehemently refuses to succumb to the more primal urges that drive many of the novel’s other characters…she comes closest to representing my own perspective on the treatment of violence in art.

8. With the conclusion of the trilogy…have we seen the last of Elizabeth and Cynara?

As mentioned earlier…this cycle had a twenty-five year creative life. In that time, I have transitioned from a horror novelist to a fantasy novelist…a genre with the broadest creative potential. Still, it would be impossible to invest so much creative and emotional energy into characters such as Cynara and Elizabeth and not have a strong bond with both. The Converging as a concept has definitely run its course, but I have tinkered with the idea of writing a novel that tells the story of the demon Cynara Saravic and her life through the years between her disappearance in 1850 to her appearance in the fictitious town where the first novel takes place in the 1970s. As for the trilogy’s primary protagonist, Elizabeth Simpson, I have developed a plot outline for a novel that would take place some years after the events chronicled in the epilogue of Closures in Blood. Both of these notions are in the formative stages and whether they will germinate into full novels, only time will tell. My primary focus over the next few years will be on development of my fantasy cycle – Journey through the Land of Shades.

Author's website
On Goodreads
Sony Ebook Store
Also find the trilogy at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heroes, dead parents, The Lord of the Rings, and fantasy book giveaway

I had the privilege of being published at some great blogs last week.

Here are my newest articles from my ongoing blog tour:

Heroes need help - my salute to the sidekick at To Read or Not To Read

Not every hero has one, but they all could use a trustworthy friend who will stick by him or her no matter what. You may think that heroes must face danger alone and surmount great odds through individual brawn or intellect, but when I look at fiction, I see many dependable sidekicks.  Continue

Also go here to enter the giveaway for a paperback copy of Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I. You have through March 2nd to enter.

The Challenges and Rewards of Writing Fantasy without Killing the Parents at Two Ends of the Pen

Dead parents are a long established literary tradition, especially in fantasy fiction. Harry Potter is currently the most famous fictional orphan. And of course Frodo Baggins lost his parents and was adopted by his Uncle Bilbo. Cinderella was left under the domination of a wicked stepmother. Luke Skywalker thought both his mother and father were dead and then he lost his Aunt and Uncle. Continue

My favorite scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy at Free Book Reviews

Like many fantasy fans, the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien made me fall in love with the genre. This love led me to become a writer. My fantasy novels are not really like The Lord of the Rings, but the river of inspiration that gushes from Tolkien's writing certainly waters the fields of my imagination. Continue

What's coming up this week:

On February 28th I'll be featuring Canadian author George Straatman's new release The Converging: Closures in Blood.

Also February 28th is the last day to join my readers' list at Brave Luck Books (TM) and enter to win an ebook copy of Berserker by William Meikle.

On March 1st fans of comics can find my review of the indie comic Genecy by Gerald Cooper.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meet fantasy and sci fi author T.C. Southwell

Visit T.C. Southwell's website
to access all of her books.
The rise of independent publishing and worldwide digital distribution of ebooks are really starting to show readers what they've been missing all these years. Not too long ago I never would have had the pleasure of coming across T.C. Southwell, a prolific fantasy and sci fi author living in South Africa.

Southwell has 21 novels published at Smashwords right now and she has dozens of other works written as well. I recently read and reviewed Demon Lord, which I very much enjoyed. I have the next book Dark God on my reading list.

Impressed with Southwell's work, I asked her for an interview. She graciously explained her life as a writer, her challenges getting published in South Africa, and her choice to go into business for herself.

Are some or all of your novels in print in South Africa?

Only Demon Lord, which was published as a paperback in 2006. Unfortunately, in SA anything local is considered inferior, for some reason, and the publisher was unable to generate enough publicity to ensure good sales. Copies were sent to all the major magazines and newspapers for review, but not a single one would even read it. Some local bookshops did not want to stock it, either, even on a ‘sale or return’ basis. As a consequence, sales were dismal and the sequel, Dark God, was never published.

2. You've written over 40 novels. Which one was your first?

Slave Empire is the first book I wrote, in 1989, although it had a different title initially and the first draught was abysmal. My agent sent it to several publishers but it was rejected, not surprisingly. Since then I’ve rewritten it about three times, and currently the second book, The Crystal Ship, is my bestseller.

3. You've stated that your mother helped you financially during a 10 year period so you could dedicate yourself to writing. When was this period and did this effort lead to publication?

That was from about 1993 to 2003, and, although I wrote pretty much all my books during that period – except Slave Empire and the Queen’s Blade prequels – I didn’t actually try to find a publisher at that stage. I wrote the books for my own enjoyment, and had no plans to have them published. Basically I was an unemployed bum living in my mum’s garage – which she converted into a flat for me – and I borrowed an ancient PC (which actually belonged in a museum) from some friends and spent my nights writing stories. Then I decided it was time to do something with my life, so I moved to Cape Town in 2003 and started my IT business. I got another agent in 2005 or thereabouts, who found the local publisher for Demon Lord.

4. At your main website, you explain how publishers and other middlemen gain most of the profit from books while authors are undercompensated and readers pay high prices. When did you realize you wanted to produce your own work and become an independent creative entrepreneur?

After my agent retired in 2009, I tried to find an overseas agent and discovered how high their fees are – up to 20%. By that time I was becoming fed up with the whole rigmarole and the amount of waiting involved – it can take several months to get a reply from an agent or a publisher – and they don’t want you to send your work to any others at the same time. I looked at a number of e-book publishers, and submitted Demon Lord to one, but it’s 112,000 words and very few e-book publishers will publish books longer than 80,000 words. They wanted me to cut 20,000 words out of it, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. They’d have had even more fun with Dark God, which is 128,000 words! All my books are quite long, and I didn’t want to have to re-write them all to make them fit e-book publishers’ specs. I started looking at self-publishing options, and in particular e-books. I heard good and bad things about the e-book market, the most negative aspect of which is that it’s rather small compared to the paperback market, but it’s growing in leaps and bounds and most people in the industry say it’s the way of the future. So it was only just before Christmas last year that I finally decided to change tack and take the self-published e-book route, and I have no regrets.

5. Judging from feedback from your readers, what do you think people like the most about your stories?

Mostly, people seem to like my heroes and heroines, which I’m very happy about since they’re my favourite aspects, too, and all my books are character driven. I let my heroes do what they want and merely follow their stories.

6. Any additional comments?

I would encourage new authors who are struggling to find an agent or publisher to go the e-book route. I was constantly assured by my agents that all the best authors were rejected many, many times before they found an editor who liked their work, but why put yourself through that when you don’t have to anymore? Getting published with a mainstream publisher is a long-drawn-out process that can take up to two years. While there’s nothing quite as satisfying as holding an actual paperback copy of your ‘baby’ in your hands, e-books are almost as good, and there’s also POD publishing, which I plan to explore, too.

Thank you T.C. Southwell for sharing your experiences. Readers can find out about all her novels at T.C. Southwell Books.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Seen this week on the indie writer scene

Comic book writers go indie too

I received a review request this week from independent comic writer Gerald Cooper of Invision Comics. I have a copy of the first issue of Genecy that I will be writing a review for soon. This was my first contact with a comic writer, and it exposed me to the website that describes itself as "the greatest selection of independent comics available anywhere."

Another traditionally published author goes indie

Diana Driver author of the Ninth Lord of the Night announced her new status as an independent writer this week at her blog. Ninth Lord of the Night is now available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. In her post New Beginnings as an Indie Author she said:

I think that being with a traditional publisher for the past few years conditioned me to both long waits and being kept in the dark about release dates. Being an Indie author with Amazon is a new experience and one I'm really relishing.

Welcome to the land of the free Diana!
About Ninth Lord of the Night
Think the Maya Gods are dead and buried?

Think again.

What if they’re only sleeping?

In less than eight hours, seventeen-year-old Zack goes from California, the land of fun and sun, to the third world nation of Guatemala, where his life is changed forever. He expects to be bored, not tangle with murderers and artifact smugglers. He wants to go home, instead he’s swept into the world of Mayan myths and legends – a world that is his to claim if he only has the courage.

Interview with T.C. Southwell tomorrow

My new favorite fantasy author T.C. Southwell has 21 novels on Smashwords now. Her prolific dedication to writing inspires me. In her interview tomorrow, you'll learn more about the challenges she faced as an author in South Africa and how independent publishing is now helping her reach a world audience.

Are you an indie writer with some news? Contact me and I might be able to mention you here.

Read a great indie writer recently? Leave a comment and let others know about it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enter drawing for an ebook giveaway plus groundhog video

February, although the shortest month, becomes rather wearisome in the Northern Hemisphere. Apparently the groundhog did not see his shadow and spring is coming early, but I think it more likely that the critter's eyes were crusted shut by snow and ice.

Stay cozy in your hole until the grass sprouts with your winter reading. Or,if your in the Southern Hemisphere, go to the beach and think about me and stop shaking your head at our groundhog obsessions. Visit Brave Luck Books (TM) where you can download my fantasy novel Union of Renegades for free and join my readers' list. When you join my email list you will be entered in a drawing for a free ebook.

The prize for February is Berserker by William Meikle, a Viking versus Yeti novel. Now there's an entertaining concept. Please see details and use the form at this page to enter:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To Read or Not To Read: Guest Post and Giveaway with Tracy Falbe

To Read or Not To Read: Guest Post and Giveaway with Tracy Falbe: "I have the pleasure of having Tracy Falbe here today. She is the author of several fantasy fiction novels including Union of Renegades..."

A happy thank you to Marcie at her popular book review blog To Read or Not To Read for publishing my article Heroes Need Help - My salute to the sidekick.

From the article: I think in general the fictional hero represents daring and experimentation. The steadfast strength of the hero-friend is there to support and sometimes to save. The hero-friend wants to be part of the possibilities of the hero, and the hero-friend helps us share in the adventure.

Read the whole article at Marcie's blog and enter the giveaway drawing for a paperback copy of Union of Renegades.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Indie writer news

Historical Fantasy Short Story collection by Joseph Robert Lewis
The Tale of Asha, Volume 1: Death - Contains three short stories The Lotus Cave, The Fever Mist, and The Shining Scales. See more about these tales by Joseph Robert Lewis.

Growing Fantasy News Community at

I've been following Fantasy Faction on Twitter for a while, and it's really shaping up as an enjoyable and informative website for fantasy genre fans. Action in the forum is consistent with the regular addition of discussion questions and reviews. Also find new indie fantasy writers in the forum's book ads section.

Upcoming interview with South African fantasy author T.C. Southwell

Thanks to ebooks and worldwide distribution I recently discovered T.C. Southwell, who has agreed to an interview for Her Ladyship's Quest that I will be scheduling soon. Refer to my recent review of Demon Lord to see how much I appreciated reading this great fantasy author.

How's my blog tour going?

Over the weekend I was delighted to have two bloggers publish my guest posts.

Killing characters - a fantasy writer confesses her sins

The therapeutic meditative qualities of writing

What's your indie writer news?

Read something you liked by an independent author? Leave a comment and tell other people about it.

Are you an indie writer? Contact me with your news and it might get mentioned at Her Ladyship's Quest. Use the form on this page.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm going on tour - Here's where to read my great guest posts

Fantasy author Tracy Falbe on blog tour. (Not actually pictured, but model represents a reasonable representation of me, except I'd rather be stepping out of JEEP and wearing boots. Oh, and I'm not that tall, but the hair color is about right.)
Thanks to the bloggers at Author AdvenTours, I will be on a blog tour to promote my fantasy series The Rys Chronicles from February 19th through the 25th. Along with some basic features for Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I, I have written some guest posts that other bloggers are kindly publishing for me. I developed some nice articles for this tour. They were hard to giveaway, but you're supposed to share the good stuff when you pimp on someone else's corner.

Here's the details:

Feb. 19, Killing characters - A fantasy writer confesses her sins - Guest post at Breakout Books

Feb. 20, The therapeutic meditative qualities of writing - Guest post at Jeff Ambrose's blog

Feb. 22, Featured at Kindle Geeks

Feb. 23, Featured at Book Chat

Feb. 23, Heroes need help - My salute to the sidekick - Guest post at To Read or Not to Read, plus paperback giveaway

Feb. 24, The challenges and rewards of writing fantasy without killing the parents - Guest post at Two Ends of the Pen

Feb. 24, Featured at Hot Gossip Hot Reviews

I'm excited about reaching more readers. My blog is also open to touring creatives. I'd love to hear from indie writers, musicians, game developers, and filmmakers. See details about blog tours at Her Ladyship's Quest.

Also, fantasy readers, please download my first novel Union of Renegades for free right here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great fantasy read: Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell

My best fantasy pick in a long time: Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell
The terrible Black Lord of the Underworld is locked out of the green and living Overworld by seven wards set by ancient mages. This evil fallen God cannot rise to break these wards so he must twist and trick a human to do it for him. A woman is taken to the Underworld and her son cut from her womb. Raised by cruel demons and other creatures, this boy is named Bane. Vicious tortures and wicked tests make him strong as he grows. He looks to the Black Lord as his father, who imbues Bane with dark powers. As a human, Bane can go to the Overworld. When he is grown he becomes the Demon Lord and sets out to break the seven wards.

The only hope for the Overworld is a sweet and innocent healer girl, Mirra. Her Sisterhood of healers raised her to undo the evil of Bane with her glorious and selfless goodness. During her upbringing, she was sheltered from anger, arguments, conflict, and any unpleasantness. She is pure and giving and guileless and believes in the goodness of the world. A riveting psychological drama unfolds as these two opposing characters influence each other. Mirra is taken prisoner by the Demon Lord as he spreads terror and destruction across the world, marching from ward to ward and breaking them. Bane is intellectually stymied by Mirra's inability to hate him. She even cares for him because she cares for all things. Bane tortures her but will not kill her, despite repeated demands from the Black Lord that he do so. Gradually Bane becomes protective of Mirra although he refuses to accept that she is stirring human feelings within him.

But the progress of Mirra's good influence is slow, and Bane remains stubbornly loyal to the Black Lord. Wards continue to shatter beneath the Demon Lord's awesome power and the suffering of the world grows worse each day.

Demon Lord is a tremendous fantasy novel packed with demons, trolls, depraved humans, and scuttling horrors of the night. Massive mountain fortresses fall. Towns are ravaged. Storms toss ships at sea. Wards holding back the Black Lord are hidden in a great crashing waterfall or insulated within a colossal monolithic crystal. Mirra learns the terror of being chained to a sacrificial altar. Bane rides a demon steed. Every paragraph and chapter of this novel rushes headlong into gripping action and terrible trials as Bane and Mirra grapple with their worst fears.

Southwell's writing flows and is filled with stunning landscapes and lucid insights into the characters' tortured thoughts. And chapter by chapter the seeds of romance reluctantly germinate in the hostile soil. The age old story of a woman trying to change a man for his own good and the good of the world underpins this wonderful fantasy filled with dark horror, cruelty, and persistent hope.

Demon Lord is the first book in a series and I will definitely be reading more of T.C. Southwell's fantasy fiction. Getting a copy of this novel is as effortless as kneeling before the Demon Lord. It is a free ebook download at Smashwords.

Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Witches, Demons, & Deals new urban fantasy by D.J. Cappella

Witches, Demons, & Deals by D.J. Cappella
Amazon paperback
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
Today I introduce up-and-coming urban teen fantasy author D.J. Cappella who has released his first work into the market. A fellow Aquarius, D.J. contacted me a few days about featuring his new novel Witches, Demons, & Deals, and he agreed to an interview.

D.J. lives in Chicago and he is charging into the independent publishing scene. He's got an anthology in the works that will feature stories by other indie authors, and he is developing a whole urban fantasy series set in his World of Illumination.

Now I'll let D.J. tell readers about the exciting magical adventures he has set up for his teen heroine Raisa.

1. Can you give a quick explanation of your fantasy world? I see that it's Chicago but some people are witches, demons are real, and apparently the currency is gold. What else is going on here?

Urban teen fantasy author
D.J. Cappella of Chicago
I don't know if you can call any explanation about a fantasy world quick, but I do call my fantasy world the World of Illumination. This world exists right under the very noses of every person. I take the stance that magic exists, both good and bad; it is just hidden from the mundane observer through veils of secrecy. So you can expect to see witches, gypsies, demons, elves, and other worldly creatures running around as the series progresses toward the battle of Illumination where good magic will try to tip the balance of power back into their favor. The stories will take place in other venues besides Chicago, but the Main Characters of the series Damian and Raisa where born and raised in the suburbs, so it will be the focal location of most of the drama. This first book is just a prelude to a larger series where four good witches are pitted against four dark witches with one being neutral. This neutral witch will end up being the deciding factor on who wins the upcoming war. No, Raisa is not the neutral witch, but you can expect to see my twisted view on supernatural creatures and urban legends come through in the stories and series as it progresses.

2. In Witches, Demons, & Deals your main character is Raisa, who is approaching her 18th birthday. What attracted you to writing a protagonist that was a young female witch?

Raisa didn't start out as one of my main characters. She actually became a leading character because she was the first character I designed that came from a family of witches that was always nearing exposure. I just feel in love with her quirky family, so that quickly became the catalyst for the larger series called The Chronicles of Illumination which will be coming out by 2012. I don't have an exact release date for it though. What drew me to a strong female character is actually three things, Buffy from Joss Whedon, Sookie from Charlaine Harris, and the musican Madonna. I saw each of these females as willing to take risks, admit mistakes, and keep going no matter how hard it got. I don't beleive young women have that kind of role model any more, and I wanted them to have it.

3. Your fondness for Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series is apparent at your blog One Goat and a Cauldron. Are these novels inspiring you as a writer?

They absolutely inspire me. The fact that you can call the Sookie Stackhouse Series fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, and fairy tales retold made me really stop and think about what I was doing as a writer. When I stumbled across these book I was editing my first novel in the Chronicles which made me stop and redo large chunks of it. I wanted my characters to have real lives - not just some destiny or mission. I didn't want the problem in the book to define them; I wanted them to define themselves based on how they handled these problems while trying to live a normal life. It is something I feel that the traditional house fantasy is missing, real life people dealing with the fantastic while still holding a job, having family members that mess with their lives, and obligations outside of magic. Charlaine Harris does an amazing job of showing that the supernatural in her books are just part of her characters and not what defines them. Actually my editor called my first couple drafts of the Chronicles of Illumination vol. 1 Hunted a D&D manual gone bad, but he saw enough in it to push me to really open up these characters.

4. You are currently working on putting together an urban fantasy paranormal romance anthology of indendent writers called Supernatural Makeover. Are you still seeking short story submissions?

I am definetly still seeking submissions. I want a mix of authors that like myself are struggling to make a name for themselves in the publishing industry. I have gotten some great pieces submitted already, but I am not closing the door to the next great story which could really push this anthology to the next level. The main idea for this anthology came over dinner one night with a fellow writer, Katrina Rue, who was saying how independent authors are fighting each other for a place in the market, so I wanted to give these authors a way to pool these small followings and convert them into a larger group. I see no reason why we can't all share our works by promoting each other.

5. Any additional comments?

Well for starters, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It is a real honor to be part of your blog. Also, I want to take a second to do a shameless plug, in addition to the Anthology that is due out this summer I do have a second prelude novel that will be arriving called Pandora's Last Breath. You will see a familiar face in a supporting role in this book. I am looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on it. And yes the book to follow will be the first volume of the Illumination Chronicles where you will get to see Raisa and Damian and most of the characters from Witches, Demons, & Deals moving the story forward in a huge way.

About Witches, Demons, & Deals

They have a secret. We all have wished upon a star, had a dream, or secret desire, but beware demons lurk in our mist willing to grant them for a price. As these young witches come into their powers the demons are looking to take their souls. Beware who you express your hidden desires to; you never know what might go wrong with the phrase “I Wish.” These witches are hiding in plain sight as our neighbors, friends, and family. These tales show young witches as they learn the secrets and dangers in their world while learning to control the magic that flows in their veins. Loves will be lost, deals will be made, and family members will have accidents because they did not heed the warnings. You never know which one of them has made a deal and are willing to make you the next course for the local demon. Will these young witches be next?

Amazon paperback
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook

Thank you for the interview D.J. May you entertain many readers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My interviews at the Jak Phoenix Universe and Ebook Endeavors

Over the past week I've been honored with interviews from two independent authors.

On February 10th, Matt Williams, author of the charming space opera Jak Phoenix, interviewed me about my fantasy novels at his blog The Jak Phoenix Universe. An interview with fantasy author Tracy Falbe.

Thank you Matt for telling your readers my fiction won't melt their eyeballs, and now this gives me an opportunity to mention that I adore space opera. I have no idea how that genre term developed. It summons images of swashbuckling space pirates bursting into song from the decks of derelict star cruisers.

I've placed Jak Phoenix in my library at Smashwords, so it can someday reach the upper levels of my reading list.

About Jak Phoenix:

Jak Phoenix would rather kick back with a cold drink than stick his neck out to save the galaxy. But, as we all know, life often gets in the way of these ‘big dreams.’ Jak and his longtime friend Baxter once again find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. A last minute salvage mission delivers more than they bargained for when Jak’s old enemy shows up and steals their haul out from under them. When it is revealed the cargo is more important than any of them realized, Jak decides, against his better judgment, that a retrieval is necessary.

His pursuit leads him right past his enemy and into the hands of the most feared pirate in the galaxy. In the spirit of space operas of old, comes an action packed novel following the exploits of the best low quality pirate in the galaxy, Jak Phoenix.

Fly into the Jak Phoenix Universe for reviews and links to buy it.

Then yesterday February 14th, I was interviewed at Ebook Endeavors by Lindsay Buroker, author of the Goblin Brothers Adventures, The Emperor's Edge, and Encrypted. We talked shop a little bit at her epublishing blog where she asked me about marketing and making money as an independent author. Indie fantasy author Tracy Falbe making solid part-time income.

I interviewed her in January as she promoted Encrypted.

Professor Tikaya Komitopis isn’t a great beauty, a fearless warrior, or even someone who can walk and chew chicle at the same time, but her cryptography skills earn her wartime notoriety. When enemy marines show up at her family’s plantation, she expects the worst. But they’re not there to kill her. They need her to decode mysterious runes, and they ask for help in the manner typical of a conquering empire: they kidnap her, threaten her family, and throw her in the brig of their fastest steamship.

Her only ally is a fellow prisoner who charms her with a passion for academics as great as her own. Together, they must decipher mind-altering alchemical artifacts, deadly poison rockets, and malevolent technological constructs, all while dodging assassination attempts from a rival power determined the expedition should fail. As if Tikaya didn’t have troubles enough, her new ally turns out to be exiled fleet admiral, Federias Starcrest, the man who recommended taking over her nation. To trust him could be a mistake; to fall in love with him would be a betrayal to her people, her family, and the fiancĂ© she lost in the war. Those runes cloak more than mysteries, however, and he may be the only one who can help her unravel them before their secrets destroy the world.

Sample some chapters and then visit retailers to purchase Encrypted.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goodreads selling ebooks to its members

Goodreads members have increasing opportunities to read generous excerpts and buy ebooks right within the Goodreads system. This popular social networking site for book lovers has not made much fanfare about its foray into direct retailing to its members, but over the weekend I decided to add my novels into the Goodreads ebook retail system and see what comes of it.

Uploading the epub ebook versions of The Rys Chronicles was easy. The Goodreads page for each of my novels included a little link that said "upload ebook." I clicked this, added the epub file, set how much of an excerpt members could read, and then set a price. It was very easy.

Goodreads takes a 30 percent cut on sales made on its website and gives a reasonable 70 percent of the sale to me. The 30 percent has to be far better than any of the affiliate fees it gets for referring members to other retailers, so I understand why Goodreads is quietly positioning itself in the ebook retail market. With over 4,000,000 registered members, many of whom are obviously active on the site, Goodreads could eventually enjoy a respectable and profitable share of the ebook market.

How do members read ebooks on Goodreads?

When you're on a book's page, look for a button labeled "read ebook" just below the description. If it's there, the goodreads ebook browser will open and you can start reading the book. See picture below.

You might get an excerpt or the complete book depending on how the author or publisher set it up. For example, I have 50 percent of Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I available for sampling at Goodreads before a reader needs to pay $1 to download the whole novel.

How do members buy ebooks on Goodreads?

After you've clicked the "read ebook" button, you will see in the upper right corner of the ebook browser a new button that says "buy ebook."

Clicking this button will take you to the Goodreads online checkout system. Goodreads sells ebooks in the epub format and there is no DRM (encryption). The buyer gets the epub ebook and can put it on numerous reading devices, like computers, ebook readers, and smart phones.

To learn more about my fantasy novels at Goodreads, see ratings and reviews, and even follow my reviews if you like, please go to my author profile. Tracy Falbe on Goodreads

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe is a great movie

I recall that director Ridley Scott's Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett was much maligned when it was released in 2010. After watching it last night, I can say that it was totally undeserving of its unenthusiastic reviews.

I guess that perhaps the theatrical version had problems because the director's cut I watched was very engaging, exceedingly well done by many measures, and never boring through the enter two and half hours.

This version of Robin Hood presents events from Robin's life leading up to his condemnation as an outlaw. The story opens with Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) marching through France with Richard the Lionhearted's army as it returns from a Crusade. Richard is assassinated and Robin comes across the King's slain honor guard and encounters the dying Robert of Loxley. Loxley beseeches Robin to take his sword back to his father, Walter in Nottingham. Robin grants Loxley's dying wish, but he and his companions also loot the bodies of the King's guards and assume the identities of knights returning from a Crusade. Robin takes the identity of Robert Loxley and delivers the sword to Walter Loxley. Walter appreciates Robin's honorable act and proposes that Robin continue the ruse of being Robert. Walter desperately needs a male heir to defend his Nottingham estate. Robert's abandoned wife and now widow, Marion (Cate Blanchett), is incensed but trapped by the circumstances.

I loved this approach to the Marion character. Instead of Maid Marion, she was the wife who had been on her own for 10 years while Robert was crusading. She was a strong and resourceful woman running the estate because Walter was ailing and blind. She is intelligent, able to fight, and skilled in herbcraft. She is often depicted gathering herbs in the forest and giving medicine to sick boys. Many scenes reveal her lovely little touches, like a bouquet a fresh flowers on a table obviously picked by her. Marion is an interesting character in this version of Robin Hood instead of a boring damsel in distress.

Aside from the enhancements to Marion's character, the movie is packed with politics, intrigues, and fight scenes. I don't think Robin Hood gets to go a day without fighting for his life. There is a plot by the French King to invade England with the aid of an English traitor Godfrey. King John is appropriately reprehensible. Also woven into the plot is the rising discontent of the barons as they foment what will eventually become the famous claiming of their rights in the Magna Carta.

The well-loved character of Friar Tuck has a small role in the story, but he is presented with great care. In one scene he is moving around hives of bees to help pollinate fruit trees. The movie is packed with authentic details like this. The production team worked very hard on Robin Hood to create settings that truly illustrated Medieval life. As usual, Friar Tuck is also shown to be the only man of the cloth in the Catholic Church with any redeeming qualities.

Russell Crowe plays Robin Hood in an understated way, which might have bothered some people who wanted a more traditional presentation of the character. However Russell Crowe is very pleasing as Robin Hood. His strength and quality come through in every scene, and the sexual tension between him and Marion when he asks her for help removing his chainmail is marvelously restrained. In a very subtle way, his delight in banditry comes through as well. He is a man who will do what is necessary and damn the consequences.

As a work of historical fiction, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is splendid, intelligent, and exciting. I can't speak for the theatrical version, but I gladly recommend watching the director's cut.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Love this excerpt from Luminous & Ominous by Noah Mullette-Gillman

Luminous & Ominous by Noah Mullette-Gillman
End of the world science fiction adventure

As part of Noah Mullette-Gillman's current blog tour, I am featuring an excerpt from his novel Luminous & Ominous.

About the novel:

Henry Willingham and his friends have three days to make the most terrifying decisions of their lives. The world has been infected by an inescapable living nightmare of alien vegetation that will replace all life on Earth. They must get everyone they love safely underground into a fallout shelter. There's not enough time. There’s not enough room for everyone. Who will they save? Who will they leave behind?

How will they live with the consequences?

After hiding underground for a year, the last three survivors must brave the otherworldly infestation and travel through what used to be upstate New York struggling for their lives and their humanity.

Excerpt from science fiction novel Luminous & Ominous

He found the right door, but decided that he shouldn’t go in through the main entrance. After a little searching, he found the nearest employee door and used the axe to pry it open.

He was in an old hallway again. Maybe the same old hallway? He couldn’t know, but this one had seen a little more use. There were boot prints in the dirt.

He didn’t have the flashlight anymore, but there was a dim florescent light above him. The light was weak because of the hundreds of fly corpses that had accumulated in the plastic cover over the years. It needed to be cleaned. Still, at least the bodies were black and not purple.

He walked past the first door and to the second. He was beginning to become self-conscious again about his nudity. He was afraid of opening one of the doors and finding out what was inside.

When he got to the third door, the violet glow covering it stopped him in his tracks. The wood was covered in a thin netting of beautiful incandescent purple. It felt like staring into the open jaws of a crocodile.

He reached out for the door-knob and imagined he was wrapping his palm around an alligator’s tooth.

The door wasn’t locked.

The portal opened cleanly. The room inside was more beautiful than any interpretation of Heaven he’d even seen.

It was a triumphant glow of ultraviolet hues. Gentle and kind shades of purple and soothing blues massaged his eyes everywhere that he looked. It reminded him of tropical waters, and of the most beautiful sunsets – but finally free of the violence of the harsh influences of the color red. A part of him wanted to lie back into it, and just be absorbed in all of that luscious beauty. He wanted to be purple, to be blue… but he resisted. He knew that the only part he could have in that heaven was to play the part of its fertilizer. His body was the nutrition the beauty fed on, not the recipient of these many gifts.

In spite, he swung his axe through a nearby vine, slicing through it. Cornucopia Blue didn’t get angry. It didn’t defend itself. It magnificently continued to wave back and forth in its graceful pageant.

It occurred to Henry that Cornucopia Blue was more beautiful than anything from Earth. He’d never seen that in the movies. E.T was ugly. Klingons, Wookies, Predators – they were all ugly. The only pretty alien life anyone had ever dreamed up were those human-looking girls with blue or green skin. But really, those were just humans with blue or green skin. Henry suddenly felt the failure of imagination perpetrated by generations of humanity. They really had wasted the last few billion years…

Cornucopia Blue was more beautiful than anything from earth. It was more wonderful than anything we’d ever dreamed up. It was more worthy of life than humanity or…. Henry searched in his mind for the word. The cats came to mind and then he found it.

Cornucopia Blue was more worthy of life than Gaia was.

“Yeah, but fuck you anyway!” Henry shouted and swung the axe.

He liked that the handle was made of wood. It was like the trees and he were ganging up to chop a few purple vines down.

A minute later the floor was covered in severed vegetation. His arms were sore and he was sweating, but it felt good. He could finally begin to see the room behind the alien. There were stacks of cardboard boxes and the Cornucopia was devouring them. Inside the boxes there were DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. The Cornucopia was eating their packaging and leaving the shiny discs untouched. They stuck out; reflecting the colors of the alien invader on their surface.

As Henry saw the media overgrown with the roots and vines he thought again of his trip to South America and the ruined stone buildings besieged by the roots of massive trees. These were the ruins of his civilization forgotten in the jungle.

There was another door forward. Rather than reach out and touch the radiant aquamarine knob, Henry took his axe to it. He decided he would rather smash his way ahead.

He broke it open and found himself in Macy’s.

Luminous & Ominous by Noah K. Mullette-Gillman

Visit his website:

Buy the ebook:

Amazon Kindle

Smashwords, multiple formats available

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New release: Fantasy alternative history steampunk ebook The Burning Sky

The Burning Sky - Steampunk alternative history fantasy
I received an email last night from emerging indie author Joseph Robert Lewis announcing his newest novel The Burning Sky. Judging from his description, this alternative history fantasy should be engaging and exciting. He used the word swashbuckling. That's one of my favorite words.

What Lewis has to say about his fantasy world:

This is a work of historical fantasy. Some of this world may be familiar to you.

But in this world, Europe never emerged from the last Ice Age and only the southern areas are habitable. North Africa is cool, wet, and fertile. Ancient nations such as the Persian Empire have persisted, though others, such as the Romans, never rose to power. Some of the countries in this world reflect the cultures and attitudes of the Renaissance while others reflect the Industrial Age. Historical figures appear, though they too may be different from the ones you have known.

Don’t expect this world to conform to the history that you know. The people and places are different. The climate and wildlife are different.

Even death is different here.

About The Burning Sky: Book One of the Halcyon Trilogy:

Taziri Ohana is an elite airship pilot, though the long hours away from home have taken a toll on her family and she longs for a simpler life. When the Northern Air Corps is wiped out in a catastrophic fire, only Taziri survives to help the marshals pursue the suspects across the skies of Marrakesh. Their investigation reveals a vast conspiracy of deposed aristocrats, wealthy industrialists, and warmongers plotting against the crown. Taziri discovers that her own inventions have been perverted by the conspirators, the cities plunge into violent riots, and their only hope for salvation may be an exiled princess, her swashbuckling escort, and a crippled airship plummeting out of the burning sky.

For links to your favorite retailers or to read reviews at Goodreads, go to the author's blog page for The Burning Sky.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Movie review of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Inspired by an economy crippled by the greed is good mentality, filmmaker Oliver Stone created a sequel to his 1980s classic Wall Street.

The 2010 movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opens with Gordon Gekko's release from prison in 2008. The famously reptilian Gordon receives a cold reception from a world that has moved on without him, but he limps along with a book deal for his prison memoir "Is Greed Good?" With book sales and speaking fees, he can pay the rent, but is it really possible that the brilliant and amoral Gordon did not tuck away a shiny chunk of his former fortune?

The remnants of Gordon's family have no desire to see him. His son has died of an overdose, his wife divorced him long ago, and his daughter, Winnie, knows better than to attempt a relationship with her toxic father.

Her fiance, Jake, however is intent on contacting Gordon. Ostensibly Jake wants to patch things up between Winnie and Gordon so she can heal emotionally, but deep down Jake wants to learn the secrets to success from the notorious Gordon. Jake is a hot shot trader employed by a large investment bank. Keeping afloat an alternative energy company researching fusion is Jake's dream. With oil prices skyrocketing, he sees his plans all coming together, but the historic financial collapse fueled by junky mortgage backed securities and insurance derivatives puts his employer on the gallows. Jake's employer is a fictional version of Lehman Brothers that was allowed to fail at the beginning of the crisis. Then later in the movie, the government bailout of all the investment banks is also portrayed.

Gordon is naturally in awe of the level of criminality that is allowed to go on. He calls the investment bankers the real criminals. He's nothing compared to them. Although Gordon's claim that his crimes were victimless is a stretch, he is right in that the crimes of the current titans of finance ruined the lives of millions and continues to do so.

As the drama unfolds, Jake learns that Gordon did set aside $100 million in Winnie's name in a Swiss bank account. According to Gordon, Winnie is supposed to stake him when gets out of prison so he can start over. Winnie wants to give it to charity, but Gordon lures Jake to his side by offering to give the $100 million to Jake's languishing alternative energy enterprise. Jake convinces Winnie to cooperate and Gordon assumes the role of laundering the cash. Of course any $100 million deal involving Gordon Gekko means one thing: Gordon gets the money. He immediately starts a new trading company in London and is happily back to playing his favorite game. He's says it's not about the money. It's about the game. 

How does Money Never Sleeps compare to the original Wall Street?

Sometimes the sequel tries too hard to remake the original. For example, when Jake stokes the Wall Street rumor mill with multiple phone calls, the split screen montage is the same as the one used in the first movie.

As for Gordon, he remains as ickily charming as the original character. I adore Michael Douglas and always admired the Gordon Gekko character who embodies the winning at all cost philosophy that runs the world. In Money Never Sleeps we actually get to see a bit of humanity in Gordon. He actually has feelings. The man who always insists that you can't let emotions interfere with business is masterful at exploiting emotions to get what he wants. Gordon does even utter the line "I am human." And he is. Many people are just like Gordon.

A highlight of the movie comes during one of Gordon's speaking events. Addressing a large crowd of university students, he declares that they are the ninja generation, meaning they have no income, no jobs, and no assets. The audience titters nervously as he bluntly informs them that their futures are screwed. This speech is an intriguing reprise on Gordon's famous greed is good speech to shareholders in the first movie. He is no longer cheering on capitalists for being capitalists. He's now informing the masses that rabid unregulated capitalism has consumed their financial futures in a gluttonous frenzy that holds no one accountable.

For people who love the first movie like I do, Money Never Sleeps is an interesting sequel. The script is good. The scene where Gordon runs into Bud Fox is a hoot. A mostly lucid Charlie Sheen plays the scene like everything between him and Gordon is water under the bridge. Overall, the movie is a bit of a meandering mess, but it has important messages. I appreciated watching it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm co-sponsoring a $40 Amazon gift card drawing

Every month Author AdvenTours organizes a drawing for an Amazon gift card. To enter, you buy one of the ebooks from the sponsors and then email your receipt to Author AdvenTours to enter. You'll also be entered in the 2011 Kindle giveaway, so you actually have two shots at winning.

See complete details and peruse the novels from the sponsors here:

Win a $40 Amazon gift card

Naturally my fantasy novel Union of Renegades is one of the choices. My ongoing promotional giveaway of the ebook through my websites would not count for entering but it's only $1 in the Kindle store.

Other choices are:

Encrypted by Lindsay Buroker - I just interviewed her on Monday
Summer Solstice by Gayle Hayes
Wishful Thinking by K. Crumley - Read her recent guest post about fantasy world building
Piety and Murder by Thomas Drinkard