Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Gates of Atlantis - Battle for Acropolis

Hi, Everyone! Today on Peacewrites we are celebrating the new MG fantasy/adventure series THE GATES OF ATLANTIS! This is a shared series, written by six awesome authors, each of whom have created characters that the others are free to use. Yet each novel concentrates on that author's specific characters, and each is a separate ATLANTIS adventure.

You will find author pics, bios, and the other five book covers below, but first I'm going to concentrate on just one of the books in this series, BATTLE FOR ACROPOLIS by my dear friend, fabulous writer, and talented book cover artist, MIKEY BROOKS.
 Below you will find my review of his book, and then an interview I was lucky enough to get with him. He gave some cool and insightful answers to my questions - check them out! After that, you will see the other book covers in THE GATES OF ATLANTIS series, plus pics of the authors and their bios. And finally, there's a REALLY cool giveaway to enter, so don't forget to scroll to the bottom!
OK, peeps ... here you go!

Cas Peace (short)  review of BATTLE FOR ACROPOLIS:
       BATTLE FOR ACROPOLIS is a fun and exciting read. The main characters are Talon, a thirteen-year-old lad with strange eyes, strange powers, and an even stranger destiny, and his foster sister Hattie, a girl with a most unusual lineage. The novel starts out like it's going to be a school drama, with Talon unintentionally burning down his school library. (Don't worry - there are no spoilers here!) However, it soon becomes clear that Talon has been singled out for something, by someone - only he has no idea for what or by whom. When Hattie decides to take drastic action in order to find the person depicted on a postcard she received, the two kids embark upon a journey that is exciting, frightening, character-forming, and magical. Talon in particular will have to grow up real fast in order to fulfill the destiny mapped out for him. The kids meet others in the shared world of Atlantis, and each has their own unique part to play in the city's future.
       I loved the feel and movement in this novel. I've read some of Mikey's previous MG novels and am a fan - particularly of his series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. He always seems to know how to reach into the minds of his young characters, maybe because he has young children himself, or maybe because he has never really grown up! Whichever it is, he has a gift and he uses it well. I wish his novels had been around when I was growing up; they would certainly have had pride of place on my bookshelf!
      I would definitely recommend BATTLE FOR ACROPOLIS, I'm sure it will be a best-seller. :-)

So now we come to the interview Mikey gave me. I really loved all his answers - see what you think!
Ok, Mikey, many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Here's your first question...
1) Can you tell us why you choose to write MG fantasy novels? What is it about this genre that draws you?
I believe I write it because this was the genre of book that first gave me my love of reading. I was a teen when I picked up the Oz series by L. Frank Baum and it opened a world to me that I never knew could exist. Books then became very important to me. When I got older I tried to read the more “grown up” books but very few grabbed me like middle-grade books do. Maybe it makes me feel young? What I like most is touching the hearts of the young readers who pick up my books. They are what make writing worth it.
2) Have you tried writing in any other genres?
I did when I was studying at the University for my degree. I actually won a couple awards and had some nonfiction published in literary magazines. I always come back to writing middle grade though. I just love the age group and the ideas of be in between places; the books that straddle the realistic and the fantastical.
3) What inspires you as far as plots go - where do you get your ideas from?
When the Atlantis authors set out on this adventure we had in mind a basic plot for the series. That being Atlantis is in trouble and the magical creatures that reside there need to fix it. We all spoke of magical creatures we’d like our characters to be. Once I decided on what Talon was (I won’t spoil it here) I then tried to think of the best way for him to discover it on his own. So I’d say for this project it was just a group of creative writers brainstorming. Most of my ideas come from children. If you listen to what they say without them knowing it can spark a wild fire of ideas.
4) What do you enjoy most about the writing process? Are there aspects you don’t like?
I like the world building. I like to explore places that no one else has been before. There is something magical about creating your own world. I also love doing the research. For the Gates of Atlantis I got to read old texts about the lost city and explore rumors about the Bermuda Triangle. It was all very fun to do. Aspects I don’t like…well I don’t care much for the editing part. Even with a degree in English I’m not too keen on grammar and punctuation.
5) Has writing changed you as a person, and if so, how?
My wife would say I live in my head more often than I used to. I am constantly thinking about what will happen next in my book. I do find myself wanting to be a better person after writing about all these characters that continually change for the better.
6) Which do you like best - your writing or your artwork?
Oh goodness. You might as well ask me which of my children I love more. There are days that I have to express myself in words, other times I have to do it with art. I guess what I like best is when I can bring them together.
7) If you weren’t a writer or an artist, and you could be anything, what would you be?
Can I be a superhero? If I could be anything I’d want special powers to help other people. If I could have any job in the world I’d want to run a children’s book store. No kidding! It has always been a dream of mine.
8) If Battle for Acropolis were to be made into a film, who would you choose to play Talon?
Oh man, what a question! Let’s bring on the film! Brace yourself Hollywood. The problem is the kids grow up too fast. I think Chandler Canterbury could pull Talon off. He is still young and has a hard edge look to him. He was in the film The Host.
9) What does your family think about what you do? Do any of your children show signs of being as talented as you?
I think my wife would like me living in the “real” world a little more often than I do. Other than that everyone is so supportive. The girlies love to tell people what daddy does. My oldest, Bean, wants to be an author/illustrator like her dad. I have noticed she has a talent for art. So does my second oldest, Buggy. I think they all will go far in whatever field they decide to flourish.
10) Have you, or would you ever consider naming a child after a novel or film character?
Ha! It is funny you should ask this question. I did not set out to name my children after character’s from my books but they do seem to find their way in. I don’t share publicly my children’s names but if you’ve read my books, you’d probably find them. For this book I swore to my wife I wouldn’t include one of our kids’ names in it…but…yes always the but, one of the other authors happened to name their main character my daughter’s name. So much for promises. 
11) What is next for author Mikey Brooks? Apart from seeing your books selling worldwide, where would you like your writing to take you?
As long as I can continue to write and share my stories with kids I will die a happy man. Do I dream of success? Of course I do. What author doesn’t want their books to be successful? However, success can come in many different forms. As long as kids are asking me to write, I have found success. Oh, and I dream about that movie deal, too. J

Thank you SO much, Mikey, for that great interview! Now, let's see the other book covers in THE GATES OF ATLANTIS series, and learn something about the other authors. After the bios, you will find a list of links where you can buy these fabulous books:

Laura Bastian grew up in a small town in central Utah                         
and now lives in another small town in northern Utah.
She always loved stargazing and imagining life outside her
own little world. Though they grew up only thirty miles apart,
she didn’t meet her husband until they went to college. A graduate
of Utah State University with a degree in Elementary and Special
Education, Laura has been using that training as she raises her
children and writes make believe worlds. You can usually find
her on her laptop either typing away, or on social media interacting
with friends.
Buy her books here:

Jaclyn Weist is an Idaho farm girl who grew up loving to read.          
She developed a love for writing as a senior in high school,
when her dad jokingly said she was the next Dr. Seuss
(not even close, but very sweet). She met her husband, Steve,
at BYU and they have six happy, crazy children that encourage
her writing. After owning a bookstore and running away to have
adventures in Australia, they settled back down in their home in
Utah. Jaclyn now spends her days herding her kids to various 
activities and trying to remember what she was supposed to do
You can purchase Jaclyn's books here:
Find Jaclyn here:

Juli Caldwell                                                                                        
This is where I tell you about how amazing and
interesting my life is. Sorry to disappoint you with
my non-glamorous life, but I'm a normal person
who loves to read and loves to write. I've written
romance, YA paranormal, and mid-grade fantasy--
who knows what I'll try next? I just listen to the
voices in my head and let their stories out. I'm
married to my favorite person, and together we're
raising two hilarious daughters and a dog who
dances gangnam style for treats. La vie est belle!
You can find Juli's books here:
Find out more about Juli here:

Wendy Knight is the bestselling author of                                         
the young adult series Fate on Fire and Riders
of Paradesos. She was born and raised in Utah
by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten
because she was the baby. Now she spends her
time driving her husband crazy with her many
eccentricities (no water after five, terror when
faced with a live phone call, no touching the
knives…you get the idea). She also enjoys
chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis,
watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping
is also big—her family is slowly working toward
a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.
You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi
nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for
whatever the occasion. And if everything works
out just right, she will also be writing.
You can find all of Wendy's books here:
You can find more about Wendy here:

JR Simmons lives in Northern Utah with his                                            
wife and 4 boys. He loves spending time with
his family and coaching his kids in all of their
different sports. He is an avid gamer and is very
excited that his boys are picking up on his hobby.
JR was recently introduced to triathlons and has
since found that he loves the sport. Most nights
he can be found either sitting down with a good
game or hunched over his iPad writing.
You can purchase his book here:
Find J.R. here:

           The Gates of Atlantis Links

Banshee at the Gate:
Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Guardians of the Gates:

Secrets of the Mine:
Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Magicians of the Deep:

Madness Behind the Throne:
Paperback | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Battle for Acropolis:

Now we come to the extra-cool part - the GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Welcome to Peacewrites, everyone! From April 21 until May 2 2014 I am promoting the latest book in my Artesans series. The Challenge is the fourth Artesans book, and it is also the first book of the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy. 

Read on for the back cover copy, and don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY
 at the bottom of this post!

Friend against friend, lover against lover, ally against ally. Conflict is coming …

Nine months have passed since Brynne Sullyan helped forge an alliance between the realms of Albia and Andaryon. A fragile peace reigns as both sides recover from the events of the previous year. Then mysterious raiders strike Andaryon villages. Attempts are made on the life of Albia’s High King. As Sullyan scrambles to find those responsible, unseen enemies threaten to pull apart everything she has worked for, including her marriage.

The alliance begins to crumble, and Sullyan finds herself caught between two monarchs: the king she’s sworn allegiance to, and the man she loves as a father. To betray either one would break her heart, but if conflict is inevitable, she must make a choice …

Now read what acclaimed fantasy, sci-fi, and non-fiction author Janet Morris has to say about the Artesans of Albia series:

Cas Peace's Artesans of Albia trilogy immediately sweeps you away:  the drama starts with King's Envoy, continues unabated in King's Champion, and climaxes in King's Artesan, yet each volume is complete, satisfying.  The Artesan series  propels you into a world so deftly written that you see, feel, touch, and even smell each twist and turn. These nesting novels are evocative, hauntingly real.  Smart.  Powerful.  Compelling.  The trilogy teems with finely drawn characters, heroes and villains and societies worth knowing; with stories so organic and yet iconic you know you've found another home—in Albia.

Now there's a fourth book on Albia's horizon:  The Challenge, also Book One in Peace's forthcoming sub-series, the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy, proof of more Albian tales on the way.  So start reading now.  I, for one, can't wait to find out what will happen next.
Janet Morris: The Sacred Band of Stepsons; the Dream Dancer series; I, the Sun; Outpassage.


Here’s where to find all four Artesan books:
US Print:

US Kindle:

UK Print:

UK Kindle:

Now Enter The Challenge Giveaway to win some way cool Prizes! There will be one
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WordPress users please copy and paste this link:

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I'm very excited today to have author Janet Morris on my blog talking about the events in her life that enabled her to get inside the hearts and minds of her heroes. Janet and Chris Morris contributed the short story "Black Sword" to the Nine Heroes anthology recently published by Stencil Press. I was privileged to be copy-editor on this work and so I know how brilliant the collection is.
Read Janet's post and then follow the link below to get your copy of Nine Heroes!

In the anthology Nine Heroes, Chris Morris and I introduce our hero, Rhesos of Thrace, who was killed by Diomedes at Troy and resurrected by his mother, the Muse Kalliope.  When we meet Rhesos, he’s hazy about the circumstances surrounding his death and resurrection, but he knows what he is:  a hero of mythological proportions.  And so he begins a journey to reclaim his memories, his past, and revenge some wrongs done him.

To write heroic fiction, fantasy, or mythic tales, you must feel the hero in your blood, hear the call in your heart.  These were the moments that started me on the hero’s journey:

I was three years old, and female, playing with three or four older children, all boys, on our street.  The fattest, biggest boy punched me in the stomach, and he and his friends dragged me into a garage and locked me in a closet there.  I screamed until, somehow, my parent’s handyman heard and rescued me.  I can still remember those big black arms, enfolding me, picking me up, and my head against his shoulder, looking back at the horrified boys.  My parents questioned me, and did the rest.  I never knew what happened, beyond the fact that those four boys never troubled me again.

I was four years old, playing in a mud puddle, and the dalmation who lived down at the end of our street charged me and bit me.  The family story goes that I threw myself on his back and bit him in the neck.

I was six years old, in the first grade, and was made teacher’s helped because I could already read and write.  I was assigned to help a slow-witted boy learn how to write his name but instead of listening, he crumpled up his paper, grabbed the crayon from my hand, and ate it.  I called him “stupid” aloud, and I was then taken to the principal’s office for telling the truth.

I was nine years old, and had been saving for two years to buy a horse by writing book reports, for which I received 25 cents per report – if my mother approved each report as proving I had actually read the subject book.  When I had saved $175.00, we found a horse for me.  He ran away with me every day, whenever I turned his head back toward the barn.  I couldn’t tell my parents, or they would have taken him away from me.  Finally the old man who ran the barn, tired of seeing that horse run me into the barn at hell’s own page, told me:  “Swing your leg over, as if you want to dismount, honey.  He’s a cow horse.  He’ll stop.”  So I learned to face a danger no words can express, and to take even more dangerous action for a desired result.  I’d swing my right leg over, hanging on for dear life, and my horses would stop – every time.

I was ten years old, and my parents came to the barn and insisted that my fifty-pound, seven year old sister be allowed to ride my horse.  I knew what was going to happen, as soon as she turned the corner in the paddock that led toward the barn.  Sure enough, my horse Koko broke into a run, my sister bounced precariously, my mother screamed, and I stepped out in front of my horse, arms and legs spread wide.  He stopped; my sister wasn’t killed, and my father said I could still keep the horse, since I had warned them not to let her ride him and risked my life to save my sister.

At ten in the paddock with both my parents watching, I heard the hero’s call to duty on that day.  Later I would realize that among humankind is a caretaker class, who will do what is needed, despite the risk, and that I was among that class.  Then, I knew from all my reading of mythology books that I was indomitable, and from horse books that no horse would ever hurt me and that, to a horse, a girl is just as good, as brave, as strong as a boy, and so I found my way down that path through life, from challenge to challenge.  Even by that age, the heroic model from mythology was so much a part of me that never again, after that first awful day, would a gang of boys lock me in a closet so that I had to find another to rescue me.  I would be that other, the hero, not the victim – as often as I could manage it.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Researching Forts and Castles for Fantasy Novels: A Post by R A McCandless in the Nine Heroes Anthology series

Ladies and Gentlemen, our first ever anthology Nine Heroes has been released and in celebration of that we are doing a series of posts called "That is the moment when". Each post deals with an experience or experiences that each author who contributed to the anthology has had that helped shape the way they write or tell stories.

This time around we have RA McCandless, who contributed the short story 'Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke' to the anthology.

Nine Heroes: That is the moment when . . .

It was November of 2013, at Fort Rinella on Malta.

That is the moment when I realized just how important, and how impressive, even small fortifications could be, and why I loved writing about them.  I’d been all over the island nation checking out the massive turrets, bastions, towers, walls and defenses of the Knights Hospitaller, and they were all fantastic.  It was research and inspiration in one for a heroic fantasy author.  You definitely understand that the men who held claim to Malta and dedicated to a life of piety, were trained and skilled in war and violence.

But the British-built Ford Rinella, constructed between 1878 and 1886 to house and defend an Armstrong 100-ton gun, is what really brought the concept of siege-craft into sharp focus.  This was brought to my full and complete attention when the tour guides, dressed in an era-appropriate red British uniform, led us along the approach, which bent sharply to the right just as we approached the counter-escarpment.  Twenty firing points line the defensive wall, part of a sheer drop into a dry moat about thirty feet deep.  Five of the firing points were manned, and additional reenactment volunteers began to mass-fire blanks in our general direction.  The noise of the commands to aim and fire, given in quick succession, followed by the booming report of weapons, gave me pause.

Considering the approach from an attacker’s point of view, you’d have to order men down that death shoot.  Without any kind of armor or shielding, it would take hard, fast running and a great deal of luck to avoid the massed fire coming from all twenty of the firing points when full manned.  This doesn’t take into account at all the assault required to breach the moat, pull open the solid siege door (which had its own firing point) and then attempt to storm into the fort proper . . . which had its own defenses.  I haven’t even mentioned the caponier with additional firing ports, defensive ditches and narrow choke points throughout the rest of the small fortress.

Reading about castles and towers and fortifications is one thing.  Even visiting them helps give a good sense of scale and perspective.  For an author this first hand knowledge is invaluable.  But actually seeing, even as a reenactment, soldiers moving into position with their weapons to repel an attack . . . that’s quite something.

Explaining attack or defense or even a soldier’s day-to-day life to an audience in the context of heroic, valiant or villainous even dastardly deeds is what made the experience so rewarding.  The thrill of fear in just the approach, the resolve of the defenders in their position of tenuous strength – it’s the very essence of any good story.  Objective and challenges, set-backs and triumphs are an author’s main stock in trade.  The goal, though, is to take the reader to a place that is so real that if they ever actually go there, it won’t be for the first time.

Nine Heroes is available in both paperback and kindle.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Hello one and all! Well, the Nine Heroes anthology has been released and we here at the Heroic Fantasy Group couldn’t be happier how it turned out. In celebration of this we came up with an idea that will help readers get to know our authors a little better. So with this in mind we shall be doing a series of blog posts known as ‘That is the moment when’. These blog posts are about a certain experience each author has had in their lives that helped influence the way they write and tell stories. So without further to do let us begin!

First up to the plate is Shane Porteous who contributed the short story ‘Dozen’ to the anthology. Over to you, Shane!

Hi, Everyone!
Ghosts, vampires, zombies, demons, killer robots and all kinds of other monsters are scary things. I think you would struggle to find anyone that wasn’t scared of them sometime in their life; I was no different of course. As a boy I would often read comics/books about them. You know the ones I am talking about Goosebumps, Choose Your Nightmare etc. As children we have all had those moments, the ones where in order to impress our friends we have pretended to be brave and enter a supposedly haunted house or say the word of a spirit in a mirror x number of times. Of course the truth was none of us were brave, we were all scared, I know I certainly was.

I suppose it is unsurprising then that I was drawn to superheroes and pulp fiction barbarians. The men and occasionally women, who not only showed little fear in the face of these monsters but often at times, hunted them down. I think that is the reason why a lot of people like super heroes. I mean as a kid it was down right cool to see Spiderman getting the better of the monstrous Lizard or the ghoulish Venom. Who could pass up a chance to see Batman laying the smack down on the likes of Croc Killer? 

I have written stories my entire life and while sadly I cannot remember most of the earliest ones I am quite sure they all entailed such things. They were filled with all sorts of monsters, but the monsters weren’t just hunting helpless victims, instead men and women bravely thwarted them and became the nightmares of the very monsters they hunted. 

Essentially those early stories were a celebration of good triumphing over evil. A classic and often used theme, but that doesn’t diminish its importance or effect, I mean after all there is a reason why such a theme is considered timeless. For most of my childhood those are the stories that I wrote, good triumphing over evil. They were simple stories, but boy, were they fun to write! 

I remember when I was ten or so I had a friend called Andrew, he was obsessed with a sci-fi movie called Guyver: Dark Hero. He was constantly talking about it, I don’t remember specifically what he said. But using the sparkling word play that children are fluent in it would have been something like, “Dude, it is about this guy who can summon space armor and he uses it to fight these transforming monsters!” Definitely sounded like my kind of thing.

Of course the problem was this was during the hype of the television series MacGuyver. So whenever I tried to tell my parents about it they just thought I was making up stories about that particular television. Eventually (or more likely rather quickly) I gave up my search for it.

I had pretty much completely forgotten about it by the time I was eleven as I am sure Andrew had as well. Then one day I was in my local video store, (this was back when a video store was more or less on every corner.) I was browsing the shelves as usual, looking for my weekly fix of professional wrestling tapes, when I walked down an isle I had never been in before. In that isle I saw something on the shelf, something that sparked a memory in my mind. It wasn’t Guyver: Dark Hero and it wasn’t a movie. It was Guyver Bio Booster Armor, a cartoon series (okay I later learned that technically it is called an anime, because it is a Japanese cartoon based on a manga). But at the time to me it was just called a cartoon and was the influence behind the movie Andrew often so fondly spoke about.

Reading the back of the tape I began remembering all the things Andrew had said about it and indeed it really looked like my kind of thing. So I rented it, took it home, chucked it in the VCR and set myself up for a viewing experience.

The first thing that struck me were the monsters, they were darker, grittier and downright creepier than most monsters I had ever seen before. While this scared me I remember feeling a little bit excited because this had to mean that the hero was tough and brave, the kind of person who could put these monsters in their place. Apart from that I really wasn’t expecting anything different than to what I was use to. I saw Sho (main character) as this world’s Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne, defending good people from evil monsters.

Now I should probably stop here and just explain the plot of Guyver a bit. I mean no offense to my old friend Andrew but I got a feeling my paraphrasing of his description of Guyver just doesn’t quite get the job done.

Essentially Guyver told the story about three sets of alien armor, when activated they would be spiritually attached to whoever had activated them. The easiest way to describe them is basically think of a cross between Ironman’s armor and an alien symbiote. Now these sets of armor were being sought after by the Chronos Corporation, who used genetically engineered shape-shifting monsters called Zoanoids as foot soldiers. 

So anyway there I was watching the episodes enjoying them thoroughly when a new group of villains were introduced (I apologize for not remembering the episode number.) These guys were called the Hyper Zoanoid Team 5, as you may have guessed they were a team of 5 Hyper Zoanoids. Essentially these guys were the best of the best of the best, the elite of the core of the Chronos Corporation. I thought they were great bad guys, they were scary, they were powerful and they certainly would give Sho a run for his money. But little did I realize that the Hyper Zoanoid Team 5 would forever change the way I saw stories and how I wrote them.

There is a certain scene that occurs within the series, revolving around Elegan, a member of this elite team. Elegan, after being beaten in a fight was on the ground, heavily injured, bleeding badly, in other words it was pretty obvious that he was going to die. Another member of the team ZX-Tole found the injured Elegan and silently listened to his pleas for help. He then got down on one knee before Elegan and…told him that it would be alright, that he was there for him.

Now this might not seem like much, but to my 11-year-old brain it was earth shattering. Because bad guys, let alone bad guys who were monsters, weren’t suppose to actually care about one another. At that time in my life whenever a situation like that arose the uninjured bad guy was suppose to look down at the injured bad guy and say something like, “Hey sucks to be you now I get a chance to use your weapon.” Following that they would either leave the injured bad guy to die or kill them themselves. But this wasn’t the case, ZX-Tole was visibly upset that his companion was moments away from death.

That scene really threw me at the time and with a new kind of curiosity I watched the rest of the series. It wasn’t so much questions of were the Zoanoids really evil and was Sho really a good guy. Those were already made clear, what wasn’t clear to me was why a bad guy would care about the well being of another bad guy? I watched on and slowly began to see the Hyper Zoanoid Team 5 not as faceless monsters doing evil things for the sake of being evil, but rather I saw a group of soldiers fighting for a cause they truly believed in. Even if I didn’t agree with their cause I was beginning to understand it more and more. It made me think in ways I never really had before, I began asking what reason did Sho have that gave him a better right or claim to use the power of the Guyver over the Chronos Corporation? It was a question I could easily answer in terms of good and evil, but that answer didn’t satisfy me.

That is the moment when I realized what had fascinated me so much about it. It wasn’t a question of good and evil, for that was a question too easily answered. But rather who was right and who was wrong? And more importantly who decided who was right and who wrong? In any conflict both sides believe they are right and the other wrong, but they both can’t be correct, can they? In terms of story telling, it was a question I had never asked myself, never even considered asking it until then. The question was far more complicated than simply knowing good and evil. It seemed only to lead to more questions, but in place of becoming frustrated I became ever curious. That made the question seem deeper to me, much worthier of exploring. And so I began searching for a conclusive answer in my own writings. I wrote new stories, tales much different to the ones that I had already written. These stories were more intriguing, more complex, more interesting, frankly they were superior in pretty much every way. It put me on a new literary path, one richer and grander than any other I had ever taken and I have Guyver Bio Boost Armor to thank for that.

It has been quite a while since the first time I saw Guyver Bio Booster Armor and I still find myself on that path, searching for that elusive conclusive answer. You would think searching for that long without an answer would dampen my spirits. But nothing could be further from the truth. I am glad to still be on this path, happy that my search continues. 
Shane Porteous 

Now why not do yourself a favor and check out the awesome anthology that is NINE HEROES. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hey, Everyone! Today I'm very proud to share this Press Release about Stencil Press' fantasy anthology "Nine Heroes". I was copy-editor on this and so I know how good these stories are. If you love fantasy, heroes, action and adventure, mystery, monsters and all things heroic, then this is the book for you! Please go grab a copy, and please! Leave an Amazon review!!

Stencil Press is Proud to Announce the Release of "Nine Heroes"

Stencil Press is proud to release its first Heroic Fantasy short story anthology: “Nine Heroes.” “Nine Heroes” is a collection of short stories from some of the most exciting fantasy authors working today. Proceeds from the work will go towards promoting the Heroic Fantasy Facebook group. The hope is that this book will generate sufficient funds to allow the members of Heroic Fantasy to promote the work of new and upcoming writers.

Stories include:

Black Sword by Janet Morris and Chris Morris
The Act of Sleepless Nights by Walter Rhein
To Kill a Myth by Jesse Duckworth
No Life Too Small by Douglas R. Brown
To Live by Tom Barczak
Dozen by Shane Porteous
Just One Mistake by A.L. Butcher
Witness to Death by Teel James Glenn
Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke by R.A. McCandless

“Nine Heroes” is currently available on the Createspace Bookstore and will be available through other retailers such as Amazon shortly. Please visit the create space “Nine Heroes” page and help us out by clicking the blue Facebook “like” button available there.

Review copies of “Nine Heroes” are currently available. To request a review copy, please send an email to Please include a link to a recent review. Reviews should be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and your personal blog (if applicable).

Also please check out the other works by the authors of “Nine Heroes” which are currently available.

The Sacred Band by Janet and Chris Morris
To learn more about Janet and Chris Morris, please visit their web page at:

The Reader of Acheron by Walter Rhein
To learn more about Walter Rhein, please visit his web pages at:

A Song of Betrayal by Jesse Duckworth
To learn more about Jesse Duckworth, please visit his web page at:

The Rise of Cridon by Douglas R. Brown
To learn more about Douglas R. Brown, please visit his web page at:

Veil of the Dragon by Tom Barczak
To learn more about Tom Barczak, please visit his web page at:

How Gods Bleed by Shane Porteous

To learn more about A.L. Butcher, please visit her web page at:

Songs of a Warrior Priest by Teel James Glenn
To learn more about Teel James Glenn, please visit his web page at:

Tears of Heaven by R.A. McCandless
To learn more about R.A. McCandless, please visit his web page at:

Other Contributors:

King’s Envoy by Cas Peace
To learn more about Cas Peace, please visit her web page at:

Front Cover Artist
Jason Pedersen
To learn more about Jason Pedersen, please visit his web page at:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hey Peeps!
Today I'm turning my blog over to author Shane Porteous, who in his post below recommends 7 of his favorite books. I know 2 of those on his list and wholeheartedly agree with him, so I'm sure he's right about the others! Have a read and see if any take your fancy.

Hello one and all, my name is Shane Porteous, I am an author but this post isn’t about me plugging any of my works, rather I would like to talk about books that I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of talking about the works of Tolkien, King, Rowling, Martin, Clancy, Barker and Lewis, all of whom are now household names, I thought I would talk about relatively unknown books that I feel are definitely worth a read. The reason for this is rather simple, like almost all writers I love reading but rarely have a chance to talk about books I have discovered and enjoyed.
So I have decided to indulge the reader in me, I feel that all readers are on a quest to discover unknown gems of literature. I think this has to do with just how rare such a feeling is. The feeling that the story you are holding in your hands is something precious, something special, something rare. While stories like Lord of The Rings, The Stand, A Song of Ice and Fire are magnificent stories, their brilliance is common knowledge. When you discover their brilliance for yourself, you’re discovering something that millions of people have found before you. Those gems though beautiful have been read by everyone, I personally think that if you could somehow visit every book shelf in the world you would be hard pressed not to find at least one book by the aforementioned authors on it.
So my hope is that I can help you discover new books for your bookshelves (or e-reader). Keeping in mind that quality is all a matter of an opinion. The old saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind. With that said I hope you feel the same way I did when reading these books and enjoy discovering these unknown gems for yourself. So without further to do, in no particular order I present my 7 relatively unknown worthwhile reads.

Number 7. Woken by Kaine Andrews
Woken is the story of Ophelia a young woman who barely survived a savage attack at the hands of Andrew, her sister's boyfriend. Several years have passed since that horrible night and Ophelia is still haunted by what occurred. Relying on medication just to get through the days and haunted by terrible nightmares. Her only sanctuary is that Andrew has been in a coma since that night. Finding comfort in the arms of the charming Roger, things finally start looking up, if only slightly. But all of that is about to change because Andrew has woken from his coma and is ready to finish what he started.
The first praise I need to give this novel is the fact that Kaine Andrews made each of his characters matter. Ophelia is not a generic victim whose torment is exploited for the sake of performing horrific acts upon her. She is a fully realized character and grounded in reality. She isn’t some supermodel looking woman with the intelligence of a scientist. She feels like a real person, someone you could honestly meet in real life.  When bad things happen to her, you actually give a damn about it, you feel her pain, you feel her fear.
Feeding into this perfectly is Andrew, the villain of the piece. Andrew isn’t a campy character, he isn’t a Halloween special. Andrew is a sick, twisted monster of an individual and at no time did the author pander or try to lighten his mood.  
This is a true horror story, not something you would read to your children on Halloween night because they want a spooky story. This is dark, bloody and horrific; Kaine Andrews manages to show the brutality of violence without every exploiting or relying on it to tell his story.
Beyond these points is just how talented of a word smith Kaine Andrews is. Every word in this book feels like an ant of the same literary colony, working together to tell this story. There are no red herrings, no pandering and no fillers. Woken doesn’t rely on anything other than its own strengths, a true rarity for books these days. If you like horror that is as horrific as it is well told, you would struggle to find a better book than this one.  

Number 6. Masquerade (book one of the Heven and Hell series)  by Cambria Hebert.
Masquerade, revolves around Heven, a high school student, who once was leader of the cheer leading squad. Several years before the story begins she was attacked and left disfigured by an unknown creature. Still reeling from the scars both physical and emotional of that attack her life suddenly takes a positive turn when she meets Sam, the handsome new stranger of her small town. But while new love is in the air so is terror for the creature that once attacked her is back and ready to finish what it has started.
I am bending my own rules a little bit mentioning this story. I just checked Cambria Hebert’s goodreads profile to discover she now has hundreds of reviews and thousands of ratings. This doesn’t surprise me in the least for several very good reasons that I will get to in a minute. I just need to stress the fact that when I first read this book there were only a handful of reviews for it. Also another point I need to make is that ultimately this list is my opinion on things and I am not saying that people should or shouldn’t like or read certain types of genres.
For me normally, there are three things that will stop me from reading a book, Romance, an Urban Setting and Young Adult. Masquerade has all three and yet I read it from first page to last without a problem. This is because this book is the most well paced story that I have ever read. It is amazing just how well Cambria Hebert was able to pace this story without ever once making it feel disjointed or underwritten.
While it is very much a young adult paranormal romance story, I was never bored reading it, every chapter brought a new revelation, something of value to the story. It left me guessing for its entire run, something that very few books have ever done for me.
It is often said, that a good book is one that can transcend its genre and this book definitely does that as far as I am concerned. The fact that I felt engaged and interested the entire time while reading about things I normally could care less about such as teenage angst, social politics and romance shows just how great of a story is actually is.

Number 5.  The Superiors (The Superiors #1) by Lena Hillbrand
The Superiors represents a future where Vampires have taken over the world and humans, better known as Saps are little more than livestock. The main character is Draven, a rather unassuming vampire that has a mediocre job and lives a rather ordinary life who one day meets a young sap called Cali, trying to run away from her predetermine fate.
There is a lot that can be said about an author that can take something as overused as vampires and actually make an engaging, interesting story out of it. Reading my brief summary of the plot you are probably thinking that such a story has been done before and you’re right it has. But putting that aside, I found The Superiors a story that honestly stands on its own merit. Lena Hillbrand has created a fascinating fleshed out world.
Draven the main character is a kind of “Joe Vampire,” he isn’t some dark shadow that stalks the night or some Romeo who for some reason is only interested in teenage girls. There aren’t ANY romantic overtones in this story and that is a true rarity in vampire literary.
Beyond using vampires, the story itself is just incredibly engaging, what I loved about it is that the author takes her time with the story, she doesn’t rush through it (something that quite frankly annoys me about a lot of books that are written today). Instead she masterfully crafts every inch of this world, she doesn’t so much tackle social issues as deals with them with the subtly of an assassin.
A perfect example of this for me was how the vampires, who consider themselves the master race have fallen into the same traps of the world that humans once did. The vast majority of the vampires seem no happier than their human counterparts whose jobs they took over. There is a hypocrisy there that most vampires are now realizing and only the older order, who haven’t had to take these mediocre jobs to keep the world running are not affected by this reality.
That’s what I love about this story, it doesn’t represent a romantic or mystic vision and this world is dark, gritty and carries an undeniable genuineness to it. The author hasn’t tried to emulate anybody; they have told their own story and told it well. 
I read and enjoyed the Superiors during a time in my life when I would’ve rather gone to the dentist than suffer through another generic vampire story. I honestly can’t give it bigger praise than that.

Number 4. Veil of the Dragon (Prophecy of the Evarun) by Tom Barczak
A High Fantasy story revolving around a land that has seen better days and the resurrection of the fallen King Chaelus by a boy knight called Aaron all in the hopes of fulfilling a certain prophecy.
When writing a review for this I gave it the title, Like Reading A Dream, because that is the truest way I can describe this story. There is something otherworldly about reading this, a powerful feeling that fills you from the very first word to the last. I honestly felt like a ghost in this world, watching this world through eyes that weren’t natural.
I am a big believer that works of fiction need a personal stamp and from that point of view I have never read another book before that has been told with such a strong personal style that the author represents with this story.
It is often said that a good book is one that is brought to life in the reader’s mind and if that is the case this book is the very embodiment of that. I didn’t feel like I was so much reading about this world as experiencing it. Because that is what this story is, an experience, one that I doubt I will ever forget.
I wish that I could say more about this book, but frankly I couldn’t do it justice. As I stated before this book is an experience, one that has to be experienced personally in order to understand what I truly mean.

Number 3. Reader of Acheron (book one in the slaves of Erafor series) by Walter Rhein
In a dystopian future, reading has been outlawed and slavery is rampant. The corrupted ruling class of this bleak existence is on the hunt for the so called Reader of Acheron, all hope is far from lost however as Kikkan, a slave that took his freedom is on a journey of his own, a journey that could change the entire world if successful.
Look I got to be upfront about something before I say anything else. A huge reason why I enjoy Walter Rhein’s books is that his writing style is very reminiscent of David Gemmell’s, who is an author that I loved reading while growing up. So I am sure there is a kind of nostalgia by proxy, if I can use such a term, when I read this story.
With that said, Reader of Acheron has a lot going for it that should be judged on its own merit. Obviously as a reader I could immediately identify how dangerous of an impact outlawing the act of reading would be. But what I liked about this story and the author deserves a hell of a lot of credit for this, is that I never felt like he was trying to force a morality tale down my throat, like he was using this book to get across his own personal opinions.
Rather this was first and foremost an engaging story with fascinating characters. It is as well worded as it is well paced. I read the whole story in a single setting and afterword I found myself thinking about the meaning of the tale, the points that were so finely raised within it.
It isn’t often that I can say this about any book, let alone one written by a somewhat non established writer. This book both entertained me and made me see things about society that frankly I had never really thought about before and to me that is the mark of an excellent story teller.       

Number 2. Mathion (book one in the Mavonduri Trilogy) by Jeff Shanley
Mathion is the story of Mathion, the prince and future heir of the Wolven people. His kind has been stuck in a war lasting thousands of years with the Kanin (werewolves). The story revolves around this young prince accompanied by his white wolf companion Elekan as he risks certain death to save a friend from the clutches of The Betrayer, the terrifying king of the Kanin.
 The first thing that impressed me about this book was its genuine depth. There is a back story, to a back story, to a back story, to a back story. Literally tens of thousands of years that have been thought out and known by the author and it really shows while reading this story. It is rather quite sad, how rare this trait is among a lot of high fantasy writers today, considering genuine depth is the strongest corner stone of the High Fantasy genre.
But that isn’t the main reason why Mathion makes this list; it is because how it made me feel while reading it. While Mathion isn’t a children story by any means (it is after all a story about thousands of years of warfare between werewolves and medieval like warriors.) it made me feel the same way I did when I was 12 and read the Hobbit for the first time. I felt full of wonder and excitement reading about this world, a world that I had never quite imagined before.
I honestly felt like getting under the covers and reading this story well past midnight, because I was so enamored by it. Mathion is a better representation of classic heroic traits than almost any other character I have read about. I felt sad, when he was sad, I felt compelled by his conflict between duty and personal friendship. His relationship with his white wolf Elekan felt so real to me, reminding me of what I felt as a child raising a pet of my own.
With the exception of Tolkien himself, I cannot think of any High Fantasy writer that can embody the traits of classic High Fantasy as well as Jeff Shanley has with this story and considering that High Fantasy is my favorite literary genre, I think that is saying something. 
It is no exaggeration when I say that I found myself thinking about the Mavonduri world almost every day for basically a full year after I had finished reading it. Mathion is one of the very few books that not only have I a re-read a number of times, it is one of the few books that I make time in my busy schedule to re-read.
People will often ask what is a good High Fantasy story? Some say a book that resonates with the real world; others will say a story that represents a world that is nothing like the real world. My answer to this question is this book, Mathion.

Number 1. Of Good and Evil by Gerald G. Griffin
Ron Sheffield is a former green beret, who fought in the Middle East but was discharged for his erratic behavior. In truth it was because he possesses powers unlike any the military has seen before. In the civilian world once more Ron becomes a hit man for the mafia in order to deal with his powers. He soon meets Amber Ash, who has powers of her own. Together they realize that they cannot escape their pasts.  
While I meant what I said in the beginning of this post that these 7 books haven’t been placed in any particular order, I am going to state for the record that this book is my personal favorite of the bunch. While all 7 of these books are worthwhile reading, Of Good and Evil is simply in a league of its own.
There is a great maturity to Gerald G. Griffin’s writing, one almost never seen in MOST author’s work regardless of whether they are well known or not.
The sheer scope of this book is impressive, dealing with the paranormal, terrorist cells, the mafia, government conspiracies, secret societies, doomsday plots and much more. But more impressive than the scope is just how deftly Gerald G. Griffin handles all of these themes. This book easily could’ve come off as muddled and incoherent and yet nothing could be further than the truth, it is just flawless how well told this story is.
With startling effortlessness Gerald G. Griffin accomplishes mystery without frustrating his reader, he deals with real world issues, but does so in a way that doesn’t require expert understanding of the world’s politics and yet clearly shows a great understanding of such politics himself.
I cannot stress just how much I recommend this book to any mature reader. It truly boggles my mind that this book isn’t on the New York Times best seller list. With that said I am proud to say that apparently this book is going to be turned into a movie! It makes me genuinely happy to know that this magnificent book is finally getting the treatment it so richly deserves.

So there you have it, those are my seven recommendations. I appreciate you taking the time out of your life to read this post and I honestly hope that I have helped you to discover some literary gems.