Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Bookish Owl - Guest Post

I've just been featured on book blog "The Bookish Owl"! Now this isn't a blatant self-promotion; it's a brief article on how to write good characters. Hopefully this helps some aspiring writers out there.

Check out the guest post here! And be sure to take a look at some of the other posts too. A bunch of indie authors have been featured recently, and they've got plenty of interesting things to say.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kydona topping lists on Amazon!

An interesting and gratifying realization for me today when I logged into Amazon: Kydona is the #1 free book in both Epic Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery!

Now the second sub-genre is a little odd because Kydona has no sorcery in it. Unfortunately Amazon offers authors no control over sub-genres, so I'll just have to hope that the lack of magic doesn't disappoint any of my new readers.

A little more info on the rankings:
#99 Free in the Kindle Store
#5 Fantasy
#1 Epic Fantasy
#1 Sword & Sorcery

Just yesterday, Kydona was the #70 Epic Fantasy and steadily climbing, but I never expected this kind of jump. I have no ongoing promotions and haven't been able to find any recent reviews on popular blogs, so I'll have to conclude that KDP Select is the reason for the sudden popularity. I believe the book found its way onto the Kindle Sci-Fi & Fantasy front page at some point, and the flashy new cover garnered a lot of clicks.

I'll be keeping an eye on this of course, but at this point, I'm awfully glad I signed up for KDP Select! And let me take this time to direct you again to my cover artist, Sam Carr!

[Edit] There have been exactly 1,538 downloads in the past week, most of them in the last 12 hours!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kydona now enrolled in KDP Select

I've just given Amazon exclusive rights to the first book of Kydona! After much debate and research, I decided that the temporary loss in readership via other outlets is worth the potential boost on Amazon, which is the source of 75% of the book's downloads.

The ebook is still available for free, but not much longer! If you haven't already, jump on Amazon and grab your copy before the price gets bumped!

For those who miss the boat, I anticipate holding a giveaway in a couple of months.

Please spread the word, and thanks everyone for your support!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Hugs Project

Fellow indie author Wanda S. Paryla is asking for additional support for The Hugs Project, an organization dedicated to sending care packages to soldiers serving overseas. She's written a beautiful piece on the mindset behind the project. Please visit her page. It's well worth your time.

http://wandasparyla.com/2013/06/30/the-hugs-project/

I want to add that, as an Army officer serving in Afghanistan, ventures such as this really do help soldiers. Anyone who's read a war novel knows that one of the biggest morale boosters for a soldier is hearing his name during mail call. Words really can't describe the feverish glee that crosses my soldiers' faces as they tear open their letters or packages, even if they don't recognize the name on the return address. And the biggest morale killer is the feeling that the people back home have forgotten you. So please, if you can, help America's uniformed men and women finish the war in Afghanistan strong. Support them right up to the end.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Some thoughts on ebook giveaways

Bloggers frequently bill giveaways as an ideal method of garnering reviews, and by extension, gaining exposure for your book. Give away your book, get a review in lieu of payment. This made perfect sense to me. Although I don't fully understand the ranking system on Amazon, Smashwords and other sites, I assumed that more reviews (particularly good reviews) would give Kydona a better shot of showing up on search results.

Since releasing the first book on April 4, I've participated in 2 book giveaways on LibraryThing and Goodreads. It's been a bittersweet experience. What have I learned?

Well, first of all, I think I'll be avoiding LibraryThing, contrary to my advice in a previous post. Although I gave away 85 copies of Kydona, I've yet to see significant returns. A month-and-a-half after sending out free copies, 10 recipients have reviewed the book. And I'm sorry to say that these reviews were either 1 or 5 star--literally no middle ratings. I'm unsure why this is the case for LibraryThing in particular. But the community there seems to be very critical, even judgmental. In fact, most of the 1-star reviews weren't reviews at all--just ratings without any substantiation.

On Goodreads, the results have been more heartening. A group there, Indie and Proud, is hosting a giveaway that remains ongoing. I've sent out approximately 200 copies of the book under their program. That's quite a reception, and already, I've received 25 ratings. These ones have thankfully been much, much more helpful. The majority are 3 star reviews, with a smattering of higher and lower ones, though no participants have seen fit to give me a 5 star review just yet. I don't mind this. Reading each review, I've been able to glean a lot of useful information that will definitely improve my writing. Goodreads giveaways are a helpful learning experience.

It may seem like I'm making an early conclusion, but I'm seeing trends from each group of recipients, and I don't expect those trends to change.

Kydona's rating on both these sites is comparatively low, hovering between 2 and 3 stars. Yet on Smashwords and Amazon the ratings are 4.13 and 3.70 respectively. So why is this the case?

Primarily, 1 star ratings. Not reviews, but ratings. My book isn't for everyone; I understand and accept that (and my next post will focus on that topic). I think the content put some people off to the point that they simply dropped the book partway through, and Goodreads gave them the opportunity to punch in a 1 star rating with no review necessary. It's remarkably easy to rate a book and move on. Put an extra step in that process, and people are much less likely to commit. Booksellers require ratings to be accompanied by reviews, however short. If the case was otherwise, I'm certain that my ratings would be lower across the board. If a few people disliked Kydona enough to leave a poor rating, then I assume there are others who feel the same, except that they didn't bother to review. They simply dropped the book and moved on to the next one.

So in short, here's the main lesson I've learned from giveaways:

If you give away your book in exchange for an honest review, you're going to get exactly that. You're going to get criticized. If someone downloads your free book of their own volition and they don't enjoy it, they'll simply move on.

So, if you want glowing ratings, just write a quality story and don't give it away.

If you want to grow as an author, give your book away, and brace yourself for the consequences.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Q&A and Author Spotlight on Free eBooks Daily

Free eBooks Daily, an indie book blog, was nice enough to feature Kydona on its front page today, along with an Author Spotlight and 10 Fun & Random Facts about me.

Check it out! And while you're at it, browse the site a bit to discover some other good indie reads.

On the personal front, we're winding down here in Afghanistan, getting ready for our replacements to arrive. It's an exciting if busy time. My soldiers and I are packing shipping containers, writing down our SOPs for our replacements' benefit, knocking out our daily duties, and of course, making a last frantic bid to get in shape before we get back to the real world.

However, I've found time to write bits of my next sequel, Dreadnought. Without giving too much away, this story will be told from not one, but two very different points of view. A hint: you were introduced to the first protagonist at the end of From Ashes. And another: thanks to the second protagonist, you're in for some laughs.

The story is planned and the ending is written. Now to steadily pick away at the rest.


Friday, May 31, 2013

From Ashes is released!

Happy June 1, everyone. Kydona: From Ashes is officially released!
Amazon
Smashwords

I've also uploaded a new edition of Kydona (Book 1). Give it a look! It's still available for free on all major online retailers.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a preview, so here goes...




The night was peaceful as the king’s army slept. No cricket chirps, no rustling wind. Just the sound of his tent mate’s gentle breathing, and then, just above that… the sound of distant shouts. A horse had gotten loose, probably. The full moon always made beasts behave oddly, after all.


But there were more shouts joining in. Even at this distance, Marcus could hear the alarmed tones.

A trumpet sounded—a long, dolorous howl drifting over the camp. Again. By the third report, Marcus and Vernon were sitting bolt upright. More trumpets quickly joined the first, all blowing that same drawn out note. Even if the Watch hadn’t drilled it into his head already, Marcus would have known what the trumpets were saying.


“Arms!” he shouted, as everyone else was too. He wrenched off his blanket and launched himself out of the tent, grabbing his cuirass as he went. All around him, his brothers were doing the same. They scrambled from their canvas shelters, half-dressed and tousle-haired, each with that same wild look in his eyes.


“Arms! Arms! Arms!” the entire camp was screaming at the tops of their lungs, as if no one knew, and just like that, the men were throwing on their armor as fast as they could, cutting their fingers and scraping their faces on the bands of steel, cursing at the pain. Marcus cinched his sword belt on so tight he nearly pissed himself.


“Come on, Vernon!” he bellowed in the din. He wound his arm through his shield straps and hefted a spear. He glanced back. “Vernon!”


“I’m doing my bloody best!” Vernon yelled, his cuirass on backwards. Swearing, he took up his weapons and clambered after Marcus barefoot.


A deluge of men hurried along the avenues, the clanking of their hurriedly-donned armor merely adding to the cacophony. Some tripped over their scabbards or the butts of their spears, but the ones beside them grabbed them under the armpits and hauled them upright again. Marcus saw Sergeant Carpenter standing atop a wagon waving his sword toward the perimeter. “The walls! Find your spots! This is it! Ivan is here!”


The fright in the air was palpable as the soldiers made for the walls. Every expression was strained. Their breathing was agitated. No panic though. The Watch had drilled that out of them. Most were too frightened for their minds to operate on any higher level, but their legs knew where to carry them. So they moved—a flow of steel-encased humanity that were trained like dogs and herded like cattle for one excruciatingly simple reason: to kill their opposite number.


Above the bouncing helmets, Marcus saw the ramparts rising up ahead. There were men lining the top already, their spears angled forward, waiting for a charge that hadn’t yet materialized. A courier wheeled his horse back and forth in search of whoever was in charge. Overhead, flights of burning arrows went arcing into the sky, streaks of orange cutting into the black of night.


Marcus spied his company standard and moved toward it. His boots dug furrows into the earthen walls as he clambered up to his assigned position, shouldering his way through the second line. Steel rustled, men parted, and he got his first look beyond the wall.


Despite the full moon, there was little to be seen. The steppe was a sheet of dull purple. A couple hundred yards distant were small patches of burning grass that the arrows had lit, illuminating a broad band of ground. Beyond that, nothing.


“Maybe it’s a false alarm,” Hamo postured over the blaring trumpets, his youthful face full of desperate hope.


A lone horseman emerged from the darkness.


He was a strange and fearsome sight. He rode a gigantic black stallion with a shaggy mane and long, muscular legs, its body draped with sheets of studded leather. The rider himself wore full a suit of fine-linked mail. His greaves and vest were formed of interlinked square plates, all lusterless black. His helmet was dome-shaped, wrought of bronze and peaking sharply at the top. On his back was a shield shaped like an inverted tear drop, and the blade in his hand tapped impatiently at one stirrup as he wheeled his stallion around, considering his massed enemy.


The bogatyr raised his sword high, and he bellowed, “Za rodinu! Za Nadiya!


ZA RODINU!” came the roar of innumerable voices. And all at once, the bogatyr came hurtling into the light.


What a sight they made. The elite of Kydona were a wall of armor and horseflesh a quarter of a mile wide—a thousand yards of thrashing hooves and snarling faces. Weapons of all kinds were belted to their saddles and sheathed at their waists. There were bows in their hands, arrows already nocked.


At some unseen cue, their line split in half and broke apart, curling on itself. Marcus watched, mesmerized, as the bogatyr’s charge transformed into two giant, galloping circles.


“Arrows!” Carpenter bellowed over the pounding of hooves. “Turtle up!”


The men quickly obeyed. Marcus sank to one knee, slamming the tip of his shield into the earth. Simultaneously, he felt the men behind shuffle close. The sky disappeared as they angled their own shields upward. The battle line became a barrier of interlocked steel—wall and ceiling both.


The sergeant’s order came just in time. Marcus felt his shield jar against his shoulder as if someone had given it a solid kick. Curiosity got the better of him; he peeked over the rim. He caught only a glimpse of the scene—twin roiling masses of black-armored cavalrymen riding in great arcs beyond the trench, steering with only their knees, unleashing arrow after arrow into the night sky. His shield gave another thud, and he dropped his head.


Back in the shelter, the anxiety was a palpable thing. Eyes were wide beneath helmets, teeth gritted. He could hear excited pants behind him.


“Vernon? That you?”


“Aye! That you?” his friend squeaked.


Marcus was about to reply, but then he felt Vernon flinch. “Fuuuuck! Mate there’s a fucking arrow sticking in the ground half an inch from your ass—”


“Move your shield closer to it then you selfish cock!”


“No way in hell!” bawled Vernon. “I need it more!”


But arrows were finding gaps elsewhere too. Just over the thunderous hoof beats and the metallic thuds, the first screams could be heard. Glancing back, Marcus saw two archers struggling to hold down a third one, who thrashed on the ground with a shaft protruding from his throat. Blood flowed freely, squirting with each pulse. Having seen all he cared to, Marcus looked away. With the arrows pattering against shields like rain, he wondered how long anyone could survive outside the shield wall.


But a lone, metal-tinged voice was shouting above the din, “His coming shall be a whisper, but yea, with his coming shall sound peals of thunder!” Chaplain Stallings strode along the rampart, his black armor gleaming in the moonlight, his mace clenched in one hand and cat-o’-nine in the other, paying no heed to the arrows sinking into the earth about his ankles.


“They shall hearken to his call, those righteous men! From the four horizons shall they come, and prostrate themselves before him—Ancel, the lord come again, wrath incarnate!”


Men gaped at him between the cracks in their shields. “He’s bloody mad!” Rich cried. None of them doubted the truth of it. Yet the chaplain's armor didn’t have a scratch on it.


The bronze skull helm turned Marcus’s way. “Rejoice his coming, you righteous!” No sooner had the words left his mouth than the chaplain stumbled. The men groaned in dismay. But Stallings steadied himself. His gauntlet closed around the arrow lodged in his breastplate, then plucked it free. Growling, the chaplain snapped the head off the shaft and tossed the thing away with contempt.

“And you wicked,” he roared at the stampeding Kydonians, “tremble!”


They all cheered him at that—a poor display coming from a group hunched behind their shields, but still.


“Come on and fight, you bastards!” Jorel shouted. Soon the whole line was hooting and whistling in derision, egging the bogatyr on. And yet the enemy kept on circling, and the Watch stayed firmly behind their cover.


For what seemed like an hour, the two sides exchanged salvoes of arrows. Here and there an Elessian cried out and fell, pierced through. Out in the field, the archers found occasional victims. Horses tumbled earthward, throwing their riders or crushing them. But always, the bogatyr closed ranks, and their flow continued unabated.


Then, just as Marcus became convinced that it would never end, a deep war horn blew. The Kydonian horsemen reined their horses around, threw their bows around their shoulders, drew their swords—and all once came charging straight at them.


“Spears!” Captain Rowley was behind the line somewhere. His trumpeter blew the corresponding set of notes, and the company obeyed. The whole line rippled as the chevaliers stood, lifting their spears out of the dirt. Legs braced. Row upon row of spearheads dropped horizontal, points glittering with menace.


Chaplain Stallings reared his head back and rejoiced to the heavens, “Lord Ancel! Watch your sons!”


The hooves were pounding closer, thunderous—or was that Marcus’s heart?


“Hasten to us the foe, o’ lord!”


The wave rolled over the pathetic fires the archers had set, stamping them into nothingness.


“That we may meet him, with steel in our fists!”


All around Marcus, soldiers panted with agitated excitement and barely-suppressed fear.


“With praise on our lips!”


The stampede was thirty yards away now. Marcus could see the horses’ rolling eyes, the riders’ snarls.


“With fire in our hearts!”


“For Ancel!” they all cried—spear tips pointed, aligned, and quivering.


In the handful of seconds he had left, Marcus tried to remember. These were the moments were epiphanies were supposed to strike, where his life was to flash before his eyes… his blissful childhood that memory couldn’t reach… the few tender moments he had shared with his father… the many he had known with his mother, only never recognized… his first ride with Breggo, getting drunk with Vernon… Kaelyn, Jacquelyn. And they did pass through his mind, albeit so fleetingly he had no time to grasp them. Just like that, they were gone.


He could only watch, paralyzed, as the bogatyr did away with the final yards between them. This close, he could see the gleaming chestnut coat of the horse charging him. The rider atop it wasn’t much older than him. His features were plain, unremarkable except for the eyes—clear blue.


The pike he held was aimed straight for Marcus’s heart.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kydona: From Ashes Cover Art


Courtesy again of Sam Carr, here's the cover to book 2 of Kydona!

The sequel is just about formatted, and on track for release June 1! Keep an eye out on Amazon and Smashwords.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Editing stage complete!

I officially finished editing From Ashes just now, so of course the first thing I had to do was broadcast it across social media. I think I'm getting better at this twitter/blog/facebook thing. Not too bad for a Luddite.

Sam Carr sent me the just-about-finished cover today. I proposed one insanely tiny change. Once I get the final product tomorrow, I'll add it to the site.

Still on track for publication on June 1!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

About Kydona



Nearly a millennium past, the Aspects of God were born into the world. There was Ancel the Warrior, wrath incarnate—and Elessa the Merciful, love embodied. Together they founded a nation, one they intended to serve as a beacon to a world gone mad.


An age later, Lord Prince Marcus Audric de Pilars stands to inherit a kingdom on the verge of crumbling. A terrible war has been fought and won, born of an atrocity that spurred an entire generation to conflict. But the cost of that victory may have been too high.

At his mother’s deathbed, Marcus learns the beginnings of a dire truth—that the war was a lie, and that those who rule are to blame. Piece by piece, the true nature of the world is revealed to him. At court, nobles squabble for fortune and power, their ambitions fickle and deadly at once. Beautiful courtesans sidle through the halls of the palace, stoking lust and feeding on intrigue. Outside the luxurious halls, the common people live day to day mired in poverty.


All of them are oblivious to the new threat looming in the east. From the ashes of the war Marcus’s father fought, a new conflict is taking shape—one that promises to set the entire world aflame.


Marcus sees to his dismay that the shortcomings of his peers are his to share. Battling his reckless youth and the natural arrogance of his birth, he fumbles through his journey to become a better man—and his infinite fallibility puts those closest to him in the greatest danger. His whims drag him from romance to romance, and through lethal plots convoluted beyond his ability to reckon. Gradually, he walks a trail of broken hearts and hewn corpses—to the east.


To the frozen steppe of Kydona.

As his world unravels around him, the crown prince learns that the difference between quarrel and murder, between lust and love, between right and wrong—all rest on a knife edge so sharp that even a hero cannot tell them apart.

But through it all, he learns the truth of Blessed Elessa’s teaching: There is no soul that passes through the world uncorrupted. But there is no soul that cannot be redeemed.


Kydona is a character-driven hard fantasy series written by T. K. Krug III. It frames the struggle between two powerful nations: Elessia and Kydona. Not so long ago, these kingdoms fought a terrible war that brought both near to extinction. Defeated and subjugated for nearly two decades, Kydona now threatens to rise again, and plunge the world into a new conflict even deadlier than the last.

More than anything, Kydona is a human story. Strong, colorful characters lie at its heart, bringing the pages to life. There is Marcus, the crown prince, who unwittingly builds his quest for truth on a foundation of bitterness and regret. He is an entirely fallible hero who discovers, to his dismay, that he may be just as corrupt as those he has set out to destroy. At his side is Vernon, a playboy noble with a weak spot for anyone of the female sex and an apparent inability to take anything seriously. There's Kaelyn as well: a cheeky courtesan with beauty born of careful breeding. She's clever to a fault, and hopelessly infatuated with a man she knows she can never truly have. And of course, Jaspar: a handsome scion of a noble house, a brute whose one true wish is to see Marcus brought low in the worst ways imaginable.

Their youth is deceptive. Because in the midst of court intrigue, there is no such thing as child's play.

Thank you for taking an interest in the Kydona series. Book I is available for free on Smashwords and Amazon (see links on the right panel).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sneak preview: WIP cover

Now this is pretty cool. Sam Carr is at it again! While browsing Twitter, I discovered that my chosen cover artist has made a habit of live-streaming his artwork. And what do you know, his latest stream is the cover of Kydona: From Ashes!

If you've ever wondered how digital artists do it, this is a great video to watch. It's amazing how much time is spent on the miniscule details. They really matter, too, even if you won't consciously notice them most of the time.

http://livestre.am/4sE5b

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review by Wanda Paryla

Author Wanda Paryla was kind enough to read and review Kydona for me. She even interviewed me, won't you look at that!

Read her review here.

And my interview here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

T Minutes 18!

With just over two weeks until the release of Kydona: From Ashes, I decided it's high time to offer some rewards to my loyal readership!

So, the first 5 people to comment on this post will receive a free digital copy of the book. (Yes, this book will actually cost money. Sorry!)

I've been hard at work doing some final, frantic editing. My talented illustrator, Sam Carr (see his link), has promised me a finished cover by the end of this month--just in time for the June 1 release date.

Very excited for this! Hopefully you are too!

Next post, I'll put up something thoughtful and hopefully kind of interesting. In the meantime, start commenting for your free copies!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

From Ashes - Excerpt

I anticipate releasing Kydona: From Ashes on June 1. In celebration, I've decided to post a brief excerpt from the first battle scene of the book. Hope you enjoy!





A lone horseman emerged from the darkness.

He was a strange and fearsome sight. He rode a gigantic black stallion with a shaggy mane and long, muscular legs, its body draped with sheets of studded leather. The rider himself wore full a suit of fine-linked mail. His greaves and vest were formed of interlinked square plates, all lusterless black. His helmet was dome-shaped, wrought of bronze and peaking sharply at the top. On his back was a shield shaped like an inverted tear drop, and the blade in his hand tapped impatiently at one stirrup as he wheeled his stallion around, considering his massed enemy.

Marcus recognized him. It was Andrei Pronin, Evgeny’s father. Another bitter revelation—the Kydonians had never expected peace at all, perhaps never wanted it. They had sent a soldier in an ambassador’s stead.

The bogatyr raised his sword high, and he bellowed, “Za rodinu! Za Nadiya!

ZA RODINU!” came the roar of innumerable voices. And all at once, the bogatyr came hurtling into the light.

What a sight they made. The elite of Kydona were a wall of armor and horseflesh a quarter of a mile wide—a thousand yards of thrashing hooves and snarling faces. Weapons of all kinds were belted to their saddles and sheathed at their waists. There were bows in their hands, arrows already nocked.

At some unseen cue, their line split in half and broke apart, curling on itself. Marcus watched, mesmerized, as the bogatyr’s charge transformed into two giant, galloping circles.

“Arrows!” Carpenter bellowed over the pounding of hooves. “Turtle up!”

The men quickly obeyed. Marcus sank to one knee, slamming the tip of his shield into the earth. Simultaneously, he felt the men behind shuffle close. The sky disappeared as they angled their own shields upward. The battle line became a barrier of interlocked steel—wall and ceiling both.

The sergeant’s order came just in time. Marcus felt his shield jar against his shoulder as if someone had given it a solid kick. Curiosity got the better of him; he peeked over the rim. He caught only a glimpse of the scene—twin roiling masses of black-armored cavalrymen riding in great arcs beyond the trench, steering with only their knees, unleashing arrow after arrow into the night sky. His shield gave another thud, and he dropped his head.

Back in the shelter, the anxiety was a palpable thing. Eyes were wide beneath helmets, teeth gritted. He could hear excited pants behind him.

“Vernon? That you?”

“Aye! That you?” his friend squeaked.

Marcus was about to reply, but then he felt Vernon flinch. “Fuuuuck! Mate there’s a fucking arrow sticking in the ground half an inch from your ass—”

“Move your shield closer to it then you selfish cock!”

“No way in hell!” bawled Vernon. “I need it more!”

But arrows were finding gaps elsewhere too. Just over the thunderous hoof beats and the metallic thuds, the first screams could be heard. Glancing back, Marcus saw two archers struggling to hold down a third one, who thrashed on the ground with a shaft protruding from his throat. Blood flowed freely, squirting with each pulse. Having seen all he cared to, Marcus looked away. With the arrows pattering against shields like rain, he wondered how long anyone could survive outside the shield wall.

But a lone, metal-tinged voice was shouting above the din, “His coming shall be a whisper, but yea, with his coming shall sound peals of thunder!” Chaplain Stallings strode along the rampart, his black armor gleaming in the moonlight, his mace clenched in one hand and cat-o’-nine in the other, paying no heed to the arrows sinking into the earth about his ankles.

“They shall hearken to his call, those righteous men! From the four horizons shall they come, and prostrate themselves before him—Ancel, the lord come again, wrath incarnate!”

Men gaped at him between the cracks in their shields. “He’s bloody mad!” Rich cried. None of them doubted the truth of it. But yet, the chaplain's armor didn’t have a scratch on it.

The bronze skull helm turned Marcus’s way. “Rejoice his coming, you righteous!” No sooner had the words left his mouth than the chaplain stumbled. The men groaned in dismay. But Stallings steadied himself. His gauntlet closed around the arrow lodged in his breastplate, then plucked it free. Growling, the chaplain snapped the head off the shaft and tossed the thing away with contempt.

“And you wicked,” he roared at the stampeding Kydonians, “tremble!”

They all cheered him at that—a poor display coming from a group hunched behind their shields, but still.

“Come on and fight, you bastards!” Jorel shouted. Soon the whole line was hooting and whistling in derision, egging the bogatyr on. And yet the enemy kept on circling, and the Watch stayed firmly behind their cover.

For what seemed like an hour, the two sides exchanged salvoes of arrows. Here and there an Elessian cried out and fell, pierced through. Out in the field, the archers found occasional victims. Horses tumbled earthward, throwing their riders or crushing them. But always, the bogatyr closed ranks, and their flow continued unabated.

Then, just as Marcus became convinced that it would never end, a deep war horn blew. The Kydonian horsemen reined their horses around, threw their bows around their shoulders, drew their swords—and all once came charging straight at them.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Elessia & Kydona map

Hey all! It's been blowing up here in Afghanistan lately. Sometimes literally, but honestly that's the way I'm starting to prefer it. It's amazing what having a bad boss will do to your stress levels.

Anyway, this is a pretty cool share: a map of the world Kydona is set in.


Hopefully this gives everyone some perspective while they're reading. And personally, I think it makes for a pretty sweet desktop.

Check out the link to Krystal's page! She takes commissions at very reasonable rates. And if you're an anime fan, you might just be impressed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Cover!

Kydona has a new cover, courtesy of Sam Carr at his website. I'll let this guy's talent speak for itself:


Feel free to download at will.

Friday, April 26, 2013

New review from O43

Liz Ellor has given Kydona 4.5 stars! Check out the full review at her blog, O43--and subscribe to her blog while you're at it!

O43 Review

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DMQZ: My review


Sometimes a story relies heavily on its characters to make the story compelling. Other stories draw the reader in with an elaborate, believable setting. DMQZ is the latter. Sci-Fi fans, you'll want to pick up this cheap, easy read. It's worth your time.

DMQZ follows Jacob Hale, a police officer who's lived most of his existence in quarantined Manhattan. The United States and the world have been ravaged by the dormouse fever, a deadly virus that spreads by skin-to-skin contact and kills most within 24 hours. A few islands of American government still hold out in quarantined zones such as Manhattan and Orlando, largely succeeding in maintaining a semblance of pre-apocalyptic life.

Hale is content with his role in society: a specialized operative of the Military Civilian Police, a militarized police force whose most important duty remains keeping the dormouse virus out of Manhattan. But when a strangely-alluring masked woman, a terrorist, gets the better of him during a bank heist, Hale's career begins to fall apart--and with it, his satisfaction with the world around him. He launches his own investigation to discover the truth. Who was the woman? What were her motives? What connection does she have to the world outside the quarantine--and the virus-resistant people who eke out an existence there?

These questions, and others, tore at me as I read DMQZ. And what a read. This book has single-handedly restored my faith in indie authors. Quinn Fleming has built a surprisingly convincing setting around this world-ending pandemic. In Manhattan and the surrounding quarantined boroughs, people subsist off of algae-based food flavored to mimic pre-apocalyptic food. Their commute is entirely by foot, though the authorities have preserved the fast-lane, slow-lane system to prevent congestion. Of course when they arrive at their destinations, they invariably have to contend with long stair climbs thanks to the absence of working elevators. The first three floors of every building are walled off in case of a virus outbreak. And the east-facing side of the island is fully militarized to prevent dormouse-carrying ʽresisters' from crossing the quarantine.

The lead characters aren't endearing, but certainly interesting enough to be attractive. Hale is an honest military type, an orphan with a boatload of bad memories, and though many of his recollections come off dry, they summed up to a convincing personality. His love interest, Leda, is a very strong female--utterly self-sufficient, economical, intelligent, and of course, beautiful. Despite her cool, detached demeanor, I found her unattainability alluring. Really, these two leads reminded me of Winston and Julia from 1984, at least superficially. As for the other characters: here's where one of my sole gripes is. I didn't really care either way for them.

But that's no problem, because I wasn't reading this book for them. I wanted the plot and setting. The conspiracy-laced plotline and Hale and Leda's burgeoning romance kept me intrigued. You can see places where Quinn is setting up for a sequel. There are purposeful gaps in the characters' stories. There are areas of backstory that Quinn could have explored, but didn't. And the ending itself--it's not a cliff hanger, but awfully close. And I want more.

To me, this was the kind of novel that I had to read fast, just because I wanted to know what happened next. It's a page-turner, that's for sure. If you like sci-fi, mystery, dystopian or just a good old-fashioned conspiracy, you'll enjoy DMQZ.