Saturday, December 29, 2012

Officially Today I Am Working On a New Novel

With lots of writing irons in the fire of my creative forge I officially began my newest Celtic YA adventure novel, the first in the series. Originally it was meant to be an epic sized novel (roughly 600 pages) but I will keep it modest and see how well it goes. It involves the Otherworld of Faery and the many denizens you will be able to play and include in your games as found in my upcoming Codex Celtarum and the adventure modules in my series, even the main character's 'class' is in the Codex and able to be made by players that want a wood-wise, sylvan loner that is speedy, acrobatic and as wild as the beasts that dwell there. 

Yes, my novel is based around a character that is very unique. Without giving away any spoilers or my secret ideas before its time, I will say that this character is a sort of 'Celtic Tarzan' in a way, but so much more. It will be a high adrenaline ride on the shoulders of this protagonist in his adventures beyond the safety and comfort of his forest peoples' home deep in the Perpetual Forests of Faery (you will have these locations available in the Codex!) and a mind twist of a story from the prologue on as you begin to piece together the emerging tale that will be very different but sticks to ancient Celtic ideas handled in a new fresh way of approach and writing.

Depending on the response these novels get, I may write them as a series with many books planned, as the reader can explore the Celtic Otherworld and our own from the character's unusual position in the story. This series is meant to be represented by an agency, there is no other way I will handle this when it is done. In the first book I will introduce so many ancient Celtic concepts but on a level that the YA crowd can understand and incorporate in their knowledge about our ancestors and relatives today and the culture that they once occupied in the distant past. 

I will give just one hint, a teaser, about this novel for anyone interested before I end this post - the main character is so swift on his feet in the forest that he can walk and run on top of leaves and greenery and leave no trace as he goes. He is a part of the forest in every way, but he himself is not one of the faeries, a true wildman of the woods but not a warrior or magician, only a speedy fleet-footed sylvan inhabitant, a Leaf Treader. When it is completed I hope everyone finds something new in it and it inspires them to take the Codex and game all new ideas.   

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Search for Literary Agents: My Scariest Quest Yet

Being an author and writer (there is a difference) and having many novels and publications now behind me and forthcoming I naturally want to move my blossoming career to another place all together after a while. This means going big, with an agent and getting my stories published in one of the 'Big Six' publishing houses out there. Over the last two months, on and off, I have written and sent nearly 50+ queries out to so many agencies and in this volley I have received about roughly 15+ rejections and many more than have remained silent (which in some agencies' case means they are not interested and will pass). Others I have to wait on and hope that my Celtic adventure novel, THE GIRL WITH THE RAINBOW EYES, gets accepted by one. It just takes one agent to say they will take on the book and then things can happen positively. But that itself takes time when editors are involved, shopping around for the right publishing house or imprint, and sometimes it doesn't end as well as desired (for an example read the founder of Smashwords' story). Some authors get from 50 to 100 rejections before they hit one lucky break, and then success happens and the other companies and agencies feel like fools for being so arrogant and crass about their rejections, wishing they had been the ones to make that winning decision. Maybe I might need to re-write this novel again, a fourth time, before pushing on with the agencies I haven't written to yet? I dread having to do so, but there are areas in the latter half of the novel that could be improved, even though no agent has read that part at the moment to know otherwise, but so far the few semi-personal rejections that I have been sent say that it just didn't 'click' with them. So because it isn't 'Fifty Shades of Grey', or 'Twilight' it didn't grab them? Odd to think those style of novels are the hit with the masses, when so many more read Tolkien and other Fantasy authors eagerly. 

It is a disconcerting and crippling process, all of it, in hopes of rising to a purely professional level of authorship that was never had before. I have sank 14 years into this novel, each re-write and incarnation, and it has been through some changes since I first wrote the screenplay version in the late 90's for my (then) Hollywood agent Mark Marshall. I hope again to establish those links and take my many other original and different projects into film and TV, but that is another aspect of all this. 

So in case you have been wondering where I have been at here on my blog, it isn't just the holidays that have been taking my time, but also sending out those queries, finishing up sixth adventure module for Troll Lord Games ('A Shattered Night'), and slowly getting the Codex Germanorum done (it isn't yet but close), and touching up on my Celtic novel for agents and the upcoming 'Amazon Breakthrough Novel' competition next I have been busy! In the next few weeks the Codex Celtarum will be officially finished and released and module #4, 'To Kill a King' will begin production, so things are not slowing. In addition to this I have many entries that will see inclusion in the CityBook 8 with Flying Buffalo Inc. 

The next time I post, it should be good news, about what I am not sure but there are many possibilities on what it might be considering...    

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Weird West meets Weird Tales Soon.

Because of my long influences deriving from Robert E Howard and H.P Lovecraft and the fact that my first Weird West Mythos novel is being released this Spring with Damnation Books, I always wanted to take that side of my background somewhere, and possibly become a Pulp writer like my influences. To write for a prestige magazine like Weird Tales would be a dream. I assumed that the magazine, and those like it died out  not long after the Pulp Era but I was wrong. 

Friending one of the New Pulp authors, Joe Bonadonna, was a blessing. Not only is he producing this style of literature, but he is also doing it with Weird Tales. This is the magazine that got Robert E Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and many, many others their start and fame. Joe has been writing some very Pulpy stuff lately and doing so with reputable publishers. After an inspiring discussion about Tolkien, REH and Weird Tales, he fired me up, gave me the link and let me go on my way. 

I had wanted to write serials, like Howard did, about my character Cage O'Brien in the Weird West against the Eldritch forces of the universe while trying to run from the Law and maintain a life of his own, as I introduce in my 'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man' this spring. In the 20's Howard and Lovecraft made a living just writing for these magazines, it wasn't always the best income at time during the Depression, but it was a means to live. I have dozens of stories in my mind that fit the same writing style as my novel and Howard's own unique style, these tales need to get written and read. Most Small Press publishers do not happily publish collections of stories often, and I don't know if my publisher would if I introduced them to them. 

So...Weird Tales it is! I will complete several novella sized adventures of Cage against the Elder Ones and their minions and see what happens once submissions are open again. If you think my novel of this stuff is weird (once it is published this March and you read it), just wait until you see the serials I have in mind. Stories so weird and hard to define that they could only be accepted by Pulp publishers in this day and age. Monsters, obscene magic, scantily clad damsels, six-shooter toting outlaws wearing Elder Signs, and more will be in this set of tales. I weave the many common Western themes into a mix of Mythos and high action to create something new and...weird!  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Excerpt from 'Cad Goddeu'


I was at the fortress of Nefenhir
where trees and grass rushed into battle
minstrels sang
warriors clashed
the war-like hosts
that Gwydion made
Neifion was invoked
as was Christ of the inception
until the time of redemption
by the Lord of all he made
The Lord responded
'through words of reconciliation
conjure noble trees
together as a host
and resist the mob,
unused as they are to battle.'
When trees were conjured
their hope in tree-form
that brought before them trees
plucked from four harp-strings
they cast-down in battle
three war-weary chieftains
sadness tortured the maiden
cut through by the battle cry
Flaxen-tipped the maiden's hair
the spoils of the restless cow.
They did nos manage to disperse us
with the blood of men up to our thighs
the greatest of three bloodsheds
known to the world
and one that happened
was in the form of a flood
and Christ was crucified
with the day of judgement near at hand
The alder at the front line
that foraged first
the willow and rowan trees
were late to join the army
The spiky blackthorn
was eager for slaughter
beloved and powerful
resisted all they saw
rose-trees ventured forth
against a venomous host
the raspberry-tree formed
they made an enclosure
box and honeysuckle,
and ivy in its prime
the surge of giant gorse
cherry trees raised the alarm
Birch-tree, in its great beauty
was delayed by donning his armour,
though not out of cowardice,
but rather from its greatness
Almond trees of valuable nature
foreign wood with exotic form
pine trees in the hall's place of honour
in the great throne of battle
oak, the best, was exalted
before the other rulers
the lime-tree in all its fury
flinched not a single foot
slew in the centre,
then on the left and the right
hazels were adjudged
worthy of the fray
the privet, blessed are they
battle-bull, king of the world
on sea and estuary
the beech excelled
the holly, greened anew
was in the battle
superlative in his cry,
terror dealt from its hand
briony burst forth
breaking the battle ranks
bracken destroyed
broom headed for battle
in the furrows of wounding.
Gorse was not denied
though it be the peasant's bane
Heather, fine and victorious
bewitched your warriors
even pursued your men
The oak rushed
before him heaven and earth trembled
Borage, valiant warrior
his name on the courtry floor
the congress of elms
causing terror
rebuffing all onslaughts
when their defences were breached
Pear, superlative in oppression
on the field of battle.
Their aim to rush into the fray
the awesome thorn-apple
The chestnuts shamed
the pine with its thrust
Jet's nature is black
The mountain's nature is to be bent-backed
The tree's nature is slim at daybreak
Powerful is the nature of the high seas
Ever since I sensed the time [of year]
when leaflets adorn the tips of the birch trees
our revival removing the enchantment [of winter]
The crowns of the oaks have ensnared us
by the incantations of Maeldderw
laughing on the cliff-side
the lord in battle-array.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gwraig Huan (Deception of Huan's Wife)

Gwraig Huan ap Gwydion, a vu un o ladd ei gwr, ag a ddyfod ei fyned ef i hely oddi gartref, ai dad ef Gwdion brenhin Gwynedd y gerddis bob tir yw amofyn, ac or diwedd y gwnaeth ef Gaergwydion (sef: via laactua) sy yn yr awyr yw geissio: ag yn y nef y cafas ei chwedyl , lle yr oedd ei enaid: am hynny y troes y wraig iefanc yn ederyn, a ffo rhag ei thad yn y gyfraith, ag a elwir er hynny hyd heddiw Twyll huan. 

The wife of Huan1 ap Dôn2 was a party to the killing of her husband, and she said that he had gone to hunt away from home. And his father, Gwydion, the King of Gwynedd, traversed all countries in search of him, and at last made Caer Gwydion3, that is the via lactea, which is in the sky, to seek him. And he found him in heaven, where was his soul. And for that he turned the young wife into a bird and she fled form her father-in-law, and is called to this day Twyll Huan4. Thus, after the manner of the Greeks, the Britons formerly treated their stories and tales in order to keep them in memory.

1. Huan ap Dôn: the figure here is obviously Lleu Llaw Gyffes, and this short text is a retelling of the final section of the Mabinogi; why his name is Huan, "Sun," is a difficult question (see note 3). "Lleu" is certainly derived from Lugh, in which the "gh" is essentially silent; Lugh is in turn derived from "Lugus", which ultimately derives from the hypothetical proto-Indo-European *Leug- "oath/swear." In other words, he is originally the god of the oath, Dumezil's Mitra to Nuada's Varuna. Thus, Lleu was not originally a god of light; however, the similarity between *leug- (oath) and *leuk- (light) may have influenced the idea that Lugus (and thus Lugh and Lleu) was somehow associated with light, at least in late Iron Age/early medieval thought.

2. Huan/Lleu's pedigree here is confusing, as traditionally his mother is Arianrhod, making Dôn his grandmother. Moreover, Gwydion is also the son of Dôn, and so Lleu/Huan would be the product of Gwydion's incest, either with his sister or his mother; the sister is more likely.

3. Caer Gwydion: there is some tradition that the Milky Way is called Caer Wydyon in Welsh; whether this is actual medieval tradition, or influenced by the antiquarians, I am not sure.

4. Twyll Huan: The story is an attempt to explain the word tylluan, the owl. In this bit of folk etymology, tylluan is divided into twyll "deceive" and (h)uan, the sun. Thus, the composer changed Lleu's name to Huan, which he may have thought fitting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Song that Always Inspires Me.

After thirty years this song never fails to get me, when I am feeling good and working on a project it gives me more fire to continue onwards. I blast it in the car while driving, play it on my computer, iPod, etc. I have it and all of its versions and tributes and even live versions from the height of Rainbow's early years with Dio during their tours between 1975 to 1978.

I just wanted to add this song for some instant inspiration and a reminder.

In 1974, Ritchie Blackmore publicly disliked the funk/soul (or as Blackmore called it, "shoeshine music") elements being introduced to Deep Purple by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, as well as the disappointing Stormbringer album where his favourite musical style wasn't adequately captured. Blackmore originally intended to release a solo single, the Steve Hammond-penned "Black Sheep of the Family", with "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" on the B-side. He recorded these during a studio session in Tampa Bay, Florida on 12 December 1974 with singer/lyricist Ronnie James Dio and drummer Gary Driscoll, both from the blues-rock band Elf, former Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher, and cellist Hugh McDowell of ELO. Satisfied with the two tracks, Blackmore decided to make a solo album, replacing the keyboardist and bassist with Elf members Micky Lee Soule and Craig Gruber, respectively. The full album was recorded in Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany in about 3 weeks in February 1975. Though it was originally thought to be a solo album, the record was billed as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Blackmore decided to leave Deep Purple and form his own band Rainbow. The name of the band was inspired by the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood that catered to rock stars, groupies and rock enthusiasts.

Rainbow's debut album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, was released in 1975 and featured the minor hit "Man on the Silver Mountain". This first line-up never performed live. Blackmore and Dio did promotional work for the album.

Rainbow's music was partly inspired by classical music since Blackmore started playing cello to help him construct interesting chord progressions, and Dio wrote lyrics about medieval themes. Dio possessed a versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads. Although Dio never played a musical instrument on any Rainbow album, he is credited with writing and arranging the music with Blackmore, in addition to writing all the lyrics himself.

Rainbow performing in Munich in 1977. The electric rainbow that spanned the stage used so much power, it frequently interfered with the guitars and amplifiers.

Blackmore fired everybody except Dio shortly after the album was recorded, due to Gary Driscoll's R&B style of drumming and the funky bass playing of Craig Gruber. Micky Lee Soule quit due to Blackmore's decisions, and Blackmore recruited Cozy Powell, Jeff Beck's drummer, bassist Jimmy Bain, and American keyboard player Tony Carey. This line-up went on to record the next album Rising. This line-up also commenced the first world tour for the band, with the first US dates in late 1975. Album art was designed by famed fantasy artist Ken Kelly, who had drawn Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian.

By the time of the European dates in the summer of 1976, Rainbow's reputation as a blistering live act was already established. Blackmore subsequently decided that Bain was substandard and fired him in January 1977. The same fate befell Tony Carey shortly after. Blackmore, however, had difficulty finding replacements he liked. On keyboards, after auditioning several high profile artists, including Vanilla Fudge's Mark Stein, Procol Harum's Matthew Fisher and ex-Curved Air and Roxy Music man Eddie Jobson, Blackmore finally selected Canadian David Stone, from the little-known band Symphonic Slam. For a bass player, Blackmore originally chose Mark Clarke, formerly of Jon Hiseman's Colosseum, Uriah Heep and Tempest, but once in the studio for the next album,Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, Blackmore disliked Clarke's fingerstyle method of playing so much that he fired Clarke on the spot and played bass himself on all but four songs: the album's title track, "Gates of Babylon", "Kill the King", and "Sensitive to Light". Former Widowmaker bassist, Australian Bob Daisley was hired to record these tracks, completing the band's next line-up.

After the release and extensive world tour in 1977–78, Blackmore decided that he wanted to take the band in a new commercial direction away from the "sword and sorcery" theme. Dio did not agree with this change and left Rainbow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Vampire's Code - Released Today!

Get your copy of the 'Vampire's Code' today from Damnation Books in digital format for a rare low price! The first few copies are free on download, and eventually the ebook's maximum price will be reached after so many are downloaded today. This deal ends by midnight tonight!

A Dark Presence Hangs over Europe.

John Malcolm and Lieutenant Ledbetter, after six months of training are now part of the Shadow Society of Vampire Hunters. They must undergo their first missions in Europe amidst the Prussian War and uncover Earth-shaking conspiracies and awful technologies that will threaten mankind. With new agents in their team, they must find out the meaning behind the Vampire’s Code and the Ares Dispatch that’s circulating in Europe. What they find is more disturbing than what they experienced in Indian Territory and they can’t go back.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'The Vampire's Code' Released This Saturday!

Book two in my Steampunk Horror series, 'The Vampire's Code' is being released on Saturday with my publisher Damnation Books. For the first week this will be in digital format and then it goes to print for hard-copy.

Unlike the initial story (which is sort of a back-story) that gets the series started, this newest book is full-blown Steampunk espionage, action and horror in Europe during the Prussian War. There is no holding back on the tech, new concepts and drama in this story now that John Malcolm and Lt. Ledbetter are officially operatives in the Shadow Society of Vampire Hunters. Be ready for the dark, disturbing and on-the-edge-of-your-seat drama with the 'Vampire's Code'!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Codex Celtarum (Coming Soon!)

TLG 8130 Codex Celtarum

Product Type/Format & Price: 8.5 x 11 Perfect Bound, 144 pages; $24.99 (est)
Ordering Info: TLG 8130, ISBN 978-1-936822-55-3

Beyond the comforts of home lie worlds of epic adventure.
Druids have surmised that before the present Universe there was a Disharmonious Void that once existed. Torn by destructive chaos and strife, it was devoid of any creative powers and life completely. Nothing could exist in this Disharmonious Void. It was death for the dead in essence and completely uninspired. A spark of Inspiration or Awen, called the Great Spark, blazing red and shaped like a thunder-bolt, tore its way through the blackness with fury. The Fire of Creation split the shapeless Void into the (as yet empty) Three Circles (Trí Fáine) that were anchored around one magnificent, growing oak tree. This tree was the first in the Universe, and under its immense leafy crown hung golden acorns, swollen with potency.

A Celtic Cromlech
The druids dwelt in a world wholly apart from our own, a world that comes down to us in the stones of the cromlech, the wild burnings of the wicker man, the priests who called on ancient trees and fey to bless or defend them and a language of such haunting beauty that its echoes stir memories within us of a people we once were.

The Codex Celtarum delves into the myths of the Celtic peoples, the powers of the world around them, the monsters that hunted them, and the gods that watched over them. Its author, Brian Young, a scholar by trade, introduces the Celtic mythos like never before, exploring the depths of that world to recast it for the fantasy RPG Castles & Crusades. Within the Codex Celtarum lies a wealth of information; gaming material that blows new life into the world of the fey, the druid, the ranger and all characters whose travels carry them through the wooded hills, broken crags and dark forests of our primeval imagings.

More than Myths and Gods
The Codex Celtarum contains a veritable host of gaming material. New spells for your druid, new powers for your characters, combat, and more, within the Codex Celtarum you'll find:

190 new druidic spells
90 gods and monsters from the Celtic mythos
150 powers for the fey monsters
Expand your character! With fey blood in your veins you too can possess the powers of the fey. Or even adopt new races for your game. The elder gods possessed powers of surpassing wonder and left a world with all manner of strange incarnations, those are yours to bring to life.
Codex Celtarum comes complete in seven glorious, fun filled, fact packed chapters. Chapter 1 covers a complete history of the Celtic world view. Chapter 2 delves into the world of fey. Chapter 3 presents races and monsters. Chapter 4 covers mountains of new spells and magical abilities. Chapter 5 tackles the lords of war. Chapter 6 looks at the gods themselves. Chapter 7 yields new material for the Castle Keeper.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Sample from New Celtic Horror Novel in the Works...

As Pen-Y-Fan looms nearer now Ianto tries to control Brigadore, who has become suddenly troubled and difficult on the ride. Siôn is not fairing any better on his horse either. Both animals are spooked and whinnying in the shadow of the mountain strangely.

“I am sorry for this, these horses do not normally act like this, they are well-behaved and calm.” apologizes Siôn.

Ianto grips the reins tightly and presses his knees into the saddle to signal the horse to calm but Brigadore jerks about and stresses regardless. Down from the slopes a cold wind sweeps powerfully stirring the dust and dry grass into the air and then the horses both calm. Both riders remind the steeds who is in charge even though they have calmed.

“Let’s ride to the summit.” asks Siôn glancing at the top of the massive earthen hill. Sheep bleat distantly throughout the region. They are scattered groups or alone on the slopes, hopping about and scurrying along to the best grassy spots.

“Alright, fair enough.”

Using every technique they both know of the equine arts they direct their horses up the sloping hillside and force them to trot. With effort, Ianto keeps Bridadore close to Siôn on the incline upwards; he uses the riding crop and his spurs.

After a little more than ten minutes pass they both make the summit of Pen-Y-Fan on their steeds. Windy and cold, the top is dramatic and intimidating. Ianto slows Brigadore to a cantor and stops near a rocky cairn. Brigadore is sweaty and breathing wildly, his eyes bulging.

“This is quite a vista.” Comments Ianto, awed by the spectacle of being atop the mountain. He begins to quickly look about for any sign of another person’s presence, tracks, an old fire-pit, anything that might hint at another person.

Siôn sits atop his horse with one hand holding down his hat, and the other on the reins, “Take your time up here, and look around. We have the entire day to do so, or at least until the storms come in from the Irish Sea.”

Ianto dismounts and pats Brigadore on its neck. Eagerness is now taking over. He wants to comb every inch of this place to see what led to Mr. Llewellyn’s demise, even if it takes all day.

Without another word or thought to it, Ianto sprints to the edge of the dangerously high precipice and looks down far below at the lake. The two thousand feet drop is terrifying; it makes his heart jump and his breath falter at the thought of falling.

He looks both ways down the slopes and to the other nearby peaks. Miles of green rolling hills and scattered farmland are clear to see from this height. He is amazed by the clarity and distance viewed.

“It is an awful fall isn’t it? I am sorry for the fate of your friend.” chimes in Siôn from his horse nearby.

“Yes, terrible. If our horses had difficulty getting up the height how could Mr. Llewellyn on foot? He was not the most agile or capable man. This is simply not something he would do. Too bad there is no evidence of his tracks; the grass covers any chance of them being found.”

Siôn rides near to him and he looks down at the earth, “Too bad indeed.”

“If there were two sets of tracks we would know he was not alone and murdered after all, it would at least give me somewhere to start and something to tell his family, a shame.”

Pointing downwards at the cluster of lichen covered dark grey stones, old Siôn says, “Look there!”

Ianto follows the old man’s finger down into the rocks and something gleams in the sunlight. Quickly he fumbles through the stones and his eyes locate a pipe, Mr. Llewellyn’s favorite pipe. He snatches it up and sniffs the pipe, finding the scent of the tobacco still fairly fresh.

“This is his pipe, I remember him proudly talking about it. He bought it while on a trip to Belgium while he was in the Queen’s service.”

From behind a distant small hillock, not less than a hundred feet away, wild eyes gaze at the two men. Feral and savage, with even wilder breathing, the voyeur spies them both with interest. Every sense is primed to observe Ianto and Siôn in every way possible. Suddenly they are not alone anymore atop Pen-Y-Fan.

Ianto takes steps away from the ledge and then carefully spots any depressions in the yellow grass and follows them. They lead him from the edge and back onto the greater part of the hill, near the rocky masses that are piled close to the top. He places the pipe into his coat pocket, and stuffs it deep.

“See, he did walk up here to fall. His steps are not easy to see in the cold hard soil, but there has been enough rain to make mud and leave traces. But who pushed him?”

From behind the wind-blown hillock the spying eyes dart madly, watching Ianto’s every move. The wild breathing is now raspier and frantic with the more of him that can be seen by the hidden figure.

“That is the question of the day isn’t it? While you investigate this I will set out Eilonwy’s lunch for us somewhere down the slope a little, away from the winds. How long do you plan on staying here Mr. Vaughn?” inquires Siôn.

Stepping on each print-like depression in the grass Ianto says to him, “If you don’t mind, until I am done. It might be a few hours to the entire day. Once my curiosity is satisfied I will be done.”

“No problem, I will get us situated then.” Siôn leaps off of his horse and begins unpacking the provisions that his niece packed for them.

The peering eyes, with large pupils and white colored, watch as Ianto spins back around to face the summit. Now the interest grows intensely as an awakening lust. A lust for what is the question the observer is struggling with, blood or physical affection? Either way the peering figure doesn’t care, the two feelings blur.

Ianto returns to the peak and takes a long good look across the distant miles around them in the Beacons but the eyes do not leave him, they stare on and study him from top to bottom intently. A chill fills him and brings goose flesh causing his eyes to water again. He shivers from the familiar sensation and folds his arms to keep warm.

“Do you feel a…coldness Siôn? Not the chill from the weather or wind but from something else. I felt it here yesterday when I was gazing at the mountain from the coach and saw the figure moving about here where we are standing. It is deep biting cold.”

Siôn shivers a little while unpacking the saddlebag, “Aye, it is something that is found here only in the Beacons. The religious would tell you it is because the place is thenau, thin, and close to another world. Others would tell you it is just madness. Me? I just don’t have an answer or claim to, but it is said that no fire can remain lit up here, not since the time of the druids.”

“The winds…”

Siôn shakes his head, “No, a presence here, supernatural and sinister. No fire can remain up here since those days long ago.”

Ianto rubs his hands together to generate some warmth and breathes on them, “A fire would be nice, the sun isn’t helping.” He then returns to inspecting every tuft of grass and disturbed stone on the summit, with his hands in his coat or together for warmth.

As fleet footed as a deer, the hidden figure dashes from behind the hillock closer to Ianto and Siôn’s place on Pen-Y-Fan. The movement is such that it is but a blur with the surrounding parchment colored land, and before anyone could notice the figure was again behind a hillock, crouched and low to the earth. Primal thoughts are running mad in the observer’s brain, entangled with sinister ideas and urges.

(This is of course the rough first draft, but it is something different in my repertoire.)  

Almost Final Draft to the Codex Celtarum's Cover!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Cover for my 'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man' Novel.

Due out this Spring on the 1st of March, my first Weird West novel will hit the stands and bookstores worldwide. It is my homage to H.P Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard and taken from a movie script I conceived in the late 90's that was Optioned by an agent. This is the cover art!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next BIG Thing...

This was passed on to me by my old friend and Horror writer Tim Baker, and I will keep the chain going from here and see where it ends up eventually. This is a chance for readers & fans, and the authors themselves, to broaden their knowledge about new projects to come and those who are working on them. The timing is right because I just ended a major novel project and had barely began another when these questions came along not long ago, so, let's see what comes of it! One of my author friends listed below could be writing the Next Big Thing in their current projects, who can say, but they will all provide a small sampling of their ideas for you to judge for yourself.

The Ten Questions on the 'Next Big Thing':

1.) What is your working title of your book?

'Black Horn: A Story of Miserable Witchery'

2.) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea sprang from many subconscious inspirations that never found a home in my other projects, and from a few Welsh legends that are only in that part of the country. The thought hit me that no one had ever built a good story around them and it needed to have a voice and be brought into the readers' minds. It needed an audience and now is the time. 

3.) What genre does your book fall under?
Celtic Fiction/Horror/Historical Fiction

4.) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Eva Green as the She-Witch, she is perfect, beautiful and intense with a darkness about her. Ioan Griffudd, naturally, as the main character himself and Imogan Poots as his love interest, she fits the part ideally because of her grace and presence.   

5.) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The shadow of a ruthless witch falls over a special lake in Wales and those unfortunate enough to catch her interest, a life for a life and for a love long lost in time and to fate. 

6.) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Naturally it will be represented by an agency. I am presently trying for one with my previous work and once that is final this will be next on their list to sell for me.

7.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
At the moment I am barely into the first draft as I write this, with a long way to go. It won't be months until any draft of this is completed. 

8.) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The only close comparisons in tone, setting, theme and atmosphere to this strange book of mine would be Stardust, The Woman in Black and the movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark for starters. 

9.) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to expand my literary skills and write something out of my comfort zone of writing. It may not seem like it being Celtic with magic, etc in it, but it takes place in 19th Century Wales with very human characters in modern times confronted with an ancient menace and threat. It is not like anything else that I have written or planned to write in the future and I wanted to show that I am not 'stuck' in just Steampunk Horror, Weird West Mythos or Dark-Age Celtic adventure fiction genres only. This is historical, very seriously so, with a thick romantic theme laced in with the terrible tragic story that makes it all come together. It really is very different from my usual style and approach, and hopefully it will come across good as well. Who knows, I might be good at writing this kind of thing.

10.) What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

To begin with I am using lots of the Welsh language in the book and it has a collection of old Celtic lore and myths, mostly obscure, mixed in with customs and traditions that will get the reader educated and familiar with a different time and place not far from our own. Forgotten and overlooked witch-lore from the Celtic countries will be the main theme, thus its secondary name 'A Story of Miserable Witchery.' The story has several mind-twisting plots in it, like a Celtic pattern, that will bend the reader's brain trying to figure out how it will end, it will be tragic but for whom in the story? As my friend Tim had done, so shall I, here is small sample from the novel to pigue some interest:

Edward’s green eyes scan the surrounding looming hills, his eyes ever watchful for the fading sun in the west as his focus for navigation. He has traveled on foot most of the distance, possibly half. Never has he willingly wanted to take on this lengthy hike alone or so close to nightfall, but he wanted to reach the inn before it became too late.
“What a fool you are Edward, a bloody fool.”
His legs now ached and his breathing was changing into a broken series of rasps. Without hesitation, he finds a mound of tumbled stones in the yellowed grass and slowly sits for a small rest.
Nothing but the shrill of wind over the Beacons and nearby peaks of Pen-Y-Fan and Corn Ddu mixed with the bleating of scattered sheep fills his ears. He hopes for a respite from this foolish idea of making the long walk by overhearing the familiar rattle of a coach’s wheels on the lane. Or to hear their horses whinny as they make their way across the wilderness, that would be something he would find pleasurable now and ease his journey.
But no such luck waits.
In fact the dull and biting winds and sheep bleats begin to wear on his nerves rather quickly, as though the wilderness of the Brecon Beacons is mocking his lack of success so late in the day.
Edward shifts his redwood pipe from his dry lips to his black gloved hand and flicks some ashes to the wind and resumes a smoke as before.
He leans the cane against the small cairn of stones under him and scratches behind his left ear and then another sound peaks his exhausted attention, a woman’s voice, singing against the flow of the winds. Beautiful, and lilting, her powerful notes carry in an unusual manner.
He listens intently to her every shift in note and change in tempo. Edward does not know this song. It sounds…old. Before he knew it, he was standing again and with cane in hand and now directed towards the voice, against the wind coming down from the tall broad and flat peak of Pen-Y-Fan.
Before now he had never really paid much attention to this legendary location. It used to be called Cadair Arthur, or ‘Arthur’s Seat’ in early times, a reputed place where the illustrious warlord sat for a rest during his bloody campaigns against the Saxons to the east.
Edward mumbles to himself with a curl of a smile under his heavy waxed moustache, “How lovely, a woman singing so compelling a tune, out here in the middle of nowhere. I must have a look.”


For the dark and horrific, Nathanial Connors, a fellow Damnation Books author, check out his projects past and present.

Old friend and also from the same town I live in, Stephen Wedel, the author of the Werewolf Saga and recently the hit novel he co-authored with Carrie Jones,  'Obsession'.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Fiction I Choose to Write - and Why.

Looking over my many interests and areas of specialty, I see that if I am to compose really good, original stories, relatively free of cliches, that I should stick to writing in two genres mainly: Celtic Fiction and Mythos (Lovecraftian) Horror. 

Mythos Fiction and literature does have its own cliches within its self however, certain elements that always seem to exist (insanity, malice minded Elder Gods, unknowable secrets, etc), but it is how that array of elements is handled that matters. Since the time of H.P. Lovecraft there have been so many stories and novellas derivative of him written and published, but it doesn't take long before someone comes along and reinvents the thinking in the genre. I have a large pile of original stories of my own to add to that body of work, and this will be seen in Spring 2013 with my first novel 'Bring Me the Head of the Preacher Man' in my Weird West series involving Cage O'Brien. Maybe in this pile of my ideas some new thinking might be introduced in the genre? 

I have been a Lovecraft fan since I was twelve and have embraced his horrific perspective fully finding little satisfaction in the other forms of horror (all of them being so overdone and recycled to this day). Werewolves, vampires, ghosts, zombies and the rest are still so overwritten and old staple horror creatures that there is little one can do to bring innovation or originality to except to write a good compelling story around, if even that.   

Steampunk is another genre I do write in, and plan to complete my series in the works but the genre has succumbed to being trendy and cheapening itself over time by selling out. Oddly for a genre as big as it is, its diverse world of ideas from literature cannot be seen as easily as in other milieu of writing. This genre is less about literature and more about Cosplay and crafts. The Steampunk feel has rarely hit on in the media with only a minute number of movies and shows that can be said to be in that genre, but that isn't always certain. My Silent War series, Steampunk Horror, will be completed and maybe make an impression in places and then my input in the field will be largely over.

Sci-Fi is not a genre that I plan to write in for several simple reasons: my early ideas from over 20+ years ago have all been used by others already and in that intervening time I spent my efforts in Celtic Studies and academics and gaming instead. To this day I am a major Sci-Fi fan and love such good settings and films as Alien/Prometheus, Chronicles of Riddick, etc. 

Celtic Fiction however is my thing. My expertise is in Celtic Studies, and has been for as long as my other interests and I had always imagined writing some good stories using the Celtic imagination and history as a source of inspiration. In the 90's Celtic Fiction was big, with such writers like Morgan Llewellyn and others but it didn't last. I read from this fad for a time but found it sadly lacking in depth or accuracy on many levels (history, mythology, etc) and was never satisfied with it. Most of these stories would have better off as just straightforward fantasy and not attempted the 'Celtic' aspect since the author's knowledge of the culture was not intimate as it should have been. 

Due to my long interest and research in the field I have endless stories in my head that need to see print. The adventure modules for Troll Lord Games are just the beginning to a much greater world of ideas running around madly in my head that must see the light of day. These adventures all tie within my old 'Rainbow Eyes Project' that dates back to the late 90's.  

'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' and its sequels are just one set of tales I have in mind to publish in the field of Celtic Fiction, with these geared more towards a slightly younger crowd. I have many other stories, some of them horror by definition, that will be written over this next year and hopefully will see publication in some form. At the present there is no gigantic trend in Celtic literature or fiction and this might be a blessing. There are plenty of novels that has a Celtic spin, or attempt to, and from all glances the author(s) only have a bare passing knowledge of the culture, but they are pure enthusiast fiction without care to accuracy or details. That is where I step in.

With each adventure module I have written for Troll Lord Games know that I have two more in mind that could be added, this is no lie. I will see about what to do with those many extra stories and ideas as they center around the warlord Arthur and his band of legendary champions from Old Welsh/Cornish/Breton legend. Expect a lot of new and fun things to come your way from this month on starting with the Codex Celtarum. Being a Troll Lord myself now, I can tell you that amidst my many Celtic books coming out for them I will have fiction as well to supplement it all and put it into context for those people who are really into Celtic civilization. From a gaming standpoint, this means LOTS of new stuff to use and be inspired by, and that is never a bad thing!  


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Update on Events & A Little on Being an Author

I have several publications coming out very soon for those interested - the 'Codex Celtarum' later this month, 'To Kill a King' (adventure module #4) in December, 'The Vampire's Code' (part two of my Steampunk Horror series) on December 1st, and holding my breath on word from a literary agency on my Celtic adventure novel 'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' that will offer to help me see it published by one of the 'Big Six'. 

In my project list, all of this is only the first fourth of the way done with LOTS to go! The two factors that keeps a writer a writer is, 1.) writing as much as possible, 2.) and writing superlative stuff when you do compose works. Never break your stride once you get it, the flow must continue, like the Spice on Dune. Inspiration works differently for everyone, but the end result is the same. What happens next depends on the author's decision. 

I think personally, from a novelist's point-of-view, the pinnacle of the art is being published by a large imprint or company and being represented by an agency. If I can achieve this once in my writing career, it can go whatever course events will direct and I won't complain. That guarantees a true global audience and chance of success that is not comparable to any other level of being published (rare flukes aside). 

From a game designer/writer's perspective, success to me comes from knowing that people are eager for my next work, and then put it to good use, enhancing their lives and hobbies for years to come. The excitement level is always high for each module and upcoming Codices that it makes me know that I am doing something right. Once place to see proof of this is in the forums, they are lit up with excited talk and speculation. I cannot believe that this is over my work and ideas, my skill, and it is liberating and justifying.

Frankly, being a writer is the coolest thing to do ever and I wouldn't change it for anything!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Codex Celtarum's Cover (Early Draft)

I will sneak a sample glance of the Codex's cover in the works for you, Peter is still working on it as you can see but it is almost done! The first round of edits are now in my hands and soon they will be moved on back to the editor for the next stage, and before long the Codex Celtarum will be done before the Holidays!

Onto Bigger Things, More Epic and Magical!

'The Girl with the Rainbow Eyes' is ready for its journey to the publishing agencies. This first part of my Celtic adventure epic has been prepared for its first official review by the big leagues of publishing, and I am ready to do the extra hard work it takes to see it get there! I will be holding my breath for a time to see once it is sent off. I can guarantee that if it gets it due chance in the large publishing scene it will bring a new craze over all things Celtic and Faery, there is no doubt!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hall of the Mountain King = Goblins of Mount Shadow

This is the inspiration for the module 'Goblins of Mount Shadow' along with Savatage's version:

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Giant's Wrath (Module #3) is now in Digital Format!

Castles & Crusades
Giant’s Wrath
Product Type/Format & Price: 8.5 x 11 Saddle Stitched, 24 pages; $6.99
Ordering Info: TLG 8323, ISBN 978-1-936822-54-6

Beyond the comforts of home lie worlds of epic adventure. 

In the grey seas and dark skies of turbulent chaos, you see a long black dragon-shaped ship. A dozen massive oars on each side row to the beat of a thundering drum. Tall, harsh-faced, dark-hued, and fully-armored forms walk the deck, shouting orders in terrifying voices. . . the formorians come again. 

A power has risen in the Otherworld, it drives the storms upon the shores with such force that they batter the earth and grind the rocks. Those ill-fortuned enough to dwell near the sear hide in terror at the fury of the storm unleashed. But it is not the storm they fear, it is the giants that ride the foamy surf. Formorians! Giants of the old world they come, riding long ships across the mad-capped seas to surging up against the settlements of men; raiding wit wild abandon, plundering, burning, hauling off treasures and slaves with few to impede their crimes. 

But there is method here, something, or someone drives the formians, pushing them to reckless heights. Who and why are tangled in the intrigues of local lords, wizards and their sons. It is yours to unravel the Gordian knot that is The Giants Wrath

This adventure is about the terrible raiding the Sea Giants are doing to the coastal villages in the Mortal world and the sinister plans of their leader, a Human wizard called the Stormgazer. In the progress of these adventures, the characters must make their way across the seas to the Otherworld to confront the wizard and his Giants and put an end to the terror. 

This story deals with many strands of Celtic mythology, both Irish and Welsh, and places them in the context of a fantasy setting that is easily integrated into Castle & Crusades’ Aihrde. This series of adventures places the characters into a tough and brutal story where there is little subtlety once the blood begins to flow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Twrch Trwyth - The Boar of the Hunt

Twrch Trwyth
(originally Trwyd), the supernatural boar, is best known as the climactic 'anoeth' (difficult task) set for Arthur and his heroes (including Mabon fab Modron) in ‘Culhwch and Olwen’, and the chase across south Wales (Cymru) and over the Severn estuary to Cernyw (Kernow) is used as a framework for inserting many accounts of remarkable localities and place-names. The hunt of Yskithyrwyn Penn Beidd (‘White-tusk Chief Boar’) can be understood as a narrative doublet, artfully building the mood for the mightier boar hunt to follow. Twrch Trwyth itself has a band of seven lethal offspring: Banw (young pig), Bennwic, Grugyn Gwrych Ereint (Grugyn silver bristles), Llwydawc Gouynnyat (Llwydawc the hewer), Twrch Llawin, Gwys, and one unnamed boar. As well as being remarkable for his size and destructiveness and carrying between his ears the comb, razor, and shears demanded by Ysbaddaden the giant, Twrch Trwyth is said to be the son of the king Taredd Wledic; according to Arthur, he was ‘a king transformed by God into a hog (hwch) for his sins’ (cf. reincarnation; Math fab Mathonwy). The fact that Trwyth is not killed in the story but driven back out to sea may mean that the storyteller and his audience knew of the boar’s presence in subsequent adventures, now lost.

Like Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyfar, corresponding to Irish Findabair, and his sword Caledfwlch, Irish Caladbolg, Twrch Trwyth is equivalent to orc tréith, explained as ‘a king’s son’ in Sanas Chormaic (‘Cormac’s Glossary’). Old Irish orc means ‘young pig’ and tríath (gen. tréith) can mean either ‘king’ or ‘boar’. In the Middle Irish tract ‘The Tuath Dé Miscellany’, edited by Carey (BBCS 39.24–45), we find Triath rí torcraide (Triath king of the boars). The Welsh spelling trwyt (Modern trwyd), which does occur, could be the exact cognate of triath, implying Common Celtic *tritos. Therefore, although a common inheritance of loan from Welsh to Irish is not easily disproved, the Irish Torc Triath is pivotal to the theory of a kernel of Irish material near the starting-point of the Arthurian tradition.

Arthur’s hunt of Porcum Troit and other places and episodes found in Culhwch are mentioned in south Walian contexts in the mirabilia (marvels) of the 9th century Historia Brittonum. Therefore, some version of this part of the story was already well known and localized that early. This evidence is consistent with Padel’s theory of an originally unhistorical character who began as a figure in local folklore (cf. Arthurian sites). The allusion to Trychdrwyt (attacked in a river for his valuables) in Gwarchan Cynfelyn in Llyfr Aneirin, as well as other occurrences in poetry, show that the correct original name was Trwyd, Trwyth originating as a scribal error.


 I plan to take this story, in its fragments and make an adventure module based around this hunt. The players will be not only involved in it along with Arthur and his warriors, but also have their own side adventures and story-lines on the side. In my recent Arthurian campaign I integrated this into the main story and it was a memorable series of adventures that gave many brilliant moments and memories. Look for this at module #7 in the next few months, after the next few come out!