Guest Post: Jesse Teller – Author of Hemlock

So, while I continue to work on In His Darkened Halls, updates on future releases are thin on the ground for a short while.

However, a compatriot of mine, one Jesse Teller, has just released the second book in his Manhunters series – Hemlock – and was kind enough to provide a guest article for my blog.

So without further ado, and many thanks to Mr Teller, I’ll give this space over to Jesse, to talk about the Timeless Enemy that has stuck with him throughout his writing career.

You can find Hemlock for purchase here.

 

 

The Timeless Enemy

by Jesse Teller

 

When I was a boy, my parents took me to the movies. This was back when we had no money. No money at all. We had to fight to get food on the table and we were always strapped. Well somehow, my parents found the money and the time to take us to the movies, and I saw Sleeping Beauty.

I don’t remember much at all. Colors, I think, is all I could take away from it. I was about six and I had no recollection of the story or the images really, but I do remember very distinctly the dragon. I remember the colors, the breath, and the black. I remember this tiny man striving to fight it, and the way it seemed impossible. I remember thinking no force in the world could rival a dragon, and that is all I took from it.

Years later, I was watching TV in the morning on a Saturday, and I saw Bilbo Baggins take the first steps of his journey. The artistry of it consumed me, the way those particular animation artists moved the characters across the screen. They were the same animators that did The Last Unicorn and I will never forget the way they drew the line. The movie The Hobbit was fun until Bilbo and I found ourselves at the feet of Smaug.

So huge that dragon was, nothing Bilbo could do could ever stack up. There was no weapon to grasp to bring death to that monster. No hope, however slight, could be held when the idea of fighting that beast was at hand.

I do not accept the death Tolkien gave to his god of dragons. It is too convenient, too simple. No one arrow ever made could take down the beast I saw in that cavern, no matter how well shot, no matter the target.

I remember thinking if ever a power could exist that could rival a being that great, it would have to be me who found it. No other creator could reach within and pluck out the shred of hope that stood up to a creature so mighty.

Well, of course, I was wrong. Writers and artists have been killing dragons as long as dragons have been around. St. George cast one down centuries before I was born, and people have been doing it ever since. But Smaug stayed supreme in my mind, a creature of such immense power that no one dare stand before him had they not a ring of power.

So then I set to work. I began, time after time, crafting a hero or heroine strong enough to crush the monumental monsters of my mind. Soon wizards. Then warriors. Then one after the next, I began to put together an army of people and beings so invincible that they could stand up to Smaug. They could face the Nefarious, the Tempest and the Wrath of the greatest forces of darkness that any mind could find. Any mind anywhere. With this devotion to craft and heart of a creator, I plumbed the darkness within my mind to find magic.

When I hit teenage years, I wanted warriors. Arislan, Aragorn. Caramon Majere. I found Mycenae Kark and Sai Sibbius Summerstone. One after the next, I sought and found one swords smith, then another, to battle the monoliths of my mind. Twenties found assassins. Thirties, barbarians. One great hero after the next filled my mind, always with one goal in sight.

Crush Smaug.

Pulverize the immense. Bring down the invincible. I write high fantasy. If that means I am not grimdark, then so be it.

There is a boy in here, deep where no one can find him. He is fighting a monster, a monster deeply rooted in the fiber of his mind. That little boy will not let me go small. He has a nemesis. He has a nightmare, and one after the other, he will pump out the mighty and the brave to bring it down. I have never killed Smaug. He is, as far as, I know unkillable.

But Rayph Ivoryfist would get close. Smear Kond could sneak up on him. Dreark would make Smaug tremble. I fear that somehow the mighty, world-moving powers within my books will make me less grim, that I might lose some street cred. I might have readers who shrug and drop me, thinking they want lower fantasy than I am prepared to give them.

To them I say, please forgive. There is a monster in here. He scares me. I must fight him the best I can. Smaug is watching. Smaug is waiting.

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Spring into Fantasy sale

spring sale

I apologise for the length between posts – it’s been something of a crazy year I’ve had! But I am hard at work at my next book – I’ve got two in the works that I’m planning on dropping before long.

So while I’m currently working on them, I’ve teamed up again with some likeminded peers to do a seasonal sale on my book The Shadow of the High King 🙂 Check it out here

I’ll also have some writing news soon, so keep an eye out for an update!

Book Review – Darkmage by M. L. Spencer

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I’m far, far, far overdue to review this book, and the only excuse I have is a hell of a lot happened all at once between me starting and finishing it and immediately after, and I’ve only just had the clarity of mind to write a review that would do her work justice.

This is the second of Spencer’s books I’ve read, and the true start of her Rhenwars Saga, my first foray into her world being Darkstorm, which I thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year.

Darkmage, I found however, outstrips it a fair bit in my eyes. Despite being written prior to Darkstorm, I found Spencer’s writing a great deal more rich and mature in this book. Part of me wonders if this is due to it being a fair bit lengthier and simply allowing herself time to grow and toy with her characters, who are, as in Darkstorm, at the very forefront of her writing.

Again, a high fantasy epic with a distinctive grimdark twist through its characters’ questionable motives and actions, I found the level of thought and depth to Spencer’s world to be continually impressive, and I’m envious of her ability to build both nations and magic systems in such detail. Especially without stumbling over them, as is easy to do so when creating something of such grinding complexity.

I’ve often felt Spencer’s work will appeal to a range of fantasy enthusiasts, with her ability to weave grimdark assholery into a sprawling high fantasy tapestry that, if tropes are to be believed, should be populated by bland, uninspired white knights and big titty elf princesses trying to save the world because save the world.

A great book, especially for the start of a series, and I’m looking forward to getting around to Darklands when I (eventually) get through a couple of other books in my TBR.

Scars of the Sand – it’s release day!

Scars of the Sand cover

 

Ok, so the day’s finally here! Scars of the Sand is out at last! You can grab a copy here.

And about time too! I’ve been way, way, way behind schedule on this one, so I apologise for anyone who’s known of its existence and been waiting for it to drop, but yeah it’s finally here.

A short tale about Harlin from The Shadow of the High King, reactions so far have been universally positive, so thank you everyone who has taken the time to read it, talk about it or just offer me a gentle nudge of encouragement to get the fucker done – its appreciated. I’m looking forward to seeing the wider reaction to it, so anyone who reads it please let me know your thoughts!

After 6 months of writing and editing and redrafting and wrestling with the cover, its out – and I can finally focus on my next work – book two of The Weaving Shadows Trilogy, another one long, long overdue, who’s title I can finally reveal as I’ve settled upon it at last – In His Darkened Halls. Hopefully, this will be dropping in 2018, or early 2019.

 

 

 

Book Review – Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer

 

So I finally got to finish Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer today (only took me 2 months thanks to work and my own writing).

Darkstorm for me has a bit of a special place on my shelf as it is not only very, very good, it is also the first full length kindle book I’ve read and it’s by a self published author.

M. L. Spencer’s first installment of the Rhenwars Saga has really impressed me for a number of reasons.

First and foremost is obviously the quality of her writing, she’s accomplished, professional and has a knack for character voices – I particularly enjoyed Quin.

Her world building is also something to be admired, it’s multifaceted, rich and complex, with a depth any other writer would be sure to nod appreciatively of as they read. Of particular note is her Tolkien-esque attention to detail when it comes to scenery, her descriptions of her characters’ various surroundings are vivid and clear but never feel overblown or forced, and on the whole she manages to give everything in the book an impression of scope and grandeur. I was also fond of her penchant for skilled and elaborate descriptions of magic use throughout the book, something lacking from a lot of the books I’ve read the last few years.

Spencer’s plotweaving is also something to be commented on, as while her writing style most certainly has a foot planted firmly in high fantasy, she blends it seamlessly with characters and themes that could only come from a grimdark tome for their profound levels of assholery.

I was left with a ton of questions after reading Darkstorm, and I’ll be grabbing Darkmage asap to follow this up with, the sure sign of a solid series debut. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Spencer’s writing and world develop over this series, as all the signs from this starting point are definitely full of promise.

5/5

The April Book Cover of the Month Bracket Begins!

Matthew Leistikow’s book cover contest is running again!

M.L.S. Weech

APRIL_Cover_CollageApril’s bracket has 30 new covers.  Age of Myth is fighting more than I’ve ever seen a cover fight. Michael J. Sullivan finished with the top most votes in the semifinals, which earned him yet another shot in this month’s bracket. Frank Dorrian’s To Brave the End was last month’s runner up, so he gets another crack at the bracket as well.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I…

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Announcing the March Book Cover of the Month!

To Brave the End came runner up, well done Steen Jones, and thanks again to Matthew Leistikow for the opportunity – I’m looking forward to next month’s contest! 🙂

M.L.S. Weech

The March Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. This was a very tough bracket from my point of view. We had some heavily-supported authors and some tight races. We didn’t break a ton of records, but still had a solid month. We had a total of 2,808 votes. The last round had 190 votes. It was a pretty close contest, but someone has to win.

The March Book Cover of the Month is…

61MLsjUA0iL This image and all associated images are used for review purposes under fair use. The intent is to draw attention to the product.

The Door Keeper by Steen Jones! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

I’d have to say this is a bit of an…

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