ANOTHER Giveaway: Advance Copy of Through the Narrows

I just put a signed copy of the first novel in the Tomahawk and Saber Series in the mail to our lucky winner from New Jersey. But if that’s not you, don’t despair—you could win a paperback of the second book before it’s released!

Enter here for your chance to win a signed copy
before it’s on sale on November 3rd!

Through the Narrows

Thanks and good luck!

P.S. If you’d like to take a peek, check out the ebook, which is available now, for a free preview.

The 777 Writer’s Challenge – An Excerpt from my WIP

I’ve been challenged.

Mike Fuller, a fellow historical fiction writer, tagged me in the “777 Writer’s Challenge” in which I’m dared to share seven lines, beginning with the the 7th line down on the 7th page of a work-in-progress.

Well, I’m not usually one to back away from challenges. So here’s an excerpt from Through the Narrows (written by me and Evan Ronan), the second novel in our Tomahawk and Saber series:

As he turned, a sudden movement caught his eye and he reflexively braced himself. He grunted and twisted his body as a boy slammed onto his back. Wolf Tongue rolled, swinging the boy over his shoulder and locking him in a hug against his chest.

Root Cutter, Wolf Tongue’s nephew, struggled against the grip for a moment before Wolf Tongue released him.

The boy turned to face his uncle and lifted his chin high. He was growing quickly and strong, one of the few who seemed to be. He almost stood to Wolf Tongue’s shoulders and had a sharp jaw and quick hands. Like his uncle, he wore his hair shaved on all sides and with a lock of hair at the back crest, but today he wore a tight cap dyed red and black. His nose, like that of his mother who was taken by the pox, was arched like a hawk’s beak.

Root Cutter straightened his leather tunic. “You never saw me hiding there. If I’d had a knife …”

Wolf Tongue winked. “If you had a knife, I’d have a new one for my collection.”

Slightly more than seven lines. And also only barely a work in progress, as it will very shortly be released. (Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it’s out.) But fun anyway, I hope.

Thanks for the challenge, Mike!


Thanks for the Books, Mom and Dad

I don’t remember the specifics of the summer (summers?) when my mom took me to the library for the reading program. It was for one of those things where a kid reads some books and earns points or toys or something to encourage reading. I didn’t need the encouragement, but I enjoyed it regardless.

Our visits could have been weekly or daily. And it could have been just a month one summer, or the whole summer break for a few years when I was in grade school. I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter.

Because what I remember is my mom taking me and my sister to the library many, many times (and on-demand if my memory’s to be believed). School was closed, so I couldn’t get books out of the library there. And as much as I loved being outside, I could only handle so much sunburn and fingers pruned from pools and bleeding from fishhooks. Besides, I also loved books, and I needed a lot of them.

So my mom would take me to the library where I’d jam my backpack to where it weighed as much as I did, and I was a big kid.

Then, on my return trip the next week/day/whatever, I’d sit at a table with a librarian. She’d ask questions about the book. I’d tell her what happened and what I liked and what I didn’t. She’d recommend other books I might like. Then, to my surprise, she would offer me some special little tchotchke—I seem to remember a red flute-like whistle that I was fond of—as if just getting to learn about Greek mythology and volcanoes and reptiles weren’t enough by itself!

My mom would again help me pick out all the exciting tales and tomes of knowledge that I’d take home to hunch over. And then we’d do it all again.

I don’t remember my dad ever taking me to the library. That’s not to say he didn’t; I just don’t remember it.

What I do remember is my dad taking me to the bookstore. Back then it was Walden’s in the mall. And whenever we went, the only limit to how many books he’d buy for his kids was based on how much cash he had in his wallet that day.

If I wanted toys? Nope. (Well, probably nope. But sometimes yes.)

If I wanted books? Always yes. No questions asked—my pop had his wallet ready.

Up until I earned my own money, my father would buy me as many books as I asked for. And he probably would have still if I hadn’t been too proud to let somebody else pay for my addiction.

And I don’t remember them once questioning my choice in titles. If it was available and had pages with words and no dirty pictures, it was mine. (Maybe that one limitation was another reason I started buying my own.)

Not only did they not censor or question what might be appropriate for me, they also engaged. They made sure they knew what I was reading and what it was about. My mom would ask in-depth questions on car rides much like that librarian.

I even used to read aloud to them as part of another school-sponsored reading program. I think it was Book-It, where I’d earn personal pizzas from Pizza Hut for every so many books I read. This was heaven for me—I got to read about swords and dragons AND get pizza!

But my poor parents bought me those books, then endured a 10-year-old reading Dragonlance aloud for probably more than a year.

Bless their souls.


What Does Your Book Recommendation Say About You?

If you could shove a friend into a chair and compel them to read just one book, what would it be?


It’s a little like picking your favorite book of all time. But maybe not quite.

This topic came up recently in a conversation with my friend Evan Ronan and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And specifically because the book I’d force him to read (I’ll get to that in a minute) isn’t necessarily my favorite book of all time.

Maybe I’m loath to choose just one. There are thousands of amazing books and dozens that make me cringe at the cutting emotion, gape at the style, goggle at the deft characterization, etc.

(OK. There’s no maybe about it—I’m definitely loath to choose just one.)

But if you’re forced to choose just one book you wish you could make a friend read, your choice might say a little bit about your friend or how you perceive them. And maybe a little about you.

Think about this: if you said to your best friend, your lover, your parent, that of all the millions of books in the world, this one is the one you’d make them read, isn’t that an intimate act of communication?

It’s akin to saying, “Here. This emotional tone, story, character, all hit a note perfectly in tune with how I see myself and the world. This collection of metaphors is somehow me.”

Blood MeridianAnd the book I’d recommend, at least for certain friends, is Cormac MacCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

Now. I wouldn’t recommend that to everyone I know. (My mother would haaaaaaate this book if she even got to page 10.) But for a fair number of friends who have a certain type of fortitude, this book, all the way.

I don’t believe really good writing can be paraphrased, so I’ll just say that I’ve read this book a number of times, and each time, its power and brutality leave me feeling shaken and wounded and amazed.

What that says about me or what I think of my friends’ reading proclivities? Who the hell knows.  Maybe nothing. Because after all, it’s just a book recommendation.

So what about you? What’s that one sledgehammer of a book that you wish you compel others to read?