Book Review: Where Have All the Elves Gone?

What a great way to start my day off. Opened up the old laptop and found a review for my Where Have All the Elves Gone? This isn’t an in depth treatise on the human social condition. Oh no, this is light hearted romp that takes place in a single night. Proof that we should all be careful what we wish for- we just might get it.

on March 20, 2017
After grinding through some long and dense reads from Sanderson and Rothfuss, it was refreshing to get back to what books are all about. Entertainment. Fun. Freed hits those points and then some with Where Have All the Elves Gone?. The book itself is a fish out of water story of a writer thrown into the underground world where common archetypical fantasy creatures and elements dwell in modern day America behind the scenes and unseen to the common man. Freed draws on his own military experience to build a very believable protagonist; like him, a combat veteran fantasy author. Daniel portrays a realistic view of a veteran happy in the comfort of civilian life chasing his dream while still yearning and ready to dive headfirst back into the fight for a good cause. The common elements of fantasy such as magic, dragons, dwarves, and eleven culture are integrated into present day America in very interesting ways that leave you begging for a deeper dive into the world. Freed’s style shines the most in the action. The fast paced and engaging combat sequences are engrossing for combat veterans while still being understandable and engaging for those who haven’t served. Being able to bridge that gap has been a problem that has plagued many fantasy and science fiction writers. All in all, Where Have All the Elves Gone? delivers fast paced, entertaining, and action packed fantasy. A must read for fantasy fans who are looking for a change of pace from slow moving plots or lovers of some good old fantasy action.
where-have-all-the-elves-gone

Branding

A quality read. One we can all learn a little from.

Story Empire

Craig here again. It’s a challenge to write these tips and tricks every time, because so many of the items are debatable. I hate to take a hard line stance, but I do for the sake of the comments that trickle in during the week. The topic today is branding.

Not that kind of branding. The kind where authors promote products. As you appear across cyberspace, what kind of recognizable materials do you use so the masses will recognize you? Chances are, you’ll have a blog, the popular social media accounts, and possibly a newsletter. What kind of branding do you use to tell people this is some of your work?

You will also make guest appearances on blogs, maybe blog talk radio, the occasional video of some kind. While these post are all different, your branding is what sews them all together as you – the author.

My first…

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Operation Empire

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve dreamed of being a writer. Move over Clive Barker and Stephen King! This is my world. At least that’s what I thought I wanted way back when. You might not believe it, but I imagined being a horror writer, crafting nightmarish tales designed to chill the blood and still your soul. I don’t know if any of my early works ever had that effect (most likely not) but I sure tried hard.

So where did it all come off the rails? Beats me, but my writing soon turned to fantasy, with a little horror mixed in. There was a time when I’d throw on an Iron Maiden cassette (yes, I said cassette! Don’t judge!) and would crank out four or five pages by hand. Those were the days.

My inspirations were myriad. I’ve always loved film noir, making it no strange thing that I would eventually turn to creating a world akin to the works of Chandler and Hammet. The Lazarus Men was born in the early, early 90s, under a different guise and theme. Not what I wanted, I shelved it and only went back to it in late 2015. The finished product makes me happy and opens a world of possibilities to explore- once I find the time and burn through the current projects dominating my thoughts.

At any rate, The Lazarus Men is the opening salvo in my renewed war on the publishing world. Operation Empire begins. Jump aboard before the train gets moving too fast.

Change can be both good and bad

Sides are fairly well drawn since the election. Nonsense considering we are all Americans and should be acting like it. There are moment where I feel ashamed at the people around me, though I can say that I don’t know a single person who went to one of the demonstrations, no one who lacked dignity by wearing a vagina hat, no one who looted or performed otherwise criminal acts in the name of childishness.

No friends, change is not always good. My personal change is both good and necessary. I’ve been on a long, strange journey since retiring from the army. One I don’t know where it will go or how it will end. I know what I want, but not how to achieve it. Strange that.

The last five years I’ve been immersed in the world of publishing. I’ve gone from self-publishing to small markets and then hybrids. I’ve switched publishers once before when that eerie feeling crept over me. Looks like it is time to make the switch again. There are no hostilities or hidden animosity felt. Times change and we must move on.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity my last publisher offered me. Through them I now have a following and have become a fairly established author. Established, but not popular. I want more. That’s natural, right? A bigger audience. Expanded reach. I want to see those royalty checks flow in and sit back (for a moment only) and exhale over a job well done.

So there it is. Time to slip on a new pair of shoes and head down the road less travelled. My adventure thus far has been fulfilling and enlightening. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I don’t. All I ask is that, if you are willing, that you strap in and get ready for it. The future is bright and I’m ready to renew my assault. War has come and I aim to conquer the publishing world.

Read on, my friends. Read on.

the bitter war of always

Change is in the air

The Dragon HuntersMuch has been going through my mind lately. I’m not satisfied with where I am in the publishing landscape and decided it was time for a change. Perhaps I am making a mistake, perhaps not. We shall see. Regardless, the time has come for me to explore other options and reengage my assault on the publishing world. To do so, I have begun rebranding certain elements of my works and heading in new directions.

I have never been satisfied with the original cover for the Dragon Hunters. What has been called my finest book deserves a worthy cover. And here we have it.

the bitter war of always

This little gem is for my forthcoming series: Immortality Shattered. Yes, I know it says book 2, but I had to start somewhere. The backgrounds for the other 3 books will remain the same and the images will change. Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did contracting them. The future is bright and, as always, read on, my friends. Read on.

 

Book review:Gardens of the Moon

Where do I begin? Is this the best book ever written? No. Probably not even close, but damn does it begin an awesome story. Steven Erickson and Ian C. Esslemont created the world of the Malazan Empire as a board game back in the early 1990s. Erickson took his tumultuous empire and threw it into a series of 10 novels called the Malazan Book of the Fallen. I have to warn you, these are seriously long books. I’m talking over 1000 pages each.

That said, Gardens of the Moon introduces us to the principle (most of) characters that will begin a saga spanning continents, other realms, and a host of nasty races all warring with each other from the dawn of time. Did I mention the people that can change into dragons or the war between the old gods and the new?

We follow Sergeant Whiskeyjack and what remains of the once famous regiment called the Bridgeburners. The old Emperor is dead, slain by one his trusted companions and a great purge is underway throughout the Malazan Empire, even as they continue to conquer new lands and keep those already under their control in check.

The action is vicious. The story flows. The characters are memorable, leaving you wanting to know what happens next. Some will live, others won’t. Erickson uses magic and fantasy, but not in the usual ways. There aren’t any trolls or elves here. All of his races are unique and interesting, especially the ancient Jaghut who were tyrants that controlled cold and ice.

I highly recommend these books. You won’t be disappointed.

When hard times fall, will you rise?

Great question, right? Plenty of people puff out their chests and declare all sorts of promises of valor. I vividly recall taking a van from Fort Bragg, NC to Fort Campbell, KY. I had been home from Afghanistan for a few months and was now heading over to Mosul, Iraq to join my unit. No rest for the wicked, right? After a ten hour drive, we stopped at the PX and grabbed something to eat before heading to the unit we were reporting to.

Inside were several very young soldiers bragging to their girlfriends about how they were going to war. (The girls weren’t very impressed.) One stood up and almost shouted, “We going to Iraq, baby! Yep, yep!” I wasn’t impressed either, but then again I was in my late 20s the first time I went to war. These guys were still kids.

We went through our pre-deployment processing through the 101st Airborne Division and got on the plane for what was to become my 3rd of 8th trips to and from the Middle East. 18 hours and 3 stops (Newfoundland, Frankfurt, Kuwait) on a plane filled with weapons and soldiers. the plane touched down at Ali Al Saleem Air Base in Kuwait and we bused to Camp Wolf. C-130 cargo planes were waiting to shuttle us up to northern Iraq.

The second Sergeant First Class with me spied our heroes from the PX. All of their faces were pale and they were visibly scared. Shit had just got real. My buddy swung by them and, with a massive grin, said, “We going to Iraq, baby! Yep, yep!” 14 years later and I still laugh at that.

I don’t know if those guys made it home fine or not, probably, but I was struck by the bluster of people in the face of the worst danger you can think of. I used that to forge one of my favorite characters: Gerald LaPlant. Gerald is a quiet guy just going through life in the distant future. Divorced and keeping to himself, his life changes one night when he witnesses a murder.

That singular act propels him on a journey across the planets, thrusts him in the middle of a treasure quest and a secret war going on with a shadow organization most have only heard rumors of: The Lazarus Men. Can you imagine Sam Spade in space? Think on it. Gerald is forced to discover what kind of man he is when the dark falls. Will he rise? Will you?

Read on, my friends. Read on.