Monday, August 12, 2013

Better than Ever

Well ladies and gentleman, we’ve got the new site up and running. To honor such a momentous occasion, the price of The Bindings of Fate is now officially being lowered to 99 cents. I’m hopeful that with the lower cost, more people will be able to enjoy the world of Tellest. If you can, please spread the word. Also, now that the website is going to be the hub for all your Tellest news, blogs will be written directly to – adjust your bookmarks accordingly. I’ll still continue to use blogspot occasionally for non-Tellest news, so keep your eye on that from time to time as well. Thank you for being fans!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dreams on Distant Horizons

Over on the KDP Community forums, someone posed this question:

"What would really happen if you hit it big as a writer?"

I find it humorous that I'm sitting here daydreaming about this now, while my website falls steadfast into the "under construction" territory of the internet.

But if money were no object, and I continued to be able to pursue this dream, what exactly would I do?

The Entertainment

Most of the people who've read several of my blog posts likely know that the greatest joy I could find is through entertaining people.  I've tried my hands at video games (and failed so far - but I'll get it right eventually!), as well as acting, way back before there were cameras.  My biggest problem with both of those areas is that I don't really have the skill to adequately perform the tasks at hand.

But with a steady income, I could at least pursue the first one a little more fervently.  From the ashes, I would rise like a nerdy phoenix.  While I don't believe I'll ever be a code-monkey, I could definitely work on a game from a designer/producer role.  My imagination has always had the better of me, and it flows in much the same unyielding manner when I'm daydreaming about games as it does for the book series.  If I had a little more cash to lean on, I feel like that would be a dam that would burst on a nearly monthly basis.

I'd like to eventually have my own video game development house.  We'd make smaller, intimate titles that would focus on my series (plural).  I prefer to think the quality of independent games have been better than most of the big publishing houses lately.  It would help me to tackle some of the individuals within my universe that don't get enough time in the spotlight.  And I think that it'd really put a smile on some faces.

My long-time friend and I have always had the idea to have a kind of conglomerate nerd haven set up somewhere out here in Bucks County.  It'd be space themed, and go hand in hand with the sci-fi novels I'll be putting out in the future.  Inside, you'd have arcade games, a comic store, a commissary, and the main attraction, a laser tag center.  We've got a couple laser tag places around here, but I'd want to really knock it out of the park with mine.  I'd develop it so that it was part of a story, and there were multiple arenas.  It would flow with the novels that I'd written, leaning on that plot for substance.  I imagine a scenario where before every match, you let the players vote on which arena they would play in.  Then, during special events, you'd open all three arenas up to each other, and have massive battles.  Again, my imagination gets away from me sometimes.

I wouldn't mind making a few licensed mini-golf courses.  Seeing some of my brands on the putting green (in my mind) looks fantastic.  And then that would lead into the long, off-in-the-distance make believe goal I have: building a Tellest based theme park.  This is the dream that will never come true, unless I win the powerball tonight.  Somewhere in PA or NJ, there would be these tall, artificial mountains - they'd house maintenance tunnels, staff rooms, etc., and they'd also surround the park.  Inside, you'd see sweeping dragon rollercoasters, foreboding castles and worlds of magic.  Outside the park, a permanent renaissance faire would sell their wares.  It's such an amazing dream, that even if though it will never come to fruition, it still has a very special, very real place in my mind.

The Education

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a wasted education.  However, it is very easy to waste your time.  Because I don't have the most glamorous of day jobs, and my current degree is not very impressive, it has been a very slow crawl up to lower-middle class for me.  Even if I made a little bit more money, I could pay off the debt I have, and I'd feel a lot more comfortable with going back to school.

The great thing is, nowadays, there are a lot of jobs that don't care what degree you have, as long as you have it.  I'm in Information Systems, and my degree is actually in Journalism.  If I went back to school, I'd try for a BS in English.  I feel like my writing could always have a bit of improvement (compare my first book to my third one).

Beyond that, I have to look far into the future.  Eventually, there will be little Michaels and Rhiannas running around.  They're going to need an education as well, and I'd like to be able to offer them the best, even if that's not what they want to do with their life.

The Philanthropy

One of the greatest feelings that there are in life is the notion that you have, even in some small way, made a difference in someone else's life.  I try to be charitable when I can.

My family, and friends of my family, have had diabetes, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and so forth and so on. It would be nice to be able to put forth a more substantial effort to affront terrible diseases.  If I never have to watch a loved one die from illness, that day would still be too soon.

Going back to education, I wouldn't mind setting up a scholarship some day.  Somewhere out there, there's a bright kid who doesn't have the money to go to college, and he's skilled in so many ways that he doesn't understand yet.  I'd like to give an opportunity to the people that need them.

I say this as though you can't make a difference without some massive stockpile of cash, but that is of course not the case.  Anything that you can put toward helping your fellow man is a wonderful thing, for both parties involved.  There's always going to be someone out there with less than you, and as I said before, there is no greater gift than that of giving.

There are plenty of other things that I would do if I was financially liberated.  Weddings, house renovations, a new car... even the rich somehow find ways to spend metric butt-tons (that would be the opposite of imperial variety) of their money.  But those are tales for another time...

What are your dreams?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ever Changing, Ever Growing

We live in a world where inclusiveness is a rapidly growing necessity.  Social wildfires have been set ablaze on websites like Kickstarter, where the people ultimately decide what is worth their time, their money, and their interest.  The majority of these successful products and projects give back to the consumer in ways that were atypical before the jump in popularity.  The idea of somehow collaborating with creators to modify or expand on content is an idea that is so brilliant, its a wonder it hasn't been done more often.

Novels and the written universe should not abstain from this transition.  There is a place for other people within our worlds, and we'd be foolish not to embrace it.  We're already seeing it with programs like Kindle Worlds, which rewards fan fiction for both the original creators, and those authors who want to empower the existing writing with their own concepts.

Tellest is growing.  I can't sit by idly and stifle that growth.  The world is expansive - what readers have seen thus far only scratches the surface of what is available.  There are other continents, other planes of existence, other realities.  When I set out all those years ago to create Tellest, it wasn't a personal playground for myself to seclude myself within.  It was an open invitation to anyone with a bright imagination, to anyone with a need for escapism.

There used to be a motto that I embraced for Tellest that was quietly swept aside because I didn't have the means to adequately describe it.  In days like this, when the third book is out, and people will more readily understand the notions of my - nay, our - written universe, perhaps that description will come more easily.  The World is in Your Hands.  Explore Tellest.  Play in it.  I fully welcome you to try your hand at crafting tales within the boundaries of the universe that is in place.

After all, there are already others who have begun down that path.

I am not the only writer of the Tellest series of stories anymore.  It has been slowly expanding for months, though the foundation has been laid out for far longer.  There are small stepping stones that lead to the path, like little whispers drawing you into a place you never realized you stood beside for so long.  In only a short while, I'll be able to share these wonderful yarns with you.

The landscape is changing, but in that change, there are exciting new possibilities.  What started as a passionate way to entertain people is transmogrifying into a way to let people entertain themselves, and others.  Those of us that are standing in the background can see those gears slowly beginning to turn.  Tellest is a clockwork beast that is just starting to wear into its grooves.  When it is churning forth and full force, it is going to be a monster to be reckoned with.

Though the world is ever expanding, I refuse to step aside.  Tellest is a universe for the people, but it is also a piece of me.  It's a representation of my imagination.  It's a intrinsic part of my being.  Tellest may be able to function without me some day, but I could scarcely function without it.

That said, I'd like to take the last few moments of this post to share where my journeys have taken me. 

Earlier this month, The Enemy Within released.  It's slow going compared to when The Bindings of Fate and As Darkness Falls arrived in 2011, so if you can, please share the book with your friends and family who you think would like the kind of adventure and fantasy that the Tellest universe provides.

I'm still plugging away at the novelettes, which are, (somewhat predictably) growing.  The Adelia story is going to be finished within the next month, if I keep to pace.  At that point, Adelia's saga is going to be passed to a worthy successor.  If you recall, Adelia first shows up on the scene in The Bindings of Fate, when Kaos returns home to collect some of his magical antiquities.  It was never divulged why Adelia had returned home, though it had been alluded to.  It will be the mystery writer's job to connect the dots, and help people understand what has transpired between the novelette and the first novel.  Kaos' sister starts off as a very innocent, naive, and anxious young lady - a far cry from what we see when she confidently strides onto the stage in Bindings.

The other novelettes will follow shortly after.  I try to work on the Bolt short simultaneously, but I like to separate my stories as best I can.  For these two, they are sequestered by their geography.  I spend my time on Bolt when I'm away from home, while Adelia's story is typically crafted when I wake up and in the evenings.

I couldn't keep one of the larger stories from beginning to form, however.  I don't like to let stories sit around for too long - I may not be the best writer, but you can see where my style has evolved from the first book to the third.  The story demanded to be written, however, so the first lines of the pentalogy have been written, waiting for the time that they will be read by attentive fans.

For now, I'll descend back into the shadows, peeking out from time to time while I try my best to craft the novelettes in time for a November release.  In the meantime, please enjoy The Enemy Within, as well as the books that have carved the path for it, The Bindings of Fate and As Darkness Falls.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for the first story not told by me.  That should be releasing in September, barring any unnecessary hiccups.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Enemy Within is Out

Finally, after much delay, The Enemy Within has finally been released.

It's always exhilarating to get your brain baby out into the world, but this achievement has been especially liberating.  The first trilogy of mine is now completely finished, and available to the world.  It's been a long and sometimes arduous journey, but I'm glad that I'm standing at the bridge that leads me forward into my next set of goals.  I can turn around, look back, and smile with pride at my accomplishments.  But I couldn't have done it without you.  If you're reading this, thank you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How Far We've Come and How Far We're Going

Well ladies and gentlemen, the time is quickly approaching.  I am actually counting down the days, because we are likely within one month of a publication at this point.  It has been a long time, but the trilogy is likely going to be complete by this time next month.

It's not set in stone just yet, but my editor was intent on trying to get me his final edits this weekend.  If that's the case, all I'll have to do is look at his changes and approve or deny them.  That might take a week or two if I'm really diligent.  After that, I do one final read through the material myself, give it the go ahead, and publish.  The artwork is already done - you've seen it if you looked at the Kickstarter we ran a couple months back.  The only thing I would have to do after that is begin resizing the artwork for a paperback release - maybe around November of this year.

Meanwhile, I haven't just been sitting around, twiddling my thumbs.  I've been working on my short stories, in an effort to tide over anxious fans once The Enemy Within has been released - the fact that nothing has been set to paper (digital or not) since November of 2011 is a sad thing indeed.  I want to try and remedy that going forward.

I've been working on two of the stories simultaneously - and I've been treating them as gifts for two of the people closest to me.  Adelia is a fan favorite of my wonderful artist and girlfriend Rhianna.  When you get a chance to read that story, you might notice a more playful, whimsical approach than the Child of the Stars trilogy presents.  The other character is Bolt - he's the one I started with, regarding these shorter tales - and he's dedicated to my brother.  I'm noticing as I spin these yarns, they're growing bigger than I expected.

Allow me to drop some history on you.

When I first started writing the Tellest mythos back in 2001, it was such a miniscule idea.  Tellest wasn't part of the name.  Tellest wasn't even an idea.  It was just supposed to be a short biography for Kaos Kreegan. 

At the time, it was being written in the Forgotten Realms world - essentially just some heavy fan fiction.  The profile was for a character I was making in Baldur's Gate II.  Subconsciously, certain facets of that game series even made their way into my long term writing - Duke Eltan, as I came to discover long after I had written my original Kaos story, was a character from Baldur's Gate.  I think that even the last name Kreegan was probably subconsciously pulled from the Heroes of Might and Magic series.  They were the series' devils and demons. 

Of course, I didn't even realize that those name choices had been made.  In 2001, my imagination was still stretching slowly over time.  Kaos' original name would have been Kaos Brightblade - for the sake of a videogame profile, that would have been fine.  I don't think Wizards of the Coast would have come after me for that.  But Kaos, and the world around him continued to evolve.

What was originally just a two page biography that I wrote in math class stretched and pulled until much of what you see in Bindings of Fate today was written (although in much cruder fashion).  From there, 140 pages evolved to close to 300 when I added some solid backstory for Kaos.  You'll get to see the natural growth of that original tale when "The Veil of Mists" comes out in 2014/2015.

What I'm noticing, though, is that Adelia and Bolt are experiencing the same manner of growth.  I don't think I can call their solo tales short stories at this point.  They're more like novelettes.  By the time I'm done with Adelia's tale, I know I'll be close to 20,000 words.

Of course, with a slightly longer length comes a slightly longer wait.  These short stories aren't going to be coming out until liikely around November of this year (and even then, on a weekly basis for each chapter).  But, I figured, I have a good amount of writing done thus far, and much of the content is unlikely to change.  So what do you say?  Would you like an introduction to the first 1,000 words of the first short story?



The bluebird’s song was familiar.  It sat upon the stone windowsill, mere inches away from the jars of ancient substances.  Looking at the nearby dried roots, it would hop toward it quickly and then abruptly back away.  After each cycle, it would tweet its song as though it was trying to remain discreet.
A sweet-smelling spring breeze turned a page in the large nearby tome, and the small creature hunched low, considering a hasty flight.  The man who sat at the desk began to whistle.  His song seemed to soothe the bird – perhaps because it was identical to the earlier tune.
Gaston Camlann was known for such precise observations.  He was a man of great renown, gifted in many arts, both ancient and modern.  It was a wonder at all that he was able to excel at so many things.  He was, after all, human.  They didn’t live forever.
The sage, who fancied himself more a scholar, was beginning to show his age.  His once attractive features were replaced with wrinkles and rosy cheeks.  He wore a long, dark grey beard and moustache to hide most of his weathered face.  Long, wavy locks had been stricken a little brighter by the sun, nearing the color of snow.  He hid that indicator of his age underneath a wide green hat.
Though preferring to wear the tall, pointed head piece back somewhat, he had learned much earlier on in life that the hat and his glasses often fought for a place upon his ears.  During his studies, those thin frames took precedence.
As he whistled a second verse to his winged companion, a series of knocks upon the door played the percussion in their song.  Gaston was so engrossed in his studies that he was ill suited to notice, even when the rapping on the door became louder and more frequent.
More aware than the sage, the bluebird hopped off of its stone pedestal, diving into the northern wilderness.  Gaston was shook from his task at that sight.
He chortled to himself.  How easily Homer has trained me, he thought, recalling how often the bird returned to him.
Another series of knocks on the door had his full attention, then.
“Yes, come in,” he pleasantly permitted.
The sturdy slab of elm slid open, and a well dressed man walked in, his polished boots tapping across the floor.  To his left, a laze feline lay peacefully, its tail floating to and fro as the visitor was seen.
After removing his leather glove, the man reached out, petting the cat on its side.  Rolling over, the feline gleefully accepted the attention.
Gaston placed his quill down, then, and turned to acknowledge his guest’s arrival.
“Ah, Edric,” the sage said, standing quickly, and slamming his legs into the desk.  He winced, but worked at ignoring the pain.  “It’s been some time.”
Preoccupied with the animal, it almost seemed that Edric would not find the focus to reply.  The black cat had wrapped its arms around the man’s wrist, and was contentedly licking his knuckles.
“That it has, my friends,” the visitor said, giving a quick, rough little scratch to the cat’s belly before retrieving his hand.
“And what brings you to my dusty old closet on this beautiful day?  It’s not often that a White Knight of Gardone visits a meager hamlet like Forsynthia.”
“Forsynthia is anything but meager, and I believe it has evolved from a hamlet some time ago.  Also, my time in a white cloak has long passed.”
A smile crossed Gaston’s face.  “Just as always, you focus on the corrections while you ignore the questions.”
“Anything to gain a few extra moments to speak with an old friend,” Edric said.  “One of Jonathan’s birds came through.  Apparently, your pupil had just arrived at the toll road.  I don’t think she’ll arrive too long after I did.”
“And depending on the driver, the poor girl will be arriving without a coin in her pocket.  What a foolish idea those roads were.”
Edric paused for a moment, considering how to react.  A moment later, he was shaking his head while smiling.  “You know the countryside better than most, Gaston.  Between the beasts and the brigands, all of Daltain is a dangerous place.  But with paid patrols on watch… well, you know what Lord Kerrigan says.  ‘Good roads b –’ ”
“Build a better country, yes,” the old sage finished.  “And there’s quite a bit of wisdom there, too.  Far more than this wizened old wizard cares to admit often, anyway.  And I’m sure those pampered, spoon-fed princes from Sungarden were happy to keep the hands out of their pockets.
“Ahh, but I’m rambling again,” Gaston said.  “Are you staying for some time?  Can I offer you some tea?”
A weak frown could just barely be seen upon the retired knight’s face.  “Alas, my friend, I haven’t come to Forsynthia just for reprieve.  I’m moving a caravan of weapons up to the Basalt Flats.  Lydick should be awaiting me in the armory if he’s been properly advised of my arrival.”
Gaston nodded.  “Always too short, these visits.  No matter.  It will give me some time to stretch these old legs in preparation to meet the young lady.”
“And I’m sure there are a great many surprises you have prepared for this one,” Edric mused.  “I’m staying in Forsynthia for the night.  If my task is kind to me, perhaps we can meet for the tea later this evening.”
“I should like that very much,” the sage said.
Following a polite bow, Edric turned and began out of the room.  He stopped beside the black cat, and gingerly scratched beneath its chin.
“Farewell, Dell,” the retired knight said.  “Keep your master from falling too deeply into those tomes of his.”
Once Edric had gone from the room, Gaston turned to his pet, glee etched upon his face.  “Worry not, my old furry friend.  You’ll have a new companion to play with.  There will be time for books later.”
Dell let out a contented meow, but remained on his side, even as his master stepped clear of the door, and drew it mostly closed.


It's a very brief intro, but I think it gets the point across.  Dell, the cat, is likely going to be renamed, but I want to be careful to give him some anonymity for now.  His real name may give a little too much of the central Tellest stories away.  Now, how could a cat's name ruin that for anyone?  That's my secret for now.  The title will be tweaked once I get a feel for what the most important facet of the tale is as well.

I hope you liked that little tease, and I hope you're excited for The Enemy Within.  I went through all the emotions with that one - but I'm at a point now where I think it's one of my better works.  The epic conclusion to the Child of the Stars trilogy is nearly upon us, and I'm glad to have you along for the ride! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Small Ripples Leading to a Maelstrom

Over the next month and a half, things are going to be slow on the release front, but not behind the scenes.  My editor is still plugging away at The Enemy Within, and I'm still working on some ancillary content for the series.

I've talked about those materials before, but I'm willing to go a little more into detail now.

The big project from here on out is the novella I've spoken about.  It's going to focus on one of the gods of Tellest, and give readers some insight on what it means to be one of those immortal beings.

Then, before I get back to the main characters - with a Kaos prequel, in which you see his youth all the way up to his first quest - I'm going to do five short stories as part of an anthology.  The game plan is to complete them entirely, and then begin releasing them on a week by week basis on this blog.  When everything has been revealed, they'll be packaged as the aforementioned anthology.  I know what four of the stories are going to revolve around, but the fifth one is still a little bit elusive.

I'm not going to sit on that information forever, though.  Without any further wait, here are the brief, casual synopses of the short stories I'm confident about.


Kaos isn't the only Kreegan, and I'm aiming to show that.  When Tessik and Elly Kreegan were viciously murdered, Adelia only barely managed to escape with her life.  Her survival instincts and magical intuition gain the attention of one of Tellest's most renowned wizards, Gaston Camlann.  Over time, Adelia develops her power while learning to curb the fears that she has been living with since the destruction of her family.  All the while, Gaston is studying her.


The Knights of Virtue are a sect of powerful champions, most whom helped to develop the glorious city of Atalatha.  But, as tough as they are to defeat, their story is even harder to infiltrate.  While their most fabled journey is still a ways off (I'm also undecided what medium I want to use to tell it), one man in particular has garnered special interest.  Maximus Xanders somehow has the instinct to create amazing things, such as the clockwork steed, Equinicus.  But how exactly did the Knight of Virtue gain that ability?  And at what cost?


The first of the as-yet unpublished characters in the short story collection is a side character from what was originally going to be a Steel Tip prequel from long, long ago.  Icarus is an elf that lives on Arthica in the archipelago of Ippius, from where Steel Tip hails.  He is one of the oldest beings on Tellest, and has a lot of interesting tales to tell.  One thing that sets him aside from most of the other elves of the region is his temperament with humans.  It is typical for most elves to shy from humans, if not openly detest them.  Icarus had aligned with Jason Dactyls, the king of Ippius, and agreed to train his young son to be a protector of the kingdom.  Along the way, though, one of his own famous tales is told.


In The Enemy Within, readers will be given some insight to a new character with an interesting power.  Bolt's backstory, perhaps, is even more intriguing, however.  Raised by dwarves, yet not one of them, this hero has dealt with a backlash of the people he grew up with.  Along the way, though, his adopted father never strayed far from his side.


Those are the big four right now.  I still have to figure out what I want to do with the fifth one, but it's important to know that each of these characters will somehow play a part in the massive pentalogy that I'm developing over the next few years.  Somehow, each of these folks will be part of the growing loom that is the Tellest mythos, and these prequel materials will help to give some insight into what makes each of them tick.  By the time the anthology is ready to be released, they might be joined by other stories, but these ones are mine alone, and now you know the reason.

You may wonder why you haven't seen your favorite character in the above list (a lot of people seem to gravitate toward Dirk).  While I would love to write something for each of the people who help to shape the Tellest series, there just isn't enough time to devote to everyone.  That isn't to say that we won't see their backstories.  I'm always talking about trying to expand the Tellest universe.  Maybe soon I can discuss those plans a little more.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Road to Recovery

Good afternoon everyone!

Though it may seem that the failing Kickstarter was a signifigant nail in my proverbial coffin, I can assure you, that is not the case.  Tellest has dealt with much worse obstacles over the past thirteen years (not the least being my first few years of "writing").  If the only problem the world must endure is a lack of financial resources, we'll be just fine.

In the hands of my able editor, I'm assuming the book will be completed by the end of July.  I cut a massive amount of first draft, and I think it leaves you with a much finer taste of what's going on.  It may be my best work to date.

At this point, though there are some administrative efforts that need to be ironed out with The Enemy Within, I'm essentially done with the Child of the Stars trilogy.  I've never been one to rest once a project is done, however.  This completed task has been no different.

I'm currently working on three different stories going forward. 

One of the projects is a novella, which I'll release here, and on the website in a weekly episodic format.  As the weeks go by, I'll slowly start to remove the chapters from the web, in preparation of a more financially sound release.  In 2014 (or perhaps 2013, if things move quickly enough), I'll release the trilogy in one cost-effective package, with the novella as an added bonus.  Or, if you've already been a supporter of the Tellest books, you'll be able to pick up the novella as a standalone item.

Additionally, two more projects have taken shape.  When they are finished and edited, I'll release them here in a similar format to the novella.  These will be short stories, however.  You haven't met the main focus of one of the stories, but I can reveal that Adelia Kreegan is the focus of the second story.

Kev and I have discussed the concept of expanding the brand, and what we'd like to do is try and make a series of these short stories available for purchase eventually.  If my writing pace is anything to go by, we're likely looking at a 2014 release for a collection of ten of the tales. 

We may acquire other storytellers along the way, in many different formats (writers, comic book artists, musicians) - if you're interested in the world of Tellest, let me know.  I want to turn Tellest into a medieval Marvel eventually, and that means expansion.

For now, sit tight.  I'll let you know definitively in the next few weeks when The Enemy Within will be released.