Hero of Slaves: a Blood and Tears Novella (target release date of December 2012) officially has a cover! I think it turned out pretty awesome.

I don’t have an official blurb yet for the story. However, I can tell you that it focuses on Cassus, Jonrell’s best friend. Basically, we learn what he’s been up to since leaving the Hell Patrol at the beginning of Rise and Fall.

Once again, I want to give the credit to Brooke White of Sprout Studio in Houston, Texas,. And just like the last cover, if you’re interested in procuring her services, please contact her at the following:
Brooke White
Sprout Studio (in Houston, TX)

Don’t forget to leave a comment about your thoughts!

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I know what you’re thinking . . . The first Music Monday featuring The Rolling Stones and you pick the Steel Wheels album? Yes, I know it’s not their most iconic or their best work. However, this was one of my first introductions to the band (I was 9 when it was released). I owned the tape (you heard me) and played it quite often. I re-listened to these songs the other day, and they actually hold up well.

Even if you aren’t a big Stones fan, just watch the Mixed Emotions video on mute. Mick Jagger moving around in leotards is pretty hilarious. Between this video and the Start Me Up video, I was able to pull off a pretty good Jagger impersonation as a kid.

Mixed Emotions

Rock and a Hard Place


Just as the title says, here are ten random things about me that some (if not most), might not know about me.
  1. Like most people, I have some minor OCD quirks. For instance, I check my pockets dozens of times each day, going over a checklist in my head for the following reasons:
    a. Make sure I didn’t forget something.
    b. Something didn’t fall out.
    c. Someone didn’t pick my pocket (very common in the rough streets of suburbia) (Note: that’s sarcasm, folks).
  2. I really dislike sunlight, almost to the point of hating it. Give me an overcast sky any day. I have light-sensitive eyes that even with sunglasses causes me to squint. This causes my eyes to water which eventually leads to a headache. Plus, I hate warm weather.
  3. In line with number 2, I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. In a perfect world, I’d be up during the evening and night hours, and then sleep during the morning and day.
  4. I hate waking up early, but I do it almost every day of the week. I’ve suffered with ADD for most of my life and I find that I get the most done in the mornings when I’m a bit groggy. Reason being is that my sleep-deprived mind is able to better focus on one or two items rather than the thirty usually running through my head.
  5. I think the Eagles (followed closely by Fleetwood Mac) are the most overrated band of all time. Boring, bland, uninspired, and extremely repetitive in my opinion. I have a particular distaste for the Eagles for also ruining Joe Walsh. He was much better with the James Gang and as a solo performer.
  6. I have more education than anyone should ever have. I originally majored in Marketing, hoping to start a career in advertising. However, I realized that most marketing degrees led to sales which I didn’t want to do. So, as a backup I also majored in Finance. Then, after I graduated with a double major, I realized that the finance jobs I was interested in preferred candidates with an Accounting background. Therefore, I got my MBA with a concentration in Accounting. This meant going back and taking about 30 extra hours of accounting prerequisites I didn’t take as an undergrad. Therefore, I finished my college course work with over 200 hours. And then I got my CPA….blah.
  7. At 32 years old I can still dunk a basketball (one or two-handed) off one step. Not too bad for someone who is 6’3” with knee and back issues that act up from time-to-time. Oddly enough, my vertical is actually getting better lately, moving up toward what it was in high school.
  8. Like most writers and nerds, I consider myself an introvert. I feel really uncomfortable around large groups of people I’m unfamiliar with. Now, once I know a person, then I come out of my shell.
  9. Despite number 8, I can lecture to large groups of people without any major problems. I guess a lecture format is much different for me than carrying on a personal conversation with a relative stranger.
  10. Both of my kids are named after the real names of superheroes. And yes, it was intentional. Don’t worry, both names are completely normal. No "Kal-El"s in my house.

Gotta love this band. Influenced a ton of people back in the early days of Thrash and surprisingly are making some of their best music now.

This Is Thirteen (my personal fav)

Metal on Metal (this is the song they are most known for)

White Rhino - Drum Solo (Fun Fact: Rob was actually asked by Ozzy to join his band on drums back in the day, and turned it down to stay in Anvil. Fun Fact 2: With that in mind, Lips was asked to join Motorhead on guitar and also turned Lemmy down to stay in Anvil. Talk about commitment.)

Juggernaut of Justice. Something off the new album.


On the surface, many think that heavy metal and fantasy have very little in common. After all, the stereotypical images of both groups couldn’t be more different from each other.

  • A metalhead is someone headbanging with excessively long hair, trying to slam into a bunch of other people with reckless abandon while loud music is blasted through a set of speakers.
  • A fantasy fan is someone sitting at a table playing a game with odd shaped dice while drinking mountain dew and eating chips.

I admit there are some major differences between heavy metal and fantasy. However the similarities between the fantasy genre in literature and the heavy metal genre in music are pretty amazing. In fact, fantasy literature like A Song of Ice and Fire, Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, and The Dark Tower series have been the inspiration for songs by many bands such as Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, The Sword, Rush, and Led Zepplin.

For decades, heavy metal bands have borrowed from the fantasy genre when crafting their lyrics or band image. Yet, how often do you see pictures of someone at Comic-Con wearing a Megadeth T-shirt? Probably about as often as you’ve seen someone at a Judas Priest show carrying around their copy of Game of Thrones.

Personally, I don’t think there is enough of a crossover between the groups. So, as a huge fan of both heavy metal music and fantasy literature, I’m here to give you several reasons why if you’re into one of these areas of interest, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by not getting into the other.
  1. Both are outcasts – Fantasy/sci-fi fans are often looked down upon by the mystery/thriller/romance fans, even worse by sports and non-fiction readers.

    Heavy Metal is no different. It isn’t as mass-appealing as country or as catchy as pop, nor is it as formulaic as most of the rock on radio today.

    Oddly enough, both groups have a tendency to pride themselves at being outcasts of society, defiant in being who they are, regardless of what others think about them.

  2. Both are misunderstood – People who read fantasy are often accused of having their head in the clouds or being escapists who can’t deal with the real world.

    With heavy metal, most assume you’re a drug addict or some other dreg of society.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “YOU listen to heavy metal?” It’s only slightly more often than “You read fantasy?”

  3. Both have rabid fan bases – Fantasy fans will read the same book over and over until the spine breaks, memorizing every detail. Some even write fan fiction about their favorite characters or worlds. I don’t hear that from any other genre.

    Heavy Metal is no different. Live bootlegs are floated around all the time and fans will travel all over the world to see their favorite bands. Rob Zombie has a great line about the loyalty of metal fans. “I’ve never heard someone say they were into Slayer for one summer.” Metal isn’t something you grow out of.

    You’re a metalhead for life and generally it seems that way for fantasy/sci-fi fans as well.

  4. Both are nerds – Many metal fans won’t admit this, but most would put fantasy fans to shame in their geekiness. Not only do they know everything about the content of the music, the band, and the band’s personal life, but many will even analyze the time signature changes, the settings of the amps, and so on (Dream Theater fans, cough).

  5. Both fans dress differently than the rest of society – A fantasy fan will dress up as their favorite character at a convention.

    A heavy metal fan will wear all black on the hottest day of summer just to pay homage to their favorite band.

  6. Both have their own forms of greeting – A fantasy/sci-fi fan might flash you the Vulcan salute made famous by Spock.

    A heavy metal fan might flash you the “Metal Horns” hand gesture made famous by Ronnie James Dio.
Bottom line, if you want loyalty, fantasy and heavy metal are where you’ll find it. So if you’re a heavy metal fan, try picking up The Black Company while you rock out to the latest Anthrax album. If you’re a fantasy fan, try listening to Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast when you’re ready to crack open the newest Steven Erikson release.

I have a feeling that in both cases you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Armageddon is a great side project by Arch Enemy guitarist Chris Amontt. Awesome Hard Rock.

Gathering of the Storm/Burn the Sun

Well of Sadness


With Steel and Sorrow’s release last week, I thought I’d take a few moments to reflect on what it was like for me to write my second book which also happened to be the second book in the Blood and Tears Trilogy.

To start, I was pretty worried that Steel and Sorrow wouldn’t be as good as Rise and Fall. Although Rise and Fall was the first book I ever wrote, I’ve received really positive feedback on it, and am overall happy with the end result. In my mind, Steel and Sorrow had to be at least as good as Rise and Fall. However, I really wanted it to be better because the last thing I wanted was for it to suffer “middle-book syndrome.”

For those who don’t know, middle-book syndrome is what many people call the second (or middle) book in a long series or a fantasy trilogy. It’s not uncommon for the middle book to be the weakest in the series because the characters and world aren’t usually as new and exciting as the first book, and the second book doesn’t offer the closure/excitement the ending book(s) bring. The middle-book often feels incomplete and in many ways a large setup for the third book.

Here’s how I tried to avoid those pitfalls.
  1. Expand the cast of characters. Rise and Fall mostly focused on three people: Elyse, Tobin, and Jonrell. Some of the other characters received a bigger role toward the end of the book, but ultimately they remained minor. For Book Two, I wanted to bring up some of the minor characters and make them second tier major characters. This allowed me to keep a certain amount of newness to the series.

  2. Expand the world. Similar to the first point, I took readers to new parts of my world that were only mentioned in Book One. This helped prevent a certain amount of stagnation that can occur from staying within the same location.

  3. I didn’t play it safe. Some of my characters go through pretty radical changes (both good and bad) in Steel and Sorrow. Some die. My world can be harsh and I wanted my readers to experience those events.

  4. I kept challenging myself. I always outline, but I’m not afraid to deviate from the outline if it strengthens the story. While writing Steel and Sorrow, I cut and added subplots, cut and added character POVs, cut and added action scenes all to make the story better.

Thankfully, my early readers felt Steel and Sorrow was as good, and in most cases, better than Rise and Fall. I would have to agree with them. I’m very proud of the way Steel and Sorrow came out.

Now, the question is, can I wrap up this series with a strong and satisfying third book? I’m about 67K into the rough draft, so let’s hope so!

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Sometimes it’s fun to look at the old school musicians from the past. Jerry Lee Lewis was not only a great pianist, musician, and songwriter, but also one of the performers who really pushed Rock and Roll forward. I have a feeling that if there was heavy metal back in the 50s, he would have tried to incorporate a piano into it.

Good stuff.

Great Balls of Fire

Whole Lotta Shakin Going On

Wild One