The Light Shaper's Apprentice (Chapter One)

Chaper One

The howling never drowned out my mother’s screams. It was as if the storm had taken on the purpose of shielding me from her cries. The single candle light cast shadows on the tent walls as they flapped violently in the wind. My father had left five days ago. To get help. He never returned.

I buried her the next day under a clear, cold sky. From her grave, the Tundra extended as far as I could see. The horizon, now void of comfort, gave no glimpse of a home that called me to return. My home had never been a place. It had always been my mother’s comforting arms and my father’s strength.

My cries fled from me into the vast landscape. The Tundra took them, swallowed them unheard. I stood at the grave leaning into the wind as if to push it back, command it to carry my mother’s soft whispers back to me; the memory of her tucking me in at night; her sleeping next to me when it was coldest.

I packed up the tent and what I could carry. She had given me a figure carved from wood for my eleventh birthday. It was still new and shiny in my hand. Except for the deep pain I felt in my gut, it was all that was left of her.

The low sun never reached the zenith, always came from the left as I walked west. Seven days I spent in terror of the nights that followed. When the sky darkened, so did my thoughts. I could keep them at bay during the day but at night they came clawing and cutting, reaching with bloodless hands for my heart to squeeze it and tug at it until I wanted it to stop beating altogether. The sounds of the Steppe became harbingers of death. I did not know what to live for other than the thought that my mother would not have wanted me to die.

“Follow the sun to the west,” she told me before she passed. “You will find a gentler land and kinder people, not the harsh Tundra folk. Go to a town named Corniglia where the land meets the salty sea.”

She was already so weak that I could barely understand what she said.

“Repeat it back to me,” were her final words.

She died while I muttered the only promise I had ever made – a promise I could not break even if I wanted to, even as the dark thoughts told me to end it now. Even when I had no hope left other than the last and final spark I had seen in her eyes when she described the far away land with its rich soil and fertile ground; its markets filled with people and small abodes made of stone to sleep in; with the sound of a vast ocean breaking onto the sandy beach as a gentle companion at night.

I don’t know how much I slept during those first weeks. The pain at times held me to the ground with such force, I could not move a limb. Yet my mind raced in search of my mother. She was nowhere to be found. I thought I would catch some small part of her spirit somewhere. Maybe it would brush against me or lead my glance toward a sign that she was still around. But the emptiness in me was witness to the slowly growing belief that she had been nothing more than a figment of my imagination. Only the small wooden figure in my hand, now darkened from sand and soil and grief, told me that she had been real.

I should have waited for my father. Maybe a few more days. Maybe a few more hours. I looked around me constantly searching the endless landscape for a sign of him. Each night, the orange sun set straight ahead, a glimmering disk melting into the horizon.

I edged a large marsh land of dying trees that stood like spikes of war out of the dark water. The smell of death and decay were my constant companion. I hunted small animals and cooked them over a low fire at night. I found no joy in killing the only living things I encountered.

Beyond the marsh land, I followed a path that went steadily uphill and into the mountains. Soon, I walked next to a small creeks carrying ice cold water and the promise of more food. One night I slept on a rock, listening, imagining my mother’s lullabies in the sounds of the water. But it soon mocked me with her absence and a deep cold settled in from which I could not escape.

The next morning I caught a few fish and smoked them over the fire. I traveled ever upward leaving the trees and lush grassy fields behind. As I walked, rock formations rose ever taller into the sky. They stood dark against the sun during the day and appeared like shimmering gold in the evening hours. But their majestic presence could not bring me peace. I was haunted by my mother’s cries at night and slowly but surely I began to believe that I could have possibly prevented her death. I should have been better, wiser, more grown up. She had taught me the healing touch and I knew enough of herbs and plants to recognize which ones are used to lower a fever or to cure an infectious wound.

In truth, I had thought my mother was invincible.

*  *  *

The path made a sharp turn to the left following along a narrow ledge in the rock to a small plateau. From there and across the valley, a towering pillar of stone rose up before me. The sun sat behind it, keeping what faced me in the shadows. The pillar was attached to the mountain only by a narrow ridge.

I set up camp. When night pulled away the curtain of light, it revealed a sea of stars in the sky. As I watched, I could feel the longing inside me – a pull from somewhere out there, as if one of the million star lights called me home. But the easterly winds soon pushed clouds high across the sky and all lights but one dimmed in the darkened firmament. After a while I noticed that the single light that was left was not that of a star.

I looked down to the ground so to let my eyes get used to complete darkness. From there my gaze slowly went upward until I saw the light again. It wasn’t a star. It was a window. High up, at the top of the pillar, I could make out the shimmering silhouette of what I thought must have been a man made structure.

I soon drifted to sleep but whenever I woke up, the light was there, suspended in the sky. When the sun rose in the morning, illuminating the face of the pillar and casting its golden light onto the black granite, I could see, far above me, a stronghold of stone. There were two square towers connected by two roof lines, curved like waves. I could not take my eyes of it. I knew I had to find a way to climb up there.

This was easier said than done. Before me a large field of fallen rocks spanned the distance between the plateau I stood on and a sheer cliff side. From here it didn’t seem possible to even attempt a climb to the top. But I didn’t see another way so I began to make my way across the rubble. The rock cut into my hands and bare feet like glass. It was as if I left a trail of blood across the field of stone. When I reached the other side, I was exhausted and thirsty beyond what I thought possible.

A small trickle of water ran down the side of the mountain only to disappear into a narrow crevice below. I pressed my mouth against the stone, soaked up what I could. It was not enough.

I did not dare think about what I would do if I were to get stuck half way up the face of the mountain. And yet I climbed, gaining height quickly at first but when the strength in my hands slowly gave out, when my legs began to shake uncontrollably, I knew I was in trouble. At the same time, while climbing I had watched, out of the corner of my eye, a bird circle around me. I didn’t recognize it at first but when it once flew close – its massive wings stretched out side to side while it hovered effortlessly in the upward winds – I remembered my father’s stories of a large rare bird he had encountered on his travels. Aquilus he had called it.

The bird was dark, almost black, with white wing tips and a light brown chest. Its cries were haunting and yet, in more ways than one, felt strangely reassuring. At one point it sat thirty feet above on a ledge looking down. I could not gage its intentions. Was it waiting for me to slip and fall, crashing onto the rocks far below? Or was it curious as to this strange creature clumsily working its way up toward the top. Or maybe it was protecting a nest from an unwanted predator.

The ledge was much bigger than I thought. I could comfortable lay on my back stretched out. There was a puddle of water fed by the same trickle I had encountered below. I drank until a full belly prevented me from taking another sip. This was the place the bird had sat on. It must have come here to drink, I thought. I couldn’t imagine any other reason, especially not one where it would show me a place to take rest. Birds don’t do that.

I lay on my back for a while, my arms stretched to the side. By now, I was three quarters up the cliff. The sun had disappeared behind one of the peaks in the distance. I didn’t want to risk climbing in darkness and decided to stay here for the night. I had two more small fish in my pack. They would have to do.

Before darkness swallowed the land below, I saw the shadow of the large bird again as it circled overhead, sometimes so close I could see its yellow beak; at others so far up, all I saw was a dark spec against a darkening sky.

Its cries followed me into my dreams. I met it again there, in a golden hall with white polished stone for floors and perfectly round pillars reaching up to the painted ceiling. I was one among ten thousand people filling the hall to the rim.

Aquilus, now a statue of gold and black marble, sat on a pedestal, wings outstretched, and beak open in a cry. It was as if a living bird had been dipped in liquid gold and just before its death, a scream had escaped its beak. Its eyes were closed. The bird’s expression was that of utter terror. I could hear its cries as if it urged me to reach into the dream and save it from its fate.

When I opened my eyes, the bird was gone. A new day dawned upon the world. Fog lay below me, diffusing everything in a milky light, as if the dream had spilled into my world, unwilling to let go.

I quenched my thirst with more of the fresh water and began the final climb. When I reached the top at mid day, I could barely move my hands. My legs were numb and my head pounded from exhaustion. But I did not rest. I walked along the ridge toward the two stone towers of which only the top parts were visible.

After a few hours I came to a crevice. It reached all the way down with no way to cross it. On the other side, the walls of the stronghold were built into the rock, flush with the sheer cliff. A wooden, raised draw bridge doubled for a gate. I noticed that I stood on a platform made of smooth sun bleached wood. Two oil lamps stood on either side. They were lit. A pillow in the center invited me to sit. The pillow was of deepest blue. I couldn’t remember ever touching anything so soft.

A crest of golden feathers was embroidered in a circle around its edge. Last night’s dream had already faded and all that was left was the vanishing fragment of a distant memory. It was a feeling more than an image. Like the pull a faraway land has on a traveler, the crest stirred something in me. I felt a sting of yearning, an aching of the heart, as if my mother died in my arms all over again. Tears filled my eyes as I sat down on the pillow. For a moment, it seemed as if I was in two places at once. Here on the mountain top, alone, and at the same time standing in the great golden hall, across a girl, about my age, who wore a tunic with the very same embroidered crest in its center. The girl looked straight at me, her eyes bright blue, her hair falling in black curls around her face. She didn’t smile. She simply looked at me, not as if I was a stranger but someone she knew and welcomed.

The tears continued to come as I waited long into the night. The oil lamps went out. I thought about leaving. But where would I go? Somebody had gone through the trouble of lighting the lamps and bringing out a pillow. I didn’t think the pillow was simply lying here as a permanent fixture of this place. No. Someone had deliberately put it there. For me. Someone must have seen me, watched me from high up in one of the towers. Someone must have decided to welcome me.

But why, now that I was here, would nobody open the draw bridge? As I pondered the question, shifting on my pillow to relax my back, the bridge moved. There was a sound first. A clicking, deep and heavy, followed by the clonk, clonk, clonk of a chain sliding over stone. I had heard this sound once, a few years back, in a settlement north of here. Two elephants had pulled a large piece of roughly cut rock. The chain was tied around the boulder and tightened to a steel and leather harness both elephants shared. As the animals pulled the rock, the chain slid across the rocky ground. Clonk, clonk.

I held my breath as the bridge moved downward, eventually connecting seamlessly with the plateau a few feet away from me. The bridge had left an arched opening. A hooded figure stood in its center holding a lantern in one hand and a wooden staff in another. I wasn’t sure if the staff was there to assist the figure in standing upright or if it was simply a means to hold balance on uneven ground. I myself had used many a stick for walking through rough terrain. The figure was slender, tall, clothed in a robe of deep red. I did not see a face.

There was neither a gesture for me to follow, nor a word to let me know I should come closer. So I got up, took my pack and walked across the bridge. For a short moment, I could feel the depth of the crevice below me. It was as if I crossed a threshold, like the invisible barrier that exists when walking from the cold shadows into the sunlight.

The figure turned and wordlessly walked into a tunnel of stone.

End of Chapter One

Reality Check on Being a Self Published Author

I’ve had a good month publishing wise. At least for me it was a good one. I still have a regular job that I’m very involved in and that pays the bills, etc, and I wouldn’t be able to leave that behind at this very moment. I like my job. It gives me the flexibility to do what I love to do.

Of course, everyone of us self published authors dreams about one of our books taking off or a movie producer knocking on our door, and I’m no different. There is a fantasy phone call I’m getting periodically. It’s from Peter Jackson. I’m sure, if you’re a writer, you’ve got your own even though I hope it’s not Peter Jackson. I don’t want him to be distracted with another book he wants to make into a three part movie, besides mine. You understand.

So, Peter Jackson it is. Until then, there’s work to do, obviously. More writing and honing the craft and learning how to market my work effectively. So, when I say I’ve had a good month, here’s what I mean:

authorrealitycheck

This is the Amazon chart on my Kindle page (U.S. only). It shows me how many copies of my books have sold and, secondly, how many pages of my books people who are on Kindle Unlimited have read this month. The latter are the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (right column).

Basically, anyone who publishes exclusively through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) gets payed in two ways. One is for the copies sold and one is for the pages that have been read by people who are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

In my case, so far this month people have read just under 7,000 pages of my books. That number sounds like a lot, right? 7,000 pages of stuff I made up has ended up in people’s heads (at least for a moment). In reality, that’s roughly one sold copy per day.

Let’s put this into perspective:

When Andy Weir put his novel The Martian up for the kindle, it was $0.99 and sold 300 copies per DAY. The Martian is an amazing book. I’m hoping to get to a level of writing craftsmanship where I can say the same for my own stuff one day. I’m not a bad writer but I know how much I still have to learn.

My (for me) good month was most likely caused by two things: I have lowered the price for all of my books to $0.99 per copy for the kindle. That’s as low as Amazon allows it. At that price, there is a 35% royalty to me per sold copy. Above $2.99, it goes to 70%.

The second reason is probably the fact that I was involved in two anthologies recently. The Time Travel Chronicles and Tails of the Apocalypse. I had a short story in each of them. Time Travel Chronicles came out beginning of November and Tails of the Apocalypse came out toward the end of November. They both sold fairly well and readers must have liked my stories and bought the copies of my books this month. Makes sense.

I’ll see what February brings and will report back to you but my plan is to keep my books at $0.99 per copy until I sell so many copies that agents and publishers notice it. Not a lot of people know me. There are a lot of books out there to choose from and a lot of really good quality content. I want my potential readers to have as low of a hurdle to have to jump over as possible. Let the work speak for itself but let it be out there and let it be available for as little as possible.

I realize that there are many other marketing strategies that work. But this is the conclusion I came to, in part after listening to some of the Author Stories Podcasts by Hank Garner and talking with or being involved in projects with other authors.

There’s a lot of help out there and the community of self published authors I’m in is incredible. I wish us all much success and more great stories to come out of this than ever before.  And Peter Jackson.

Cheers,

Stefan

 

A (Super) Hero For A New Generation

We all know and always look forward to that small segment in all the super hero stories and movies where we find out how the super hero actually became one. Spiderman gets bitten and begins to develop his abilities, the Hulk is being exposed to gamma radiation and changes for the first time, Iron Man develops his suite, learns how to use it, and so on. Usually, any story about a super hero has a small portion of it set aside to tell the tale of how the hero became who he or she is now.spiderman

The White Dragon tells the story of eighteen-year-old Kasey Byrne, an average teenager who lives on Long Island and who has just finished high school when the apocalypse hits full force. The first book, The White Dragon – Genesis, is a real time account, through Kasey’s eyes, of the first thirty six hours of this apocalyptic event.

Toward the end of book one, it becomes clear that the opponent – an ancient demonic being that wreaks havoc on the island while spreading a terror that is beyond the imaginable – is much more powerful than anyone could have thought. In book two, The White Dragon – Crucible, Kasey has to leave this world and travel through a gateway to a different time and place where she will be trained for one single purpose: to find the white dragon, to tame it, and to bring it back to our world in order to save it..

But nobody has ever found the dragon and the odds are stacked against her. For her friends, a small group of survivors hiding out in a thrift shop in Babylon, one hour passes. For Kasey, three years go by before she returns.

While the apocalypse unfolds and throughout her training, something inside Kasey awakens. It is gift and curse alike for it can destroy her or turn her into the most powerful weapon against the evil that has reached the shores of our world.

All three books – Genesis, Crucible, and Alchemy – are part of an overreaching arc, attesting to the birth of a completely new kind of super hero. The apocalypse, as horrific and all consuming as it is, is nothing against the inner battle Kasey has to fight in order to become who she needs to be.

I’m in the midst of writing book two at the moment. May the epicness ensue.

Cheers,

Stefan

The Emotional Impact of Landscapes in Writing

Have you ever had dreams where the natural laws were suspended, where you were able to swim under water for  long periods of time, or float in the air without wings? I’ve had a lot of those dreams during childhood. In my early twenties, I discovered a German painter named Hans-Werner Sahm. His work could be categorized as surrealism as he paints stunning landscapes that never quite follow the natural laws of physics or nature. Nevertheless, or maybe because of it, the paintings evoke emotions of longing, hope, and limitlessness of spirit.

hochland_hiWe all know that the basic task of the writer is to evoke emotions in the reader. Ideally, each scene includes at least some element of that. Usually, emotion is created when one or more characters in the story go through experiences of loss, love, fear, external and internal struggle, etc. I always felt that landscapes can evoke those very same reactions, albeit in a completely different way.

Refugiumwindows

As an example from my own writing, in The Three Feathers, the landscape itself is what pushes a good amount of the plot forward. The characters travel from one location to the next and the landscape itself, dangerous and beautiful alike, becomes an obstacle or a place of refuge, depending on where they are on their journey. The images create an emotional arc, adding depth to the individual arcs of the characters.

Aufbruch

The depth of the landscape can mirror the depth of the emotions the characters go through at any given point in the story. I found that whatever the landscape is, should reinforce the emotion of the characters so that, even if there is a scene where nothing much happens in terms of character development, the emotional impact of the landscape is still present.

Entdeckung

Landscapes can make characters seem powerless and small in comparison, adding to the sense of danger and futility the characters have to overcome in order to reach their goal.

Meeting Point

The image above is a good example. For me, it evokes feelings of loss and parting, danger, and a certain finality. I imagine a traveler reaching this point in her journey only to realize that she cannot continue. Her quest is in jeopardy, maybe the life of a loved one on the other side of the bridge is now more in danger than ever before. How will she get to the other side. Here’s an idea: Eagles!!! 🙂

In the book I’m working on right now, I have just reached the point where I was able to begin working on a map of the main character’s whole journey. Simply working on the map always provides me with immense insights into the story and characters. Plot points begin to fall into place and things come together more coherently. Drawing a map, to me, is always the most helpful part of developing a story (Besides, in this case, listening to an extensive amount of DRAGON FORCE!). The book is called Apocalypse Weird: The White Dragon – Crucible. It will be out next year.

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Hans-Werner Sahm does not have a web site but if you Google his name, most of his paintings will come up in the search.

Cheers and happy reading and writing,

Stefan

The Dragon Rises – Apocalypse Weird Gets it Done!

the dragon will rise

When George Lucas pitched his Star Wars script to the studio, they reluctantly accepted and green lit a very low budget for a space opera that, in their minds, would hopefully make the money back and most likely not have an impact on anything. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall the moment George asked the studio to keep the merchandise rights. They chuckled and gave it to him. Well…

Not that long ago and in this very same galaxy, a small group of authors approached Amazon to pitch the idea of publishing books by multiple authors writing stories in the same world. Amazon liked the idea. They loved the idea. They said it would be impossible to implement as they would have to build a completely new and separate department for it. They declined. Maybe they chuckled. We won’t know.

A week ago, I looked at the publishing schedule for Apocalypse Weird. We are well into 2016, with 2 books per month and no end in sight. Didn’t we just start this whole thing? New authors are coming on board and all of the books that are out right now, have been green lit for their respective sequels. HOW COOL IS THAT???

Because new stories were developed and approved while I was still writing, the sequel to The White Dragon – Genesis won’t be out until May, 2016. That’s a year from now. That’s a long time to wait if someone liked the book and I felt that I wanted to compensate readers for their patience. And here’s the cool thing about working with fellow indie authors. They get it. They get when something sounds right and benefits the reader, and they act on it.

I asked Nick to consider allowing me to write two books before March, 2016 (the deadline for handing in the manuscript to Ellen Campbell, our editor in charge). He said yes. So, here’s what will happen: The White Dragon – Crucible will come out in May 2016. One month later, in June, the conclusion of the series, The White Dragon – Alchemy will be published. I’m thrilled to have a deadline. It somehow gets the creative juices flowing.

Thanks to everyone who has read the first book. Thanks to you, I can do what I love and keep writing Kasey’s story.

Please read all the other books in the Apocalypse Weird universe. It’s a rich reading experience that will just get richer as new books become available.

Cheers,

Stefan

Apocalypse Weird: "A Renegade Band of Authors"

 

bluestonepressSo, the Blue Stone Press, a local newspaper for the area I live and work in, has done an article about Apocalypse Weird and my involvment with it. I am now officially a member of a “renegade band of authors who are out to revolutionize publishing.” I’ll take that description any day. The writer of the article, Anne Pyburn Craig, totally got it. She got what AW is about and what we are trying to do.

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This article is one of many small ripples in the large pond of publishing. Each author does what he or she can to get the word out, to get people excited about the project. This work on the ground level is necessary to collect a base of readers and fans who stand behind the project and who, through their enthusiasm for the stories, spread the word even further. That in itself is revolutionary. Here is the article, hopefully readable. The online version will be available in about 2 weeks.

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Until next time,

Cheers and keep reading!

Stefan Bolz

 

The White Dragon Rises

 

When I first set out to write my Apocalypse Weird book: The White Dragon – Genesis, I only had an initial image that I had found online somewhere of how Kasey Byrne, the story’s heroine could look like. Everything else came from there, including the pendant. Her hair is a bit lighter but otherwise this is pretty close to what I had envisioned.

 
Kasey Byrne
 

I realized half way through the story that the picture doesn’t show Kasey in the beginning of Book I (Genesis) but rather at the beginning of Book III (Alchemy) when she comes back from her journey to join the others and finish what they had started in Book I. If you’ve read Genesis, you’re in for a real treat in Book 2, AW: The White Dragon – Crucible. I don’t have the green light yet but I’m working on it anyway just because I can’t stop :-).

Here is the short blurb for Genesis, in case you don’t know about it:

Apocalypse Weird: The White Dragon – Genesis is the story of the very beginning of an apocalyptic event as seen through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old girl. Nothing could have prepared her for what is about to happen and she has to face some seriously tough stuff before the end. During the thirty-six hours of terror that turn Kasey Byrne’s life upside down and strip her of everything dear to her, something inside her awakens. It is gift and curse alike for it can destroy her or turn her into the most powerful weapon against the evil that has reached the shores of our world.

Up until the  very moment I’m writing this, we have 25 reviews on Amazon and the launch is in progress. Here are the links to the book, in case you want to buy one:

http://bit.ly/gen-kindle
http://bit.ly/gen-nook
http://bit.ly/gen-kobo
http://bit.ly/gen-ibooks

reviewsred

 

Nothing happens without readers, and early reviewers are the backbone of any launch. I am very grateful to everyone who has reviewed the book so far. Thanks so much for your support.

The party is happening here (from 5 to 11pm EST)

https://www.facebook.com/events/1591971234379024/

Cheers,

Stefan

Get Genesis!

[book size=”150″ slug=”apocalypse-weird-genesis” desc=”0″ purchase=”0″ notereviews=”0″ excerpt=”0″]

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The Apocalypse Just Got Personal

 

I don’t like small talk. I can hang in there for a while during a party but anything beyond that is hard for me. You can only say so much before there is nothing else to talk about for the moment, unless its meaningful to some extent. (Disclaimer: small talk does not include discussing geeky stuff. That is exempt and not considered small talk. Please feel free to discuss the latest Daredevil episodes with me at your pleasure and convenience ;-).

I feel the same way with my books. You won’t find small talk in them. Maybe a little, as comic relief or to foreshadow something further down the road. I’d rather say what needs to be said and stop there. Here is one reaction someone hopefully displays after reading AW: The White Dragon – Genesis:

 

 

When I sat down to write the Genesis, I wanted to make it personal. An up close account of the first thirty six hours of a terrifying apocalyptic event through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old girl who, up until that moment, had been just that — a teenager, with all the hopes and dreams, heartbreaks and tribulations that come with it. Her level of preparedness was equal to zero. Other than a baseball bat — her dad had insisted for her to keep one in her car when he gave her the car for her birthday that very morning — she had neither weapons nor a flashlight or even a pocket knife. She wasn’t even wearing flip-flops.

Kasey

As I have experienced throughout my own life, any growth on my part was usally accompanied by an unsettling feeling that ranged from basic anxiety to and beyond straight-out fear. Sometimes it was hidden, expressed in ways that didn’t look like it at all. At other times, it was plain terror. I’d come out on the other side stronger, sometimes wiser but always just a bit further up the path. Not sure why I’m mentioning this other than that most of my characters go through hell and back to search for what they are looking for, just like me.

But for Kasey, the apocalyptic event is only the trigger for something larger than herself. The apocalypse, as heart wrenching as it is for her, is solely the spark that ignites something in her that she had no idea existed. Sometimes the situation at hand isn’t about the situation at hand. There’s more at stake. There’s meaning behind the small talk and for Kasey, the first part of her story, Genesis, is exactly that: a beginning. The beginning of something bigger than herself, something she’s afraid of, something she fights and doesn’t want to accept. The refusal of the call to adventure is what Joseph Campbell called it. It is when life tells you that there’s more here than the eye can see. That there is more to you than what you know at this very moment. That you are born for things that are greater than you can possibly imagine.

“Use the force, Luke! Trust me!” That line has been beaten to death. However, the meaning behind it is still intact, bruised maybe but still there, dusting itself off. Kasey has kept a diary throughout her life but had never seen the patterns, the signs, that indicated that she was not just a happy little teenage girl but that there was more. Much more.

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for the final e-file for the Advance Reader Copies. It’s been a great ride. I very much hope that you enjoy the book. I loved writing it and the story has stayed with me until today, has bugged me to explore the continuation of it and accompany my characters all the way to the end.

Good luck!

Stefan

Get Genesis Now!

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On Dragons Uncommon and Writing the Weird

Genesis_FT_FINALAbout five minutes after I had read the first few lines in Nick Cole’s description of what Apocalypse Weird would be, the beginnings of a story formed in my imagination. I told Nick, “You had me at Black Dragon.” Those were the third and fourth words in his description, starting with Imagine a…

I wanted to write an action novel, a supernatural episode of 24, in real time, with Jack Bauer being eighteen-year-old Kasey Byrne, my main gal in the story. But I didn’t want only action. I wanted an overriding philosophy, a greater story arc spanning different worlds and times and ancient training grounds and a revelation for my main character at the end that would turn the tables and set the stage for the next book. The underlying mythology crept up piece by piece and mid-way through the story, I knew I had at least two more books in my head. At the end, there was material for four, plus this one.

Kasey Byrne is a girl who loves to surf, who just had her last day of high school and who celebrates her eighteenth birthday on the beach, on the eve of summer solstice. She thinks she is just a regular teenager with all the hopes and dreams and disappointments that come with it. Her parents are divorced and she’s navigating her way through life just as any teenager would. She has no idea who and what she is and what she could become. Like so many of us, she doesn’t know her own potential. During the storm of terror and the thirty six hours we spend with her in book one, something inside her begins to awaken – something she has dreamed of and written pages upon pages in her diary about without knowing what it is.

When I started writing, I had a very specific goal: I wanted the book(s) to be epic and reach beyond a linear, two-dimensional story to a different place entirely. To write a book about a dragon is tricky. It has been done so many times and even though dragons are amazing and extraordinary creatures, stories about them can become cliched very easily. I didn’t want a cliche. I wanted to take the cliche and turn it on its head and inside out and make it into something completely new and exciting. I hope I succeeded. The time is almost here. On April 21, 2015, it will be up to you, the reader, to decide if it worked.

Until then, until the day the White Dragon takes flight, I remain very truly yours,

Stefan

P.S. This is Kasey’s car. Let’s just say this is a “before” picture ;-). In the story it’s light blue instead of green. She got it on the day of her 18th birthday. Unfortunately, this was also the day when the apocalypse reached the shores of Long Island.

Jeep

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