Tag Archives: fantasy

Author Interview: Paige L Cristie

Author Paige L. Cristie claims to be not much of a plotter. She prefers to start with a character or an idea and let the story take her where it will. A slow writer, she types “terribly”, and edits like mad. Writing many more words than ever in up in the story.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Paige CristieHi! I’m an opinionated Yankee who loves to read, write, dance, laugh, cross country ski, and snuggle with my 3-legged cat, Timmy. I was raised in Maine and currently live in the Western North Carolina Mountains where I am the Executive Director of a non-profit. I practice middle eastern stage and folkloric dance, enjoy good wine, good books, and good friends. I’m also a founding member of the Blazing Lioness Writers. I am caretaker of 2 dogs and 3 cats, and they all like to crawl over the keyboard when I write—which gets really interesting when it’s taken into account that one dog is a 60lb coonhound…

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was about seven years old. I was a horse crazy child and a lot of my stories where horse adventures – usually from the horse’s POV. I don’t recall the why of it, I just had stories to tell.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have considered myself a writer for as long as I can remember. What I never considered was that anyone might want to read any stories I wrote. I have always written because I couldn’t not write. But, having grown up when publishing was a great mystery that happened in large cities to people who knew how to outline novels (so I thought), it never occurred to me until 2015 to try to get anything I wrote out into the world.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I am finishing up the third of four books in my Legacies of Arnan series. It’s feminist high fantasy with old west overtones and dragons. Because of course dragons! The books are about the power of friendship, and story, and the inner strength it takes to forge a way in the world despite any odds. The first book is Draigon Weather and the second is Wing Wind. Book 3, Long Light, will be released in the fall of 2019. Storm Forged will be out in late 2020.

What inspired you to write this book?

Draigon Weather started with a question – What if the woman chained to the rock waiting to be eaten by the dragon wanted to be there? Why would that be? What would it mean to those tasked with saving her? What would happen?

Do you have a specific writing style?

Other than slow? Seriously, I’m a slow writer. And I tend to like flowing, complex sentences that evoke image and emotion. I’m a little bit literary, but not ‘fancy’. I’m not sure how to describe it, but there is definitely a unique tone to my words when I get rolling.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Well, the book is at heart a dragon book, so I always knew that would be part of the title. And not only do the dragons control weather in the series, but all the characters ‘weather’ a lot as the story goes on. So, it’s a bit of a wordplay in that respect. Then, once I decided on Dragon Weather, I did a quick online search. Which, of course, revealed another book of that name. That’s when I changed to the Celtic spelling: Draigon, and thus was Draigon Weather born.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Oh, there are several. Not the least of which is the power of story and education to change lives, and the dangers of being unwilling to look beyond the obvious expectations of society.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Well here’s a list that can get long in a hurry…but to narrow things down, Janny Wurts is a huge influence – her unexpected use of language and the depth of her storytelling and character development are things I can only strive toward. Also, Robert B. Parker for his brilliant, tight dialogue and unique character creation, Robin McKinley for her fabulous feminist storytelling, Ursula LeGuinn for her ability to make readers think beyond themselves, Orson Scott Card for the rhythm of his writing, Peter Straub and Dan Simmons for the depth of their plotting, Max Brand for his intense character creation, Gloria Naylor for her ability to make the simple seem magical, Leslie Marmon Silko with her skill at making her characters bear witness to truth…Yeah…I could keep going for about four hours.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Well, the list of writers above have all been mentors in their own way, just mostly from afar, just through my reading and studying of their works. I have been lucky that both Janny Wurts and David B. Coe have taken an interest in helping me along toward a real career as an author, and I am greatly honored by their willingness to help and answer all my inane questions.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover of my books are designed by ARTE RAVE in conjunction with my Publisher, Prospective Press.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Write. Write. Write. READ – as much or more than you write. Take advice when it’s offered, examine it, filter it, use what makes sense to you. Be willing to learn, always. Edit like your life depends on it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you! I never really thought, growing up, that my works would ever have readers, so the thought that people take their time and energy to read my books still boggles my mind. I am more grateful than I can say for people giving my books a shot – and even reviewing them! Readers rule!

Draigon Weather Book CoverPaige L Christie
Bryson City, NC

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Draigon Weather: The Legacies of Arnan

Cover Artist: ARTE RAVE w/Prospective Press
Publisher: Prospective Press

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Author Interview: Kai Wai Cheah

Author Kai Wai Cheah is Singapore’s first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer.  I am quite honored to include him among our featured authors here on No Wasted Ink.

Author kai wai cheahI’m a Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer from Singapore, writing under the names Kai Wai Cheah and Kit Sun Cheah. While specializing in fantasy and science fiction, my personal writing preferences lean towards lean, dynamic and authentic, combining the finest traits of modern fiction and pulp stories from the early 20th century. I’m also a member of the PulpRev movement, which seeks to revolutionize fiction by gleaning lessons from the pulp masters of the past. Other than writing, I also enjoy reading, movies and gaming, and practice the Filipino martial art of Pekiti Tirsia Kali.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at 12 years old because I was bored.

As a child, I was a bookworm. I routinely devoured books much more advanced for my age. Physics, biology and chemistry encyclopedias; folklore, myths and fairy tales (not the watered-down versions for modern children; but stories of good and evil and horror and bloodshed); books about the military, war, firearms and technology. I started reading adult novels in primary school, and never looked back.

One December morning, I found myself with nothing to do. The Primary School Leaving Examination was over; I was just killing time waiting for the results and my secondary school posting. I’d already read every book I had in the library. I decided I could write a book of my own. I fired up my computer, grabbed research material, and wrote the opening chapter of what would become a 300-page military science fiction epic.

The novel was also utterly terrible, but I kept writing and never looked back.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Shortly after beginning work on my novel, I decided it was something I wanted to do as a career. I began referring to myself as a writer at the age of 13, soon after completing the first draft of my first novel.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest published novel is titled Hammer of the Witches, the second novel of the Covenant Chronicles. The story follows deniable operator Luke Landon, who is tasked with investigating international vigilante network Hexenhammer to determine if it were responsible for a major terrorist attack on a refugee camp. However, he quickly discovers a conspiracy that will stop at nothing to rule the world. And behind that conspiracy is the Unmaker, a fallen angel who aims to drag all souls into the Void.

The Covenant Chronicles is one part spy thriller, one part dark fantasy, one part military science fiction, set in a world where magic and daimons exist, but not gods… until they awake.

What inspired you to write this book?

Like all my stories, inspiration came from many sources. The first major source came from the thriller authors I read in my youth: Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Daniel Silva, Greg Hurwitz and Stephen Hunter. Harry Turtledove showed me the possibilities that lay in the genre of alternate history, while Jim Butcher influenced my approach to worldbuilding and writing, and John Ringo introduced me to military science fiction. The physics-based magic of Larry Correia’s Grimnoir trilogy was a significant influence on the magic system of this series — but I also stole ideas from Dishonored, Final Fantasy, and Alan Wake.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style varies a lot. I find that it morphs to fit the kind of story I’m writing. The Covenant Chronicles series trends towards dark and introspective, with bouts of high-octane action; my upcoming A Song of Karma series is a little lighter and contains poetry; another story I’m working on focuses heavily on atmospherics and senses and technology. Other things like structure, dialogue, formatting also morph to fit them.

For the Covenant Chronicles, I’d like to think of it as what would happen if Tom Clancy and Larry Correia collaborated to write a futuristic urban fantasy series with strong espionage and counterterrorism elements.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Hexenhammer quite literally means ‘Hammer of the Witches’.

It’s also a reference to how the group (and Luke Landon) sees themselves: a hammer to crush the (metaphorical) witches threatening civilization.

A pity I couldn’t include a literal hammering, but that can wait for Book 4.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The entire series is a shadow war between good and evil — but the dividing line between the two quickly becomes blurred. To navigate these treacherous waters, and to keep his soul (and the souls of others) from falling into Hell, Luke Landon must develop a moral compass and stand true to his principles. I would like readers to understand the value of having firm ethical principles, of refusing to compromise with evil, and to understand that all actions have long-term repercussions.

A secondary message is that evil outcomes can arise from actions motivated by good intentions — and that good outcomes can also flow from evil actions.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, but I drew many plot elements and technologies from current affairs and modern-day developments. These include the European migrant crisis, quantum computing, brain implants, fake news, and more.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Everyone I mentioned above as inspirations. They bring different strengths to the table: prose, plotting, characters, research, worldbuilding, and more. I study their stories to improve my own.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I don’t have any mentors. However, I am studying the business practices of Silver Empire, Chris Kennedy, Nick Cole, and Jason Anspach. Marketing is one of my weaknesses. I think these authors and publishers have an excellent grasp of marketing, and there is much to learn from them in this regard.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Scott Vigil. I didn’t select the illustrator; Castalia House did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Don’t stop until you’re done. Then, write some more. This is the secret to achieving your writing goals, whatever they may be.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading my books. Please look out for my upcoming stories Hollow City and Dungeon Samurai.

Hammer of the WitchesKai Wai Cheah
Singapore

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Hammer of the Witches

Cover Artist: Scott Vigil
Publisher: Castalia House

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Author Interview: Christopher Paniccia

I met Author Christopher Paniccia at WorldCon and found him to be an interesting author.  Please welcome him here to No Wasted Ink.

Author Christopher PanicciaWhen and Why did you start writing?

As a young man, I brought a journal with me wherever I went. Having an outlet for this type of creativity allowed me to stay balanced and focus. I grew up with severe ADHD. Artwork and Writing were my saving grace.

As to why I started writing I have always been an avid reader and storyteller. Stories come to me naturally as I visualize them in my head before writing them down.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I believe I was six or seven and my teacher gave me a blank hardcover book and asked me to write her a story! Having that book in my hand showing others what I wrote gave me goosebumps! That excitement continues to this day when the proof for each new novel arrives.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest series is a Fantasy Series based on Ancient Aliens. My grandfather was in the Navy during WWII and left me a footlocker full of WWII articles. One day searching through the footlocker I stumbled across an old leather-bound journal. Inside the journal were handwritten pages. I could not read the writing as it was in German. I brought the journal to a friend of mine for translation. The journal chronicles the Nazi expedition to Antarctica in 1938 in search of the ancient alien civilization of Rainbow City. This became the premise for this ten book series. Book one, Heaven’s Gate introduces the magical journal to a boy whose destiny is shrouded in mystery. Book two, Rise about to be released shows the rise of the reptilian people hoping to crush the humans on earth and the rise of two unknowing people with the power to combat the evil that arises on earth.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book/series is extremely personal for me. I grew up with my grandfather sharing stories of the Depression and WWII. Finding the journal created a great jumping off point for the whole series. The more I researched the journal and Antarctica, the more I found I could put into multiple books. Ancient Aliens is a hot topic and adding a realistic component to a fantasy book only makes it more believable.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I would say not so much a style as rather I focus on writing the story the way I want to tell the story. Some critics view this as I am not worried about grammar and the like. To those I say read the story. Enjoy the story. Editing is very much a fluid thing and even the best editors miss things.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title should shadow the book. Rise gives much insight into the book in just one word. As a fantasy/sci-fi author I am constantly world building. In Rise, the reader is able to read about the rise of two civilizations at once.

Is there a message in the book you want readers to grasp?

Not so much a lesson as wanting folks to open their minds to what is happening in the world around them. Many people just go about their lives and never question anything.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

This book is very much a personal journey. As a military member and having a proud military tradition in my family these experiences only add to a very exciting topic. The journal being real adds so much to the story that many read it and question if the story is fantasy at all.

What authors most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Tolkien is the father of world building and gave me the parameters. George R. R. Martin is the Master World Builder I look to most as a contemporary. What is most inspiring for me is the lengths these authors go to bring a real world to the page.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

I do not have one writer as a mentor but rather a group of writers. The Association of Rhode Island Authors has taken me under their wing and helped me to fly. Having the support of many professional authors has allowed me to flourish.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I am the designer for all my covers with the help of my nephew Andrew Paniccia. He does all the photoshop work and I design the covers. We chose to do this so we could work together.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write, write, and more writing!! Seems simple but it is so true! Also, I have found the best writers are the best readers. Practice your craft.

Do you have anything specific you want to share with your readers?

As a writer and illustrator I see the story visually in my head before I put it to paper. This allows for each reader to create the images of the story in their heads while reading.

rise book coverChristopher Paniccia
North Providence, RI

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Rise, Book Two of the Haven Series

Publisher: Gridiron Publishing

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Author Interview: Tim Susman

I met Author Tim Susman at WorldCon in San Jose.  I think you’ll agree he is an interesting author with a good story to tell.  Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Tim SusmanHi! I’m Tim Susman, a gay male American writer (he/him) currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area with my two partners and our dog. I studied business and engineering in college before moving on to zoology in graduate school and then starting a career as a database systems consultant that led to jobs as a product manager and a project manager. After being laid off in 2010 I took up writing full time and have been doing that ever since.

When and why did you begin writing?

In college, a friend of mine asked me to come up with a story for a birthday present she wanted to give me. I think in retrospect she just wanted a couple of paragraphs because when I presented her with a full-blown story she didn’t know what to do with it. The college SF magazine did, and I joined the SF club that fall. I read voraciously as a child, and I think I started writing because I wanted to tell my own versions of the stories I’d loved best.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when that first story was published in my college magazine. Seeing something in print with my name on it, hearing that other people liked the story and wanted me to write more, made me feel confident about calling myself a writer. It would be almost twenty more years before I’d call myself an author, though.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest book is “The Demon and the Fox,” the second book in the series “The Calatians.” Set in 1815 in an America with magic colleges that is still a British colony, the protagonist, Kip, is the first in a race of magically created animal-people (Calatians) to become a sorcerer himself. In “Demon,” he searches for the perpetrator of a mysterious attack that killed many of America’s best sorcerers. While on this task, revolutionary sentiment grows around him, but even though his people are subject to prejudice and abuse, he worries that he’ll lose his opportunities to become a sorcerer if he turns against the British Empire. If he can solve this mystery, though, he’ll be a hero and much more secure.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had been thinking about parental responsibility, and wanted to explore it through several lenses: first, through Kip’s relationship with his own father; second, through the relationship between the Calatians and the humans who created them; third, through the relationship between the colonies and the Empire that founded them. Each of these relationships in the books takes a different view of the responsibilities a creator or parent owes to their children.

From an aesthetic point of view, I love writing in historical eras, and I love writing about animal-people. I have wanted to write a magic book for a long time, but worried that my engineering background would make my magic too “science-y.” I worked for a while to come up with a magic system that felt magic to me.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I focus more on character interaction and dialogue than on lengthy descriptive passages, but I also like to play around with different styles.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Kip is an animal-person with the traits of a fox, and the first in the series is called “The Tower and the Fox,” so I wanted the rest of the series to be thematically linked. In this book, a demon is responsible for the attack, but Kip also summons a demon to help him in his search and begins to learn more about their world, so I wanted the title to focus on the demon as well as our protagonist.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Mostly what I discussed above: to think about our responsibilities to those who depend on us, or those over whom we have power.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Generally no, although everyone in my life creeps into my books in one way or another.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Ray Bradbury’s lyricism was an early influence. Madeleine L’Engle and Susan Cooper’s very personal stories of fantastic magic have stayed with me ever since I discovered them at an early age. Kij Johnson’s beautiful language and emotion were inspiring. David Mitchell’s imaginative and meaningful stories are some of my current favorites. Kazuo Ishiguro’s grasp of the human experience is something I strive to approach in my own work.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Laura Garabedian is a friend of mine and a fantastically talented artist. I’ve admired her fantasy illustrations for years and was delighted to have the chance to work professionally with her.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I have this paraphrased quotation on my desk from William Faulkner: “Don’t bother being better than others. Be better than yourself.”

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just a very heartfelt thank you.

The Demon and the Fox Book CoverTim Susman
Mountain View, CA

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The Demon and the Fox

Cover Artist: Laura Garabedian
Publisher: Argyll Productions

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Author Interview: David H Reiss

I met Author David H Reiss at WorldCon in San Jose.  He had a great table and an interesting story.  I am delighted to feature him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author David ReissMy name is David Reiss, author and sci-fi/fantasy fan. While growing up, I was that weird kid with my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. I was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller, and the dreamer.

Fortunately, I haven’t changed much.

Most of my hobbies revolve around exploring the skills and crafts that I’ve read about in fiction, ranging from primitive stone-age technology to modern robotics. I’ve forged medieval armor and built replica lightsabers, programmed autonomous drones and knapped an arrowhead from flint, started fires by rubbing sticks together and started fires with lasers. I’ve fought with swords, picked locks, taken combat-driving courses, jumped from bridges, and studied a half-dozen martial arts. And I’m mediocre at all these things.

But I’m having fun, and that’s what counts.

When and why did you begin writing?

The first part is a difficult question to answer. I may as well have been born with a pen in my hand because I certainly have no childhood memories from before I started writing. I was a socially awkward, lonely, depressed kid and I had difficulties interacting with my peers; at a very young age, reading became my preferred method for escaping from reality. I disappeared into fantastical worlds of fiction…where dragons and space-ships flew, where brave heroes proudly faced unbeatable odds, and where friendships born under adversity became lifelong bonds. Fiction made sense to me in a way that the real world did not…and thus writing fiction became a means for me to make sense of the world.

As I matured, my focus shifted to honing my craft – to establishing effective communication, to wordsmithing, to coherent plotting, to theme, and to character growth arcs. But my process of writing is still, at some level, one of therapeutic self-evaluation.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was ten or eleven, I stumbled across the red-boxed Dungeons and Dragon basic rules and pored through the contents. I didn’t have anyone to play with at first, but even so the mental shift was jarring; I suddenly realized that stories weren’t just something to be consumed…they were something that could be SHARED. Prior to that moment, I’d primarily considered myself to be a reader who happened to write. After that, I was a writer.

Can you share a little bit about your current book with us?

I’m currently working on a trilogy that falls within the difficult-to-categorize sub-genre of superheroic prose and follows the adventures of one of the world’s most feared supervillains…the notorious Doctor Fid. While there is plenty of action to propel the plotlines forward, much of the focus is placed upon the protagonist’s personal evolution: his history and motivations, his moral strengths and tragic flaws, his grief and his spectacularly bad coping mechanisms. The novels are as much about Doctor Fid’s humanity as they are about his actions.

What inspired you to write this book?

In a weird way, this series happened by accident.

I was experiencing some difficulties while writing a science-fiction novel and decided to write a short story to clear my head. With the recent explosion of comic-book themed cinematic blockbusters and television shows, I thought that a superhero story might make for a fun little project.

But, here’s the thing: from a fairly young age, I’d been fascinated by antagonists and their motivations. I’d wanted to know more about Smaug’s, about all pain and loss that must surely have shaped the dragon into the greedy wyrm that had claimed the Lonely Mountain. Years before Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, I wrote stories about the tragic childhood of the boy who would grow up to be the Phantom of the Opera. Etc., etc. And as I started jotting down notes for my superhero story, I found myself becoming enthralled with the villain.

Instead of a light romp, I ended up writing a deep dive into the mind of a villain: a non-linear stream-of-consciousness piece in a style informed by the works of Faulkner and Vonnegut. It was chewy and technically well-written…but it wasn’t enjoyable. So, I tore it apart, poked and prodded until I eventually realized that I’d unearthed the bones of something much larger than a short story.

All this occurred at about the same time that I acquired some new software that helped me to better organize my thought and writings. And so…even though the vast majority of my prior projects have been ‘traditional’ sci-fi or fantasy, my first actually-completed novels ended up being superheroic prose.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, and no. I have a ‘default’ writing style, but I often make a conscious effort to alter my delivery depending on the project that I’m working on. So…The Chronicles of Fid has a specific voice that I’m attempting to maintain, which will likely be different than the narrative style that I use when I eventually finish my sci-fi novel, The Floating Cities, or my planned fantasy epic.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The protagonist in these stories is ultimately a tragic figure, haunted by guilt and grief; it is only when he starts making connections to others that he slowly regains his own humanity. So, I guess that if there is any one thing that I want my readers to take away from these novels, it is this: If you’re hurting, don’t try to go it alone.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Lois McMaster Bujold, because Miles Vorkosigan is such a brilliant, flawed and nuanced protagonist that I am constantly inspired to look deeper when creating characters of my own. And as a short, awkward guy who struggled for years with constant crippling back pain, it was inspiring to read about a hero who wasn’t six foot two and didn’t solve every problem with a punch to the jaw. Wits and forward momentum made for a far more compelling hero.

Mercedes Lackey, for writing The Last Herald Mage. Also, for being incredibly kind, gracious and supportive when I happened to visit her in person a few decades ago.

Finally, Spider Robinson. I read Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon at a time in my life when I desperately needed to. It saved my life, and completely changed my conception of who I wanted to be and what I wanted from life. In between all the terrible puns and shaggy dog stories and in-jokes, he managed to make me believe in humanity.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover for my first novel was illustrated by Hampton Lamoureoux from TS95 Studios; I’d reached out to several artists, and of all those who responded he was the one who sounded most enthusiastic about the project. This style of cover doesn’t really play to his strengths, but he did an excellent job and I’m very happy with his work.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to work together for subsequent novels. I created the cover for Behind Distant Stars myself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read outside your preferred genre(s)! Your own narrative voice will evolve as you gather exposure to different styles and patterns.

Spend time studying marketing and salesmanship. Even if you go the traditional publishing route, many publishers are now expecting for new authors to do a lot of their own promotion. Writing a great book is only the first step…the hard work starts after you type ‘The End’.

Don’t give up. Not every project will succeed. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll get rejection letters and you’ll get bad reviews. Life ‘ll knock you down. Learn from every setback and then get back to work; I promise that it’ll get better.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I do!

First, I’ve recently discovered that my debut novel, Fid’s Crusade, has been selected as a finalist for the 2018 BookLife Prize; to celebrate, I’ve decided to make the eBook available for free for the dates between 11/5/18 and 11/9/18.

Second, I would like to tell my readers that my web page has a ‘contact me’ webform, and I would love to hear from them all!

Finally…I want to thank each and every one of them. I hope that they’ve enjoyed reading my work as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Behind_Distant_Stars_Book CoverDavid H. Reiss
San Jose, CA

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Behind Distant Stars
Book Two in the Chronicles of Fid

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