Category Archives for The Prodigal Son

New Title, New Cover And a READER POLL!

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After consultation with some experts who sell far more books than I do, I’ve altered the title for my upcoming novel. With it, I’ve also commissioned a new cover design. Both the title and the cover fit the genre far better. However, all of us (including the experts) had one question about the cover – and we decided the best answer was to ask you, the readers!

There are four versions of the cover above (click on the image for a larger version). One has no tagline. The other three have variations on the tagline and positioning. What do you think, dear reader? A, B, C, or D?

Polling is open until the end of this week! Vote here in the comments or on Twitter!

Post Traumatic Stress – Chapter One

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My new novel, Post Traumatic Stress, will be available on August 1, 2017. You can pre-order it now directly from Silver Empire, or wait until July 25th to pre-order it from Amazon.com. Either way, today you can enjoy a sample chapter. The prologue is below.

It is through suffering that the soul is purified.

Every soldier brings demons home from war. But when Sergeant Michael Alexander came home to Athens, Georgia from Afghanistan, his war demons started kidnapping local college girls. Things got crazy when Michael tried to stop him.

Then the dragon arrived.

Post-Traumatic Stress delivers on its title. Newquist drills deep into the head of traumatized former soldier Michael Alexander as he tries to adjust back to normal life. The perspective is so tight that readers will feel immense connection to the character. Tension builds with the story at a pace like a landslide. At first, one’s not sure if Michael is crazy or if he’s the one at fault for a string of murders involved. Then comes the incredible action with demons, vampires and zombies! Once the plot explodes, it’s impossible to put down.

Jon Del Arroz
Author of the bestselling For Steam and Country

Sample Chapters:

  1. Prologue
  2. Chapter One

 


Chapter One

A bead of sweat rolled down Michael Alexander’s cheek, dripping onto the orange petals of the Tiger Lily in his hand. Despite the early hour, the temperature and humidity had already launched their neck and neck race for triple digits. He’d missed a lot of things about Georgia. The August heat was not among them. Despite growing up here, he’d never truly gotten used to the southern summers.

He heard a noise behind him and turned, greeting the older man with a nod. The pair stood in silence for a time, paying their respects. His friend had spared no expense on the beautiful stone, nestled in amongst the others in the small private graveyard. Some of the well-preserved stones dated back to pre-colonial times.

The older man broke the silence.

“After all this time, I still never know what to say.”

“I always know what to say,” the younger man replied. “But no matter how many times I say, ‘I’m sorry,’ it’s never enough.”

The older man frowned at him.

“It wasn’t your fault, Michael.”

“If I’d made the flight, she’d have been at the airport to pick me up. She’d have been well out of the way.”

“Sometimes we have less control over things than we think we do.”

Michael shifted awkwardly and looked away. The point hit too close to home. James Covington let it go. The silence loomed over them for a moment. Again James spoke first.

“How long are you home?”

“For good.”

Covington’s momentary shock quickly transformed into a genuine smile.

“Finally came to your senses?” he asked.

Michael shook his head, but his face showed a faint hint of genuine humor. “No good sense here at all. Medical discharge. I fought it all the way.”

“Ah.” Captain James Covington, US Army retired, tapped his right leg with his cane. “I’m all too familiar with those.”

The cane and the injury that necessitated it served as a constant reminder of his eighteen months in the Hanoi Hilton. He paused and waited for the young man to elaborate. When nothing followed, he changed the subject tactfully.

“I’ll have a room made up for you.”

Michael gazed up the hill at the massive house. The Covington family had lived on this land for centuries. Over time, they’d accumulated quite the fortune, becoming one of the richest families in the state. The nearby town was even named for one of them – James’ great-great-grandfather, or something. The generous offer tempted him.

“Thanks, but I’ve got Pa’s place,” he answered.

“You held onto it, then?”

“It made a great rental property,” Michael shrugged. “And it was completely paid for. The last tenants left it in good enough shape. It needs a little work, but not too much.”

“Got any plans?”

“Back to the University to finish that history degree.”

“Good choice. Look up Abigail while you’re up there. Turn on that charm you used to have and lure her away from that obnoxious rich boy.”

Michael actually laughed at that one. “He must be pretty bad if you’d prefer me over him.”

The older man smiled back at him. “You were alright, even then. I had to be hard on you. You were about to marry my little girl, you know.” He turned somber again. “Besides, that little punk boy died the same day Katie did.” He pointed at the stone. “Boys don’t become men when they hit a magic age. Men are made – in blood and pain and struggle. Abby’s pansy ass boyfriend is the son of some rich oil sheikh. He couldn’t struggle his way out of a paper sack.”

“Probably very pretty, too.”

They shared a laugh again as Jim nodded.

“That always was her type,” Michael continued.

“True enough. But I’d still much rather be welcoming you into the family. Her sister always did have better taste. Hell, considering that you were two weeks away from joining it, you might as well be family already.”

Michael David Alexander and Catherine Virginia Covington had planned to wed on September 29th, 2001. United Airlines Flight 175 derailed those plans a few weeks early when it crashed into Two World Trade Center. Katie had been on the observation deck. All they ever managed to find of her was a half-melted cell phone. The beautiful stone before them marked an empty grave.

Michael had called her as soon as he’d seen the news. Miraculously, he’d gotten through. He managed to keep her calm down nearly sixty flights of stairs. It proved to be forty flights too few. He’d been on the phone with her when the tower collapsed. That afternoon he’d found himself sitting in an Army recruiter’s office, bound and determined to kill Osama bin Laden himself.

“Don’t hold your breath. I’m pretty sure Abby still holds me responsible.” And she’s right, he didn’t add out loud.

Covington’s eyes bored into him, and for a moment Michael felt certain that he knew. That shouldn’t be possible, but there it was.

“I guess some things are just too much to hope for. Besides, Abby still thinks I’m some kind of racist because I’m not fawning all over the twerp. She forgets that I never liked any of the rich American boys she dated either.”

“I don’t see how she could possibly forget. Who was that one guy? Rowan?” Jim gave him a quizzical look. “You must remember. The one who had a sex change later?”

Covington tossed his head back in laughter.

“Rupert. His name was Rupert. You know, Abby totally melted down over that one. I paid for a year of therapy.”

“Seriously?”

“She even checked herself into the mental ward for two weeks.”

“She always was a little out of it.”

“A little?” Jim shook his head, and then changed the subject. “Why don’t you come on up to the house, get some lemonade and fill me in on what you’ve been up to?”

“I’ve got to make it back to Athens. My first class starts in a couple of hours.”

“You’d better get going, then.”

Michael agreed, but he took one last moment of silence at the grave. Covington watched somberly as Michael said a soft prayer and laid the Tiger Lily on Katie’s tomb.

“They always were her favorite,” the old man noted. Michael agreed.

They began the long walk up the back side of the property to the house. Out of habit, Michael had parked in between the twin garages on the south side of the house. With the morning heat rising, he wished he’d parked in the parking garage in the rear instead. It was much closer, and he already missed the air conditioning of his car. The older man eyed Michael sideways as they walked, frowning.

“So… medical discharge?”

Michael frowned.

“Helicopter accident,” he let out slowly. Memories leapt unbidden into his mind, vivid as the daylight around him. Teeth. Sinew. That glowing yellow nose. He forced them down, but he couldn’t keep the look off his face.

“Ah,” Covington answered, sensing the delicacy of the subject. “Come back by for another visit when you have more time and tell me about it.”

The younger man met his eyes and nodded. He supposed he had to tell someone. Who better than Jim Covington?

“I will. I promise.” They shook on it, and then Michael reached for the door to his car.

“Hold on,” James told him, reaching into his pocket. He pressed a button on the chain. One of the three doors on the larger garage bay opened. “You took off so fast I couldn’t deliver your wedding present.” He tossed Michael a key chain.

“That’s because we never had the wedding.”

“I wasn’t taking this one back.”

As the door rose Michael recognized the car at once. The deep metallic gray body of the 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo gleamed in the morning sunlight. Once, Michael had dreamed about that model car, lusted after it almost as much as the girls he used to chase.

“I can’t accept this,” he said, preparing to return the keys. Covington turned his back before he could throw them.

“Too late,” he replied, striding toward the house. “The car’s already in your name. Insurance is taken care of. Whenever you want it, it’ll be there.”

“Wait – how’d you put it in my name? I never signed anything.”

The older man flashed an enigmatic grin.

“You can do all kinds of things you’re not supposed to when you’re filthy rich,” he answered, before turning back to the house. He called back over his shoulder. “Take care of yourself, Michael. And keep in touch.”

“I will.”

Michael gazed longingly at the Porsche for a long moment. Visions of racing it down the back roads of Georgia flitted through his head. He grinned. Then he frowned and shook his head, glad he hadn’t gotten the car years earlier. He probably would have crashed it on the first drive.

Eventually, he pressed the button on his new key chain and closed the garage door. A moment later, he drove his beat up Subaru down the long driveway of the Covington estate, thanking God for air conditioning.


Pre-order it now directly from Silver Empire, or wait until July 25th to pre-order it from Amazon.com.

Post Traumatic Stress – Prologue

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My new novel, Post Traumatic Stress, will be available on August 1, 2017. You can pre-order it now directly from Silver Empire, or wait until July 25th to pre-order it from Amazon.com. Either way, today you can enjoy a sample chapter. The prologue is below.

It is through suffering that the soul is purified.

Every soldier brings demons home from war. But when Sergeant Michael Alexander came home to Athens, Georgia from Afghanistan, his war demons started kidnapping local college girls. Things got crazy when Michael tried to stop him.

Then the dragon arrived.

Post Traumatic Stress is a roller coaster thrill ride. It hooks you, clicks up to the peak, then sends you screaming all the way down. Masterfully done.

Daniel Humphreys
Author of the bestselling A Place Outside the Wild

Sample Chapters:

  1. Prologue
  2. Chapter One

 


Prologue

The conspiracy nuts would have a field day with this one. The Major already knew that the truth would never, ever see the light of day. He could already imagine some of the crazy theories they’d spin. But whatever they came up with would never match what had actually happened over the last few days. That thought almost made him laugh out loud. Almost.

He surveyed the strangers around him, still trying to wrap his head around everything. The Monk knelt off to the side, praying in Latin. The Major didn’t understand a word of it. But there was strength in that prayer – strength and power. It rang forth with the clear voice of a true believer. Its energy drew in everyone around him. For a moment, they all believed.

The Old Man calmly directed suppressive fire toward the cave entrance. He set careful fire zones to ensure a clear path to safety for the last handful of fleeing soldiers. He knew his work well. Clearly he’d had military experience in the past.

His team was the best. Today, that hadn’t been enough. Bodies littered the ground around the cave entrance. Plenty more remained hidden underground. But the official report wouldn’t show that. The casualties would show up on another report from another operation on another day. Families would be told their loved ones had died in battles they’d never fought; some of them in places the soldiers had never visited.

Officially, those men had never been here.

The Commander had commandeered his radio after those REMFs back at headquarters had denied him permission for an airstrike. The Major and his team called in air strikes all the time – and they’d called in plenty earlier that day. He didn’t understand why he lacked the authority for this one.

Whoever he was, the Commander didn’t have that problem. He barked a few strange phrases into the radio, obviously code words. A brief moment later, the authorization came back.

His soldiers held their positions, maintaining fire despite their frazzled nerves. Under the circumstances it seemed like a miracle. Yet despite their lack of preparation for the day’s horrors, they really were the best of the best. Now that they’d escaped that death trap, he knew that they would hold. He brimmed with pride at their performance today. Even by their own superhuman standards, every man among them had gone above and beyond.

The buzzing of an incoming aircraft caught his attention. He snapped his head to the sky, and found it quickly. The propeller driven C-130 Hercules flew low for this one – right around six thousand feet. The unguided “dumb” ordinance didn’t have much precision. To be fair, a bomb that size didn’t need much precision. But it did need some, and that meant flying low. And then he saw it – the parachute popping out the rear of the plane, followed by the gleaming silver oblong blob. It even looked like one of the largest bombs ever built.

The BLU-82 packs almost thirteen thousand pounds of GSX explosive into one package. The five thousand foot blast radius and resulting mushroom cloud often confuse observers into believing that they’ve witnessed a nuclear explosion. Developed during the Vietnam War, its ability to flatten even the flowers quickly led to its nickname. They called it the “Daisy Cutter.”

The Major watched the device fall downward toward the mouth of the cave, noting thankfully that his men had all cleared the blast zone. This one would be loud. And jarring. The parachute took almost three minutes to deliver its payload. Those three minutes felt like an eternity.

A shout rose up among the men as a shadow emerged from the cave. All went quiet for a moment, as they recognized the shape that had terrorized them in the darkness. Then the Knight emerged, injured and weary. Despite his obvious fatigue, he launched straight into a ferocious assault on the dark form. The men cheered.

His team didn’t need orders. Every man among them knew they owed their own lives to the Knight. He’d been the one to engage that thing, buying them all time to escape. They shifted their aim and unloaded everything they had into it. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition pounded it, to minimal effect. Still, they fired away – anything to help the Knight, but most of all, anything to keep that nightmare inside the target zone.

The Knight glanced to the sky. He clearly knew what came his way, yet he never wavered. He never even tried to escape. He knew what everyone else knew. If he let that shadowy terror escape, it would all be for nothing. So he attacked with everything he had, keeping his opponent pinned down just inside the cave mouth.

The show ended with an explosive finale. The bombardiers knew their work. The combatants, barely out of the blast radius, found themselves blinded and deafened. If anything, the quiet that followed disturbed them even more. Nothing moved within the blast zone. His men ceased fire. What would be the point? Anything that could survive that would laugh off their remaining weapons.

Hours later, after the blast zone had cooled, the strangers led a hunt through the rubble. The blast had vaporized everything. Not a trace remained of the shadow, nor could they find any remains of the Knight. The Major had thought nothing else could surprise him that day. He learned he was wrong when they found it. It gleamed bright after they wiped the ash off. He couldn’t find even a tiny scratch on it.

The strangers brought it out of the blast zone and lay it in a clearing. Kneeling before it, the Monk led a prayer for their fallen comrade. The Major knelt and joined in. His men followed – every one of them, men of all faiths, even atheists. Not necessarily for God or for the Christ that the Monk prayed to, but for this man, this Knight, who had given his life for them. Soldiers, one and all, saluted a fallen comrade. Afterward, the Commander wrapped the artifact carefully and packed it up.

Night would fall soon. The Afghanis wouldn’t support an assault in the dark, even after the bombing. After what he’d seen in the cave, the Major didn’t blame them. They’d send a team down in daylight to sift through the rubble and see if they could identify the bodies.

The strangers joined them silently on the trek back to their base camp. But they slipped away in the night, bypassing even his watch. The Monk, the Old Man, the Commander and the Knight. He didn’t know their names or where they came from or where they went. But he knew what he’d seen in that cave, and it altered his life forever.

The conspiracy theorists would have a field day, yes. But their wild theories didn’t have anything on the truth.


Pre-order it now directly from Silver Empire, or wait until July 25th to pre-order it from Amazon.com.

The Peluda Dragon

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Tales of the Peluda dragon come down to us from French legend. According to the tale, the Peluda terrorized the village of La Ferté-Bernard, France during medieval times. Its name comes from the Occitan language (still spoken today in southern France and northern Spain). It literally means “shaggy beast,” as if someone let a three year old Stark of Winterfell name his dragon.

They named the monster honestly, however. Although its basic shape follows the form of the traditional European dragon, the details meander a bit. Rather than scaly lizard skin, the legend tells us that hair covers the dragon (or, depending on the version, porcupine-like quills). The hair ends at the long, serpentine neck. The head resembles a snake more than the traditional lizard-like head of a European dragon, and the beast also carries a snakelike tail. It walks around on the stumpy legs of a tortoise when not in flight. The green creature grows to roughly the size of a large ox.

According to myth, Noah denied the Peluda entry on the ark. The beast toughed out the flood in a cave in France, where it hid for many years. Eventually it returned to terrorize the countryside. In addition to the typical fiery breath of a dragon, the beast could ruin crops with its breath, spit acid, or shoot a stream of water rather like an evil fire hose. Tales tell of at least one occasion where it flooded the region simply by stepping in a river, and it could shoot its poisonous quills at will. Its tail could kill a full grown man with a single blow, and beast proved invulnerable to all attacks.

One day the Peluda ate the wrong maiden, as dragons do. Her fiance tracked down the beast and, enlightened by the wisdom of an old crone, cut off its tail – attacking the Peluda’s only weakness. The beast died instantly.

I cropped the picture of the Peluda above from the cover of my forthcoming novel, Post Traumatic Stress. My cover artist, Andy Duggan, drew a wonderful representation of the beast. I flavored the creature a bit to fit my novel, choosing the hairy version rather than the quilled version. Also, the full powers of the beast don’t come to the fore in this novel. That tale is brewing in the followup novella, Vigil, due out in late 2017 or early 2018.

Post Traumatic Stress – CALL FOR BETA READERS

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The second draft of Post Traumatic Stress is DONE!

It took me a few months to get back to it, but once I did it took less than two weeks to finish the second draft. In a way, it’s better that it took me a while. A little bit of distance from the manuscript meant that I looked at it with very fresh eyes. I’m quite happy with the current state of the manuscript. The ultimate judgement lies, of course, with the readers.

I’m looking for an additional ten beta readers. Beta readers will receive a free copy of the manuscript in its current form sometime in the next week. Anyone can apply to be a beta reader, but I need a commitment to the following:

  1. You must be willing and able to answer the following two question survey:
    1. What parts of the book bored you?
    2. What parts of the book confused you?
  2. You must commit to leaving an honest review on Amazon.com or Goodreads.com – or preferably both – within 1 week of release day.
  3. You must be able to read the book and return the survey by May 31, 2017.

If you’re interested, send your request to betareaders@silverempire.org.

If you’ve already signed up to be a beta reader, thank you! There is no need to sign up again.

2016 In Review

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By any metric, 2016 has been a great year for me. There were some hiccups, but altogether the good overwhelmed the bad. Here’s a look back on the year.

  • My fourth child was born.
  • Our fourth annual Extra Life event raised nearly $2000 for Children’s Miracle Network.
  • Book sales for Silver Empire are up almost 10x over 2015.
  • I merged my old dojo, Madison Martial Arts, with my Sensei’s dojo, Spirit Made Steel. The resulting dojo has 3x the student base of Madison Martial Arts. Our new facility is 3.5x larger. I have a strong base of wonderful assistant instructors helping now, and our classes are better than ever.
  • Blog traffic for 2016 is up more than 7x over 2015. My best month was May, which approached the peak traffic levels of previous incarnations of this blog.
  • Blog revenue from Amazon Associates sales increased 5x over 2015.
  • My grandmother passed away after an amazing 95 year run.
  • Silver Empire published its first novel.
  • And we published our first audiobook.
  • I finished the first draft of my own first novel (read a sample chapter).
  • Our Kickstarter campaign for Lyonesse nearly doubled its goal.
  • I set new personal records on all major lifts at the gym.
  • I earned my 4th Degree Black Belt
  • Some of my favorite authors sent me free books to review.
  • I got interviewed for the first time.
  • My Twitter feed crossed 1000 followers.
  • I’ve made many wonderful new friends through the author community, social media, my dojo merger, and many other areas.
  • I published 216 blog posts this year.

2017 is looking to be an even better year.

  • After more than three years, I expect my dojo to finally start operating in the black.
  • I expect to publish both my first novel and my first novella.
  • Blog traffic will likely grow by around 3-4x.
  • Based on our upcoming lineup, Silver Empire book sales will likely grow by around 5x.
  • We plan to launch Lyonesse in the early part of the year.
  • My goal for 2017 is to publish at least one blog post every single day, including holidays and weekends. That will more than double the content on this blog.
  • And… I have a few more surprises in store for the year. What, you wouldn’t want me to reveal everything ahead of time, would you? 😉