Tag Archives: Fantasy writing

Your Town’s Main Attraction


(World Building, part 3)


We’ve been discussing World Building over the last couple of articles and if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet check them out now… WB1 and WB2. In this article we continue the discussion of Town Building by zooming in on the town and taking a look and what might bring someone to your town. What is the main attraction or focal point of your town?


The Fishing Village

Most of your towns; from a small village to a large city, has some sort of trade that it is known for. In a fishing village that trade of course is fishing. Most of the men would head out to sea in the early morning and not return until afternoon, or evening depending on the success of their catch. Fishmongers; traders in various fish and other seafood would have shacks set up along the beach hocking their wares.

As a main attraction, your town could be built in a horseshoe shape with a large lake at its center. Perhaps a large ocean-themed gambling house could be built on stilts in the center of the lake to attract visitors. The only way to get to the casino would be by boat.


Another idea, and something a little more unique, would be a bait-and-tackle shop. Most citizens would visit the local tavern for news and gossip. In a fishing village, a shop that sells live bait and rents boats would be a better locale. It allows the writer a little more creativity than your typical dull tavern setting.


The Inland Village


A blacksmith might be the main attraction of a village further inland and away from a large body of water. Like the tackle shop, this could be a place where people come to socialize while watching the smith work on the latest project.


If a village is too small to house a tavern or common room, a boardinghouse might be the main attraction of your village. A large farmhouse with multiple beds for travelers which would include a meal or two. Perhaps if it is on farmland, the owner might get a couple hours of labor out of a visitor in exchange for room and board.


Town Attractions


The larger the town the bigger, and sometimes better, the attraction. A town I created called Manzana Gran (“Big Apple” in Spanish), the main attraction was the Emerald Gardens Coliseum. I created a large gladiator type event called the Colossal Warrior Challenge which came around once a year. There was another event called the Chaotic Mayhem Series which was similar to football teams but with weapons. Other events such as plays and circus-like performances could be there. Plus, I created the fantasy version of concessions to be in the outer ring of the coliseum.


The Tourist Trap


Just like any place in your own hometown area, there is always some little place where people like to go for a quick trip, buy some little knick-knacks and pay too much money for food, gas, and local entertainment. In your world, you can do the same thing. Create a collection of ruins where a mighty civilization once lived and promote it around the countryside as the place to see when in the area. Create a monument to a great battle that took place decades or centuries ago and give tours.

Not all tourist traps necessarily have to be legit either. Some of your local thieves guilds might create said tourist trap as an actual trap! For example, a guided tour in the woods only to be attacked by a band of trolls who rob every tourist and split the loot with the guild. Another could be a scenic boat ride to be overrun by pirates. The list is as endless as your imagination.



Remember, as standard as a tavern is for a centerpiece of a town for entertainment, it doesn’t always have to be the main focus. Try something more on the unique side and your readers will thank you for it. Please share any ideas that you might have for a main attraction, I’d love to hear from you.


Until next time,

Happy Adventuring!



The Askinar Towers Flash Fiction–1

The Askinar Towers: Flash Fiction #1

This week I am sharing some flash fiction that I wrote inspired by a character seen in book 2, “Sibling Rivalry”. If this were an actual part of the story it would take place in chapter 24 near the conclusion of the Washington D. C. scenario. Enjoy!


Amber’s Only Love

Lightning filled the sky followed by the rumbling of thunder as the rain came down in sheets. Many passengers at the Baltimore airport stood staring at the storm wondering which flight would be cancelled. Amber Copeland sat nervously near her flight’s gate waiting impatiently for someone to show up. She was supposed to board ten minutes ago when they announced first class but she chose to wait hoping that Bill might come running through the terminal professing his love for her.

“Final boarding call for Flight 429, nonstop to Portland,” said a voice over the PA system.

Amber finally stood up, walked to the runway, and presented her ticket. The Red Eye flight to Oregon, where she lived, could wait no longer. There was other passenger, a pregnant woman who, like her, kept looking down the hall for someone.


Amber thought how great it would be to get home and: see her family, sleep in her bed, look out at the mountains, and take long walks in the woods. But there was one thing missing, a certain someone she wanted to share her life. It would take her a while to fill that void in her heart; if she could even fill that void.

She thought back to just a couple hours ago when she finished her packing and then sat down with pen and hotel stationary to write Bill a note. He hadn’t called in the last couple days and, to be honest, she knew that he wouldn’t. That night at Delano’s restaurant, was a magical night but, both of them knew that there wouldn’t be another. She had never believed in love at first sight; her mother taught her that there was no such thing. But, when she laid eyes on Bill in the Dibner Library she could think of no other way to put it. If it weren’t for his condition, she’d take him home with her and prove her mother wrong. The note read as follows:


My dearest Bill,

I cannot put into words all of the emotions that I’m experiencing for you. I knew when we first arrived at the restaurant, that it would be the only time we would share together. The reason I told you that I could change your mind about me, was simply to put the pain aside and treat the two of us like a regular couple.

I wanted more and I knew you did as well. But, in the end, I knew it would never happen. If I could, I would move Heaven and earth to find a way to reunite us, so that we might live together as one soul. Please take care of yourself and, if you come to Oregon, please look me up.

All my love,



“Honey, I made it,” said a male voice. Amber smiled as she returned to the present.

“I knew you’d find me, Bill,” Amber said as she turned to see a young man hurry over to the pregnant woman. Amber’s smile faded as he gave his wife a kiss on the cheek. He helped her up and got in line behind Amber. Fortunately they didn’t hear her comment.

“Miss?” said the ramp agent.

Amber turned and took back the ticket stub. “Thank you.” She slowly walked down the ramp to the airplane. Outside, she could hear the howling of the wind as the rain continued to pelt the area.

As she sat down in First Class, she lifted the shade to look out into the darkness. Occasionally, the lightning in the distance lit up the area. It wouldn’t be the first time she traveled in bad weather. Ironically, when she first arrived in Baltimore, four years ago, the storm was so bad that she feared the plane would break apart before landing. She closed the shade to the window and closed her eyes and thought of Bill. The memories she had would have to hold her for the rest of her life.


            I hope you enjoyed this story. I hope to share more pieces of flash fiction in future blog postings. Eventually I’d like to put  them all together and create a book, but time will tell. Please share comments that you might have on this story. To buy copies of my trilogy, see my author page at Amazon.com. If you want other links, please state your interest in the comments section below.


Happy Adventuring!


Where’s the Fifth Tower?


For those few who are subscribed to receive notices of my new blog posts may be surprised when a who new title shows up in the subject line of your inbox. I’ve recently overhauled my blog site; giving it a new title, new color scheme and actually using a picture which goes along with the theme of the blog. The only thing I haven’t touched is my logline explaining that I’m an author surviving the Arizona desert.


Why the change?

As I stated in my previous posts: Year of the Author and The Author Makeover, I am trying to make an impact as an author for 2016. So, in addition to the change of my avatar, I decided to make changes in regards to my blog.

The title, of course, is a play on words ‘Suffering from Writer’s Block’ and it just came to me early last week and I thought, “Hey, that’s pretty clever (at least for me that is), I should change my blog to that and see what happens. I even did a Google search on the title to make sure no one else came up with it as I didn’t want to trespass on anyone’s turf.

The other reason I made the change is because the title, Tales from the Fifth Tower was originally supposed to be for an anthology of stories from my trilogy, The Askinar Towers. I assumed that it would be such a huge hit that I would have fellow authors coming to me wanting to write short stories involving already established characters or new realms in the seemingly endless worlds of the four towers.

But, as it is, I can’t get anyone to read my stories, let alone write a review for them, so I have no idea if anyone likes them. Nevertheless, my new plan is to write a series of Flash Fiction stories involving characters, some who only had a guest appearance, and use it as a way to get people interested in the whole trilogy. The “Tales” title will appear for the collection. One of the best ways to get people interested in your novels is to release some short stories so your readers have an idea of your writing style and the way you think as a storyteller.


Don’t worry, it’s still me!

Now with the new makeover and the blog overhaul, don’t think that I’m going to change the way I think or write. It’s still me and my tilted sense of humor and I’m not about to get all serious or philosophical on you (I’ll leave that for the others). I will continue to share my life with you both personal and writer-wise. I’d say professional but I’m not even in the ballpark of that level of authordom.

I still plan on doing interviews of fellow authors and I will still use the phrase, Fifth Tower Interview when doing them. I have a few authors in mind so I just need to get my rear in gear, put together the questions and send them out.



Hopefully you haven’t deleted the e-mail with the new blog name on it. I don’t know if WordPress sends out a notice of a name change or not, but I hope they do. In the meantime, please share your comments below in regards to the changes that I’ve made so far and let me know if there’s a subject you’d like me to talk about within this blog.

Happy Adventuring!


2016, Year of the Author



As 2015 draws to a close I look back on the previous year, both my personal life and that of an author, then look ahead to the coming year. I know that the Chinese Calendar has animals for each year but I personally am declaring next year as the Year of the Author. Mostly because I hope to do some things to get myself noticed more as a writer of fictional works.

Last year I wrote a review of 2014 in the article titled, “The Future is Bleak…”

I also recall that I wrote an overview of my first 6 months of 2015 in the article, “Father’s Day, One Year Later”. This way I don’t have to write about what I’ve already written about.

2015—The Year of Short Stories

As I discussed last year, my goal for this year was to focus on short stories since I couldn’t seem to hold my own attention in regards to full length novels. As you may already know by now I have three short stories completed, two of which are available for purchase online.

DG_Cover_Promo size

Dream Girl is the first to be completed and here’s the blurb about that story:

Brett is looking for love and recently he’s found it not once but twice. Two girls have captured his attention, but one of them is not all that she seems. He attempts to date both of them but in the end he must choose one to be what he refers to as, “The Girl of his Dreams.”

CC_Lunch Promo

Let’s Do Lunch is the second story completed. Here’s the blurb for that one:

What do retired adventurers do when they’ve done it all? Why role-play of course! Welcome to the exciting world of Middle Management where you sit in a cubicle, talk to clients and vie for that coveted corner office.

Jarryd McCallen is trying to survive his work furlough at Quenchers Tavern and Inn. He joins Orlando Birdsong and his gamers for an afternoon of gaming of the business world. But does he have what it takes to part one the group or will simply be nothing more than a server in a tavern?

Cassie Promo

My third one, which I hope to have out by the end of this year, is titled, For the Love of Cassie. Here’s the cover which was designed by the talented, Hanna-Riikka.

Here is the blurb for that story:

Travis and Kylie seemed like the perfect couple; always together and happy as can be. But a surprise trip to Reno and a photo changed all of that. As they returned home, a wedge has been driven between the two and nothing is the same.

Kylie wants to move to the next step in their relationship and start a family but Travis wants to hold off until he can finish school and become a licensed doctor. Will the couple figure out their differences, or is this the end of their relationship? And what is to become of Cassie?



Jett Powers, Salesman Extraordinaire       

Early in the month of December I got a three day vacation approved by my manager. This is a rare happening as the holiday season is usually blocked for vacations followed by inventory which takes place in January. However, I kept my mouth shut about the approved vacation time and enjoyed every bit of it.

One of the things I did while on vacation was to return to a story I started in 2013 which features Jett Powers. If you’ve read The Askinar Towers trilogy you’re already familiar with the character and know that he is ripe to strike out on his own as a main character for a story. This is going to be a full-length novel; a sort of spin-off to the towers trilogy as the story takes place within that world. When I first began the story, I had a fairly weak plot and kept asking myself: What’s the point of this story? They’re just going to sell things and the one who sells the most wins?

As far as plots go, it was too straight-forward. I need a twist to complicate things. I did come up with an idea but eventually shelved the project and went on to other things. During my vacation the story called to me and I responded. Each morning I got up, got my coffee brewing, and then sat down at the laptop and wrote like crazy. In all, I wrote about 15,000 words, which isn’t too shabby. I did get some more of the storylines worked out and how the story will end so if I can type away every day or so, I hope to have this done by early 2016.

Now if you’ve been following my blog you know that any announcement I give in regards to dates and what have you is pure folly. Yes, I’m very bad at discipline in terms of deadlines and finishing one story before I begin another. But the bottom line, for me at least, is that I’m still interested in writing and hope to have more stories available to read in the coming year.



The Idea Factory is still working

One of the biggest problems I had, and unfortunately still have, is that my ideas come to me faster than I can get them down on paper as far as stories go. When I was first introduced to NaNoWriMo in 2005, I obtained a little bit of discipline in that my focus was on the towers trilogy. Since that’s been completed, I have lost the discipline and am back to chasing after ideas that come to me like gangbusters.

In a sense it’s a good thing because it proves to me that my desire to write is still strong and that I have all kinds of ideas to pursue. The drawback is that I want to write everything all at once and nothing then gets finished. I hope to rectify that problem in the New Year. Once the Cassie story is finished, I want to return to Jett Powers and, in addition, work on a new project I recently came up with. My love for Fantasy writing returned with the Let’s Do Lunch and continues to show itself in Jett’s story as well. My new project is also Fantasy based but I won’t say more as it may wind up as a dud.



My Personal Life

As for me personally, I’ve given up on looking for a second job. Some of you may already know that the McDonald’s I worked for closed down at the end of July. I was supposed to be transferred to another location but it was never finalized. I took this as an opportunity to work somewhere else but no one wanted to hire me. I guess no one wanted to deal with my limited availability since my main job begins at 4am.

In November when I signed up for insurance through the company for the coming year, my ex-wife informed me that I could take her off my insurance. Once I reconfigured it, leaving the kids on of course, I saved enough money to be the equivalent of a second job. If my calculations are correct, I’ll be able to afford groceries without have to beg money from friends.

I’m in my current apartment until the end of June and I know that I do want to move. I don’t know where yet but I am striving to get into a trailer home type situation so I don’t have to listen to neighbors yelling at each other and playing music at all hours of the night. More on that later.



Contrary to what people might think, I still like working the retail industry and will probably stay for a few more years. I was told by one to take a leap of faith and quit to do something else. Unlike that person, I don’t have a work spouse who helps support the bills nor do I have anything that resembles savings. The majority of the money I earn goes to keeping myself alive and properly care for, including buying the occasional DVD or e-book.

Since I became a personal shopper in May for the Grocery-to-Home Shopping program, I’ve been a big fan of the job. In the almost 20 years I’ve been with the company this is definitely the best department I’ve ever worked in and don’t plan on giving it up any time soon.

Here’s the New Year and the prospect of doing some pretty interesting things as an author.


Happy Adventuring!


Cover Reveal: Let’s Do Lunch

Notice Image

Happy Monday to one and all! This week I’d like to share a cover reveal with you for one of my upcoming short stories. The subtitle is “Let’s Do Lunch” and the main title is Clients and Cubicles. The cover was created by Hanna-Riikka Kontinaho.

CC_Lunch Promo

As the main title suggests, I do plan on writing more stories under that heading but not in the near future. The premise for the story, using movie titles, is Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Meets The Secret of My Success.

NaNoWriMo 2010

NaNo Logo

Having just completed my Fantasy trilogy, The Askinar Towers, for NaNo 2009, I went into 2010 with a brand new idea. I wanted to do a story in which someone was sentenced to 30 days working in a tavern. I idea came from the movie, The Time of your Life, in which the entire film took place in one day in a bar down on the waterfront. The story was completely character driven with James Cagney’s character, Joe, as the MC.

I knew I could do something similar in a Fantasy sense except expand the time length. While working on the project titled, 30 Days at Quenchers, I thought to myself: What if you walked into a tavern and found Fantasy Adventurers role-playing a game based on our world? I’ve been kicking around this idea for the last three years or so. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons, on and off, since 1985 and have been part of several groups. I decided to come up with a setting that we would find common and mundane, in which our adventurers would find exciting. It was then that I came up with Clients and Cubicles, the exciting role-playing game of middle management. And before you ask, I have no intention of designing an actual RPG based on this idea.

I took Jarryd McCallen, the MC from 30 Days and put him with a group of retired adventurers and participate in this game. I had every intention of making reference to the game in the novel, and then put out little short stories as supplements to the book. Instead, the reverse will most likely occur.

A New Vision for 2015

Having officially published all three books for the trilogy by last November, I made a resolution for 2015 that I would focus on writing short stories throughout the year. Since I was having trouble staying motivated with any of my full length novel ideas, I decided to go the short story route and see what would develop from them.

By December, I had four ideas for short stories, each complete in themselves and not at all related or connected to the others in any way. However, I had devised a fifth story in which characters from those four would find their way in the new story and come together as a team and do battle with a brand new foe.

DG_Cover_Promo size

The first story was Dream Girl; the second being, Clients and Cubicles; the third will be my vampire story, tentatively titled, “Students of the Night”; and the fourth is another role-playing type game in which players get transferred into the world of the game they are playing. Since then, however, I have come up with yet another idea that will also feature a character to go on to the main story. I’ll have more on that in the later months.

Now before you get all excited for this project to happen, keep in mind that my track record for writing stories, finishing them, and publishing them is not all that it’s cracked up to be. The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is to motivate myself and, perhaps, motivate you to help motivate me. My goal is to have all five short stories written and available for purchase by summer 2016, with the collaborative story to follow thereafter. For now, I’m striving to complete one story at a time and be happy with that.

Write what you know.

For as long as I can remember, I was always told to write stories based on things that you are familiar with and can relate to in the real world. Of course, one good way of learning new things to write about is by reading books in that genre or watching movies.

I have another writing project, that I’ve recently started, which will be a collection of short stories under one cover and a goal of a total of four collections altogether in the long run. Writing what I know has inspired me to write stories set in the world of retail. I’ve been in the retail industry since 1996, work in a grocery store prior to that and have seen all kinds of different things that may or may not be believed.

The Supermart Challenge is coming!

The Supermart Challenge is coming!

This WON’T be a non-fiction tell-all book or autobiography of “the underbelly of retail”. Instead this will be a series on fictional stories set in a retail store that makes Wal-Mart look small. If you’re familiar with the big box store conglomeration, then you can only imagine how much bigger my store setting could possibly be.

I’ll share more information on this project in my next article. My goal is to have this published by fall 2016 as I will be celebrating 20 years with the company at that time. As an added incentive, I’d like to get readers to submit their suggestions and or encounters that they’ve had in regards to life in retail. Whether you were a customer, employee, or read about it in the paper, I want to hear your stories and maybe they’ll find their way into one of my collections.

Happy Adventuring!


Hello NaNoWriMo, I’m back!

50K Words, 30 Days, Lots of Coffee!!

50K Words, 30 Days, Lots of Coffee!!

Last year, I took November off from writing the 50K challenge that is The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The reason was my book, through my publisher, was supposed to be released by December 3rd and I thought I’d be using the month of November to promote it. Well, as you may know by now, it was never to be. The cover never got completed, the edits weren’t finished, and the final manuscript was supposed to be sent to distributors six weeks out (the middle of October) from the release date. None of that happened.

In addition, my publisher said that NaNo was for amateurs and writer wannabes. Oh? When December came along I saw a lot of my Twitter friends, well-established authors, comment about participating in NaNo and having a foundation for their next novel. I truly felt like I missed out on something special. But not this year! I plan to return to NaNoLand and take the challenge by the throat!

Give Me A Deadline!

If this is your first time in learning about NaNoWriMo, then let me direct you to my post from last year that gives a full rundown of the challenge and advice on how to complete it. Go ahead and read that article first and then come back here and finish this one. It’s all right, I’ll be here when you return. 🙂


Welcome back! As I mentioned in the previous article, I like NaNo because I gives me a word challenge and a deadline. The main thing I seriously lack in my writing is the discipline to put butt in seat and write a story. ANY story. I currently have the discipline as I am writing this article because I know I want to get it done and I have a deadline of Monday, so I can upload it in conjunction with the Monday Blogs hashtag.

From December through to October, I don’t really have a deadline to abide by. I mean, I do set myself deadlines and then I enjoy listening to the whooshing sound they make as they speed right by me. This is where personal discipline needs to come into play because, for the most part, you’re on your own. Now, if you have a contract with a publishing company, you might be given a deadline for when your next book is due or, at least, a month in which they want to see your manuscript.

For the rest of us, it’s on us to make our own deadlines. Simply put, if you want your book available for purchase in December, then you better well everything completed, or close to completion, by the end of November. It’s up to you.

Found on Deviant Art by Reapthebeauty

Found on Deviant Art by Reapthebeauty

A New Fantasy Story

For my NaNo this year, I’m going to take an idea that I tried and failed in 2011 and couple it with characters from my 2010 challenge. Yes, that sounds weird but, I you don’t know me by now, I am weird and take pride in it!

My 2011 challenge was called The Summer of Monsters and I had this group of kids solving mysteries that were linked together involving some type of monster. It was set in modern day Arizona, a fictional town called Ciudad (Spanish for “City”). It was a series of short stories linked together with this group who called themselves, the Ciudad Amateur Detectives and Explorers or C.A.D.E. for short. I only accomplished 8 days of the challenged and promptly quit for two reasons. 1)My heart just wasn’t in the challenge. Probably, because I did it every year for the last 6 years and 2)For some reason, I just can’t write about a contemporary setting, even if it’s a fictional town. It just seems so…dull.

My 2010 challenge was called 30 Days at Quenchers and was supposed to be book 1 of an open-ended series featuring my character, Jarryd McCallen. To this day, I still haven’t completely written the novel. I have a good foundation but I lack the desire and discipline to go and finish it. I hope to soon. The bulk of the characters in that story are former ones I used in role-playing Dungeons and Dragons, so it was like writing about old friends. Yet, that still wasn’t enough.

This year, I’m taking the C.A.D.E. idea and putting it in a Fantasy setting. This was an idea I was going to launch after Jarryd’s 3rd or 4th book, but I’ve decided to try and write it right now. Seeing that my trilogy, The Askinar Towers featured children, I thought let’s try this idea and see if I can get another ‘X’ in the Win column. The idea will be six short stories all linked together under the main title of The Chest of Dark Wonders.

The main character will be Candace, a ten year old girl who is part dragon. She lives with her father; halfling thief, Roland Haberdasher and Roland’s grandmother, Granny Haberdasher. She will be joined on her adventures by an orc, two gnomes and troll. The setting is a small village named Caldera Falls which is just a few miles away from Ciudad, the capital city.

Each of the six stories will feature an item from the chest and have an adverse affect on an individual that comes in contact with it. It will be up to Candace and her friends to solve each problem and find the link to them. I’m shooting for 10K words per story, so that should net me 60K overall which will be a new high for me! The highest I went previously, was 200 over 50K.


What about you? Are you up for the challenge of writing 50K words in 30 Days? If not, share with me what you to do discipline yourself to keep butt in chair. Also, do you adhere to the deadlines you give yourself? Feel free to comment or ask questions!!

Happy Adventuring!


You can track me down on the NaNoWriMo website under the screen name: Tower_Keeper.

Fifth Tower Interview~Ciara Ballintyne

Fifth Tower logo

This week I bring to you a bonus interview from a good friend of mine. She’s been very busy as of late but managed to get her to sit still for just a few minutes to answers some questions!

Hello Ciara! Welcome to the Fifth Tower. It’s been a while since we last sat down and talked. How have you been?

Life’s been busy. Work. Kids. New books. What can I say except that there is so much buzzing around in my head right now I can’t keep track of it all. The biggest things going on are making sure I meet the release date for my new book, which is Sept 22, and at the same time I am also doing a complete website revamp and rebrand.

You’ve got a new novella coming out soon called Stalking the Demon. What can you tell us about that?

Stalking Cover

It’s the sequel to my novella, Confronting the Demon. Each book is a self-contained story about the same characters, but the second story springs out of the first. You could quite correctly say that the events in Stalking the Demon wouldn’t have happened but for the events in Confronting the Demon. So you can read the first one and quite happily stop with a story resolution – if you want to.

In Stalking the Demon, Alloran is struggling to find a cure for a mysterious illness threatening to kill the woman he loves, and stabilise the failing structure of the seven hells. Someone is sabotaging his every move, but even worse – all the answers he needs are locked away in hell.

While Stalking the Demon is still short, it’s quite a bit longer than the first book in the series. It’s probably technically moved into short novel length.

You’ve mentioned that this is going to be a series; Confronting and Stalking are the first two. How many are you planning on doing?

I have ideas for four books at the moment. I thought they would all be the same length as Confronting the Demon, which is 25,000 words, but since Stalking the Demon has just cracked 40,000 I am beginning to wonder if the third and fourth books will still be short or not…. I have seeds of ideas for them but I haven’t actually planned the books out at this stage. There is always potential for more, as well, but I do intend to keep it as a series of self-contained books. My full-length novels are the ones where the stories span multiple books.

On your blog, Flight of the Dragon, you have a feature called, “Monday Morsels”. Share with us that idea and what’s currently posted there.

It allows readers to see excerpts from the first drafts of my works in progress as I write. They excerpts are short, sometimes as little as ten sentences, and they are not contiguous – so while I generally post them in chronological order, there might be whole chapter between one excerpt and the next. This is really just about giving readers a taste of what’s coming next.

The excerpts available now include some from Stalking the Demon, which is the short novel to be released in September, and also from a full-length epic fantasy novel I’m working on called In the Company of the Dead.

What progress have you made on your full-length novel, In the Company of the Dead?

I’m 60% of the way through the first draft. I can’t see the plot needing nearly as much reworking and rewriting as Stalking the Demon (which I almost completely rewrote twice) so hopefully the revisions and edits stage won’t be so painful.

Share with us what that’s about and how soon we can see it available.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, but after an altercation with the crown prince (involving the murder of his wife and a right hook to the prince’s jaw) he’s been exiled to a remote castle on the border in disgrace. He’s intent on drowning his woes in whiskey when a mysterious army arrives to besiege the castle. He believes it’s an attempt to by the prince to remove him permanently; his men think he’s losing the plot. Things really get interesting when the Battle Priestess of the death goddess arrives to protect Lyram from a necromancer dedicated to the evil god of decay. She has a secret – and he’s on the brink of compounding his problems with the prince by crossing a goddess.

I’m hoping to finish the first draft this year and have it available next year.

During the day, you are a lawyer. Have any of your ideas come from work?

Um…. No. I wish I could say otherwise, but no. I practice corporate law in the financial services sector, so it’s a little dry. The only thing I can say is that there are some references to criminal conduct and gross negligence in Stalking the Demon and that knowledge comes from my legal background.

Besides work and homelife, what do you do to get out and away from everything?

Well…. There’s books. And writing. And sad to say not much else. There isn’t a lot of time left after work, commuting (which doubles as my writing time), home and kids. I love country music, and I enjoy singing, both of which I get to do to some extent in the car – except, of course, that now audiobooks are competing for that time. I enjoy horse-riding, but I gave up my horse after my first child. I love karaoke, but there’s not much time for that either. Probably the thing I do most after reading and writing is watch movies. My husband prefers a more visual medium so that’s our shared story time.

The world of publishing has come a long way. Where do you see it headed in the next five years?

That’s a good question. I think traditional publishers need to pick up their game. If they don’t, they’ll go the way of Kodak. They need to realise they are selling stories and information, not books, and stop protecting their paperbacks at the expense of ebooks.

At the same time, they are still offering deals to authors like they have a protected market. Authors are already starting to realise that there is no value in taking a deal with a publisher where they get little to zero marketing support and poor royalties so they basically have to market the book themselves, but without the control that allows self-pubbed authors to do so effectively e.g. the ability to run sales and give discounts.

Traditional publishers either need to learn to market ebooks better, or need to stop acquiring ebook rights, as I see a decline in authors accepting bad ebook deals just to get the deal for print.

Do you ever see the demise of “Brick and Mortar” bookstores with the rise of ebooks?

Not immediately…. Too many people still say they prefer the feel of a real book. But it won’t stay that way – more and more of the newer generations will grow up with ebooks accepted as the norm. Bookstores might disappear then.

If brick and mortar bookstores want to survive they need to start adapting too. I still like the idea of browsing aisles, and many other readers do too. Maybe there is scope for physical displays of virtual books. It would be difficult to sell ebooks and add a mark-up from Amazon, but maybe bookstores can offer book displays and book advice but sell something else – food and drink is the first idea. Offer free wi-fi, so people can come in wirth their kindle, browse the shelves, buy the ebook from the retailer of choice, and stay and read over unch or a coffee.

That wouldn’t be enough in itself – book stores would need to be offering other add-on products, and I’m afraid at this point my creativity fails me and I don’t know what they would be. Maybe merchandise from books. This might move the local bookstore more in the direction of comic book stores, where you can buy all the paraphernalia and merchandise to match. I still think there’d need to be more to it. But it would be nice to see bookstores survive as they are a good venue for author signings and other activities for readers.

If you had the chance to co-write a novel with any writer, who would it be and what would be the plot of the story?

Good question…. I would have loved to write a book with Terry Pratchett. He’s a total comedic genius and I’m not, so it would have been interesting to see what would have resulted. I really can’t guess at the plot – I think that’s something that would evolve from the collaboration of two authors.

If you were given full backing to make one of your stories into a major motion picture, which one would you choose, who would direct, and why to both?

Maybe Deathhawk’s Betrayal. It’s an assassin fantasy, so you could make it like a spy thriller fantasy, which makes it appealing to a wider audience. It’s also light on magic, so there’s less CGI needed – which means less room for bad special effects or totally botched CGI, which are areas where fantasy novels can fall down as movies. Magic and the like has to be done flawlessly for a fantasy movie to be believable. And it has a kick-arse female lead.

The director is harder. I really don’t pay that much attention to directors, and I’ll admit I’m really not all that clear as to how directors influence films – as in, I can’t look at two directors and say we’ll he’d do it this way, but he’d do it that way. I’m clueless. Maybe Ridley Scott.

What’s on the horizon for your writing?

Well there’s the next two books in the Seven Circles of Hell after Stalking the Demon, there’s two more books (at least) in Vows of Blood after In the Company of the Dead. A Magical Melody is a short story that appears as a bonus in confronting the Demon and that’s the first movement in the Symphony of Magic. There’ll be three more movements to complete the symphony, and then a full-length novel to link all the characters together.

Those are just the projects I have currently published something in. Apart from that I also have three other fantasy series – The Deathhawk Trilogy, which is the assassin one, The Nemesis Trilogy, which is a sequel trilogy but the protagonist in this one was only a minor character in The Deathhawk trilogy. I have another series of which the first book will be The Blood Infernal. It’s an epic fantasy with a strong angel/demon twist. There may also be a sequel series to Vows of Blood, and I have a prequel idea for the Nemesis Trilogy.

If you would like to obtain an ARC of Stalking the Demon, head over to Flight of the Dragon blog for details.

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BLURB for Stalking the Demon

Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.

Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.

As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.

All the answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.


Ciara Ballintyne sings American country music with an Australian accent and is slave to two cats who believe they are gods – but who graciously permit her husband and two daughters to reside with them. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and for her sins has been a practising financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic.

She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.

She enjoys reading, horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D. She is a stalwart defender of the Oxford comma.

This concludes this interview and post! Feel free to share any questions or comments that you might have. More interviews in the future!

Happy Adventuring!