Transported to the mysterious artificial world of Ecos, Earth man Alexander Ashton struggles understand the society of his new friends, the humanoid Amatharians. As he does so, he finds himself falling in love with their princess and being thrust into a millennium-long war with their mortal foes, the reptilian Zoasians. Princess of Amathar is a sword-swinging novel of high adventure in a world filled with fantastic alien civilizations, strange creatures, and bold heroes.
Category Archives: Writing
New Paperbacks – New Paperback Prices
I’ve recently been informed that paperback pricing will change by June 20th, 2023. I have removed the prices on the book pages of this site. If you follow the links, you will see the latest pricing on the retailers’ websites. As soon as things settle, I will put the new prices here on this site.
On a related note, I am in the process of revision/edit/review of all my current books. The first was HIs Robot Girlfriend and is complete. In addition to making the best ebook edition possible, I will make sure that there is a paperback edition for each book. Those books that are free will not have paperback editions. People aren’t purchasing a paperback when they can get a free download, so it makes sense to put the effort elsewhere.
As each book is update and out in paperback, it will be announce here. Thanks, and thanks for your support.
What’s Up (5-5-23)
At the beginning of the year, I announced that I was planning to publish five books this year. That is still the goal. It looks like the first will be the first book of a new series. The series title is “The Greywater Adventurer’s Guild.” It is a story of a group of adventurers in a fairly typical fantasy setting. There are some twists and turns to the story that I think you will enjoy..
So, wait! That was not one of the five books promised. Right. Well, it’s taking the place in the lineup of The Destroyer Returns Book 2. That book my wait a while, as there aren’t a huge number of people clamoring for it. (Let me know if I’m wrong and you are eagerly awaiting the story.)
The other four books planned for this year are still on track: Knights of Amathar, The Return of the Sorceress, RO110: Time Traveler at Large, and Astrid Maxxim and her Hyperloop Hovertrain.
I’m feeling pretty confident. I’ve been getting a great deal of writing done, and I still have twelve work days before my retirement begins.
Thanks to all of you for being readers. If you would like to offer more support, visit my Patreon page and become a supporter.
What’s Up (Apr. 26, 2023)
Brechalon – Chapter 9 Excerpt
“Welcome to Schwarztogrube, Mr. Halifax,” said Sergeant Halser, saluting.
“Thank you. No need to salute. I’m a civilian after all.”
Mr. Halifax held out a hand and Sergeant Halser helped him out of the small boat and up onto the shaped stone dock on the lowest section of the ancient castle. He was a short, rotund man wearing a white suit, the shirt of which was still stained with his lunch, eaten aboard the ship that had brought him. Halifax led him up the stone stairway to the upper levels.
“Can you explain to me what happened? The Judge Advocate General was rather vague in his description.”
“As far as anyone can tell, it was some kind of disease. It could have been brought here by one of the guards returning from leave. They were all killed. Most of the prisoners. A few of the boys. The boys might have been less affected because of age or because they were all down near the water. No one really knows.”
“I have no doubt it was due to mismanagement of some form or another,” opined Halifax. “That’s why operations were taken away from the Ministry of War and were given to us.”
They reached a fork in the passageway.
“The north wing is this way, sir. It’s where the offices and kitchen are, and most of the prisoners.”
“How many prisoners are there?”
“There are twelve surviving prisoners in the north wing; one in the south wing.”
“Yes. Prisoner 89 was segregated from the others. There’s no record of why. Perhaps it is because she is the only woman.”
“A woman? Here?” Halifax frowned and licked his lips.
“Take me to her cell.”
Halser led his new superior up another set of stairs and down the stone hallway to a door with a single small, barred window. Halifax had to stand on his tiptoes to peer through. He could see a blond woman inside, dressed in rags, sweeping the floor of the cell with a broom.
Halser unlocked the door and followed Halifax inside. The woman immediately stopped sweeping and stood demurely with her head bowed. The room was clean but Spartan. Only a single window high up on the wall let in a square of sunlight. Halifax glared accusingly at Halser.
“It was worse, when I got here, sir. I had the cot brought in and a chamber pot, and a broom so that she could clean the place up.”
“It’s true, sir. Sergeant Halser has been very kind.”
“Still, it seems poor treatment for a young lady, regardless of your crimes. What is it you are here for?”
“I used magic without approval, sir. And when they tried to arrest me, I fought back. I may have injured a wizard, sir.”
Halifax’s expression said all too clearly that he thought the injury or death of a wizard to be a relatively minor offense. “Well, you can’t do any magic here, so we don’t have to worry about that. And what is your name, my dear?”
“Zurfina. Like the daughter of Magnus the Great?”
“Yes, sir.” Zurfina curtsied.
“Is there anything you need right now?”
“If it’s not too much trouble, sir, I would appreciate a bucket of water so that I could bathe. And if a needle and thread could be had, and some scraps of cloth so that I could make myself something to wear.”
“Sergeant Halser, see if you can find a bucket of water and some soap for the young lady, and a washrag too. You can leave the keys with me. I’ll lock up.”
After the Sergeant had left, Halifax stepped close to the woman and reaching out, brushed the hair from her face.
“You are not unattractive.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Things are not going to be like before,” he said, pacing first toward the door and then back to her. “There will be better food and cleaner conditions. Maybe we could have some decent clothes brought from the mainland for you, and perhaps an occasional sweet.”
“That would be most delightful, sir.”
“When my duties allow, I could come to your cell here and visit with you. Would you like that? Would you be… cooperative?”
“Oh, yes sir.”
He reached out and brushed her hair back again, this time caressing her temple with his thumb. “You do understand what I mean when I say cooperative, don’t you?”
Zurfina looked up from the floor and into his eyes. She reached up and pulled his chubby hand from her face, moving it down to rest on her breast.
“I’m anxious to be cooperative,” she said. “Very, very cooperative.”
Astrid Maxxim Youtube Short
Brechalon – Chapter 4 Excerpt
It had been Pentuary too when it happened, sixteen years before. Iolanthe, Augie, Yuah, and Dorah were sitting in a circle on the floor around Master Akalos, who was making them recite the names of the books in the Modest Scriptures. That two of them were the children of aristocrats and two were the children of servants made no difference to Master Akalos. That three of them were Kafirites and one of them was a Zaeri did, and the tutor gained a perverse delight in drilling them on the set of scriptures that the Zaeri did not believe in. Terrence, who was watching from beyond the door, could see the queer laughter hiding behind the man’s eyes. Both twelve-year-olds, Terrence and Enoch, had finished their lessons for the day. Enoch had hurried off to his chores in the stable, while Terrence had made himself a sandwich.
He leaned against the doorframe and took a bite. From this location he could see both the other children at their studies through the door and the carriage sitting in front of the house through the open window. His mother’s friend, Simon Mudgett, was visiting again. His carriage was out front, the horses still harnessed. He squeezed the last two or three bites together into his mouth.
“Julien, Wind, March, Magic, Raina, Egeria, Dallarians, Zaeri…” the four children recited, almost together. Iolanthe missed Raina and went right from Magic to Egeria. Yuah was determined to recite the loudest. Augie was moving his mouth without actually saying anything at all. All of them were casting envious glances at the scant breeze blowing in through the window.
Then Terrence saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. It was his father down the hallway. Quickly heading down the hall after him, Terrence saw the shotgun in his father’s hand. This was a great opportunity. Terrence liked shooting as much as any boy. But his father was going the wrong way. He was headed up the stairs. Had he already been shooting? Was he going to clean his shotgun now?
Terrence followed, now just a few feet behind his father, and as the elder Dechantagne opened the door to his wife’s bedroom, Terrence followed right on in. Then it was as if everything was in slow motion. Terrence’s mother was in bed, the bedclothes covering only the bottom half of her naked body. Next to her was Simon Mudgett.
With agonizing slowness, Lucius Dechantagne raised the shotgun to his shoulder and fired. A red spray blossomed from the bare chest of Iphigenia Dechantagne, covering the bed in blood. A second shotgun blast hit the bed just to her left, but Mudgett was already on the floor running for the window. The snap of the shotgun being opened was drowned out by the crash as he broke the glass from the already open pane, crashing through and falling naked and bloodied from the sloped roof to the grounds below. Terrence’s father snapped the weapon shut again, having replaced the two shells. He walked to the window, only to find nothing to shoot at. He turned around to find his wife, her mouth and eyes wide open as she gurgled a few last dying breaths and his twelve year old son, his face gone white, staring at each other. He shot his wife once more in the chest, turned and gave the boy a long look, and then turned back and shot her in the head, leaving a corpse that no longer at all resembled a living human being.
Brechalon – Chapter 3 Excerpt
Iolanthe Dechantagne sat in her parlor and sipped her tea. Across the table her guest mirrored her activity. He was a tall sandy-haired man with deep-set, intelligent, blue eyes. His pin-striped suit was carefully tailored and his paper collar was tight around his neck. As he sipped his tea, he nodded appreciatively.
“Very nice. An Enclepian blend, if I’m not mistaken.”
“You are quite right, Professor Calliere,” said Iolanthe, her aquamarine eyes sparkling. “Not many people can pick it out so easily.”
“Well, I’ve made more than a few trips to Nutooka. Collecting specimens for the university, you know.”
“How is your work going?” Iolanthe didn’t need to feign interest. She found all knowledge interesting and it usually proved valuable as well.
“Oh, zoology is nothing but a hobby of mine.” Professor Calliere set down his teacup and leaned forward. “Not that I haven’t made a few interesting discoveries. But no, my real work is in the mechanical engineering lab. I just filed a patent on a very important invention and I expect to be able to live quite comfortably off the proceeds for the rest of my life.”
“You won’t stop your work?” asked Iolanthe with one arched brow.
“Of course not, but this will allow me to concentrate on my next project without having to worry about day to day finances. Money is so… bourgeois.”
“Careful now Mr. Calliere. People will think you are a socialist.”
He chuckled. “Of course not. I just prefer to have somebody else deal with the tiresomeness of money.”
“So what was this very important invention?”
“Brakes. Brakes for trains.”
“Don’t trains already have brakes?” wondered Iolanthe. “It seems that all the trains I’ve ridden on did eventually stop.”
“Yes, but the old brakes must be worked manually. My brakes are pneumatic, which is to say, they work on air power. They will be much safer and will allow trains to operate with a single brakeman instead of several. Best of all, engineers won’t have to start stopping so soon, so travel speeds will actually increase.”
“Professor Calliere, you amaze me. Brakes that actually make a train travel faster?” Iolanthe set down her own teacup and reached for a tiny cress sandwich. “Try one of these.”
“My next project is far more advanced,” Calliere paused to bite into the sandwich. “Mechanically speaking, I mean. I already have my assistant Mr. Murty doing the groundwork.”
“Oh? And just what is it?”
“It’s a calculating machine. It’s actually an expansion of a device I built several years ago. This one will be far more complex.”
“What exactly do you mean, ‘a calculating machine’?” asked Iolanthe.
“Just that. It will be a machine, steam powered of course, which adds and subtracts, multiplies and divides large numbers, both large in the sense of being very big numbers and large in the sense of there being a great many of them. It will calculate and it will do it hundreds of times faster than a human being. It will be a marvelous test of mechanics.”
“It will be more than a mechanical test,” said Iolanthe. “I can imagine that there will be quite a few applications for such a device.”’
“Really? Like what?”
“Well for one thing, you could calculate artillery trajectories, taking into account force and angle and such.”
“My dear Miss Dechantagne, I had no idea you were so well versed in the art of artillery.”
“My brother is an artillery officer.”
“Indeed. And may I say how attractive it is to see a woman who has such a keen intellect beyond the usual fields of art, music, and literature.”
“You may,” said Iolanthe.
Calliere looked toward the ceiling and stroked his chin thoughtfully.
“Yes. Charts. Tables. Artillery. Latitude and longitude. Train schedules. Surveying. Yes, this bears thinking about. I need someone to create a mechanical language. I may know just the person…”
“This machine will be quite expensive, will it not?”
“I will need a bit of capital for the work. I was going to go to the University for the funds.”
“No need.” Iolanthe smiled and poured more tea into the man’s cup. “I will finance it for you.”
Brechalon – Chapter 2 Excerpt
Schwarztogrube sat atop the Isle of Winds, situated almost exactly in the center of the channel between Brechalon and Freedonia. Its massive stone walls rising high above jagged cliffs were not broken by a single door. The few windows visible were all far too small for anything approaching the size of a human being to pass through. The only entrance was through a secret passage at the water’s edge: gated, guarded, and locked. The towers rising up into the sky were topped with pointed minarets allowing no entrance from the air. The waters around the tiny island were constantly patrolled by Brech warships. Inside, Schwarztogrube was the harshest, ugliest, and most formidable prison in the world, yet few even knew of its existence.
Nils Chaplin had been a guard at Schwarztogrube for almost a whole week before he saw a prisoner. That wasn’t so surprising, considering the guards outnumbered them at least ten to one. An entire wing was devoted to incarcerating only about two dozen men. The prisoners carried out their lives, such as they were, never leaving their cells, but supplied with food and a few simple comforts such as a pillow, a blanket, or a book. None of them looked particularly dangerous, and they weren’t. At least they weren’t while they were here. Schwarztogrube was a magic prison. A prison set aside for wizards and sorcerers—the only place in the world where magic would not work.
It was his third week and Chapman was looking forward to a week off back in Brechalon, spending his paycheck, eating fish and chips, and enjoying life outside of massive stone bocks, when another guard, Karl Drury, at last led him to the north wing. Chapman didn’t like Drury. He told disgusting jokes to the other guards; viciously beat the prisoners, and when he could get away with it, he buggered the boys working in the kitchen or at the dock. He also stank. But as Chapman followed Drury though the deathly cold stone walls, he wasn’t thinking about the other guard’s shortcomings. He was wondering at the empty cells that they passed. Finally they came to the one door that was locked shut.
“Here we be,” said Drury. “That there’s the only one in the entire wing.”
“Take a butchers.”
Chapman pressed his face against the small barred window. Most of the room beyond was dark, illuminated only by a square of light carried in from a four by four inch window high up on the far wall. The room had no pillows or blankets as did the rooms in the south wing. There was no bed. The only thing in the cell approaching furniture was a piss pot. Curled up in a fetal position against the far wall was a human being. The dirty ragged clothing and matted hair of unknown color gave no hint to the identity of the figure.
“Who is he?” wondered Chapman.
“That’s not a he. That’s a she. And that’s the most dangerous creature in the world, that.”
“That’s what they say. So dangerous, we’re not even ‘sposed to be here. Ain’t that right, eighty-nine?” he called to the prisoner. She didn’t stir. “Lucky for us the warden’s gone to the mainland, eh?” Drury pulled out a large key and placed it in the massive lock on the door.
“Maybe we shouldn’t ought to do this,” said Chapman.
Drury paid no attention. He opened the door and swaggered into the cell. The woman curled up against the wall didn’t move. When Drury had crossed the room to her, he nudged her with the toe of his boot.
“Get up, eighty-nine.” She remained still.
The sadistic guard grabbed a handful of the prisoner’s dirty, matted hair and dragged her to her feet. Chapman could finally make out that she was a woman. She was thin. She looked half starved, but he could still tell that she had once had quite a figure. Drury held her up by her hair, presenting her for view as if she were a freshly caught trout.
Suddenly the woman came to life, kicking the guard in the shins. Drury let go of her hair and knocked her to the ground with a back-hand slap. She looked up at him and even across the poorly-lit cell, Chapman could see the hatred in her cold grey eyes. She pointed her hand and spat words that might have been a curse in some ancient, unknown language.
“Uastium premba uuthanum tachthna paj tortestos—duuth.”
Even here in Schwarztogrube, where no magic in the world would work, Chapman could have sworn that he felt a tingle in the air. Nothing else happened though. Drury kicked her in the face, knocking her onto her back. He kicked her again and again. And again. Finally he grabbed her once more by the hair and lifted her to her feet. With his other hand, he began unfastening his trousers. Chapman turned and left. He didn’t need to see this.