Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Matt Ryan's got witches, bounty hunters, and demon cults. Plus a small sample from The Vampire of Rome.

I continue to work on the Vampire of Rome (Inquisitor Series #4), and I expect that by October you will be able to read it. Here's a small sample -

I yelped and cringed with each piercing, trying to remain calm and failing. “Not too bad” I panted, lying to everyone when the last needle was in place.

“That was not the painful part, I'm afraid,” said Father Guillermo., “but I will be here with you for all of it.” His tone was reassuring; the words were not.

While I'm busy typing slowly, Matt Ryan, has taken over the blog to give us the details on his book The Sceptre of Morgulan the second volume in the From the Ashes of Ruin series.

Lulu (print books): http://goo.gl/sVj4aR

Ruined Castles. Powerful Artifacts. And Dark Demonic Cults. Return once again to the world of Athron where vampires walk and goblins abound. Join in the struggle to save a world from the machinations of a dark sorceress who continues to grow in power. Explore ancient ruined castles, battle vampires and demons, strike down cults from on high, and prepare for the coming of Morgulan, the tyrant of the past.

The Coils of an Ancient Evil are Drawing Close; A Cult of Demons is on the Move: Korina Bolaris continues in her efforts to take over the city of Drisdak. Her loyal recruits are growing in number, strengthening the cult she has made. Her ancient pet vampire has finally become her ally, not her foe. And one by one, her enemies are suffering the consequences of her wrath. In one fell swoop, Korina Bolaris has put Guild Master Regecon and Sorceress Ambrisia on the defensive.

Who Can Break This Witch’s Ancient Power And Bring Her And Her Deadly Demon Cult Low?

Lulu (print books): http://goo.gl/sVj4aR


Matthew D. Ryan lives in northeastern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. His writing has been featured at Aphelion.com and YesteryearFiction.com. He is the operator of the web-site matthewdryan.com which features his blog, “A Toast to Dragons,” a blog dedicated to fantasy literature, and, to a lesser extent, sci-fi. He is the author of the dark fantasy novels “Drasmyr,” “The Children of Lubrochius,” and “The Sceptre of Morgulan, as well as a growing number of fantasy short stories including: “Haladryn and the Minotaur,” “The River’s Eye,” and “Escape.”

Mr. Ryan has a cat named Confucius who is as wise and wily as his name suggests.


Twitter: @MatthewDRyan1

Lulu (print books): http://goo.gl/sVj4aR


“It was an accident!” Gaelan pleaded. But he knew it was useless. His father was in a particularly dark mood, a mood that wouldn’t relent until he’d beaten his son bloody. Gaelan wanted to crawl away and hide, but there was nothing he could do; both his hands were bound to the post. He could kick with his feet, but his father was bigger and stronger than he was; it would be a feeble gesture at best.

“Accident or no, it makes no difference,” his father said. “You’ve got to be better than that, son. You’re worthless and you’ll never amount to anything unless you straighten up.” He swung the strap again; it struck him across his shoulder blades garnering two new welts and a bloody line of damaged flesh. “I won’t have myself a worthless son.”

Again, the strap came down. Gaelan fell to his knees. The tears flowed freely now; he couldn’t stop them. He felt small and helpless, too weak to defend himself, a victim of pitiful circumstance. People often spoke of the gods, but where were they now? How could such injustice be permitted? Either the gods did not exist, or they did not care. Either way, thought of their so-called mercies did not help him. Mardikkar. Auraria. Neither one was there to stop the pain. He struggled to his feet.

Weak. Helpless. Weak. Helpless. The words formed a grim incantation in his mind. Something to focus on. Something to fight against.

I will not remain a victim, he thought. Not forever. He looked back over his shoulder and saw his father holding the leather strap, preparing to strike yet again. And though his knees quaked and his body bled, he felt a burning anger in his chest. Someday, father, he thought, I will hold the whip, and it will be you begging for mercy. And when that day comes, I will remember this moment and I will give you exactly what you deserve.

His father struck again.

Gaelan awoke ...

Lulu (print books): http://goo.gl/sVj4aR


What is your main character’s motivation?
Coragan of Esperia is a bounty hunter hired by the wizards’ guild in Drisdak to find a missing apprentice. Although that is his official mission, his motivations run much deeper. He is greatly concerned with justice and doing the right thing. As a result he finds himself in conflict with the aristocratic society around him. Although he works for the noble class (including wizards), he does not accept that they have the right to rule unopposed. He resents both their ill-gotten wealth and power. Yet, he is forced to work for them.

What is his secret strengths/weaknesses?
Coragan’s greatest weakness is his near obsession with the inequality around him. He has it under control to a certain extent, but it is dangerous being the only egalitarian in an aristocratic society. The nobles are not known for being kind to those who defy them. And sometimes, Coragan’s temper can get the better of him. His greatest strengths are his determination to right injustice, his ability to soldier on and lead even in the most stressful and dangerous of situations.

Any philosophical issues in this story?
Probably the largest philosophical issue is the disparity between the wealthy noble class and the poor. The issue is personified in Coragan. He is a bounty hunter, so he is forced to work for the upper class to make a living; however, he comes from humble beginnings and he resents the disparity of wealth between the nobles and the poor. It is an anger that, if he is not careful, may consume him. Two other characters in the novels—Guild Master Regecon, and Sorceress Ambrisia—both serve as foils to Coragan. In Regecon, Coragan is forced to come to grips with the fact that, though Regecon is a wizard and a man with considerable wealth and power, he is still a good man. The same is true of Ambrisia, though in her case, she is a little more “snooty” than Regecon and must come to terms with her own arrogance in her own character arc.

When did you start to write this one and why?
I wrote the original draft of Drasmyr in 1995. I submitted it a few places, but, like many authors, I was rejected. So, I put it on the back burner until around 2011 or so. Then, I dusted it off and published it myself in 2012. It served as the prequel to my series, From the Ashes of Ruin. Next, came Book I in the series—The Children of Lubrochius—in February 2014. And finally, I published Book II: The Sceptre of Morgulan in November 2015. I’ve been working on the series continuously, so I started Book II shortly after having published Book I. In other words, I started working on The Sceptre of Morgulan in—actually, I think it was January of 2014 (there was a little bit of overlap). The same can be said for Book I relative to the prequel. As to why I’m writing these books ... well, I want to finish what I started in Drasmyr. I have plans for a series consisting of the prequel and four more books. I’m currently working on Book III. I’m about halfway through the rough copy. Drasmyr started out as a short story. It grew into a novel. And now, it has become a series. As a part of that series, The Sceptre of Morgulan, is another step along the way. I love fantasy, and always thought evil, gothic vampires were pretty cool. And I do mean evil. I’m not a fan of Twilight. Anyway, at this point, I want to make sure I complete the series.

What’s next in this series or in your next book?
I don’t think I can really answer that without giving away crucial information from Book II, but I’ll try. Coragan is no longer concerned about the difficulties of living in an aristocratic society. Instead, he is trying to survive as he and his group of adventurers pursue the evil tyrant Morgulan into a barren, alien world where Morgulan once ruled as emperor. Meanwhile, Galladrin and Ambrisia remain in Drisdak hunting the Children of Lubrochius—they’ll need both brains and brawn to stay alive there.

Preview of your next book?
Book III is called The Citadel. It deals with Coragan and his fellow mercenaries, and their adventures in Morgulan’s long lost Citadel known as Rahmin Morgudra. There are other subplots in the book, but that’s the main one.

When will it be available?
It usually takes me about two years to finish a book. So, I’m shooting for December, 2017.

Where do you get your ideas?
The ideas can come from anywhere. I once wrote a short story entitled The River’s Eye that was inspired by an old painting I saw at my aunt’s house. As for the rest, I’ve pretty much been steeped in the fantasy genre since childhood. I’ve read dozens of novels and I’ve been playing AD&D since I was in junior high. All of that contributes to a sort of idea stew that is constantly burbling through my brain.

When did you start writing?
I suppose in my childhood years. I wrote a couple of short stories back then, but as I grew older I got more into Dungeons and Dragons and similar types of games. Then, after college, I wrote another short story that ultimately turned into my first novel, Drasmyr. Ever since then, I’ve been writing on and off … more on than off in recent years. Finally, I decided to polish off Drasmyr and get it published.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
There is no who involved, I just sort of fell into it. After college I worked for a year at my brother’s cellular phone company in Boston; then a friend and I took a trip around the country. When I got back, I decided to write a short story… that short story soon became the idea for my first book, and, after many revisions, it became the prologue for the larger work. That work is, of course, Drasmyr.

What is the hardest part about being a writer?
The marketing. I’m a naturally shy person and putting yourself out there like that is extremely difficult. It also doesn’t help that I have very limited marketing experience beforehand; I have to learn as I go. It can make things interesting sometimes, but it does make it difficult.

Lulu (print books): http://goo.gl/sVj4aR

Impressive, a well crafted story worth reading.

Next week we have Janey Mack talking about Choked Up, which I have read, enjoyed, and gave 5 stars.

Janey is always a hoot so make sure you check in next week and see what Maisie has managed to do this time.

After you've finished Matt's series how about giving mine a gander, almost guaranteed to thrill.
Junior Inquisitor Book One
Soulless Monk Book Two

Smashwords - https://goo.gl/NXw3Gr
Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/5lCyaX
The Witch’s Lair Book Three
Smashwords - https://goo.gl/MokJnC 
 Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/mJtTf8


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jessica Marie Baumgartner's Embracing Entropy and what would Inquisitors do to a crime-solving talking dog?

Progress continues with The Vampire of Rome, not as much as if my muse were actually around, but the word count continues to rise. I have hit 40k, which usually means I am close to 2/3 done, but this story feels a bit closer to the mid-point, Brother Sebastian and crew have had to deal with zombies, ensorcelled monkeys, Scarecrows, Elves, betrayal, mobsters, and a Spector, but so far not a single vampire. That will, of course, change very soon. It is interesting, in that for me a story free-flows. I work out some rough concepts, magical Bavarian midget wrestling troupe is threatening Omaha what will Brother Sebastian do? Or four teens are held captive by talking Great Dane who threatens their lives unless provided Scooby Snacks, how would you conduct a rescue?
You want Scooby? Come at me Bro
And I'm off writing. Some crazy people do what is called an outline, where they write the story in brief, and then they write it, and then  they write it to flesh out weak spots a third time. Since I was never a goody-goody in school, nor do I yearn to write a story multiple times, I avoid this OCD like behavior. I will admit, sometimes I get stuck, writing before the ideas flow. But I enjoy writing, and outlines, punch points, predictable plot points defined by the page count, leads, in my case at least, to formulaic writing.

Enough about me lets get on with my guest – she writes, she sings (two songs dedicated to me, eat your heart out Rick Gualtieri and Stephen King), and she's been known to dress as Starbuck from Battle Star Galactica.
I am talking, of course, about Jessica Marie Baumgartner and her newest book Embracing Entropy. Take it away Jessica -

As Earth dies, leaving its inhabitants struggling to survive, an alien race offers an unimaginable option: to relocate humans to their own planet on the far end of the universe. The Campbells, one of the last surviving families, quickly realize humanity’s hope for survival may come with a price. Accepting a new way of life, acclimating to a new atmosphere, and trying to fight against a universe that seems set on tearing them apart offers many struggles. Can the Campbell’s make it through, together?


I used to have nightmares about this. I would wake up screaming as they forced me to leave. People giving up; abandoning Mother Earth. The thought alone caused my heart to race, my under arms to sweat.

Here I stand clutching my children, one on each side, as we prepare to be torn away from everything that’s tangible. Before me, a gargantuan structure glares from above. This beast, this ship is supposed to save humanity, or at least what’s left of it.

I’ve lived through mass devastation. It’s hardened me enough. But leaving? It still scares me.

We have no idea what’s out there for us.

My husband has faith in the alien colony that is aiding us. They made contact just in time. Said they had revolutionized their space program and stumbled upon our signal.

I don’t know what I believe.

As the line moves forward, I pull my girls along. They stumble ahead with fright, carrying their backpacks strapped to their bodies. Our packs are the only human luggage allowed on the crowded craft. But that’s not what they’re worried about.

It’s not the new race they fear. Or even the new world. It is the missing presence of their father.

He has his duty. He’ll stay with his men until we pilgrims are secure, then meet up with us in a smaller craft. I’m glad for it. They’ve already had to break up some fights. People get pretty riled up in situations like this. It’s good to have someone who remains behind to keep order for a while, and to try and find any last survivors before leaving.

Finally we’re ascending the dock and I’m able to see our temporary home. It’s nothing like I imagined. The smell is what draws my attention first.

Eww mommy.” My youngest daughter, Gwen, pinches her nose.

The odoriferous enclosure is beyond human comprehension. I’ve smelt plague pits, leaking sewage, the rank smell of sea life left to rot on beaches. Although this isn’t as horrendous, it does make my eyes water. Despite the nausea I’m fighting, I grind my teeth. “Gwen, these people are saving our lives. Don’t insult them.”


No,” I demand, and watch her eyes swim as she lets go of her nose.

Look.” My eldest, Maddi distracts us as she points to one of the aliens.

I spot them as the line moves up – the Cih’lnarians. We’ve glimpsed them from afar before. Closer, they’re not as unsightly. Definitely not of this world, but the lack of symmetry in their bodies is more becoming inside boundaries built for them.

The contrast of the human official standing beside the alien as we enter sends my thoughts spinning. Cih’lnarians are about a foot taller than humans, with grey skin, and lop sided features that often give them the look of melted wax. Still unused to these new people, I do begin to compare facial expressions as the man converses with the alien beside him. They seem to smile the same.

The ship itself looks off. Doorways, landings, stairs, none of the usual architecture is visible, just walls. Walls everywhere, but none of them reach the ceiling. It’s a network of big squares, meant to contain us, to keep us out of the way. I don’t know what I expected. Our own officials gave the craft a once over and approved.

Group by group, each living boundary is divvied out. When it’s our turn, the alien in charge of us hands me a chip with a symbol on it, and points the way. As we walk along, we can see that none of the cubicles have doors. There are light beams that penetrate up from the floor to create a boundary. It offers a slight comfort, but anyone could walk in. I desperately hope that the neighbors opposite us are reasonable enough. One sliver of hallway between strangers can leave a person feeling exposed.

I’d heard about this. The Cih’lnarian culture doesn’t know the ideals of living separate. They consider themselves one being; like a single hair growing from our bodies. Very seldom do we concern ourselves with the individual follicles unless there’s a problem. They’re only concerned with the greater good.

I admire their lack of selfishness, but it makes me feel insignificant.

Reaching our new living space amplifies this feeling. The small square room is plain and simple. Three walls alone protect us.

Gwen runs to a corner and jumps onto the stuffed bags meant for sleeping. “We can all snuggle up together.” She smiles.

Maddi rolls her eyes. “Just don’t drool on me, okay?” She tosses her pack aside.

I linger at the opening and take in the grey walls that reach around to hold other families. I try to be grateful. At least the girls are.

My wrist starts vibrating. I’m still getting used having the wrist transmitter. I click the side and my husband’s face comes onscreen. His image is miniscule but the calm in his voice gives me courage. “Allie, it’s almost time.”

I know Adam.” I could say a lot more but fear it’ll make me cry.

We’ve got things secured pretty well. I’ll be right behind you.”

Daddy!” Gwen reaches over and Maddi scoots close to me. We huddle around the device.

Hi girls.” He flashes them a grin.

Dad, do we really have to sleep together?” Maddi’s complaining already.

Enough.” I give her a threatening look and then sigh to my husband. “Miss you already.”

He laughs. “We’ll be exploring new reaches soon enough.”

I’m all ready daddy.”

That’s good Gwen. You help make the trip fun. And Maddi?”

Yeah dad?”

Please try to give your mom some peace.”

They all look at me.

I love you.”

He makes me feel whole. Our family is complete with him. I stare at his face trying to imagine touching him again. “I love you too.”

Gotta get back.” His happy expression is a little forced but I’m glad to see it.

The screen goes blank and I rub its smooth surface.

The aliens may smell and have no concept of personal space, but they share their technologies openly. Their transmitters are supposed to keep Adam and I connected for the entire journey. Even after his smaller craft docks, we can communicate when working different jobs here. It’s amazing to have a race come as saviors, but it’s astonishing to have their complete confidence outright.

Sometimes I fear we’re not worthy.

Maddi sulks over and throws herself on the cushy bags in the corner. Gwen tugs on me asking to be picked up.

You know, you’re getting a little big for this.” I squeeze her tight.

She’s only five. I realize that she probably won’t remember our home planet when she gets older, so I resolve to hold her whenever she wants throughout the trip.

We both scan the room. There’s a table and chairs against one of the temporary walls. On the other side of the room sits a shelf for our belongings. The corner opposite Maddi is basically a giant wash basin. We’ll squat there to relieve ourselves and stand there when we choose to wash.

We’re already used to conserving our resources, so I figure the daily bucket of water will be plenty. It’ll hydrate us, and once a week we’ll sponge our bodies with a slight portion.

I made sure to pack an able pair of shearers and a nice sharpening stone to keep our hair close to our scalps. My grandmother used to speak of the long flowing tresses that ladies once wore. It’s one of my few memories of her. Her tone held a remarkable reverence that left me spellbound as she seemed to miss that kind of beauty.

It sounded nice, sitting down to brush each other’s hair, but honestly I have no use for such rituals. Watching over my family takes enough time.

Many people have given up on those ties. Some think it cruel for anyone to birth more children, but Adam and I couldn’t suppress our familial desires.

Survival is our highest aim, but how can we survive without future generations?

These girls are everything to us. Our hope. Our life blood.

We settle in and wait. After days of travel and standing in line to enter the ship, we’re exhausted. The simple comfort of rest takes over and I find myself glad that we’ve been given the opportunity for a new life.

After a while, the floors begin to shake. I sit with my girls and keep them close. My wrist vibrates and I activate the screen to receive the message that we’ve been waiting for. “Attention passengers, our journey is about to begin. Please do not be alarmed if you feel some strange shifting.”

I pull my daughters against me and try to remind myself that this is our last hope.

We’re really leaving?” Maddi’s soft brown eyes question mine.

Despite my own apprehensions I must reassure her. “Of course. Just think of all the opportunities that lay ahead.”

Opportunities? Mom, I’m nine.”

Thanks Maddi, I’m pretty sure I remember that.” I laugh rubbing her scruffy head.

Gwen takes my other hand and lays her face in it. “Well, I can’t wait. Do you think we’ll get to explore the ship before we get there?”

I don’t know, maybe.” The idea doesn’t appeal to me.

Cih’lnarian space vessels lack artistic architecture from what I’ve seen. There are no windows, few passageways. They trust their pilot to do his job. Unlike humans, they harbor no desire to look out. They need no reassurances.

It must be nice to have that kind of trust, but the thought unnerves me.

We’re expected to stay calm, and put our lives in the care of a culture completely unlike our own. Our instincts are different. Our lives are more complex. How will we assimilate? Thinking about it only raises more questions.

I get a little lightheaded from the climb as the force of flight makes my body grow heavy. But instead of feeling queasy or frightened when the pressure changes, it’s a welcome distraction. Yes we’re leaving, but right now I can just lose myself in the ascent. I focus on comforting my daughters and being there for them.

The trip is estimated to last approximately three months. It seems short to me. Traveling distant reaches of space should take longer right? I don’t know, my knowledge of the physics behind this journey is limited.

I’ve been told that we’re going to live on a planet that the Cih’lnarians call Znaji’b. Pronouncing the alien tongue is one of my major goals. I don’t know how many light years away the planet is, or how fast we’ll be traveling. None of that’s my concern. My head’s been filled with times and dates and things that I’m not even sure will make sense once we leave our own solar system.

Remembering my daughter’s birthdays, my anniversary with Adam, measuring time on this craft will be difficult enough. We’re leaving the sun. Artificial light will mimic it, but you can’t replace it. There’ll be many changes and adjustments ahead.

For now, I nestle close to my girls and rest. We must be out of the Earth’s atmosphere because the ride grows steady. At least the hard part’s over; we’ve left and there’s no going back.

Jessica is the author of: The Embracing Entropy Series, Siren’s Snare, Tale of Two Bookends, and My Family Is Different. Her stories have been featured in numerous publications such as Everyday Fiction, The Lorelei Signal, Fiction on the Web, The Horror Zine and many others. She is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and is always weaving new worlds in the webs of her tales.

You can find Jessica at these places. And if you're very nice, sending her pictures of you buying and reading her book, leaving reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, she might even dedicate a song to you.


Main Character’s Motivation?

Well this trilogy has 3 main characters, but this trio of women are family. They are most concerned with stepping up and doing what’s best for their loved ones which proves difficult when traveling through space, and facing war.

What are their strength’s and weaknesses?

I love this question. When I write I don’t think about writing or follow my rough outlines to a T, I let the character’s carry the story. The Campbell women draw from the strength of each other to keep from falling apart. That helps them to do what they need to do even in crisis situations. Weaknesses are more fun, when you rely on others to prop you up it can also lead to self-doubt when having to face issues by yourself. The Cambell women share a tendency to doubt themselves to the point that each of them struggles with the fear of madness.

Philosophical issues in the story:

This trilogy begins with The Campbell’s leaving Earth. It’s a dying planet and they feel they have no choice. As they acclimate to life with a benevolent alien race, the harsher aspects of human nature begin to gnaw on the humans. The question of whether or not we are a destructive force in the universe comes up many times.

This isn’t something that can be proven or dis-proven really. Humanity have been known for greatness and many opposing atrocities. But The Cambell women draw on their heritage and their familial bonds to try and succeed.

Any offbeat or 80s refrerences?

In book w, Perfect Chaos, Gwen (the youngest daughter) Keeps saying Aye Aye captain, to her Cih’lnarian commander. He doesn’t understand the phrase as there are no seas on the planet he is from, but she has fun teasing him with it.

When did you start to write this and why?

Jan 1st 2015. I usually take December off writing and I sat down with this thinking it would be a good short story for a space anthology I had heard about. The original idea was only supposed to be 5k words. Clearly she grew much bigger than that. Haha When I finished book one I was around 30k and realized that there was more to be written.

What’s your next book?

That’s a great question. I have 3 unpublished novels, 2 of which I’m polishing right now, but I’m almost positive that a collection of my horror and dark fantasy stories, Depths of the Dark, will be my next published work. I had one of my current publishers read a couple of the stories and she went nuts over them. It’s almost ready, just need to finish the last tale and get some artwork back from the very talented Dash Crowley who has humbly agreed to do some pictures for it.

When will it be available?

The goal right now is this fall. Maybe sooner.

Embracing Entropy sounds like a fun story. My recommendation - get your copy now, and make sure you leave a review when you finish.

Speaking of fun stories, before you get caught up in American warrior monks Purging vampires in Rome, start with the early years when things were not so dark. Ha ha ha I crack myself up sometimes.

Junior Inquisitor Book One
Soulless Monk Book Two
Smashwords - https://goo.gl/NXw3Gr
Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/5lCyaX
The Witch’s Lair Book Three
Smashwords - https://goo.gl/MokJnC 
 Inquisitor Series - http://goo.gl/mJtTf8