Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sassy Saturday: Meet Tiza Sprial

This is my first Sassy Saturday post. Right here is Chapter 5 of Journey to Chaos book 1: A Mage's Power. It is the first appearance of Tiza Sprial, who is the tank teammate of my protagonist, Eric Watley.
Basilard led the two young mages to another section. There, swords, pikes, axes, and maces stood next to metal staves. In a practice ring, a girl swung a moderate side-sword with great enthusiasm. She wore a tunic and pants with a belt to secure the byrnie chainmail poking out from underneath. Over her shoulders were two straps; one for a scabbard and another for a targe shield.

Her most distinctive trait was her hair: it was literally dirty blonde. As if dirt and grime were somehow braided into the hairs themselves, streaks of blonde/black ran in odd places. It fell below her ears and above her eyes; ragged and uneven. Her clothes were almost as dirty.

Feeling Eric's eyes, she stared back. “What!?”

“Now be nice, Cocoon.”

The woman next to her was middle-aged with shoulder-length blonde hair. Unlike the girl, there were no grime streaks. A one-piece dress fell to her ankles and her hands were stuffed in pockets. Eric couldn't see any weapon, but spiders crawled up her neck.

“Stop calling me that!” the girl said, pink cheeked. “My name is Tiza Sprial!”

“You're still my little Cocoon.”

Out of a sense of self-preservation, Eric bit his lip.

“Eric, Nolien meet . . .” Basilard glanced at the spider lady, who nodded. “. . . Tiza Sprial.”

“Pleased to meet you, Tiza,” Nolien said. She took pleasure in squeezing his hand. Nolien didn't wince, but Eric wasn't so stoic.

“I'll take over from here, Sathel,” Basilard said to the spider lady.

Locking eyes, she said with deadly severity. “Take good care of my Cocoon.”


“I will,” Basilard replied, equally grave. “Don't worry.”

“I'll be working in Rlawader for the indeterminate future,” she continued. “When I come back, I expect her whole and stronger.”

“I stake my sword on it.”

“Good.” Sathel noticeably softened and put a hand on Tiza's shoulder. “Basilard is your Daylra now, but I can still be your mentor . . . or . . . maybe—”

Tiza shrugged. “I'll call you 'Spider Daylra' and him 'Bloody Daylra.'” Sathel smiled, but it was bittersweet. She turned her back on the new team and walked out of Storage.

“Was that your mother?” Nolien asked Tiza.

“No, apprentice mentor,” Tiza said. “I have no idea who my mother is.”

“I . . . see . . .” Nolien said.

“Now that we're all together, why don't we get to know each other? I'll start. My name is Basilard Bladi and I am the sergeant of this team. I'm also your mentor in your respective fields. I like raw meat. I dislike control freaks. My hobbies are sparring and practicing bladicraft. I joined the Dragon's Lair because it's family tradition. My dream is to pass on this sword to my first born child.”

Nolien stiffened at the mention of primogeniture.

“Tiza, why don't you go next?”

“Fine. I'm Tiza Sprial and I'm the fighter of this team. My likes, dislikes, and hobbies are none of your business. I joined ‘cause Captain Blond Psycho noticed my amazing talent and begged me to.”

“I heard a different story,” Basilard said. “One where Lieutenant Jemas caught you picking his pocket and dragged you to the Guild to treat your many injuries.”

Tiza froze, then turned a burning glare on him. “When I become a paladin, she will recognize my talent! And so will everyone else!”

“Quite an ambitious young lady, aren't you?” Basilard remarked, not at all fazed by her outburst or her narrowed eyes.

“I'll do it no problem! Just wait and see!”

Click here to read the next Sassy Saturday excerpt: Tiza's First Mission

To learn more about Tiza and A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at

A Mage's Power, and its sequel, Looming Shadow, are available for purchase at

Brian Wilkerson is a freelance book reviewer, writing advice blogger and independent novelist. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Free Promotion on a three year old book

I did a free promotion for A Mage's Power last weekend and the results pleased me. This book is approaching the three year old mark and I've heard that as time passes, book receive less attention. This past weekend proved that my first book can still attract a crowd given sufficient help.

I listed the free period at the Independent Author Network (I've been a member there for a while) and I also told my fellows at Clean Indie Readers (likewise). Finally, there were a couple of G+ groups that only list free books which I could finally post in. They were supportive, especially Clean Indie Reads. There was also "EBookDaily Free Kindle Books" which spotted my post and promoted it on its own. That was a nice surprise.

The results are as follows:
Total downloads: 928.
Highest ranks:
1. #238 in overall free
2. #2 in general Fantasy free
3. #8 in Sword and Sorcery.

Other exciting news: I didn't have any KUP (Kindle Unlimited Pages) for Looming Shadow over the weekend. On Monday, I had 902 and a sale. Perhaps new readers? I hope so!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review Request: Dragon Hunter

Sammy Hajeer asked me to read his novel "Dragon Hunter". It is a medieval fantasy staring Nexus Scarlet, a dragon hunter turned dragon-hunter by Blue Fang, and their two pronged offensive against an evil prince and a demon lord. I will examine plot, characters and polish and then assign a grade.


What we have here is a Take Over the World plot by Evil Prince Xaiver and Demon Lord Bol. In the first chapter they create a pact to help each other in their goals. There is also a broader conflict between humans and dragons as a whole. They're having trouble co-existing and seek to wipe the other out. The first conflict is the active plot while the second conflict  is more like context that influences and informs the plot. This is well done because both work together to tell the same story instead of competing for page space.

The rising action for the main plot is a gradual thing. First there's a routine mission to bring down hostile bear, who turns out to be a zombie. Then there's unexpected trouble with a zombie dragon that involves much higher stakes and an evolution to the next stage. This leads to a climatic battle between armies. It's a great sense of escalation.

This book is a shifting narrative; the focus shifts between characters. There could be as many as four of these (Scarlet, Gregory, Bluefang and Xavier). I don't find this obstructive because they are all the same story. Like the two main conflicts, they wrap around each other and support each other. It doesn't feel like different stories occurring parallel. In either case, the majority of the story is focused on Nexus so the divergents are small.

There's good world building in both in the scenic detail, the location and structure of the countries/communities and the workings of the three magic systems. There's even an amusing running gag about Rowana swords and how they compare to Cavallan craftsmanship.

I like the end and consider it a great ending. It is conclusive, it is fitting, it feels natural, and the epilogue provides an intriguing twist on one of the character's true nature.


The protagonist is Nexus Scarlet. She was born from a prostitute and raised by a single father mercenary. This made her into a snarky realist kind of hero. She is a perfect balance between the golden goodness of The Cape character archetype and the annoying angst of other heroines I've read with darker and more troubled backstories. When confronted with a problem, say, forcibly transformed into a humanoid creature with blue scales, wings and a tail, she is neither wangsty and despairing nor cheerful nor apathetic. She adapts with minimum fuss.

Bluefang is fun to read. She is a dragon renegade because of her mischievous streak, free spirited nature and affection of forbidden magic. Like Nexus she has an inner core of heroism which is covered in layers of whimsy, disrespect, independence.

Xavier is what you would called Laughably Evil. He has a flippant demeanor when he does his kin slaying and undead army leading. He also a funny habit of giving the people around him simple and/or silly nicknames because he can't bother to remember their real names. He's competent with a sword and presumably strategy/tactics as well but the reader sees less of that.

I can't finish this section without talking about Gregory. He is a mage (and many other academic professions) and his point of view is one reason why I don't mind when the narration shifts to his prospective. It is more academic than the others, both in the words he uses during narration (it's still 3rd person) and in the sentence structure. It's like he thinks in essays. He's also a badass bookworm who thinks nothing of entering a bad guy bar and requesting information from one of the thugs.


On the whole, this story is good on polish. The scenes transition nicely, the battles are clear, there is no trouble telling who is speaking at any given time etc. However, there are a number of typos and/or grammar errors. I'd say the final count is about 6 across 289 pages.  There's also an occasion where I think the author confused one character for another. It involves the death of one of the characters so I don't want to mention it here. This is beyond what I normally dismiss as "human error" but given the unobtrusive nature of the errors and the general polished state elsewhere, I'm not going to mark down the grade.

Trickster Eric Novels gives "Dragon Hunter" by Sammy Hajeer an A+

Click here for the next review request: Hungry as a Wolf

Click here for the previous book review (that was not a request): Laddertop

This is a free review request. I received nothing in return for it except a free copy of the book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rabbit in Red spotlight!

I signed up for a spotlight event for another author in a Google Plus group. Enjoy!
Gore without fear is like sex without love; you’ll squirm, but it’s better when your heart’s in it.
Distinguished Press is proud to launch Rabbit in Red, the first book in a horror mystery series by Joe Chianakas!


Bill Wise has blood in his past, so he turns to horror films to wipe it clean. Jaime Stein has felt the betrayal of death, so she too takes refuge in the on-screen deaths of others. Now Bill, Jaime, and seventeen other horror-loving teens have gathered at Rabbit in Red Studios, the brainchild of eccentric horror producer Jay “JB” Bell, for the terror-filled, blood-drenched contest of their lives. 
JB has presented this competition as a race between the best of the best that will reward the winners with cash, internships, and a career making the movies they love. But things aren’t always as they seem at Rabbit in Red, and soon life starts to imitate art. Will Bill and Jaime be strong enough to confront real horror to save their friends, or will they all fall victim to JB’s twisted plans?

This was the moment! He seized a knife that was on the kitchen floor and stabbed the hand—his own hand!—pinning it to the floor. He hesitated a moment, looking at this image in front of him. It was the strangest thing Bill could have imagined. There he was, on the floor of JB’s game chamber, but all around him he only saw the infamous cabin in the woods from The Evil Dead. And he had stabbed his own hand, but thankfully he felt no more than a sharp pinch. The knife was virtual, but the glove was real, and whatever technology JB programmed in it, the glove reacted in perfect real time to everything happening on screen.

He knew what he had to do next, and he was both excited and terrified at the idea. This was the epic moment with Ash in The Evil Dead. He had to cut off the possessed hand. That was the only way to get rid of the evil, to not become fully possessed. With his right hand pinned to the floor gushing out blood, Bill reached for the chainsaw that Ash had used earlier in the movie, which of course happened to be right next to him. Remembering this iconic scene from those younger memories when he and his friends cheered, Bill picked up the chainsaw with his left hand, bit on the cord and yanked it back with as much force as he could to start the gas-powered hacking device and brought it down on his right arm. The screeching noises, the loud mechanics of the saw, the crunching of bone, and the splattering of blood coalesced in a cacophony of noises, an orchestra of pain.

Bill cut off the hand.

“Because you were home,” Bill whispered. “No other reason than that they were home.” His body twitched for a moment, his saddest, darkest memory stinging him like a wasp that appeared out of nowhere. Shake it off. No time for that now.

Their screens flashed CORRECT and the bloody rabbit danced. (2.99)
About the author:

Joe Chianakas is a professor of communication at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, IL. He’s a super fan of horror and literature. Rabbit in Red is his first published novel. He likes writing in all sorts of genres from horror to traditional coming-of-age. In addition to teaching and writing, he enjoys fitness, martial arts, and traveling. You can find Joe online at or