Wow. I forgot what year it was.

Sorry I have not posted in a while. I’ve been busy not only getting “Book 2: A Darkness Unleashed” just as strong as possible, but also visiting with a lot of schools, from elementary through College Graduate level.  I talk with them about writing, reading, and getting published. I’m getting just as great reviews on my presentation as “A Balance Broken” is getting on-line.

Also, I need to announce our December book winner on Goodreads.com. Steve from Wellman, IA won a free copy of “A Balance Broken”.  I hope he enjoys it as much as the other winners seem to have.

OK.  Sorry for the brevity, but its back to finishing up the final drafts of Book 2. I know most people would rather I be doing that than writing out here!

Have a great end of the winter (or end of summer for those of you in the southern hemisphere), and I’ll be in touch when we have a winner for our current Goodreads.com giveaway!

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A new Goodreads winner and new good news.

First, I want to congratulate our November winner on Goodreads.com, Dorinda from Twelve Mile, Indiana.  Her book is in the mail, and I hope she enjoys it as much as our past winners have.  I think that’s the last giveaway for a while, so if you still aren’t sure about The Dragonsoul Saga, go on over to the website and download the first five chapters. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll want to order your copy then and there.

More news… I’ve been traveling around Illinois visiting with several Junior and Senior High Schools, as well as a couple of community colleges. They seem to really enjoy my presentation on writing, story telling, and how to get published. Both the students and the teachers have told me they learned some great things, and I’ve even had parents complimenting me for reaching their kids. What a great experience this has been.

Now I’m digging in deep with book 2: A Darkness Unleashed.  It is swiftly reaching the halfway point, and it is coming out very clean and very full of action. And the plot thickens. Plus, I work faster at the end of the process, so do not fear — those of you who want it out.  It will be ready in plenty of time for Comic-Con 2013.

Oh, and yes, we are going to Comic-Con 2013 for sure this year…  Hope to see you there!

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We have another winner!

For those who follow on Goodreads, you know that we have had yet a third free giveaway of Book 1, A Balance Broken. This time, Sandy from Los Alamitos, CA won a copy, and it is on its way in the US mail. Hope she enjoys as much as all our other winners have.

Another update: looks like our publisher, Imagined Interprises has finally signed fantasy art legend Larry Elmore to do new editions of his work “Snarfquest”. Very excited to see where that goes.

And on Book 2, we are beginning editorial passes of the first 25% this week. More updates on that to come.

I had a new interview go up with Craven Games. I think it was great, and so might you.  Check it out at: http://cravengames.com/interviews/dragonsoul-saga-author-j-t-hartke-on-a-balance-broken.html

And one last note, The Dragonsoul Saga Short Number 2, “A Thief’s Discovery”, is now available for Nook and Kindle.  Make sure you download it now for only 99 cents. It should help tide you over until book 2 comes out next summer.

So, that’s just the info for now.  Next time I’ll try to write something more fun!

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New winners and new news!

First, I need to catch up on old business. (Surprise!) I want to congratulate Lucinda from Surrey in England on winning our first paperback giveaway on Goodreads.com. She finished “A Balance Broken” in less time than it took to ship there from Illinois. Her review is already up on Goodreads, and I was shocked and honored by her kind words.

Also, I wanted to congratulate Preston from Norfolk, VA on winning the second giveaway, just finished at midnight last night. His book is already in the mail. I hope he enjoys it as much as Lucinda.

To all those who have not won, please check out our free download of the first 5 chapters at http://www.dragonsoulsaga.com. It might make you love it enough to buy it right there. Otherwise, don’t worry. We will be doing one more giveaway before the end of the year.

In other news, I’ve begun touring for book signings. I’m working my way out from my home base, but if you have somewhere you’d like me to come, please drop me a note. I’m visiting book stores, libraries, schools, and gaming shops.

Book 2 is well on its way. I’ve officially moved the progress meter up to 25%. “A Darkness Unleashed” is going to be a little shorter, but it picks right up with a lot of action. For those who felt the first few chapters of “A Balance Broken” moved a little slow, I promise you will not be disappointed with the pace of book 2.

So that’s it for now. I have to get back to writing the book so all those nervous fans out there are made happy by a new release this coming summer.

And if you’ve already read “A Balance Broken” and its prequel short story on Amazon “A Healer’s Lesson”, be sure to keep your eyes open for the next Dragonsoul short story, “A Thief’s Discovery”, coming soon to an electronic reader near you.

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Reflections on San Diego Comic-Con 2012 or #SDCC

So one word reviews come to mind like: “Wow.”, and “Wow!”, or even “Wow?”.

It was intense, rewarding, exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, and a whirlwind. I met fans, saw famous folks (Anthony Bourdain and I premiered books at the same Comic-Con!), checked out the future and the past of gaming and entertainment, and could not believe how awesome some of the costumes were.

I noticed that for the first few hours, most people walked around in a daze, and no matter what type of person they were, they almost all had a smile — where looks of shock and awe weren’t already plastered. I myself felt like that after about ten hours, but then I would make a new fan, and the tired feeling washed away from my limbs.

I met fathers with young daughters in costume, mothers helping their fledgling artist or writer sons, folks who worked for Lucasfilm and quit to make safer toys for their kids, and people who obviously had a passion for their heroes.

I sat just 25 feet from Brandon Sanderson for 4 days, the leading new voice in my genre.  I counted how many steps it would take for me to get where he is…seems longer than 25 feet. 

I got a card from a movie producer…that’s probably not going anywhere.  I got cards from some up and coming podcasters…that may well be.

I got new followers on Twitter, and new friends on Facebook.  I had two guys email me that they had finished the book and were already awaiting book 2 before I even got on the plane home.

I spent my birthday convincing very picky readers that I was writing their next favorite fantasy, and I got my picture with an admiral from Starfleet Command.

All in all, I’d say it was a success…and a blast…and a tornado of exhaustion and excitement…one I can’t wait to do again.

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Now on to Book Two

The book is typeset and the art is complete.  The cover is beautiful, even the back blurb is epic, engaging, and a real winner.  But what is left…the hard part.

Will folks read it?  Will they enjoy it?  Will I be a laughingstock?

I think if you are willing to put your thoughts down for others to read, you must be a masochist or oblivious to the scorn of others.

Thank goodness, however, for the kindness of those who do read, and especially for those who say nice things.

Let the critiques come, I’m busy writing the next one…

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How quickly half a year passes…

So I was scrolling through my bookmarks, and realized I have not posted here in several months. We’ve been tied up in editing, art production, and preparing our marketing strategy.

Oh, and I’ve been writing the books too…

It’s amazing what it takes. You sit down in front of a blank page to start a book, and you think that is the hardest part of being a “writer”. Then, once you get published, you realize the work actually now begins. The brushing up of the text — the choosing of fonts. The cover art — the choice of its font. The interior map — and what color each font on it should be. A marketing/book tour plan — and what font looks good on the promo material.

But those are cheap complaints next to the thrill, excitement, and downright honor of having someone like your work so much that they are willing to put money behind it (AND think they will make money off of it).

If you want to get published, just always remember — the Golden Rule holds true in art and literature as much as it does anywhere else in the world. “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

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Review on ARC of Julie Cross’ “Tempest”

I was recently lucky enough to get an advance release copy of my friend Julie Cross’ new YA/Scifi novel, “Tempest”. Below is my review.

When I first got my copy of Julie Cross’ Tempest, there were 3 reasons why I thought I would just muddle through it. First, I am a big multiple Point-of-View fan, and I find first person writing very confining. Second, I am a HUGE stickler for time travel stories (really? The Terminator couldn’t just sew a laser pistol inside a rump roast and bring it back with him?) And third, the fact that I’m a 37 year old bald man whose wife has been known to refer to him, on occasion, as a curmudgeon might lead you to believe that YA romance is not necessarily my genre.

But I was absolutely wrong, on each point. I loved Tempest!

Julie’s prose is fantastic. She writes naturally from her hero’s mind, in a stream of consciousness fashion that is very gripping. By the second chapter I was totally engrossed, and once I reached the halfway point of the novel I never set it down again. There is not one wasted word.

As to the time-travel: it is new, it is tight, and it allows for some awesome plot explorations. The simple question of whether a person could re-romance someone they already love in another time, at another age, fascinates me. That is a grand idea to explore in a time travel story. It is also very easy to follow and know where Jackson is at any time (literally).

The third of my points is probably the most important. This is no simple teenage romance. This thing is real. The characters grow; you see why they are in love. It is not just two people with the chemical hots for each other. These two people, through their struggles, learn the importance of having someone in your life you can trust more than you do yourself. Also, Jackson’s growth in his relationship with his father – can he trust him or not – draws you to both characters. Jackson’s development from an pseudo-spoiled rich kid to a committed, serious adult is clear and quite well played out.

Julie Cross is also able to drag the reader to both emotional heights and lows. Not to spoil, but Jackson’s letter to his sister is both poignant and funny – and something any good brother would feel.

I can give the one ultimate compliment to this story a writer can get – I cannot wait to read the sequel.

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A recipe from “A Balance Broken”.

If you are one of the lucky folks to have read the sample chapters of the first novel of The Dragonsoul Saga, you will remember the stew served within the Sleeping Gryphon. I thought I would give you the secret recipe.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 lb. beef sirloin, cut into bite size cubes
1 small can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
X medium red jalapenos (only as many as you might enjoy, start with 1, I use 3, 0 is OK)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks of celery, diced
4 large parsnips, diced (potatoes will work too)
1 cup fresh cooked or frozen corn kernels
3 bay leaves, or chopped fresh herbs of your taste (oregano, thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a large pot (preferably an old cast iron kettle over a banked fire — you can use a saucepan and a stove), sear the beef in the olive oil over high heat, seasoning with salt and black pepper. When the beef reaches a golden brown, add the tomato paste, and stir to mix. Add the onion, carrot, peppers, and celery. Season and stir. Make an open hole in your vegetables to open up a space on the bottom of the pan. Toss the garlic directly onto the hot pan. Let it sit a few seconds then stir. Cook 2 minutes. Add the parsnips, corn and herbs. Stir.

Here you can season with any extras. Tallen often used a sauce very similar to Worcestershire, and his home-made spicy pepper sauce.

Cover with beef stock, chicken stock, good beer, or seasoned water (or any combination of those 4), and bring to a boil. Set heat to low, and cook 1 hour (or longer). Thicken with more tomato paste if necessary.

Serve with fresh bread and warmed butter, just like they do at the Sleeping Gryphon.

This will warm your stomach and your heart on a cool spring evening. And it will fortify your stomach for a long journey into adventure.

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Show vs. Tell

I thought for one of my posts, since I want to have a nice mix of writing and fantasy here, I would just begin to hint around the edges of what is means to “show a story” instead of “tell a story”.

Compare these two phrases.

He gathered his men around him.

and

The king lifted his sword on high. “Men! Gather around me!”

One tells you what happens, the other makes it something you can clearly see. Think of it this way: only write what you could see in a movie. Think — how does an actor show his emotions in a movie?

Try this example.

He was mad.

versus:

A shade of crimson grew on his cheeks, as his jaw worked in silence. John’s brows drew down in a furious scowl.

See. Obviously he is mad in the second one, but you see it, rather than the author just telling you so. Using the word “furious” at the end to describe the scowl may be a little cheating — but this is writing — no rule is unbendable. (See, unbendable is not a word!)

So this is just a basic primer. I love examples; I hope you find mine helpful.

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