The right book cover is what draws in the reader

When an author finishes writing a novel, beyond the editing and polishing that comes next, an important decision is staring them right in the face… The cover! The cover of a book is what draws the reader to your novel. Anyone who has shopped for books, whether online or at a bookstore, is drawn to the book by the first thing they see, the cover. Yes, we then turn the book over and read the synopsis to see if its worth reading, but we’re not going to pick up the book if the cover doesn’t attract my eye.

“Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.”

― Larry Correia

When I finished each of my novels, the first thing (besides a loud sign of relief) that came to mind was the cover. What was I going come up with to draw readers in? For my first novel, Forever Avalon, I knew exactly what I wanted. The image of a flying galleon was the big magical reveal and I knew it would draw people in. Luckily, the artist saw through the words of my book and brought my vision into life. My wife says it looks “cartoonish” and makes it look more like a children’s book rather than an adult novel. We agree to disagree because I love my cover.

For my second novel, The Dark Tides, the cover art was a stock image. I had millions of images to pick from and this one just stood out to me. The dark lightning tied it into the idea at the heart of the novel, an all encompassing spell called The Dark Tides. The ship ties it back to the first book, and so in this stock art, I found the perfect cover to express the ideas behind my novel.

“I always think that it’s wrong to put images of my protagonists on the cover of my novels because readers can identify with characters only if they are given the chance to imagine them independently.”

― Orhan Pamuk, The Innocence of Objects

For The Outlander War, I finally wanted to show the floating island of Emmyr. For those who may not be familiar with my fantasy book series, Emmyr is the Dragon Isle. It floats in the sky above Avalon due to the concentration of magic due to the dragons that live there. Emmyr is front and center of the war between the modern military forces and Avalon in the novel, so I wanted to show that. I also thought a silhouetted view of the island and the battle going on around it would be easier to display. This conflict is the heart of the story and you see it all in this cover.

As I write, the story goes through my mind like a Broadway play in stage, and I translate that performance into the words of my novel. At the end of the process, I take all of that imagery and try to find one thing that will catch the eye of a reader. Just one thing to tell the story and make someone say, “I want to read that book!” Remember these words…

“Good cover design is not only about beauty… it’s a visual sales pitch. It’s your first contact with a potential reader. Your cover only has around 3 seconds to catch a browsing reader’s attention. You want to stand out and make them pause and consider, and read the synopsis.”

― Eeva Lancaster, Being Indie: A No Holds Barred, Self Publishing Guide for Indie Authors

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

The new Doctor Who specials are still missing the mark with fans like me

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks Preview | Den of Geek

After a dismal 2020, the 2021 new year kicked off with the now “New Year” tradition of Doctor Who, instead of the Christmas Day special we all love AND MISS (hint, hint, Chibnall!) and it was not a home run. I really think they are trying too hard after their early experiments with new ideas “hit and miss” during the first two seasons. They bring back Captain Jack Harkness, the Master, and the Cybermen after the first season with new Doctor Jodie Whitaker proved underwhelming after many “social justice” themed episodes. They even decided to rewrite the history of the Doctor with this whole “Timeless Child” shenanigans, the reveal of another Doctor, but even that was left at the wayside for this special.

I don’t want to jump around too much. I’ve voiced my displeasure at the writing under Chris Chibnall since he took over. He views Doctor Who as a platform for change, not entertainment. The Doctor has always been a character who makes statements about society and humanity as a whole, but it was done better under Moffat, even the original writers and caretakers of the mythos, but not Chibnall. His “in your face” way of storytelling does not have the subtleties that the Doctor requires. Such was the case in “Revolution of the Daleks” on New Year’s Day.

This was, without a doubt, a slam on 2020 and those in power. Chris Noth’s portrayal of Jack Robertson, who closely resembles the media’s ideal of President Donald Trump, was more of a villain than the actual Daleks. The same with the new Secretary/up-and-coming Prime Minister who is a stark reflection of former PM Theresa May. These two come together, after stealing the destroyed pseudo-Dalek from last year’s special, to make Dalek drones for combating rioting and social unrest, like say, people protesting lockdown during a pandemic. Like I said, without the science fiction, this special was 2020 in a nutshell.

Now, beyond that, the rest of the special had plenty of good things we love about Doctor Who. Imprisoned, the Doctor shared cells with a Weeping Angel, the Silence, and other creatures from past episodes. It was interesting to see her day-to-day life, and then Jack shows up. He does what he does best… Breaks her out of jail. Then the fun begins.

Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks Captain Jack Daleks

I was hoping for more sexual banter and tension between Jack and the Doctor, seeing that she’s a woman now, but they never went there. It was more dismissive than provocative, as in Jack’s encounters with 9 and 10. There was more chemistry between Jack and the companions than with the Doctor herself. So, for all the hype, there was not a lot to Jack being in this episode save for the little tidbit at the end when he mentioned the old Torchwood gang.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the episode itself, as it plays out as planned… Daleks built as security drones, Daleks reborn and take over the drones, Daleks begin rampaging across Great Britain. It gets fun when the Doctor brings in a Dalek death squad to deal with the “mutated” Daleks, as they are not pure, and then things come full circle and end. However, there are so many wholes in the plot I doubt a ton of Earth would fill it. I mean, why do the people of Great Britain keep forgetting about the Daleks. They have invaded time and time again, and when the Prime Minister unveils them as “security drones” you would think someone would say, “Hey, that’s an alien! It tried to kill us before!” I know Wilfred would!

I also have a couple of issues with the characters. I have complained about Jodie Whitaker’s portrayal of the Doctor. She still seems timid and not confident in her actions. Even when it comes to her “fam” — as she calls them — she seems unsure. I don’t know if it has something to do with this new regeneration or just a quirk in her portrayal, but it does bother me. Sorry, but I like a little swagger in my Doctor. Then, there’s the companions. Ryan was out of sync this episode, as he left at the end with Graham and leaving Yaz with the Doctor and introducing John Bishop as the new companion next season. Changing companions is nothing new, but this one seemed botched.

As I said, the special had its good and bad moments. The Dalek Death Squad vs. Dalek Drones on London Bridge was great. The Doctor sending said Daleks to the Void, also great. Robertson’s getting away with it in the end, no so great. And again, they seem to set aside the while Timeless Child/Master destroying Gallifrey plot from the end of last season. So, overall, this Doctor Who special was not one of my favorites. I will wait and see how the new season pans out.

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Forever Avalon!

Sending out the warmest of holiday wishes to all my friends and fans alike from the world of the FOREVER AVALON fantasy book series! I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed Happy New Year 2021!

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

They don’t make Christmas specials like they use to anymore

I really miss the innocent, timeless classics associated with Christmas. We use to watch these specials every year on TV, when I was a kid and even with my own children. We would all sit in front of the television as a family, almost like a tradition. These are the shows, and the stories, that made Christmas such a magical time.

Rankin/Bass was, and always will be, the best ones made. They had clever characters, great songs, and memorable stories that drew you in. From legends like Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph to religious stories like the Little Drummer Boy and Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey, these specials brightened the eyes of kids everywhere.

You can’t help but dance when you hear the Heat Miser/Snow Miser songs from “Year Without a Santa Claus” or find yourself in the Christmas Spirit when you hear Burl Ives sing “Holly Jolly Christmas” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” My favorite song, and to me the ultimate Christ song, is “I Believe in Santa Claus” from “Year Without a Santa Claus”… If you haven’t seen the special or heard the song, Google it and you’ll understand why. Everyone knows the songs and when you hear the tune, or even the voices, you begin to quote lines from them religiously.

“I want to be… A dentist!” — Hermey, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

“Driving a Vixen on the wrong side of the street, and wearing funny clothes on Sunday!” — Policeman, Year Without a Santa Claus

“A yoyo? I love yo-yo’s!” — Burgermeister Meisterburger, Santa Claus is Coming to Town

“Ears, Nestor!” — Nestor’s Mother, Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey

There are so many more that stick in your mind and you can recollect every Christmas, even before the specials begin to air. That’s what makes them timeless classics, even though the old stop motion animation is nothing compared to today’s CGI. My kids use to laugh at these specials, never understanding why I loved them so much. I have to admit, they are a little cheesy and somewhat corny, but I love them. And, as my kids grew older, they began to appreciate the uniqueness of them too.

The 5 Craziest Rankin/Bass Holiday TV Specials | The Saturday Evening Post

The other memorable thing about these specials were the stories they told. Before I ever watched “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” I never realized the L. Frank Baum (of “The Wizard of Oz” fame) wrote a book about a more mythological origin of Santa Claus. A council of immortals debates whether or not to grant Santa immortality as they examine his life story, which is quite unique. Santa was raised by a lioness, befriends magical creatures, and staves off what are essentially goblins and demons responsible for making good children do bad things. Crazy, right? It is a wonderful story and to watch it and the many unique characters within it. That’s what made it so memorable, even though its barely shown anymore.

Jack Frost Movie 1979 | Jack Frost on AllMovie | Christmas characters, Jack  frost, Christmas cartoons

“Jack Frost” is another special that’s both fascinating and not really about Christmas. It’s more of a winter special with Christmas thrown in for good measure, and this version of Jack Frost is nothing like the ones seen in other holiday specials and movies (i.e. “Santa Clause 3” or “Rise of the Guardians”). Jack falls in love with a human girl, Elisa, and petitions Father Winter for humanity. Father Winter suggests a rather long list of things for Jack to prove that he can cut it as a human: A horse, a house, a bag of gold, and his wife by spring. This is all complicated by an evil king with a clockwork army and the fact that Elisa already loves someone else. This has a slightly more complicated plot and action that other specials, and it’s definitely bittersweet in the love story department.

So, whether it’s on television, dvd, blueray, or steaming somewhere, these specials will touch your heart and maybe, just maybe, bring a little joy into your holidays in the midst of a pandemic. Trust me when I say, they are worth the trouble of tracking them down and watching. So, please, have a Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season, for you and your families!

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

New Book Reviews from ‘NerdyBibliophilee’ for the FOREVER AVALON Series makes my December

This is a great way to start off the holidays! I would love to receive more Christmas presents like this (if you’re listening out the Santa Claus!) The three books in the FOREVER AVALON fantasy book series–Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides, and The Outlander War–were reviewed by Instagram book reviewer, avid reader, and supporter of independent authors everywhere Nerdybibliophilee! Here’s a snippet of the reviews:

It has been a great fantasy week. Ever happened to you that after reading a book it took some time to get back into reality. Was in such wonderful wizard world created by Mark Piggott. The fantasy book is called Forever Avalon. Starting with the title of the book, I feel its a relevant one for such an amazing storyline. Taking about the cover on the other hand, as you all see is a very creative one. It gives a very comic like vibe and I feel it’s a fun read for both children and adults who are looking for a soothing, adventurous and a fun read.

“Talking about the plot of the book, the plot is very well designed and written. I would like to talk about narration of the book first, the way book starts gives a hype to the upcoming story. Stephanie with three of her children end up on a mysterious land after hit by a storm. Now as the story proceeds we get to know about the mystery land which is full of very different creatures and wizards. Trust me if I was a child I would have gone crazy while reading the story because I feel children have a great power of imagination. If not books like these give them a great way of expanding their imagination. I being an adult could film the story in my mind while reading it. Now as the pages turn we get to know more about the island and the creatures living there, Avalon has been a sacred place for 3000 years and now Stephanie and her children ended up here. Being from the outside world they are unaware about all of this and that’s the same for the life of Avalon. Now they are struggling to find their way out.

“To be very honest, I personally love reading about such islands and sacred places even if it’s a fantasy because as the pages turn the story takes a different way revealing more about the Avalon. Trust me if you are a fantasy lover you are definitely going to thank me for recommending it to you. I would highly recommend it to all the readers out there.”

“Just as I told you before I am going to complete the Forever Avalon series and after a very positive response from you guys I got a lot of requests regarding the review of the Book 2 and if it’s worth reading. So let’s start my way. Starting with the title of the book The Dark Tides the story being in continuation of the last book that is Forever Avalon. After reading it I feel the title was a perfect fit. The cover on the other hand is as creative as the first one. Overall the other appearance of the book was not compromised just for the sake of response from the book 1.

“Talking about the content of the book, The Drake family is travelling by sea to lay a wreath in honor of the patriarch of the family, Bryan. Unfortunately, they run into a big storm and soon find themselves trapped on a desolate island. Fortunately, that’s where Bryan and his new life on the island of Avalon find themselves. It’s an island full of characters and places that you would usually find in a mediaeval version of a fairy tale. It’s known to Bryan as Lord Bryan MoonDrake. Now the storyline has been amazing as we all know but at this point I felt like the characters created by the author were pretty amazing. I was really wondering what if how beautiful and creative the mindset of author would be while writing the book. The story line did really hook me up but in the middle somewhere I felt I was a little off but that too was compensate with the story ahead. I feel the book 2 slows down a bit. While the book 1 was really an amazing and stormy read, book 2 is more of a steady read. It has a page turner. I totally liked it and I would definitely recommend it to all the readers who are looking for a series with an amazing storyline. For the storyline I would rate this book as 2.8/3.

“Talking about the words and the language used in the book in terms of difficulty, personally I didn’t face any difficulty while reading the book. Also the editing was on point so if you are the one waiting to start you have a green signal.”

“Forever Avalon series, after such a wonderful response to both the books, I didn’t want to skip the book 3 of the series, while reading the book I had some experiences that I would like to share with you all. Starting with the title of the book, The Outlanders War. For the people who are have read the book 1 and 2 it was easy to guess what’s going to happen next, however it was just a hint but a relevant one. So the title is totally on point. Cover on the other had has a very different vibe from both other books, I liked the thought of changing it in 3rd book. Overall the outer appearance is really appealing for a viewer who sees the book for the first time so I would like to give it a 2/2 for it.

“Talking about the content of the book, for those who haven’t read the book, basically the story is about a mysterious Island, where mysterious creatures exists, where there is no such thing as time, which is ruled by King Arthur. There a thing about the book I would like to mention that it gives a very different vibe when something in real world is connected to the fantasy world just as this one the concept of Bermuda Triangle gave that spice. Now what happens next is suddenly the Avalon reappeared in middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“The U.S. Navy, circling the mysterious island right now needs answers. On Avalon, they fear that Outlanders will invade their home; and Lord Bryan Moon Drake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and champion of the magical realm, is caught in the center of it all. Now here while reading it I was really hooked to the story because after reading book 1 and 2 there was no point in building the story line like the characters were set and everything was turning out to be in favor of reader, I mean being an avid reader all I want is flow and then I am just reading to experience what author wants me to and it happened while reading the book. I loved the experience this book gave me, not just this book but this series. I am a fan of the author and looking forward to read more from author, if you haven’t tried it yet what are you waiting for. I am sure the series would not disappoint at all. So for the content and plot I would like to give it a 1.8/2.

“Talking about the words and the language used in the book in terms of difficulty, I personally didn’t face any difficulty while reading the book also the choice of words was amazing, which helped mention the feel and the flow. I would highly recommend it to all the readers out there. So yeah!

“Happy reading!”

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

The “Magic 7” Fantasy Book Giveaway will set up your winter reading lineup

Looking for a great fantasy read to get you out of your house this winter? You can step into these books and journey to other worlds beyond your imagination. It’s easy!

Presenting “The Magic 7 Fantasy Giveaway” where you could win signed copies of these seven fantasy novels from a group of great independent authors. It’s a simple contest for everyone. Just follow, like, share, and tag two friends on Instagram. Make sure you use the hashtag #themagic7giveaway to get your entry recorded for a chance to win! If you run the gambit with all seven authors, that’s a maximum of seven chances to win! The contest runs December 1-14. The winner will be selected on December 15.

You already know about me (@foreveravalon.author) and The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. Here’s a look at the authors and the novels in the giveaway:

Blood of the Stallion (The Elder Blade Chronicles Book 1) by [Rhys Snaith]

Blood of the Stallion (The Elder Blade Chronicles, Book 1) by Rhys Snaith — Years of living on the streets and having to fend for himself have made the young thief Yodrick Alton who he is. However, his world is drastically changed when he encounters the notorious pirate Daxon – Captain of the Iron Stallion. Now Yodrick will have to adapt to his new lifestyle while secrets from the past threaten to ruin everything. Lies, deceit and betrayal are all in store for this young pirate, so join him in his quest for the truth and read along as he uncovers the secrets of the Elder Blades. (Instagram @rhyswriting)

Unparalleled by Jenna Hebert — Seventeen-year-old Natalya Wells has one mission-to kill the monsters over the graffiti wall and rescue her best friend, Eve, who is held captive by Ascendants, the rulers of the fourth dimension. A dying land where children become victims of starvation and violence. When the Remnants, evil red-eyed demons, invade the fourth dimension, Natalya is transported to the next world. The fifth dimension is a place where grass shrivels, dies, and regrows all in a matter of seconds. The heat of the sun cannot be felt because the sky is encamped by a mural of glass. Natalya meets Jance, who belongs to a superhuman race called Raidens, warriors who heal with invincible scars. Jance holds a deadly secret about what the scars on his body truly mean, and why his own father is determined to kill him. Eve returns to the fifth dimension and meets Jance’s best friend, Ronan, a boy with no memory of the world he came from before. The three of them bind together to help Natalya become a Raiden. As Natalya endures this grueling transition, she discovers the secrets her friends are hiding, along with the unjust laws and dangerous manipulations that are poisoning this world. After a raging war divides the Raidens against one another, Natalya and her friends must reveal the darkness within themselves and embrace their unique gifts. Natalya’s power may not only shatter the glass world but someone she loves. (Instagram @jhebertbooks)

On The Edge (The Dwelling Hunter Series Book 1) by [MJ Glenn]

On the Edge (The Dwelling Hunter Series, Book 1) by M.J. Glenn — For two years, Ebony Wick has survived alone as an outlaw and highwaywoman in Rundlewood Forest. She doesn’t need people. She only needs to survive. But when Hunter Sparrow breaks into her camp and invites her to join his gang, the Bounty Hunters, she finds herself facing a difficult choice. With a burning desire for revenge against a powerful enemy, Ebony must choose between reason and instinct. But in doing so, she discovers a long-hidden secret that will change her world forever. (Instagram @author_mjglenn)

Bound in Darkness: The Lilith trilogy book 1 by [Kim ten Tusscher, Jos Weijmer]

Bound in Darkness (The Lilith Trilogy, Book 1) by Kim ten Tusscher — Inferno at her breath. War under her wings. With two men whispering mayhem in her ear, which way will she turn the bloody tide? Lilith has only ever lived with anger and destruction. The sole dragon shifter known to humankind, she despises her life as an instrument of terror at the hands of a prophetic sorcerer. Finally fleeing years of abuse, she’s distraught when she’s captured for stealing food and forced to answer to a bitter king for her crimes. Hiding her fiery past from the monarch’s shrewd advisor, Lilith grits her teeth and endures brutal lashings to keep her powers secret. But when her former abductor sends spies to reclaim her and threatens carnage in the name of God, she’ll have to choose for which captor she’s willing to spill more innocent blood… Can the tortured woman escape to freedom before the land beneath her burns? (Instagram @kimtentusscher)

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep (Tales of Arvia Book 1) by [D. H. Willison]

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep (Tales of Arvia, Book 1) by D.H. Willison — On a world where death lurks around every corner, is friendship the strongest survival tool of all? Darin: bored with his paper pusher existence, he accepts a questionable deal for the LARP adventure of a lifetime. A jump through a dimensional portal strands him on the mythical world of Arvia, where everything is gigantic. Except the life-expectancy of newcomers. Rinloh: a mere ten meters tall. Life in the harpy flock has never been easy for her. Determined to become full-fledged at the upcoming human-hunt, nothing is going to stand–or fly–in her way. A chance encounter between these two–what could possibly go wrong? Humans consider consorting with a harpy a capital offense. Harpies consider the human citizens a tasty part of a balanced diet. Yet the two must overcome a most monstrous conspiracy as the citizens of the city begin disappearing, with a list of suspects as big as the inhabitants of Arvia. (Instagram @d.h.willison)

The Battle for Trimera: Book 1 of the Ruling Priestess by Tanya S.M. Kennedy — It takes a heinous crime to gain control of the monsters called grinlo, but all evidence out of Trimera points to exactly that. Following the death of her parents, Pria’s biggest fear is not being able to return home to Trimera to protect her family and people. But being one of the only High Priestesses in Reia, posting her to the position faces strenuous opposition. Under intense scrutiny, Pria returns to her home terrified any misstep will precipitate her removal from the post. When she is reunited with her older brother’s best friend Mian, a childhood of memories resurfaces threatening the image of strength and calm she struggles to project. But when it becomes clear that the rogue magical being controlling the grinlo is also hunting high priestesses, Pria’s desperate fight to save Trimera quickly turns into a struggle for survival. Will Pria be able to save her home and avoid her predecessor’s fate? The Battle for Trimera is the opening installment in the fantasy adventure series of The Ruling Priestess. If you like strong female leads, brave crush-worthy knights, and epic battles, you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s story of one woman’s fight to save her home. Buy The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Reia today! (Instagram @tanyasmkennedy)

This is a great holiday gift for any avid reader, the gift of fantasy and adventure! Sign up on Instagram today and enter for a chance to win! Good luck!

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

My #NaNoWriMo project is finished, so now what?

I realize this may not qualify as a National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) project, but it was mine. This past year, I wrote a monster of a fantasy novel called The Last Magus. It was 189,000 words… Like I said, a monster. I just writing and writing until I put a pin in it and thought it was done. Boy, was I wrong.

I realized that it was just too big, so I decide I needed to turn one novel into two. That became my #NaNoWriMo project… Taking one gigantic read and cutting into two. This meant finding a good halfway point, a new epilogue for the first novel to help transition to the new second book, then a new prologue to keep readers in tuned to the storyline and introduce the second novel. Plus, fill in where needed to make them each make sense as two books instead of one. It was a lot to contend with.

So now, my work is finally complete. Instead of one 189,000 word monster, I have one novel at 110,000 words and another at 82,000 words. As a writer, it makes it a little easier that I now have two books to market to publishers and literary agents, not just one. I mean, I’ve been told that 189,000 words is just to much for a single book, but tell that to Gone with the Wind or War and Peace, right? I don’t know which is easier, but what’s done is done. The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are their own stories.

Now comes the hard part of trying to get someone to pick them up to publish. I will go the self-publishing route on Amazon Publishing, if necessary, to get my stories out there but I want to take the time and see if someone will take a chance on me. In the meantime, I will continue to send out submission after submission to whomever is open for submissions. For now, here’s a brief glimpse into the world of The Last Magus.

* * *

The Kingdom of Attlain was a strange world of magic and miracles of modern invention. Humans and Demi-Humans—Alfs, Dwarves, Catsei, and many other unique races—built cities on the technological might of modern marvels called “Magius Engines.” These engines, powered by magic, light the darkness through electric lamps, connected the cities, villages, and towns in all directions by a network of Magius-powered trains and iron-hulled ships. It was a world of endless wonders, as well as many dangers.

Everyone knew Attlain as “the land of eternal magic” and rightfully deserved the distinction. Magic was at the heart of Attlain society, with nearly a third of the population able to use it somehow. Laws governed the use, and misuse, of magic under the watchful eye of the Helios Arcanum. The Arcanum researched and protected the secrets of magic, ensuring no one abused it within the four corners of Attlain.

Across the landscape—Solara and the Iron Wasteland, along the Skjem-Tur Mountains, to Celestrium by the sea—lived monsters of all types. These were creatures of all manner and breadth, vicious and evil, threatening to everyone in Attlain. To that end, the people utilized professional adventurers to root out these creatures and keep them safe. These fighters, magic casters, clerics, and the like kept the ever-changing population at bay. Among these adventurers was a unique group of men and women known as the Magus.

Since time immemorial, the Magus were the protectors of magic, armed with a magic caster’s power and a warrior’s strength. They were able to summon various magical weapons from specialized caches they wore known as an Armory of Attlain. They were legendary among the people of Attlain until the Magus Rebellion. When a few Magus decided they should lead the people instead of protecting them, they rebelled; but the insurrection ended from within the Magus ranks. However, the rebellion already did the damage. The remaining Magus were cast out, feared, and outlawed by all accounts except those few who remained loyal to the crown and lived as adventurers. For generations, they had all but disappeared from Attlain.

After decades of unknown absence from the landscape, a new Magus emerged to reclaim the banner and restore the Magus’s dignity. His name was Marcus Gideon, the Last Magus of Attlain.

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

My Top 5 movies of the legendary Sir Sean Connery

I was sad to hear about the passing of the legendary actor Sir Sean Connery. He was a mainstay in Hollywood and his movies are, without a doubt, some of the best out there. As an actor, his movies crossed generations from the 1960s to today. There was only one Sean Connery and he will live forever in his countless memorable film roles. So, I wanted to take the time and give my list of his best movies. I know we all have our favorites, and both writers and sci-fi/fantasy fans are quite particular about their “favs” more so than other genres. But these are mine, and I hope you can relate to my choices.

Our Favorite Cameos: Sean Connery in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' |  Movie News | Robin hood, Sean connery, King richard
Sean Connery as King Richard the Lionheart

I want to start off with an Honorable Mention. In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Connery cameoed as King Richard the Lionheart at the end of the movie, “photobombing” the wedding of Robin and Marian. I was shocked when I saw it in the theater and its one of my all-time favorite cameo appearances by any actor. Little trivia note, Connery played Robin Hood in the 1976 movie, Robin and Marian next to another legendary actress, Audrey Hepburn.

Another Honorable Mention is Time Bandits (1981) as King Agamemnon. It was a small part but quite memorable in this crazy, wild, wonderful movie. He was formidable as Agamemnon, and played the role with the fun that was Time Bandits. For some odd reason, when he asked the boy for his name and replied “Kevin?” as if it was a weird name (which it would be in ancient Greece) that sticks out in my head. So funny!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 1989 - Original Movie Poster – Art of  the Movies

At number FIVE, it has to be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Although Connery took second billing to Harrison Ford, he stole the show as Indiana’s father. His comedic moments were spot on, as were his tender ones. The part was a perfect fit for Connery as the aging archeologist who never went in the field. His portrayal was witty, charming, and sometimes maniacal. I loved it at the end when he said, “We named the dog Indiana!”

However, Harrison Ford said it best when he eulogized Connery…

“He was my father…not in life…but in ‘Indy 3,’” Ford said in a statement sent to Variety. “You don’t know pleasure until someone pays you to take Sean Connery for a ride in the side car of a Russian motorcycle bouncing along a bumpy, twisty mountain trail and getting to watch him squirm. God, we had fun — if he’s in heaven, I hope they have golf courses. Rest in peace, dear friend.”

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) - IMDb

At number FOUR, the adaptation of Frank Miller’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) was panned by critics and fans of the graphic novel alike. However, I loved the movie, and enjoyed it through and through. Connery as the dashing yet forgotten hunter and hero Allan Quatermain was great casting for this movie. Even though they changed some things from the book, i.e. adding Tom Sawyer as a U.S. Secret Service agent, it was an eye-popping, steampunk-style story, which is why I liked it. The father/son relationship between Sawyer and Quatermain was a special aspect of the movie as well. It reminded me of Connery passing on the torch to the next generation of actors as this was his last movie role.

The Hunt for Red October (1990) - IMDb

At number THREE, The Hunt for Red October (1990) was a classic Connery role. As a retired U.S. Navy sailor, this is a no-brainer. The novel was great and the movie, even better, thanks to Connery. During the Cold War, this movie was the ultimate representation of the U.S./Russia relations at that time, but it also represented the hope that we could come together. It was also a great Navy movie, with submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and the like. This was “Top Gun” but for surface warfare nerds like me! Connery was commanding in this role with a great supporting cast that gave us one of his best movies. You can’t watch the scene where they are being attacked by a Soviet submarine hunter, as the torpedo closes in, and Connery’s Captain Marko Ramius is as cool as a cucumber, shouting orders. He was like “James Bond under the ocean” cool.

HIGHLANDER 1986 Original Rolled English Movie Poster 16 | Etsy
Connery as Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez

At number TWO on my list is Highlander (1986) and this was an AWESOME movie! Connery starred as Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, an immortal from ancient Egypt who carried a Japanese katana made by the great swordsmith Masamune and fought against the villain of the movie, The Kurgan, over centuries in in Babylonia, Greece, and ancient China (phew!) until he met Conner MacLeod. I know that’s a lot to take in but that’s what made this movie and this role so memorable. Here you have a character whose origins span centuries and Connery portrayed it as if he lived those experiences. I mean, the costume alone made the role believable. How can you go wrong with a cape made of peacock feathers. Connery portrayed the role that he’s familiar with, as a mentor and friend, and he does it incredibly well. The beach scene where he introduces MacLeod to “the Quickening” was one of my favorites, as was the fight with the Kurgan in MacLeod’s castle home. My favorite quote is when he tried to explain being an immortal. To me, it’s a philosophy on life.

“Why does the sun come up? Or are the stars just pinholes in the curtain of night? Who knows?

Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, Highlander (1986)
1964 - James Bond - Goldfinger: title sequence - YouTube

There was only one NUMBER ONE in mind when it comes to Connery, and it has to be his most iconic role… “Bond, James Bond!” But to pick one of his six films (not counting Never Say Never Again (1983) which was just a reboot of Thunderball (1965) with a retired Bond) was a hard decision. Still, if I have to go with one movie, I picked Goldfinger (1964) as his best Bond film. First off, some of the best names in cinema (Pussy Galore, Odd Job, Goldfinger) as well as top notch weapons, gadgets, and plot twists. Plus, to be killed by being painted in gold is a horrible way to die and one of the most intriguing. It was his best work as James Bond, and I never miss a chance to watch it.

There are too many other great movies to mention in one sitting… Outland (1981), The Untouchables (1987), The Rock (1996), Entrapment (1999), Finding Forrester (2000) and even the voice over in Dragonheart (1996). All of his movies are too memorable and will live in annals of great cinema. He won numerous awards from an Oscar, Golden Globes, a Tony, even an MTV movie award. He was honored with an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, BAFTA and more.

Yet, with all those honors, it doesn’t matter. We will always remember the great actor, the humanitarian, the Scotsman, the knight, the man… Sir Sean Connery.

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

When a computer program points out your mistakes as a writer, it hurts even worse

I don’t know if I ever told this story on my blog, but here goes. When I published my first book, Forever Avalon, I was excited. I sent first copies of my book to my friends and family. About a month later, I get an email from my mother with two pages of grammar, spelling, and other errors in my book. She said she enjoyed it but there were mistakes.

That was like a stake through the vampire’s heart at dawn. I couldn’t believe I missed such simple errors, but that is the problem with editing. No matter who does it, a professional editor or your next door neighbor, there are bound to be issues. I have read through my manuscripts several times over and I still find errors.

Finally, I broke down and spent the money on Grammarly. We’ve all seen the ads and how the program works. I wanted to see if it would make a difference in my writing and editing. Low and behold, my eyes were opened. First off, I found out that I write in passive voice more than I thought. It takes one simple word to change a sentence from active to passive and it seems I missed that a lot.

I also found out that Spellcheck is evil! I mean the lowest depths of Hell evil. What Spellcheck missed, Grammarly pointed out as misspelled words (pay attention here Microsoft!) WTF? I had no idea. It’s great that professional editors have an eye for these things, but that’s something an independent author like me isn’t able to afford. Normally, I relied on Spellcheck to help me through my edits. I was wrong.

Also, I found that using Grammarly, I put a lot of prepositions at the end of sentences, used adverbs wrong on different occasions, wordiness in sentences, and my comma misuse was way out of hand. Am I that bad of a writer? No, I don’t think so. I think its just I’ve never been properly edited before and gotten the feedback I needed. Most of my novels have been through a basic editing, not in depth. I found that Grammarly gave me an in depth review of my work and made me a better writer.

As I’ve reviewed my latest WIPs using Grammarly, I found myself correcting the errors without even having to look at the correction column. I knew instinctively what was wrong, after just a few chapters of review. This is where technology helps a writer by showing them their mistakes, and making me correct myself as I write. It’s worked so far in editing my WIP, and as I’m writing new material, it makes me react faster to mistakes or incorrect sentence structure. It’s making me a better writer.

So, to everyone out there, I would recommend Grammarly as a tool to help you in your writing. It has its quirks… There are times it makes me remove a comma then tells me to put it back. I’ve learned to make adjustments to the program so as to fit my writing style. I mean, as a fantasy writer, its hard to make a software program understand words you make up as magic for what it tries to understand as our reality.

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

I’m back after my self-imposed hiatus to protest the social media gods and I find myself in 1984

Social networks are the “Big Brother” of today!

So, I took off the past week, ignored my social media accounts and didn’t like, post, tweet, or blog about anything. I thought a simple protest against the social media giants for being “censors” when they’re not supposed to be would gain traction. I thought people would care about “Big Brother” keeping tabs on what we could read, talk about, or share with others. I thought wrong. The world kept on turning, the sun rose and set, and life continued as we know it.

And still, to this day, Twitter and Facebook (and Google to an extent) are deciding what constitutes “free speech” online. They put their own bias into what is available on their platforms. Now, please don’t think of this as a political rant, because it’s not. It’s about free speech, the First Amendment, and the rights we have as American citizens. I refuse to be locked down by these or any other social media platform for expressing my own point of view. If not, we are destined to bow at the altar of social media.

George Orwell said it best when he wrote his prophetic novel 1984 in the year 1949:

“In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act!”

The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.”

George Orwell, 1984
George Orwell's Inspirational Quotes from “1984” - Orwell Monegros Project

Do you see what I mean? It’s one of the things I love about being an author. Science fiction has always had a prophetic way of seeing into the future, from Jules Verne to George Orwell. It’s strange how science fiction authors have such a deep insight into the world that they know where we’re heading. This is one such moment in history. Whether you believe it or not, we are living in a world that George Orwell imagined.

So now, what do I do? Do I end my social media footprint altogether and not bow before Twitter, Facebook and the like? This would probably be helpful to my psyche but limit my exposure as an author. Or, do I just continue on and hope that these tech giants are brought down to our level through the courts and other legislation? I mean, that’s what happened to Microsoft in the 1990s when they got to big. Then there’s Section 230, a provision of the Communication Decency Act (CDA) of 1996.

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230).

from Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org)

Per eff.org, “online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.” This gives social media platforms broad latitudes to determine what can or cannot be said on their websites. That, in turn, pisses off people from the Left and the Right which could mean an end to those protections.

There are more questions than answers. I will continue to express my views, no matter how controversial they may be according to the social media “hall monitors” watching over me. I was silent for a week, but no more.

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.