Experience the journey to Forever Avalon through my first audiobook as a fantasy author

This has been an amazing new adventure for me and I am so excited to share it with you. Thanks to ACX.com and the brilliant narration of voice artist Traci Odom, Forever Avalon can be experienced in a whole new light. You can listen to the adventures of Lord Bryan MoonDrake, Gil-Gamesh and Knight Eternal of Avalon, and his family on the enchanted, magical island. And to those first few who comment on my blog, I send you a promo code to download a FREE copy of this audiobook.

I never knew what to expect from my experience in turning my first fantasy novel into an audiobook. I searched around through various companies, and ACX was rather easy to work with and navigate through the process. All I did was fill out the form, submit a few pages for a sample script, and soon I had over 30 narrators vying to read and produce my audiobook. I got to pick and chose my narrator, set deadline, etc. It was easier than I thought and, as I listened to my story being read to me for first time, totally worth it!

Traci Odom is a wonderfully talented voice artist. She has more than 220 audiobooks under her belt and it shows in the quality of her work. She carried on conversations in different voices, accents, and characters flawlessly. I was amazed at hearing the variety she was able to conjure up in her performance. I would suspect it was a little magic from the story itself leaking into her production. In any care, I was so happy to be able to work with her. Being a first time audiophile, she walked me through the process and communicated every step of the way, answering all my questions, no matter how insignificant. I would highly recommend her for anyone looking to take their novel from print to audio.

So, to claim your FREE copy of the Forever Avalon audiobook, just leave a comment in this blog post. I will reply back with a URL and code for you to download a copy of the audiobook. Sorry to say, but this is only available in the U.S. and the U.K. So please, take advantage of this limited offer and get yours today!

For more than 3,000 years, the island of Avalon remained hidden from the outside world; a place of eternal magic, where the descendants of King Arthur ruled over a land filled with magical creatures, Elves, Dwarves and dragons. The island was only accessible through a rift in the Bermuda Triangle, where mariners and aviators disappeared throughout history. No one believed Avalon was anything but a myth.

Stephanie Drake and her three children were glad to be alive after a sudden storm slammed their boat onto an uncharted island, but it’s not where they think. They found themselves in another world, frozen in time. However, Stephanie and her children found themselves being hunted by bounty hunters, thieves and brigands…caught in a power struggle between Lord Kraven Darkholm, a wizard descended from the sorceress Morgana le Fay, and Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh and Knight Eternal of Avalon.

Now, it’s a race against time as the Gil-Gamesh must protect these Outlanders—as they are called—and get them home to the outside world. All the while, Kraven Darkholm continued his schemes against the people of Avalon, vying to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming ruler of this enchanted island. Take your first step into the world after King Arthur, Merlin, and the Arthurian legends. Step into Forever Avalon!

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

A dog fills a big hole in your family, and leaves a bigger one when they die

Sully (2008-2021)

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.”

Martin Luther

I want to start by saying this has been one of the worst weekends I’ve ever experienced. My dog Sully, a West Highland Terrier, died on Friday. He was 13 years old. He died here, in my home, quite suddenly. We found out the day before from the vet that he had an undiagnosed heart murmur. We were supposed to take him back the next week for an echocardiogram, but his little heart couldn’t wait. He died so fast we never had time to react. My wife and I just had to watch him die. I could stop crying, begging for him to stay with us, but he was gone.

Sully was born on December 8, 2008, with a Westie breeder in Missouri. I found her online and, when I saw this adorable face, I fell in love. I bought Sully for $450 and he was meant to be a surprise gift for my wife, but like most wives, she found out I spent the money before I could pick him up. So, we drove to the airport with our kids and we picked him up. He was sent to us on a plane. When we went to claim him, we found this adorable little puppy trembling in his crate. My wife pulled him out and just held him the whole way home. We all loved him.

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”

M.K. Clinton

Sully was, in my opinion, the best dog. He was obedient, took to training well, was not destructive, and did nothing but love us as much as we loved him. He gave kisses all the time, always waited by the door for you to come home, and kept the squirrels in check year round. He always knew which shopping bags his treats were in and loved to play soccer with his wibble-wobble ball.

He loved long walks, belly rubs, and playing in the snow. When we lived in Newport News, VA, Sully loved to run out in the yard. During our time here in Alexandria, VA, we lived in an apartment high-rise, but that didn’t phase Sully. He loved going in our walks outside, meeting dogs from the other buildings, and playing in the dog park. He was a playful, loving dog who never barked or bit at anyone. He only gave love to everyone he met.

My apartment seems so empty now. I look around and he’s not there. His bed is gone, his toys packed away. We kept his collar and his two favorite toys as keepsakes. We gave some of his other toys to my children as remembrances of Sully for them. The hardest part is our daily schedule. It usually revolved around Sully… feeding, walking, and bedtime. That is a hard adjustment to make.

I woke up the other morning from a dream where Sully was walking between my wife and me. As I woke up, I thought I heard the jingle of his collar. That’s when it hit me. He will always be with us, our little guardian angel.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

Vote for THE LAST MAGUS in allauthor.com July Cover of the Month contest and help an Indie Author

Cover art by Anna-Lena Spies, Eerilyfair Design

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! I’d need as much support from you guys. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover, beautifully designed by Anna-Lena Spies!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE!

And after you vote, pick up a copy of The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart at Lulu.com and through other online booksellers. Thanks for your continued support of this independent author.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

Marvel reimagines the lineage of the Mandarin in the new “Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings” movie

After a dismal failure at introducing the Mandarin in Iron Man III, Marvel is trying to get it right with their new movie, Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings coming to theaters, Sept. 3. As a comic book purist, especially when it comes to movies, this version of the Iron Man supervillain is a better representation of the character instead of the campy Sir Ben Kingsley attempt. But, you need to know the history of this character, as well as Shang-Chi himself, to understand the changes being reimagined for the movies.

To know that you are superior— in mind, in body, in spirit. That is everything! To know that power is your birthright— to know what untold thousands exist on this world for no reason but to serve you– to channel their powers through your empire, be it of land or of business– channeling it upward to fuel you, to fuel your glory!

The Mandarin (Marvel Fandom Wiki)

The Mandarin was created in the 1960s as a supervillain for Iron Man at a time when the U.S. was under the “Red Scare” from Communist China, the Soviet Union, etc. Comic book villains reflected the hysteria at the time, so the villains were all tied to the idea of the communist take over of the world. This time period gave us The Mandarin, Red Ghost, Yellow Fang, the Titanium Man, Red Guardian, and yes, even Black Widow. These Asian characters had over-exaggerated features, yellow skin, sharp fingernails, and were portrayed as the epitome of evil. I would call it a holdover from World War II and the animosity toward the Japanese. The Mandarin was no exception.

In the comics, the man that would become the Mandarin was born from an English prostitute in an opium den located within the small village of Habuquan in Inner Mongolia, China, where he spent his entire childhood doing forced labor. Following his mother’s death due to overdose, the Mandarin killed her procurer, whom he figured was his father, and delved into a life of crime. When the communist revolution occurred, he went on the run. While running away, the Mandarin found a cave in the Valley of Spirits that housed the wreckage of an alien spaceship. Becoming transfixed by a set of ten small cylinders spinning in the ship’s engine, the Mandarin took the artifacts. Having found them similar in appearance to rings, the Mandarin started wearing them as such, slowly studying each of them and gaining access to their powers. When the Mandarin first worn them all at once, his mind was reached by the warrior spirits trapped within the rings. These spirits influenced the Mandarin so his ultimate goal in life would be to resurrect them.

Thus began the life of a supervillain that would span the decades. From the Shang-Chi trailers, we know this will partly remain true, i.e. criminal empire, alien rings (on his wrists instead of fingers), but that’s where the similarities end. His rings seem more power-based (force blast similar to Iron Man’s repulsors) than each ring having an individual power, like it is in the comics. This will be a fundamental shift but, for those audiences not familiar with the comics, it will be easier to understand.

My father has often said to me: ‘A man may not be too careful in his choice of enemies, for once he has chosen… he has forfeited a friend.’ These are words my father has lived by, for he is Fu Manchu, and his life is his word.

—Shang-Chi (Marvel Fandom Wiki)
Shang-Chi (Character) - Comic Vine

Then there’s the updated origin for Shang-Chi. Originally created during the Bruce Lee “Kung Fu” craze of the 1970s, this “Master of Kung Fu” has been upgraded from his abilities to his lineage. In the comics, Shang-Chi was born in the Honan province of China, and is the son of Fu Manchu, the Chinese mastermind who has repeatedly attempted world conquest and had a thirst for blood. His mother was a white American woman genetically selected by his father. Shang-Chi was raised and trained from infancy in the martial arts by his father and his tutors. Once he discovered about his father’s evil empire, he broke free and fought Fu Manchu at every turn. Now, it appears, that Fu Manchu is being replaced by the Mandarin in the MCU. That’s not really a big change, as they’re both leaders of criminal empires in China, and with Tony Stark’s Iron Man dead in the MCU, it’s a way of bringing the true Mandarin into the fold.

As fans, we understand that precise interpretations of the comics is impossible. Comic book characters themselves have evolved and changed over the years. You can’t take these characters from the 1960s and 70s, with their racist overtones as originally developed, to the big or little screen. For example, people are clamoring over the Disney+ series where Loki declares himself bisexual. If you read the comics, you knew this was a possibility. I mean, he has gone from man to kid to women on multiple occasions throughout his run. We knew it was coming, but those who never read the comics are screaming “heresy” and “political correctness” at this revelation. Chill out!

If you want something to scream about, the portrayal of the Mandarin in Iron Man III is something to get pissed off at. Again, I have nothing against Sir Ben Kingsley. I love him as an actor and it wasn’t his fault. However, that version of the Mandarin was a joke, an their little one shot was done just to appeased the fans who hated that movie. At least Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will bring it back to an origin closely resembling these characters. I hope Marvel has learned its lesson in totally revamping these characters for movies.

We all know, from the 24 hour news cycle, that there are issues with China, from the coronavirus to free speech in Hong Kong to the mistreatment of the Uyghurs. That issue is with the Chinese government, not the people of China. They have a rich history which is a big part of the mythology that a fantasy reader, like myself, loves to dive into. Those are the stories that need to be told and Marvel is trying to bring it to life in the MCU.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

Golden Age comic book superheroes you either never knew about or are long forgotten

Golden Age Superheroes from The Black Terror, The Shield, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, and Miss Masque!

There are names everyone associates when you hear the word superhero… Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Iron Man and more. But I bet you never heard of Air Wave, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, The Black Terror or Miss Masque. These were the comic books your grandparents and great-grandparents may have read. These were the characters that led to the Avengers, Justice League, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans, and the X-Men.

It’s safe to say these characters were created in the era when the world was in turmoil… Al Capone and his criminal empire, G-Men, World War I and II, the stock market crash, and more. The politics and news of the world influenced the creation of these colorful characters to inspire young people for “truth, justice, and the American Way.”

A majority of these heroes were not aliens, mutants, or superhuman for that matter. Many of them just donned a mask to fight against evil, not underlying theme or vendetta, just that. For example, The Black Terror from Exciting Comics. His outlandish, stylized “pirate” persona was designed to strike fear into the villains he faced.

The Black Terror

The Black Terror‘s secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton, who formulated a chemical he called “formic ethers”, which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick, Tim Roland, together known as the “Terror Twins.” His love interest is secretary Jean Starr, who initially despises Benton and loves the Black Terror, later discovers that they’re the same person.

According to Jess Nevins’ Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, “The Black Terror has enemies ranging from Nazis to mad scientists like Thorg (he of the “million dollar death ray”), the femme fatale Lady Serpent (who has a hypnotic glance), and the Japanese scientist Hanura and his “electro-hypnotizer”, which is used to assassinate American generals and admirals.” With the popularity of superheroes fading in the late 40s, the Black Terror’s series ended with issue #27 (June 1949).

You can see many similarities in this one comic to many others of the day. A kid sidekick, a love interest, and villains that ranged from mad scientists, femme fatale, and of course, enemies from the Axis powers during World War II. You could look at any comic book from the Golden Age and find the same formula throughout.

Sure, they’re a little campy and, compared to today, quite misogynistic in their portrayal of women. Women were either sex objects, danger prone, or sidekicks. There were a few comics that had women as the main character, but even those had their controversies. Take, for example, the story of Miss Fury.

Miss Fury

The character’s real identity is wealthy socialite Marla Drake. She has no innate superpowers, but gains increased strength and speed when she dons a special skintight catsuit when fighting crime. The panther skin was bequeathed to her by her uncle, who said that it was used by an African witch doctor in voodoo ceremonies. (It’s like a combination of Catwoman and the Black Panther in one!) Although Miss Fury was popular, the revealing outfits worn by the female characters provoked some controversy at the time. When Marla Drake was drawn wearing a bikini in 1947, 37 newspapers dropped the strip in response. The Miss Fury strip ran until 1952.

Miss Fury combats several recurring villains, including mad scientist Diman Saraf and Nazi agents Baroness Erica Von Kampf and General Bruno. Drake was also involved in a love triangle with her former fiancé, Gary Hale, and Detective Dan Carey. (See the recurring theme here!) A complicated figure, Marla doesn’t seem to like being a superhero, resenting the need for a secret identity and the danger it poses. She is sometimes accompanied by an albino Brazilian named Albino Joe. This provides another controversy from the Golden Age comics, the fact that racial discrimination was quite obvious within these pages.

The villains were focused on the Axis Powers from World War II (German, Japanese) and then the “Communist Threat” of the 40s and 50s (Chinese, Russian) so many of these villains were portrayed with exaggerated features as much of the propaganda did at this time in history. Although it does take away from the comics themselves, they have to be taken in context with this time period.

I think one of the broad characterizations you can see in the Golden Age of Superheroes is the “flag waving, patriotic” heroes that filled the pages. More than 30+ different characters representing the United States of America and the “American Fighting Spirit” filled the pages with red, white, and blue. Most of these characters did their fighting with their fists. Punching out Hitler seemed to be an American pastime in the Golden Age. The names were also quite colorful from American Eagle and Captain Freedom to Fighting Yank, The Shield, and V-Man (as in “V for Victory”). Even Uncle Sam got his own comic book fighting the scourge of Nazi and communist threats to America.

Lash Lightning Comics - Comic Vine
Lash Lightning

As I said before, a lot of these superheroes were ordinary people who through genius intellect and wealth or a mystic object or a chemical formula gained super powers. It was very broad and quite basic but in their concepts, but some were just out of this world. For example, meet Lash Lightning. In 1940, explorer Robert Morgan is delving into an Egyptian pyramid when he encounters an ancient mystic called The Old Man of the Pyramids. The mystic teaches Morgan ancient secrets, and gives him the Amulet of Annihilation, on the condition that he uses his powers to fight evil. Morgan’s powers include super-strength, super-speed, flight, the ability to generate electricity and radiate “lightning heat,” and a measure of invulnerability (Sounds a lot like Shazam, a.k.a. the original Captain Marvel, doesn’t he?) His powers can be recharged by electricity. Returning to the United States, Morgan dons a costume and changes his name to Lash Lightning (as opposed to maintaining a secret identity). His emblem is a triangle with a thunderbolt emerging from each of its three sides. His early foes include the Mummy, an insane college professor wrapped in bandages infused with radium, and the mad scientist Mastermind. His recurring villains also include a werewolf, the zombie-raising Dr. Diablo, and the Maestro, who wears a bee costume. Crazy, huh?

I don’t think we’ll ever see any of these heroes on the silver screen or even the TV screen anytime soon. They are from a bygone era. Although, Dynamite Entertainment did a series of books called Project Superpowers where these old heroes were suspended in time, awakened in the world today to fight a new threat. It was a rebirth for these Golden Age heroes and great to read! I’d definitely recommend checking it out!

Although many of the Golden Age heroes still exist in today’s mainstream comics, their legacy with the lost heroes of the Golden Age will never be forgotten. As awkward and politically incorrect as these comic books are, they are still an amazing look into the history of comics as well as our own national identity.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

My first book signing post COVID was not what I hoped for or expected

I had my first book signing of 2021, more than 16 months since The Outlander War was released, and it was not what I had hoped for. Right off the bat, let me say that the staff at the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA, were phenomenal. They were great in setting it up, advertising, etc. The event just went off like a wet firecracker… Smoke but no bang.

I only signed four books in a two hour period. There was foot traffic through the store, but not a lot of interest. I didn’t mind talking to people about my novel, that was fun to do. Its the people who walked by and didn’t say a thing, or tried to avoid looking at me as if talking to me was a bad thing. Its like I wasn’t even there. I hate that.

I’m not here to complain or vent… Well, maybe just a little. I only have a couple of book signings under my belt and I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I mean, the people I talked to about my book listened, asked questions, and a few of them bought my book. Others just thanked me and walked away. It’s really hard when you’re sitting there, offering a fantasy novel to someone, and people are looking in the fantasy/scifi section of the store but ignoring you. That was really confusing.

I know its still early in these waning days of a year of being stuck inside your house, hiding behind a mask, for your protection and others. I mean, I’m fully vaccinated and didn’t wear a mask at this event. I even wore my steampunk goggles to attract attention. I used my own social media platform to advertise the event. I even emailed local newspapers about it since it was held less than 20 miles from my hometown. I thought I did all the right things and yet, four books. That’s it. The royalties from that doesn’t even pay for the gas it took to drive up there.

I guess I’m ranting about a familiar subject… The cost effectiveness of being an independent author. We put ourselves out there, attending book fairs and festivals, setting up book signing events, etc., for the chance at becoming mainstream. As independent authors, most of us are working a full time job while writing, editing, and marketing after that job is done.

I love writing, I can’t stop myself. It’s a part of my DNA. I will continue to write and work toward becoming a full-time author. Things can get discouraging but I’m lucky to have a great support system–my wife, children, family, and friends–to see me through.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

“The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart” is now available for your reading library

Art by Anna-Lena Spies, Eerilyfair Design

I am not one for fanfare or release parties or countdowns, so here it is. My latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is now available on Lulu and other online booksellers. I finished the final proof review and, thanks to Lulu, its now available as a paperback or ebook.

This novel has been a work in progress for more than two years. It started out as a simple story that blew up into a 200,000 word book, that I cut into two novels. This is the first one.

Animation by Morgan Wright

The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart tells the story of Marcus Gideon, who awoke at the crossroads outside the border town of Armändis. Lost, with no memory of his past life, he was left for dead by brigands… Stabbed through the heart. His life was saved by a blacksmith’s kindness who replaced his damaged heart with a mechanical, magical miracle—a clockwork heart. The gears turned, the motor spun, and his heart was beating again, powered by his magical energy.

Gideon was alive, but his savior was no ordinary blacksmith. Henry Botàn was a Magus. The Magus were the protectors of magic, armed with a magic caster’s power and the strength of a warrior. They were able to summon various magical weapons from specialized caches they wore as an armored pauldron 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 Magus were cast out, feared, and outlawed except for those few who remained loyal to the crown and lived as adventurers. For generations, they had all but disappeared from the landscape of Attlain.

Henry Botàn was hiding out in Armändis to protect the weapons within his magical armory. The swords, spears, and other-worldly artifacts were potent in their rights, some cursed and even forbidden to wield. His responsibility was to protect these weapons from falling into the wrong hands, but he was old and past his prime. He needed an apprentice, and Marcus Gideon may be the one he waited all these years. Now begins a new adventure, as Gideon searches for clues to his past, looking ahead toward his future in Attlain as THE LAST MAGUS.

A special thanks to Anna-Lena Spies for the great cover she did for my book, and Morgan Wright for the animation! I hope you will take a chance on this exciting new novel, and please, leave a book review for a independent author getting his footing the publishing world. Good or bad, every bit of feedback helps.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. 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. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

Author interview with InSpiris Audio Magazine with my friend and shipmate, Spencer Webster

I had the great opportunity to be interviewed by my shipmate and friend, Spencer Webster, for his new prodcast, InSpiris Audio Magazine. Spencer and I met during my active duty days in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). We stayed in touch, even after we retired from the Navy. Spencer is working on a new initiative, a podcast called InSpiris Audio Magazine, and I was honored to be the subject of one of his first interviews.

We talked about my progression as a writer, everything that inspired me from anime to comic books and fantasy authors, and how I develop my stories in the Forever Avalon series and my other WIPs. Click on the link below to listen to the interview on YouTube or you can find him on Spotify.

Spencer Webster is a novelist, a storyteller and a retired U.S. Navy Sailor. He also has a million zillion creative ideas and never enough time to make them all a reality. So he’s diving down on a few prioritized goals and InSpiris Audio Magazine is one of them. He wants to learn what is creativity to other people and wants to share stories about what he finds. Spencer Webster is the author of Island of the Lost Soul, a book for sale on Kindle. He believes in the magic of inspiration and imagination and is confident there are a lot of people who might share their magic with him, and in turn with you. Spencer lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife.

Spencer is always looking for creative and inspiring people to interview for his podcast. You can contact him at InSpiris-Podcast.com. Also, make sure you subscribe to his podcast and on YouTube to listen to all his content!

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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. His next two fantasy novels, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series are being released in 2021.

From Marvel to DC to anime, the idea of parallel dimensions is a great tool for writers

Dark Nights: Metal — the DC Universe of your wildest nightmares - Polygon

The Multiverse… The concept that there exists alternate realities across the dimensions has been written about for years. It’s more prevalent now with the emergence of the multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC television (in The Flash TV series and all their annual crossover events). The comics have done a great job of setting this concept up for us, for example DC’s latest run with “Dark Knights: Metal” and creating probably the scariest version of both Batman and The Jokers, The Batman Who Laughs. Then there’s the “Spider-verse” in Marvel Comics with everything from Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, a Spider Punk, and more. And don’t forget the sci-fi TV series Sliders, which made crossing into alternate universes a weekly episode.

“The multiverse is a theory in which our universe is not the only one, but states that many universes exist parallel to each other. These distinct universes within the multiverse theory are called parallel universes. A variety of different theories lend themselves to a multiverse viewpoint.”

The Theory of Parallel Universes for Dummies (Yes, that’s a thing!)

The concept is simple. One world where things are slightly different than the world we know. I like the worlds where the Nazis win and how it changes the origins of heroes as we know them: Earth-X with the kick ass Uncle Sam and the Freedom Force! That’s how to do it! But there’s so many different possibilities. That’s what makes it not only enjoyable to read and see but to create as well.

The idea of a multiverse, parallel dimensions, or alternate realities (whatever you want to call them) makes it easy for a writer to let their imagination run wild. I mean, you can create practically anything. Nothing is off limits or out of bounds in the idea of the multiverse. It takes the whole “time travel can rewrite history” concept and turns it on its head because, you’re not creating a new timeline but rather a new reality. Even scientists are now saying that the theory is more than science fiction, it’s a possibility. Think of the universe as a deck of cards…

“Now, if you shuffle that deck, there’s just so many orderings that can happen,” physicist Brian Greene says. “If you shuffle that deck enough times, the orders will have to repeat. Similarly, with an infinite universe and only a finite number of complexions of matter, the way in which matter arranges itself has to repeat.”

A Physicist Explains Why Parallel Universes May Exist, NPR.org

To me, a great example of the parallel universe if Star Trek and its “Mirror Universe” episodes. Each series did it’s own tale within the parallel universe where the Federation was a conqueror and not the benevolent organization as its portrayed in . I love the goatee Spock, bad yet still quite logical, and the scheming Sulu in all his glory. It seems all the really good alternate realities and parallel universes are the ones where the heroes become the villains. In DC, Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate are a great example, and the “Age of Apocalypse” X-Men event in Marvel. It gives you such a unique perspective into characters we know and love.

I will admit that it has been slightly overdone lately. You see it everywhere nowadays. It’s no longer a something like Philip K. Dick’s “Man in the High Castle” where multiple realities exist, but rather, the idea that one decision creates multiple versions of yourself. However you interpret it, the possibilities are endless.

“In the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, every decision I take in this world creates new universes: one for each and every choice I could possibly make. There’s a boundless collection of parallel worlds, full of innumerable near-copies of me (and you). The multiverse: an endless succession of what-ifs.”

“Multiverse me: Should I care about my other selves?” from NewScientist

I think that comic books is the best place to see the endless possibilities of the multiverse. In Marvel, they even have their own group of heroes protecting the multiverse (The Captain Britain Corps) which is near and dear to my heart since it involves Merlin and Avalon. DC did it so perfectly with the “Elseworlds” graphic novels. “Gotham by Gaslight” is still my favorite, although “Kingdom Come” is a close second. These books take us to new possibilities and that’s always good to read. Sometimes, the stories become stale and twists like these help refresh the fruits of the imagination.

However, we need to be careful of redoing things too much. In the past 20 years, DC and Marvel both have redone their line ups and universes several times, i.e. “New 52” and “BattleWorld” for example. Yes, it has given us new versions of classic characters, but it changes so much it becomes confusing. That’s the grim reality of the multiverse idea for writers. You have millions of possibilities to create using the multiverse theorem, but what is unique about your idea and has it been done before?

World building is an essential part of the craft as a writer, especially a fantasy writer. Building a world from the ground up is one of the hardest parts of the job. The idea of the multiverse gives us the tools to create world based on our own. I’m doing that with my upcoming novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart. I created a world where a single event recreated our world as we know it into a land of magic and fantasy. It’s a reimagining of North America into something totally unrecognizable except maybe for pieces of the map. I wanted to use some names associated with cities and places in the U.S. and change others into something new. It made for an exciting challenge as I created my fantasy dystopia. I took inspiration from the great Terry Brooks for this new fantasy adventure.

So while we ponder what we would be like in hundreds of different parallel universes, let’s look at our own reality. Escapism is a good thing to have at hand, but our own reality, our own world, is always a good starting point. Take it from there and the possibilities are endless.

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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. His next two fantasy novels, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series are being released in 2021.

Tune into The Confessionals podcast and get a new perspective on the world

I have to take the opportunity to give a shameless plug to a dear family member, because, well… He’s family, and you always support family. My nephew, Tony Merkel, produces his own podcast, The Confessionals. Like me, he took what started out as a dream and turned it into an enterprise. I’ll let Tony explain how his podcast came about…

“From a very young age, Tony Merkel was fascinated by all things strange and mysterious.  Growing up in rural Pennsylvania afforded him a childhood spent playing in the woods, where mysteries only tend to deepen.  From Bigfoot to extraterrestrials to the Loch Ness monster, Tony always wondered at the unexplained. 

“As an adult with the Internet at his fingertips, Tony was able to further explore his lifelong fascination with the unexplained.  With an initial focus on Bigfoot, he sought out the Bigfoot community with podcasts like the Sasquatch Chronicles and local Facebook groups to learn more about the elusive creature.  Throughout his search for truths, one thing became certain— he was not alone in his pursuit.

“In 2016, Tony originally created The Confessionals on YouTube as a video platform where people could give voice to the strange, extraordinary things they experienced. His YouTube channel attracted worldwide attention, which was followed by a phone call from a leading member of the cryptid community.  Seeing value in Tony’s endeavors, they encouraged him to take his work to the next level.  After revamping his creation with eyewitness accounts, narrated stories, and expert guests, The Confessionals was officially reborn as a podcast.”

From The Confessionals story

Tony was always a great supporter of me during my military career and in my career as an author. I was honored when he invited me on his podcast to talk about some of my own personal paranormal experiences from the Navy, both on ships and in a house I once rented in Massachusetts. We also talked about the books in the Forever Avalon fantasy books series and other personal experiences. It was a thrill to relive these moments with Tony. I can’t believe we talked as long as we did. You can listen to the entire podcast at The Confessionals or listen below!

The Confessionals “333: Ghost of the USS Forrestal” podcast

If you are into the paranormal, supernatural, and the unexplained, I encourage you to sign up and become a member of The Confessionals to get all the inside information. Believe me, you’ll learn about things you neve dreamed possible. I know I did!

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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. His next two fantasy novels, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series are being released in 2021.