The Quest for Original Fantasy

And what might “Original Fantasy” be, you ask?  Quite simply, fantastic stories of swordsmen and sorcerers, of mighty quests, of everyman heroes in search of the impossible without a hint of Tolkien.  Without a mention of dwarves, elves, or orcs to be seen anywhere, with no rhyming prophecies or anonymous kings living in exile as rough-edged woodsmen.  Just people, some ordinary, some perhaps a cut above, standing in stoic defiance of forces beyond their mortal ken.

Don’t in any way misunderstand me.  I yield to no one in my love of Tolkien and his epic Ring odyssey.  My future wife came equipped with a set of hardbound second editions back in 1975.  That was my first encounter, and I fell in love for life with the incredible world he created.  I read them cover-to-cover, then read them aloud to her, then read them again to our children.  I sat enthralled through every treatment, from the Rankin-Bass television specials through Ralph Bakshi’s bizarre vision to Peter Jackson’s instant classic trilogy, and have never disliked any version.  I actually have an incomplete novel (no current plans to revisit it) resplendent with dwarves, elves, and though not orcs, villainous versions of all three of the others.  But in this case, we’re talking about the alternative.


Alternatives exist, to be sure, and I’m here to offer one.  The Stone Seekers is the story of a colony of outcasts in a hostile land who are robbed of an artifact that literally allows them to live around the bay they precariously cling to.  They know who took it and they know where to find them, but if every man, woman, and child took up arms and marched on the thieves, they haven’t the power to overcome them.  So they select two champions, a man and a woman with very complementary skills, to venture into the very jaws of evil and recover by stealth what cannot be taken by force.

This is my longest work to date, 369 pages of action-packed adventure, and like all of my work, it is for sale on Kindle for 99¢.

View from the Blimp

Well, last Friday I somewhat prematurely suggested that I might consider ending my writing career.  The comments section went insane, generating a number of responses unlikely to be approached again until I’m on a best-seller list somewhere, and I feel another word or two might be in order.  If I hang up my quill, and that is a big if, it won’t be until months after The Darklighters is completed, and only then if certain very precise conditions are met.  I am flattered by the show of support, but it’s far too early to worry about this now.  If it looks like it may be coming to pass, I’ll invite commentary probably after Christmas, but there’s far too much track between here and there to be worrying about that particular switch at this point.

But now that I think about it, here’s a little idea that just came to me.  I clearly stated in Friday’s post that it isn’t about the money, I just want to be read, and that is absolutely true.  How would it play if I just forget about all this publishing and marketing nonsense, and put all my work up on this site for free?  Find a title you like, click the tab, and read.  I could continue to blog, and promote my writing friends, and all that stress and hassle would evaporate into thin air.  This would become your one-stop shop for all things Tyler.  What do you think?

In Other News…


Karen J. Carlisle, the talented author responsible for the Viola Stewart series, the Department of Curiosities, and Aunt Enid has announced an upcoming Secret Project.  This is the clue, and the release is imminent, so check in at Karen J. Carlisle and get ready to party!  While you’re there you can sign up for her newsletter, Tea and Tidings, and don’t miss N.O.A. Rawle’s review of Aunt Enid, either; it’s really worth a read . . . the book and the blog!

 *          *          *

A new anthology has been announced for the fantasy genre.  Short stories are being accepted at  Don’t let the name throw you off, they aren’t after horror in this one, but fantasy works of 3- to 6,000 words with a generally uplifting theme.  The submission deadline is November 1st, and the pay for accepted stories is $300 plus royalties.  All the particulars are available at the link above, so sharpen your pencils and put on your wizard hats!


 *          *          *

Over at the website Peak Story Reviews, our friend B.K. Bass is running a monthly feature in which he explains a sub-genre or niche style, then offers up an original story written in that style.  This month he looks at Magepunk, a style combining technology and magic, and thrills readers with Crimson Storm, a tale of pirates and airships and things . . .


Interesting Reads


War’s End: The Storm by Christine Shuck.  “What was left in the wreckage of the world that was?  We were.  And this is our story, my story, and the story of us all.” – Jess’s Journal.  In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival.  Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her.  Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.  $3.99 on Kindle.


The Haunting of the Hockomock Swamp by H.E. Kline.  “Radiating from the ground, she sensed the Indians’ spirits and great suffering.”  Against the beautiful backdrop of the largest swamp in Southeastern Massachusetts, a captivating tale of mystery, magic, and murder that will keep you on the edge of your seat – heart pounding and looking over your shoulder – as you read The Haunting of Hockomock Swamp!  Based on local legend, this tale is not for the faint of heart, but scared or not, you’ll love the thrills and chills that accompany this paranormal romance.  Hordes of young children suffering the unthinkable.  A bewildering investigation.  Janie Williams is living her dream as a newbie investigative reporter until she finds herself intrigued by a three-century old Native American shapeshifter who is a terror to behold and is wreaking havoc.  As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, she falls head over heels with her crazy sexy hot heart-of-gold mentor Alan Needle.  But what Janie could never imagine is that her efforts to solve this mystery will uncover the deepest betrayal, blood, and tragedy America has ever seen.  99¢ on Kindle.


Aunt Nora’s Cleaning Service by Linda M. Scott.  Aunt Nora had a beautiful teenage daughter, full of life, who was raped and murdered.  After the death of her daughter she tried to find closure by joining support groups, but nothing seemed to fill that void or ease the pain that she was feeling.  One day she decided to orchestrate her own support group, one that had nothing to do with standing up and sharing feelings.  Instead her group of like-minded individuals believed in one result for rapist and pedophiles and one result only: DEATH.  $2.99 on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Join me Thursday for the promised look at using spreadsheets to track your plots.  Until then, read well, and write better!

8 thoughts on “The Quest for Original Fantasy

  1. Glad to see you emphasizing the “if”. 🙂 As for offering your work for free on your site, or offering it all for free anywhere, that is up to you.

    I can only speak for myself. The business end of this writing gig is a ^&%$#*&@. And I hate it. However, I’d like to at least make enough to pay for the expenses. So I learn the business end.

    You could offer your books permafree on Amazon and through Draft2Digital and I would think have a potentially wider audience than on your site. Something to think about, if you want to give them away.

    As for fantasy, quite honestly I never cared for The Lord of the Rings. I don’t like Frodo. I love Bilbo, but not Frodo. And there’s the rub, because I read for the characters. Plots are all basically the same. It’s the characters that make them alive. The same for “the world”. Without characters I love, I don’t give a rip about the world. So when I discovered that Bilbo wasn’t the star of LOTR, I was disappointed. Then when I couldn’t love Frodo, that sealed the book’s fate. The only thing I like about LOTR are the Ents. I love the Ents.

    The Stone Seekers is refreshingly different. I like the characters. Very well drawn. I like the world. Unique. I like that the magic isn’t a deus ex machina and that the practitioners are very human. The book is well done. It’s a standard quest plot, but the characters make it live. The only thing I’d advise is that the cover, while very nice, doesn’t shout epic fantasy. And in today’s hyper-cover conscious reader, that might be an issue. So a different cover might get you different results. Just something to think about.

    Paranormal romance writer (money right there in those words) Liv Brywood told me she went from 4 figures a month to 5 when she changed her titles and covers. Of course, I make 4 figures some months, but that counts both sides of the decimal point. 😀

    You have a gold mine in your books, Jack. You just need more of them, IMO, and study what is working right now in the market place to promote your books. Again IMO. A pain in the butt, I know. In the end it all depends on what satisfies YOU.

    And thanks for your promotion efforts and community building. There are many writers out there, including myself, who appreciate them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As ever, a pleasure to hear from you. I think I see what the issue is. We are very different in our basic expectations. You expect a monetary return for your efforts. That is certainly the mainstream goal, and grounded very much in the tradition of classic American success. To pull it off, you need a number of things, one of which is a large portfolio for potential fans to sink their teeth into. But after careful consideration, I don’t believe that I do.

      That isn’t to say I won’t continue to build onto it, but consider my stated goal: One new reader a month. There are 7.6 billion people sharing this little rock, and I’m given to believe that a fair percentage of them read. One decent book should be enough to bring in twelve new readers a year. Not 12,000, not 1200. Twelve. This leads me to believe that I can do better with my books and stories available and promoted on my own web page than buried on the back pages of the Amazon catalogue at number 12,520,000 on the best-sellers list. You may see why I am forced to question the traditional strategy, at least as it applies to my own situation and goals.

      Or maybe you don’t. Maybe we’re just that different. Twice now in our ongoing discussion, you have used the term “gold mine,” and it flatters me. But if you remember the old Kung Fu series with David Carradine, there’s always some guy telling him, “There’s a mountain of gold up there, I’m telling you, and I’ll give you a share if you’ll help me get it!” To which Caine always replies, “What do I need with gold?” To clarify, I’m Caine in this situation.

      So I’ll study this further and see what conclusions I reach, and if I decide to carry it out, I’ll be blogging about it on these pages. We’ll discover where it leads together. And do, please, continue to be the voice of reason. We’re building one of those multi-post discussions that has every chance of becoming a classic at some point. Great to hear from you; Read well, and write better!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With this reply, I’ll quit bugging you. 🙂

        After some reflection, I’d have to say, yes, I’m interested in a monetary return.

        Reason 1 – Sales give me an idea as to how many people are reading my books.

        Reason 2 – I’d like this hobby to pay for itself. There are some expenses that go with it and I’d like this gig to be at least self-supporting.

        I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here.

        Question 1 for you – How are you going to measure reads of your books on your website? A visit to a page is no guarantee of a read. It’s akin to someone in Kindle Unlimited reading 11 pages of my 260 page novel. Obviously not a reader.

        Question 2 for you – How are you going to drive readers to your website?

        Personally, I don’t see how you are going to get any readers on any platform unless you are willing to dip your toe into some form of advertising.

        When people don’t know we exist, they can’t read our books. Hence, advertising in some form has to be done so somebody knows we are out there. And advertising is a long term gig, for it to be effective.

        I’ve run across authors of really good books who do zero advertising. They have virtually no readers. I’m promoting a few of these good books because I like them. Hopefully I can get the writers a few readers. It would help, though, if they were to do some promotion on their part. Then again, maybe they don’t care if they have any readers. I don’t know.

        You wrote you don’t want the gold. But I see readers as gold. Don’t you? 🙂

        Here’s to our readers, however many or few they may be!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Bugging me? Bugging me?? It is this contest of ideas that drives us forward, makes us wiser, and brings interest to our little blogs and websites. Don’t you ever quit bugging me!

        Like you, I despise the business part of it. I can almost say that I spend no money on my hobby, but of course, the Office program has a cost, my logo came at a price, and then if you have covers made, which I haven’t so far but many do, yes, they’re all costs. I also have a running ad on Goodreads for a pittance, but these are all costs I’m willing to accept as a hobbyist. That’s sort of the definition of a hobby; when you rely on it as a source of income, then it’s a job, filled with deadlines, circus hoops, and “gottas.” That isn’t what I retired to get to.

        Sales give you no more an idea of who’s reading your book than website hits. My Kindle is crowded with books I bought that I just can’t wade through. I don’t then seek out the author to tell him what a hack he is; that’s not my place, nor is it in my nature. As far as he’s concerned, he’s sold a book. My feeling is that while it is true that Amazon has millions of customers, my four books are at this moment sitting at #s 1,988,351, 3,161,650, 3,239,019, and 4,328,733. On this web page with my 109 followers and a decent number of casual visitors, they are all #1. I post every three days, and every new post is announced on all my groups and other forums. Every time, I get visitors to the tune of 15-40 a day. I doubt any of my Amazon listings get that in a month, and just like Kindle sales, the counter tells me that the stories are being looked at. I’m happy.

        Throughout this conversation, you have told me that my characters and storylines are gold, statements for which I thank you once again. Now it’s the readers who have become the gold? I disagree; while they certainly have great value, readers are people. They’re the prospectors who are digging for the gold. I like to think I provide some, but finding and appreciating are up to them.

        As always, thanks for stopping by and making this little blog more relevant and thought-provoking. Read well, and write better!


  2. I must admit, every time I finish a book, I have an existential crisis (or two). Is it good? Will anyone read it? Am I wasting my time? What am I doing with my life? Is there another story in me? (Will my computer finally die?).
    I give myself time, and space, to sort myself out. For me, the desire to write burns too deeply. I can’t give up.
    ‘For me’.
    Everyone is different. Follow your heart.
    I am glad to hear you are reconsidering giving up writing altogether. For now, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like you, I’ll always be a writer; you don’t choose writing, writing chooses you. What makes us different is how we approach that compulsion, and I seem to have a casual attitude toward it that creates an unscratchable itch in some folks, but don’t worry, I’ll always be a writer. You, too, I assume. Read well, and write better!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, you da bomb, girl! It’s an honor and a privilege to have such talented friends to brag about. Best of luck with all your new projects. Read well, and write better!

      Liked by 1 person

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