Share and Win – $10 Amazon Gift Card

SwordmageShareAndWin

In order to celebrate the run up to the release of Pirates of the Siren’s Sea, I’ve made The Last Swordmage available for $0.99 on Amazon for a limited time. If you share this post/status/tweet, you’ll be automatically entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Winner will be selected at random from all of the reposts, shares, and retweets received. Winner will be selected at 9am EST on November 26th, 2014.

Pirates of the Siren’s Sea – Now Available for Pre-Order

Pirates-of-the-Sirens-SeaIf you subscribe to the mailing list, you’ve already received this information in your mailbox. For the rest of you, I’m happy to announce that Pirates of the Siren’s Sea is now available for pre-order from Amazon. The 6th book in the Magic of Solendrea series will be released on December 15th, 2014, but you can pre-order your copy today!

Pre-order Pirates of the Siren’s Sea Now!

Tiadaria, the last Swordmage, was once one of the King’s most trusted advisers. Now she’s fallen out of favour and has been cast out of the realm she helped save from demons and dragons. When pirates start sinking ships off the coast of Dragonfell, Tiadaria offers her services to the realm, but the pride of Kings is not easily put aside.

Unwilling to let the Imperium fall, Tiadaria approaches the King’s only daughter, a reclusive Princess unseen by the people for almost two decades. What happens next is a race against time as Tiadaria and her allies commit an act of treason to stop a corrupt sorceress from endangering the fate of the world.

Only a Swordmage can turn an act of sedition into salvation for the Imperium in this rousing fantasy tale of swords and sorcery.

Pirates of the Siren’s Sea – Manuscript Complete!

Finishing a novel is always something of a melancholy experience. On one hand, there is the elation that goes with knowing you’ve finished the act of creation. That you’ve brought into the world something from your imagination and tended it from a sprout of an idea to the mighty tree of a story. On the other, there’s the sadness that goes along with knowing that the characters who have been with you every hour of every day for months, now have to take a back seat to the business part of writing: revisions and editing, marketing, publishing, and so on.

Although there is still work to be done (the aforementioned edits and revisions), I’m very happy with the story that Pirates of the Siren’s Sea turned out to be. While the original Swordmage Trilogy was very much a coming of age story, as Tiadaria struggled to come into her own, Pirates begins a new era for Tiadaria, an era of troubles and uncertainty to be sure, but also an era in which she is stronger and more capable than she has ever been.

I look forward to sharing this new chapter in Tiadaria’s life story with you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Now it’s time to get some sleep. =)

~MFHengst

PS – A special thanks to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter project for Pirates of the Siren’s Sea. You guys are all rock stars in my book.

Quintessential Tales Now Available on Audible & iTunes

QuinTales Audiobook

Quintessential Tales: A Magic of Solendrea Anthology is now available on both iTunes and Audible. Narrated by the incomparable Carolyn Light, this Solendrea anthology features four all-new tales of the heroes and villains of Solendrea. If you’ve been looking for a great book to listen to, look no further, grab a copy of Quintessential Tales today!

Quintessential Tales is available in multiple formats here: http://martinfhengst.com/books/quintessential-tales/

 

3D Book Covers with Photoshop and psdcovers.com

I promised that I would throw together a quick tutorial on rendering 3D ebook covers with Photoshop actions. The follow video is a brief run through the process from downloading the action to loading it and creating a 3D cover.

NOTE: I noticed after I finished the video that I forgot to hide the instructions layer in the template before I rendered the final product. If you look really closely, you can see the instructions in the final product, so don’t forget to hide or delete the instructions layer before rendering your final product.

Hope this helps someone.

~MFHengst

Writer’s Tools: EK Tools Journaling Pens

I don’t usually talk too much about how I do what I do. Mainly because I doubt there are many people who care how I get the words down on paper, as long as I do so with enough regularity that they can read a new book every so often.

However, since the EK Tools Journaling Pens are so cool, I thought I’d make a post about them.

I’ve had just about every pen in the known universe, which may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. I have been interested in, and disappointed by, pens that made bold claims like waterproof ink, no smearing, and no bleeding. Invariably, pens that state such lofty goals in their marketing materials often fall flat in one or more of these areas.

Enter the EK Tools Journaling Pen

WP_20141027_001I picked up these pens on a whim while we were out picking up Halloween decorations for the kids. What caught my eye was that the packaging claims that the pens are waterproof, archival quality (whatever that means), non-bleeding, and acid-free.

Every waterproof pen I’ve owned in the past has experienced some sort of bleed when submerged in water. They may still be relatively legible, but there’s always some slight degradation of the ink where you can tell it’s been wet. So I decided to see exactly how waterproof these pens really are.

I wrote down my little note and stuffed it in a pickle jar full of water and I left it for several hours while I finished up the chapter of Pirates of the Siren’s Sea I was working on, then played a few rousing rounds of Titanfall.

When I remembered that I’d begun this haphazard experiment, I went back to the pickle jar expecting the water to be a little muddy and there to be some running of the ink. Nope. Not even a little bit. I even shook the jar up a bit to see if I could make it run…no dice. Although the paper started to fall apart, the ink held fast.

I fished the paper out and sat it on my desk. Although it was falling apart from being submerged for a couple hours, the writing was still perfect. I’m impressed. I can honestly say I’ve never seen waterproof ink that didn’t run at all. Here it is after being fished out of the jar.

WP_20141027_007You can see around the edges where the paper has started to fall apart from being submerged. I decided to see what would happen if I let the paper dry out. So I put it on top of a paper cup and left it out overnight to dry. Although a bit wrinkly from its bath, the end result is just as clear and legible as before it’s submerged adventure.

WP_20141027_008So what’s my point? I don’t have one, really. I was just impressed with the ink and the fact that it is REALLY waterproof. So if you’re worried about dumping a cup of coffee or tea over your journal or novel outline, if you’re writing with a EK Tools Journaling Pen, don’t fret. Just dry out the paper and you’ll be good to go.

You can buy the EK Tools Journaling Pens on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1xxbB8J

~MFHengst

 

Reviewers Needed: The Swordmage Trilogy on iTunes

SwordmageTrilogy3DIf you have an iPod, iPad, or iPhone and enjoy reading sword and sorcery fantasy, I’ve got a deal for you. I’m looking for 10 people to receive a free copy of The Swordmage Trilogy on iTunes. All you need to do to receive a free promo code is agree to review the book on iTunes when you’re finished reading it. To request your free iTunes promo code, just fill out the form below and I’ll send one to the first 10 people who sign up.

  By checking this box you agree that you will provide a review on iTunes for The Swordmage Trilogy in return for a free reviewer promo code.

Write Sites, Independent Author Syndicate – New Services for Indie Writers

Today is an exciting day for me. I’m announcing the launch of two new services geared directly to independent writers. I worked in Information Technology from 1990 until August of 2013, when I began writing full time. Over the last year, I’ve been wanting to give back to the indie author community and now I’m in a position to do that while also leveraging my skills as a former IT professional.

As of today, two new services are open for business:

WSMainLogoWrite Sites: Write sites offers simple, affordable WordPress hosting for independent authors. For $5 a month, you get an unlimited WordPress site, pre-configured and ready for you to customize. With Write Sites you have complete control over your WordPress site and can use whatever themes or plugins you care to use. We aim to provide best-in-class hosting solutions for independent authors. More information here: http://write-sites.com

Independent-Author-Syndicate-smallIndependent Author Syndicate: Part of being an independent author is the seemingly uphill task of getting your work noticed by potential readers. Add the fact that today, viral content is king, and suddenly marketing yourself and your books seems like an insurmountable task. Independent Author Syndicate gives you one more tool to help drive readers toward you and your books. If you sign up for this free service, we’ll grab an excerpt of every blog post you make and post it to the IAS homepage with links back to your site. We’ll also post your content to our ever-expanding social media networks. This helps you build exposure that drives traffic back to your site which is where you want your visitors. More information on Independent Author Syndicate here: http://independentauthorsyndicate.com

It is my sincere hope that my fellow indie authors find value in these services and that they are part of your success. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at mfh@martinfhengst.com.

Please help spread the word about these new services. Boosting the signal to your social media networks is a great way to reach people and if you’d take a moment to share this post on Facebook or Twitter, I’d be incredibly grateful.

Best Wishes,

~MFHengst

 

When Fantasy Becomes Reality

biohazardI’m an author at heart, and being an author means that, more often than not, I process my thoughts and feelings best when they’re put on the page. This post has nothing to do with my characters, my books, my plots, or my ideas. It has nothing to do with the world of Solendrea or the half dozen other worlds of my imagination. It is merely my ruminations on current events, and as such, I’ll forgive you if you choose to sit this post out. You won’t hurt my feelings. ;)

Being a writer is, in large part, being a student of the human condition. As authors, we lift up the rocks and look in the dank and murky places for the things that make other people squirm. We confront the monster in the dark, tame him, and make him do our unruly bidding and in so doing, we better understand both the beast and ourselves.

What then becomes of us when we have to confront the monster in the dark not within the confines of the blank white page, but in living, breathing reality? That real monster has come in the form of a ruthless disease that has killed thousands and has the potential to indiscriminately kill thousands more. Ebola, once a shapeless threat by virtue of distance, is becoming a dark shadow that dogs the footsteps of the wary, the suspicious, and the paranoid.

Greater writers than I have explored the depths of the end of the world. In particular, Stephen King’s The Stand sticks out because of the similarities in the delivery vehicle of our doom. However, there are others, no less terrifying in their own right. We like stories about the end of the world, because we like to be scared, and because it felt far enough removed that it couldn’t happen for real. So we visit our post-apocalyptic wastelands in movies and television. We watch as actors skirt death and destruction at every turn and thrill to their survival for another week, another movie, another book.

It is important for all of us to remember, though, that the entertainment is worlds apart from the reality. Thousands of people are struggling for their lives and losing. It is difficult for us to fathom and it’s not our fault. Many of those who have died are simply outside our monkeysphere. We can’t process the impact of all those deaths because it’s not easy for us to process the impact that far out on our personal fringe.

To be honest, many of us don’t want to process that information. It is an unpleasant reality that we’d rather just ignore if we can.

But there may come a time when we can no longer ignore it. When the struggle becomes profoundly personal for us in ways that we can’t right now imagine. I hope that moment never comes. I hope that minds more brilliant than mine who are, even now, working in labs and in the field, find a way to beat the virus and put down the threat for good.

In the meantime, don’t panic. The best way you can protect yourself is by gilding yourself in the armor of facts. Eschew misinformation and rumor. Panic is a deadlier weapon than the virus can hope to be. Instead, hug your kids a little longer. Kiss your wife, or husband, or partner a few more times. Say I love you.

Because in the end, we’re all in this together.