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,



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.

Pirates of the Siren’s Sea – Detailed Glimpses

As part of developing the story for Pirates of the Siren’s Sea, I’ve had an opportunity to delve into some of the minute details of life on Solendrea. Part of that exploration has included designing flags and markings for the ships that prowl Solendrea’s seas.

I’ve included them here with a few details on their origins and the meanings behind them.

Pirate Flag

The Bloody Cross – Pirates of the Siren’s Sea

Sometimes referred to as the “Bloody Cross”, the standard of the Pirates of the Siren’s Sea is a crimson cross on a field of black. While here on Earth, the Jolly Roger was known and feared on the high seas, the Bloody Cross enjoys a similar reputation on the oceans of Solendrea. The black field denotes, among other things, death, the dark of night, and the blackness of a pirate’s soul. The crimson cross represents the bloodshed that inevitably follows crossing a ship that flies the pirate flag.

National Flag of the Human Imperium

National Flag of the Human Imperium

Consisting of a column of inverted red chevrons on a white field, the national flag of the Human Imperium represents the Dragonback Mountains and the blood that was shed to unify the warring tribes of men under a single government. The white field represents unity and the new beginning for the tribes at the dawn of the Imperium.

There are certainly other flags, standards, and emblems that make appearances on the lands, seas, and battlefields of Solendrea. These are just the ones I happened to be working on today.

Pirates of the Siren’s Sea should be available for pre-order soon.


Writing Life : More Milestones

I think that most authors probably have similar milestones in their careers.

My first big milestone was when my father, who has been a voracious reader all my life, told me that the book I had written was “pretty good” and that with some effort, I could be as good as some of his favorite authors. Names like Anne McCaffrey, Issac Asimov, Tom Clancy, and others. While I don’t have the hubris to think that I’ll ever be as good as some of those names, it was enough that he thought so.

The next major milestone came when I was able to quit my day job and start writing full time. It’s been an adventure, and one with an uncertain future, but for a little over a year, I’ve been able to support my family solely from my writing income. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s required some sacrifice from everyone, but I’m (at least for now) living the dream. For as scary as it is, it has also been amazing.

Today, I added another major milestone to my life as a writer. I walked into the local library and there, on the shelf, are the first two books of my Magic of Solendrea series. I’m sharing shelf space with the likes of Frank Herbert’s Dune and the Hugo Award Winners. No matter how you look at it, that’s pretty amazing.


All right, that’s enough self-indulgent posting on my part. Back to working on Pirates of the Siren’s Sea. I’ve got a book to release. ;)

Best Wishes,


Pirates of the Siren’s Sea – New Reward Tier

About 28 hours from now, the Pirates of the Siren’s Sea Kickstarter will come to a close. However, I wanted to mention that I’ve created a new tier at the $20 level that includes all the currently published Magic of Solendrea eBooks. If you’re interested in backing the project, but not familiar with my work, you can get all of my titles for the $20 backer reward.

If you’d like to contribute to the project, you can do so here: http://kck.st/1sAbU3C



The Last Swordmage – FREE on Amazon Today Only (9/24)

The Last Swordmage, the first book in the Magic of Solendrea sword & sorcery fantasy series, is available for FREE today from Amazon. The book is only free on 9/24 so snag your copy today if you’re interested.


The Last Swordmage - Free 9/24 Only

The Last Swordmage – Free 9/24 Only

Cover Reveal : Pirates of the Siren’s Sea

Work has been progressing nicely on Pirates of the Siren’s Sea. It’s nice to have Tiadaria back in action. We see a number of old friends and make some new ones. Same goes for our favorite villains. ;) So without further ado, allow me to reveal the cover for the sixth installment in the Magic of Solendrea series, and book one of the Second Swordmage Trilogy.

If you want to catch up on our story so far, you can start with Tiadaria’s adventures in The Last Swordmage, available from Amazon: click here to buy.



Progress Report: Pirates of the Siren’s Sea

I’ve been hard at work on the rough draft for Pirates of the Siren’s Sea. I’m projecting that the final novel will end up being around 80,000 words and right now, we’re sitting at 30,150. So we’re about a third of the way home.

There is still time for you to be a part of the adventure. The Pirates of the Siren’s Sea Kickstarter campaign is still running. Your pledge could get you a part in the book. If you’re interested in supporting the project, please take a look here: http://kck.st/1sAbU3C

Back to writing!


Pirates of the Siren’s Sea Kickstarter Stretch Goals Announced

We’ve reached our funding goal, but don’t rest yet. Keep sharing the project with your friends and family, anyone who might want to show some support.

If we reach $2000 funded before the project ends, I’ll write a special Solendrea story for the backers of this Kickstarter…and you’ll get to vote on the content. Want to know more about the elves? Want to see Tiadaria battle a sea-serpent? Cast your vote and influence the direction of the story.

If we reach $2500, not only will I write the story above, but I’ll also see that everyone who backs the Kickstarter receives a Magic of Solendrea bookmark and bumper sticker, regardless of reward tier.

Thanks for supporting this project, you guys are the best!

That’s all for now.


Ethics in Self-Publishing : An Indie Author’s Manifesto

I just read a very interesting post by Porter Anderson on the topic of ethics for independent authors. (Original article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/porter-anderson/2014/08/8-issues-in-author-ethics/) I think there is a great deal to be said for elevating self-publishers and independent authors to the point where our work isn’t dismissed out of hand by so many.

It is our job as independent authors to show that generalizations of poor quality and sub-standard content are just that…generalizations.

I’ve always prided myself on the way I conduct my career as an independent author. I work very hard to put out a quality product that I, myself, would be willing to pay for. As such, I’m willing to take up the gauntlet of the ethical challenge for independent authors.

This manifesto is my answer to the question of ethics and I share it openly with both my readers and my fellow authors in hope that more indies will step up and make a public declaration of their intent to stand head and shoulders above the common denominator.

My Independent Author Manifesto

I promise:

1. I will: always strive to produce and release a professional, complete, and error-free final product to my readers and listen to their feedback on any issues that should be addressed post-publication in the event that errors (as they often do) slip through the best laid plans.

2. I will: always treat my readers with the respect they deserve, regardless of whether or not they like or agree with what I write. When an independent author interacts with his or her readers in a negative way, it impacts the reputation of all.

3. I will not: resort to dishonest, underhanded, or manipulative ways of gaining an advantage over my fellow authors.

4. I will: allow my works to stand on their merits, accepting gracefully the opinions rendered by my readers and associates.

5. I will not: review other author’s works and I will strongly discourage other authors from reviewing my works, in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the review cycle. There are plenty of readers to go around. Authors shouldn’t need to review their peer’s works.

6. I will not: purchase reviews for my works, unless such a purchase is made from a legitimate, respectable, industry-standard source of reviews, such as Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, etc., wherein the reviews can be dependably counted on to be objective and assess the complete work on its merit.

7. I will: make every effort to ensure that readers I interact with know who I am, what I’ve authored, and that I am representing myself in an “official” (for lack of a better word) capacity when frequenting the same circles (social media, forums, etc.).

8. I will not: employ fake accounts, sock puppets, shill accounts, or any other deceptive means to manipulate reviews, rankings, or ratings of my works, promotions, or other endeavors.

I understand that any attempt to impose ethics onto a group is likely to be ignored by those most in need of the guidance. However, it will at least provide an outward signal to readers and our fellow authors alike that some of us take our ethical duties as professionals seriously.