Monday, July 6, 2015

My First Literary Reivew!

"The Eight-Bit Bard" just received its first literary review, from The Midwest Book Review. Right now I'm flip-flopping between being excited just to have a review at all, and being excited because it's universally positive and concludes "Highly recommended!"

Monday, June 29, 2015

Eight-Bit Bard: Now in Print!

I just got my copies of the print edition of the book, and I'm very happy with the results. It's a real book, in every way that matters. As of today the print versions are available on Amazon for $12.50. It's a little more than I'd like to sell them for, but the costs of print-on-demand require it. 

If anyone is interested in a signed copy, I can do that, too. However, it would probably cost closer to $20, not because my signature's all that valuable, but because I'd have to get copies shipped here, then pay to re-ship them to you. Still, feel free to contact me if you're interested and I'll figure it out. International copies may turn out to be a bit more--depends entirely on shipping.

The process of creating the physical book was easy enough I've also started work on a print version of Chicagoland. It's got more pages and will probably end up a little closer to $15. I'm supposed to get the proofs for that book any minute now (I literally just jumped up and ran outside because I thought I heard the delivery truck, but it was only the neighbor). If all looks good it could be available in just a few days or maybe a week at worst. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Print Versions on the Way

I'm looking into print versions of "The Eight-Bit Bard." I originally had the impression it would be more difficult and extremely expensive (like $20) but it looks like I can hit something closer to $12.50. That's still a bit more than $5 for the eBook, but it may be worth it for some. It's probably going to be a few weeks before I can get my hands on a copy to confirm quality, but let me know if you want to be notified when they're out.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"The Eight-Bit Bard" now CRPG Addict Approved

The Eight-Bit Bard got a nice mention on the CRPG Addict web site the other day, calling it "engaging and well-written" and giving it a solid recommendation.

For those who don't know the CRPG Addict, he's sort of an Indiana Jones of the computer role-playing game world, which is to say a blend of historical archaeologist and adventuresome player, with a sense of humor. (I do not know if he wears cool hats, but I hear he has a birthmark in the shape of an Egyptian ankh.) I've been reading his blog (, initially for the nostalgia of revisiting favorite games from my own childhood (and, who am I kidding, also my mature adulthood) but I continually return to find out about games I missed. Besides the games themselves there's good discussion in blog and comments about trends, mechanics, game design, tropes and cliches, and the like.

I'm particularly pleased with the reaction over there, because while The Eight-Bit Bard was written for a fantasy novel readers in general, it was specifically targeted at his kind of audience: retro gamers, role-players, nostalgic adventurers, and puzzle solvers. If it flopped there I was going to be in trouble, but so far both the Addict's response and comments from his readers have been positive.

His full review is available here:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

'Eight-Bit Bard' Excerpt: Brown-Bearded Dwarf Needs Food Badly

I paused in the street, searching for danger. I smelled frost on the night air, and … “Sssh. Is that footsteps?”

Crunch, crunch, crunch. The sound of boots on frozen snowpack. That could only mean impending danger.

I spun in all directions, looking for signs of someone approaching, but saw nothing.
“Invisible foes?” Jexica asked.

Crunch crunch.

“Flyers?” suggested Caltrop.

“Flyers no walk,” Mulk reminded us all.

“Oh, right.”

Crunch, crunch, cr-

The noise stopped as suddenly as it had started. I fingered my weapon, expecting death to reveal itself momentarily. The silence drew on, eerie and nerve-wracking. Eventually we relaxed. “Maybe it was the ghost footsteps of some lost soldier?” I lowered my weapon and the rest of the crew adjusted their stance, prepared for doom within the half hour but not within the minute. Wort tightened some flaps on his pack and stood straight.

“Okay,” I said, “We’re going to do a loop to the north.”

“Edda?” asked Caltrop.

“Shadow Run. Edda’s got the guardian statues. I’m still not ready to fight that ogre again. Let’s square up and-”

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

“There it is again!”

“Mmmf-hmmf mrr mmf?” said Wort.

“What’s that?”

The half-dwarf held up a hand: smack, smack, gulp. “What could it be?” Wort said, before taking another bite of cracker. The source of the munching and crunching was now obvious.

“What are you eating?”



“Sorry. Waybread. Gotta keep my strength up.”

“It hasn’t even been two hours since dinner.”

“Really? It feels like I’m starving every time we go out. My stomach starts growling, ‘Brown-bearded dwarf is very hungry!’ and if I don’t eat I feel like I’m going to just collapse in the middle of a fight.”

“There’s no way you’re going to starve. Come to think of it, I’ve been out on five-day expeditions and we never bothered to bring any food at all. Just eat when you get back to the Guild, or grab a snack if we pop into a bar for a refreshing drink.”

“But we’re fighting, and you need energy to heal.”

“We pay for magical healing, Wort.”

“Yes, but what does the magic act upon? Your body! And your body needs food even for magical healing. Or so I’ve been told.” He looked around a little shiftily.

“Look, if you insist on eating, can you pick something that doesn’t make so much noise? Maybe a nice sandwich. Untoasted. Without any fresh veggies.”

“But regular food spoils in the wild. You need dried goods if you want them to last.”

“In a few hours? At these temperatures? If I don’t have time to get hungry, the food doesn’t have time to spoil. Try a piece of jerky, if you have to.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

'Eight-Bit Bard' Excerpt: Disarming Traps

I said, "If we want any loot we’re going to have to take our chances. Thus we have Exhibit A, this treasure chest. Jexica, as our rogue it’s your turn to shine.”

Jexica nodded and stretched her fingers, cracking the knuckles. I held up a hand. “Before we get started, there’s two stages. Identify, and then disarm.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve been trained. I know how this works,” Jex said.

“You’ve been trained to identify and disarm, but did anyone mention the Committee Method?”

She paused. “No, what’s that?”

“Before you do anything, we all take a look. You’re the specialist, but the rest of us aren’t dumb. We all take a glance and tally our impressions. You get the final say, of course.”

“I like it,” Caltrop said, kneeling down in front of the chest and eyeing the lock mechanism. “Crowdsourcing is an excellent team activity. My father always had a saying, a few extra sous chefs just help make the bisque better. Hmm. Looks like a shocker trap to me.”

“I’m not really sure that’s the best analogy,” Jexica objected. “Are you sure that-”

Wort interrupted, “Well I think it’s a gas cloud.”

“No, look like dart trap,” Mulk said.

“Don’t be silly,” Wort replied. “That bladder mechanism has to be tied to a gas cloud. Who ever heard of darts coming out of a bladder?”

Siobhan eyed the chest. “I see no bladder. That is a containment bulb for a deadly Mage’s misery spell. We spellcasters must be wary.”

I pushed the elf out of the way. “That can’t be right. I’ve been in six dungeons, and I’ve never even heard of a Mage’s misery before. I don’t think that’s a real thing. It’s got to be a poison needle, if anything.”


“Gas cloud!”

Mage’s misery!

“Poison toad?”

I looked up from the chest. “What? Who said that?”

Caltrop shrugged. “If there’s a bladder and you think it’s poison, maybe the bladder’s holding a toad, so it could be a poison toad.”

I sighed. “I can assure you there’s no toad pushed into that trap.”

The others continued arguing, with alternating shouts of “Darts!” and “Gas cloud!” gaining momentum. Jexica kneeled down to eye the lock. 

I tried to explain, “Look, it really is a simple case of-”

“Okay, here goes, trying to disarm the gas cloud,” Jexica said, poking her tools into the key hole.

“No, wait!”

Too late. There was a click, and then a snick. Jexica looked down aghast at her finger tip. “Ooh, I feel a little sick,” she said, and then slumped to the floor.

“Gah. You fools, you didn’t let me finish. This first dungeon is filled with simple creatures who can’t manage complicated traps. Some of them don’t have any traps at all, but if they do, the only possible trap in the Troll Tunnels is a poison needle. My old team opened hundreds of them, and that’s all we'll see until the next dungeon.”

The noise died down. Everyone turned sheepish, except Jexica, who was turning green and moaning.

This was an excerpt from The Eight-Bit Bard. The complete novel is Kindle format through Amazon

Sunday, May 24, 2015

'The Eight-Bit Bard' is published.

As of today my newest novel, The Eight-Bit Bard, is available on Amazon

It's a fantasy story, a blend of humor and action. It's also the story of seven misfits trying to find a place for themselves in a world where the obvious good guys aren't so good, and the bad guys are the best of the worst.

For gamers, particularly retro gamers, this one is heavy on references to classics like Bard's Tale, Ultima, Might and Magic, Wizardry, and many others from that generation. For those who don't do computer games but like fantasy, I've tried to make the story stand well enough without being distracted by inside jokes.
I'd also like to note this one is a bit more family friendly than my previous novel, Chicagoland. If it were a movie, it would be PG-13, tops.

It's currently only available in Kindle format from Amazon. If you don't have a Kindle, nearly any computer can get a Kindle reader for free. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also "borrow" the book for free any time you like, no purchase necessary.