Hey, Aenya fans! Boy, do I have some great stuff to share with you today. So let’s get straight to it, shall we?

The Princess of Aenya: Acclaim, New Cover, New Art

A beautiful new cover is on its way for The Princess of Aenya! While I was completely happy with the old pic, I wanted to give my book a bit of a facelift after receiving rave reviews from IndieReader and Kirkus Magazine. If you’re not in the know, the good folks at IndieReader gave my book a 4.7 out of 5 stars, calling it a “great book, period” while Kirkus included Princess on their list of “20 Great Books Worth Discovering.” This is something I really wanted to share with prospective readers, so I decided on a new cover to showcase what critics have been saying, and I figured, if I was going to go all out, I might as well do something new and exciting. You may remember Becky Barnes’s wonderful unicorn illustration from the back flap and the interior. Well, after a good four months, she sent me this stunning new piece, featuring the titular Radia racing from her Compass Tower atop her trusty unicorn, Amalthea. What took so long, you ask? Simply this: it’s a real painting, using real paints splatted onto a real canvas, which, I think, gives the book and the story a more authentic, old-world feel. I really love it and hope you will too!

The Princess of Aenya is, admittedly, an indie book, but copies fly off the shelves wherever I can get the space. At my local comic shop, Emerald City, Radia’s story has sold out several times. I owe this success, in part, to creative marketing, and the free bookmarks at the counter. A new bookmark (below) features Radia and the word “Love” printed on one side, with Zaibos and “Hate” printed on the other. The card beautifully illustrates the dichotomous nature between the two characters and what they represent in the story.

What’s more, I jump into the modern age with a QR code that links readers directly to my author site Want the new bookmark but already own a copy of the book? Don’t be sad! I throw bookmarks in with every customer purchase, so if you order anything new from my site, like the upcoming The Feral Girl, I’ll be sure to send one out for free.

And speaking of which . . .

The Feral Girl

What started out as a novella is turning into a short novel, and I am thrilled with the results so far. This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a long, long time—the tale of my most popular character, my clothing-averse heroine, Thelana. In The Feral Girl, you will discover where Thelana comes from, of her homeland and family, while following her on her long, perilous, lonely journey across the harshest of environments, the 800 km wide (roughly the size of France) Wildwood, a dense jungle and savannnah teeming with poisonous flora, cannibal halfmen, and carnivorous dinosaurs. It’s Naked & Afraid meets Jurassic Park. More than a simple survival tale, it’s a story about a teenaged girl discovering what it means to be alive and fight for life. She deals with hunger, loneliness, loss, and crushing self-doubt. So, basically, it’s Naked & Afraid meets Jurassic Park meets Into the Wild.

If you know me, you know I’m a big art lover. I always make it a part of what I do. As a child, I used to illustrate my stories. Nowadays, I rely on more talented people to get the images out of my head, to inspire me and get fans psyched about Aenya. The Feral Girl is no exception. I have my friend and beta-reader, Heather Zanitsch, to thank for her suggestions and for all the wonderful sketches that will appearing in the book, all inspired by the story.

In addition, the digital edition of The Feral Girl, available on your Kindle device, will include works by my go-to artist, Alexey Lipatov, and Leo Aveiro.

So by now you may be wondering, when can I get my hands on this badgirl? Good question! I am planning for an early 2022 release, but right now, you can pre-order The Feral Girl Collector’s Edition direct from my site for the low low price of $50! Am I insane? Mmmaybe. But the collector’s edition will include some really cool stuff you won’t want to miss. Besides a signed paperback, you get: the digital ebook for your Kindle device with exclusive artwork, an 8×12 poster print, two bookmarks, a D&D character sheet and rules for playing Ilmarin characters if you’re a D&D player, and . . . (drum roll please) . . . a 30 mm Thelana miniature. But don’t worry, if you’d rather just pay for the paperback, you can get that for around $6.

Quitting My Day Job

If you’ve been following me a while, you probably know there’s a meta-plot to the Aenya Series, an IRL story about this guy pursuing a literary career for nearly three decades. But in all that time, I’ve only managed to crap out a few novels, and the reason for that is my day job. See, I inhereted a fairly sucessful Italian restaurant from my dad, and while I’ve been slaving over pizzas for the majority of my existence, I’ve hated every minute of it. Since I was six years old, I’ve known I was meant for one thing only: telling stories, and if you think that’s hyperbole, you can fuck off, because it’s 100% true. But work always got in the way, and with two kids and a mortgage, quitting was really never an option.

I must admit that when it comes to writing, “don’t quit your day job” is excellent advice. Yet here I am, a risk averse person, prepared to make the biggest gamble of my life. Even as I approach five decades on this planet, my eighty-something parents (my dad is 89!) still try to scare me from jumping off the pizza wagon. “You’ll starve,” my mom insists, weeping into a tissue as if it’s a forgone conclusion. But here’s the thing: having to choose between dying and never giving it my all or becoming a penniless writer, I’ll pick penniless writer any day.

Mastering the literary arts—any art, really—takes persistence, and a lifetime of devotion, which is why I get seriously annoyed when I receive emails stating, and I quote, “how do I become published?” No preface, no introduction, nothing. You? Become a writer? I don’t think so. Stephen King spent 1500 hours writing his latest 528 page book, Billy Summers. That’s 3 hours per page, even for a master wordsmith like King! And he’s managed to churn out 60+ monsters by hacking at his keyboard for four hours a day. That’s what it takes to create something worthwhile, and that’s something I am more than prepared to do.

Maybe I’m being naive here. Maybe when dinnertime is limited to ramen noodles and the wife runs off with the wealthy Moroccan chef, I’ll be singing a different tune. But I refuse to go to my grave with the regret of never having tried. Sometimes, to achieve great things, you must risk a great deal.

So with my wife’s blessing (she’s truly my Radia) I am selling the business and moving on. Starting a new life. And if you’d like to help out, and give my story a happy-ending, consider investing in the Aenya Series!


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