The Sons of Thor promo entry with excerpt

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They were supposed to be having the time of their lives on the biggest gaming adventure ever. After all, nineteen-year-olds Daniel and Wolfgang have just received the best news imaginable. They’ve been chosen to be among the only five players to participate in Portal to Gaming’s Arc of Fantasy pre-game launch, something they’ve wanted since the epic gaming adventure was announced.

Only something’s gone wrong. The twins are now stuck in their virtual reality where the situation has gone from fun and make-believe to very real, very quick, and dangerously so. The only way they can go home is to embark on the very real quest of facing King Lopt’s twin-headed fire wyvern, a creature no one has ever slain. The Salmorians, the alien race at war with Earth and her allies, chase after them, intent on killing them, and they’re not the only enemies hot on the twins’ trail.

Little do the twins know they’re undertaking a journey of great and dangerous significance, one that will change their lives forever or kill them in the process. The race to the fire wyvern is on!

Book 2 in the Arc of Fantasy series.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012XDRNQA…
Will be available in paperback format soon for $19.99, available as an ebook for $3.99 on Kindle and NOOK

Excerpt:

Daniel picked his way over a tangle of tree roots, taking care not to jostle Fortune too much or to trip. His feet ached and were like heavy stones with each step he took. At the same time, the chill from the soul hunter’s touch no longer dogged him like before. It persisted a little but not to the point where it hindered him as much. His vision no longer blurred, either, a mercy for which he was extremely grateful. No one else had offered yet to carry Fortune, and she seemed quite content to be held by him. It also wasn’t lost on him that Covelina kept glancing at him, her eyebrows furrowed in thought. A few times, she opened her mouth to say something but then refrained. Her staring was starting to creep Daniel out some.
‘Who leaves a child in the middle of the forest like that anyway? And why? What possible reasons even justify leaving a defenseless baby like that? Man, some people just disgust me. Maybe it’s a good thing Fen isn’t with us right now. He’d be even more upset about this than I am, I’m sure, and I’m pretty peeved as it is. Fen . . .’ Daniel inhaled a short breath. ‘And what is Covelina’s deal? Why does she keep staring at me? Must be because of my charming good looks.’
The image of his best friend with a golden double ourorboros tattoo on his right hand, much like what Professor Willows had, still bothered Daniel and not just because of Dharma’s spell. With his mind clearing, he scoured through his memories to find when Fen got the tattoo done but found nothing. Not because Fen despised body art but because Fen was always particular about the style.
‘He never found anything he liked. So when did he get it? He didn’t have it before we started up our game . . . but this isn’t a game anymore. It can’t be. Not if we’re getting injured and not being taken back to the facility like we’re supposed to. Dharma says the double ourorboros is the mark of King Lopt but the Professor always told us it was the symbol of Loki . . . How can they be the same like that? Something isn’t right.’
His foot caught on a root, and Daniel twisted his body as he crashed to the ground. The last thing he wanted to do was land on top of Fortune and injure her. He cracked his elbow on a rock and his head on another tree root. Daniel gasped for air. His eyes watered. Fortune screamed.
“Daniel!”
Two sets of hands lifted him while a third took Fortune from him. Wolfgang grasped him by the face, worry and tears in his eyes.
“You okay, bro?”
“That be a nice cut ta yer head there,” Magni said.
“Not a good place to step,” Daniel mumbled. He winced as Magni prodded the skin around his wound. “We’ve got to keep moving.”
“We also cannae be leavin’ this cut untreated. And I dun want either Dharma or Covelina ta be castin’ magic right now. Something nae be right ‘bout this forest. Somethin’ nae be right at all.” Magni glanced around as though he expected an attack.
“It’s just a cut,” Dharma pointed out. Daniel rolled his eyes. Leave it to her to state the obvious. “Covelina can . . .”
“It won’t take me long to patch him up,” Wolfgang said.
“You’re not a healer.”
Another statement of the obvious.
‘Someone oughta call Dharma Captain Obvious,’ Daniel thought.
“So? I know how to treat injuries,” Wolfgang retorted. “It isn’t that hard. No magic required on my part.”
“What? Oh, wait. Let me guess. Fen taught you this.”
His brother retrieved from his enchanted bag an ointment, some bandages, and an antiseptic Fen often requested for adventures. They’d made sure to stock up since Fen wasn’t big on always casting magic for simple “cuts”, as he put it, and he was glad they’d done so. His cut stung bad.
Daniel shook his foot. The tree root remained wrapped around his ankle and refused to release it.
“A good soldier knows a little bit of everything about the battlefield,” Wolfgang recited, his tone stiff. “He never knows what will truly come in handy until it does. And, no, Fen didn’t teach us any of this. Our mother did.”
“She sounds like a wise woman,” Magni said. Fortune’s cries lessened.
“She sounds like a warrior,” Dharma pointed out.
“She’s both,” Daniel replied. He winced a little as Wolfgang applied the antiseptic to his cut, but his grimace more at the sadness in his twin’s eyes and heart. Their hearts ached to go home. Words from Fen’s mother entered his mind, a sentiment his own mother echoed.
“Your heart will always ache for home, young warrior,” Victorie had said once, pulling a batch of chocolate chip cookies from her oven. “It is in the nature of any warrior, any adventurer to miss home after being away for a long time, especially when he or she has something waiting at home for them. So, when the time comes, let your heart ache for home, and know that home will always await you with warmth and love.”
“Both, huh?” Dharma shook her head. “That hasn’t ever been my experience. A wise warrior is a walking contradiction.”
“Then yer father be a walkin’ contro-diction then,” Modi said.
“What? No. He isn’t a contradiction! He’s a king!”
“And he be a warrior or are ya forgettin’ what we said ‘bout ‘im before? King Odin Ravenschylde led his armies against King Lopt Firefrost and his people. He ne’er stayed behind. In addition ta bein’ a king, he be a warrior, and he be wise. He be a contro-diction, though, by yer words.”
“You’re such an ass.”
“Aye, I be an ass,” Modi said. Wolfgang finished bandaging Daniel’s wound. “And I be speakin’ the truth. Just because yer experiences be sayin’ otherwise dunnae mean everyone else’s experiences be the same, Dharma. There be many truths in this world, most o’ ‘em based on individual experiences. Ya dun need to be mean all the time and ta everyone who be sayin’ somethin’ ya dun agree with.”
Wolfgang stepped away.
“Done. We can get going now.”
“Great. Then let’s be leavin’.”
“Hold on. My foot’s wrapped in this stupid tree root somehow.” Daniel knelt down to break the offending root from his ankle. A second later, an arrow flew between Magni and Wolfgang, hitting the tree trunk where Daniel’s head been a moment before. Another landed inches away from Daniel’s hand.

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2016 Writing and Publishing Goals

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2016 is right around the corner, it’s practically here, and I won’t be awake tomorrow night to make any resolutions at midnight. Haha. (Hey, I work on Friday, guys! It’s a big deal! I love my job! Interesting I’ve never been a fan of pancakes and my first serving job ever is for an IHOP. Life can be deliciously twisted at times.)

So here is what I plan on for the year 2016 for writing and life in general

Author website
More ISBNs
Get into a place of my own
Promote published stories
Publish the following: Ravensrealm (Arc of Fantasy #3), Snow in Olympus (Twilight of the Gods #1), New Atlantis (Arc of Fantasy #4), Dragon’s Rain, Frost Giants, and, if things go well, The Intergalactic Chase (Arc of Fantasy #5) and Book #2 of The Twilight of the Gods (currently titled Heat in Asgard – could very well change, depending on how the story goes).
Cover pictures for all facebook pages
Tablet to show cover art for people I meet
Convention/book “tour” in place

And that’s just to start.

2016 is going to be an amazing, awesome year! Yes, I expect it to be filled with ups and downs. That’s just how life is meant to go, but at least I can give myself things to work towards and look forward to now that I’m getting myself back on track.

I welcome 2016 with open arms and much excitement!

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch

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The older I get, the less I want for the holiday season. This is mainly because what I want, while materialistic in and of itself, is also not very materialistic. I want to have children. I want my holiday memories to become of those of snuggling with my children, baking holiday goodies with them, and reading books to them before they go to bed at night. I want to build meaningful memories, the things that, when I look back on my life, I know I never got the chance to experience.

And, of course, watching movies with my children while drinking hot chocolate is definitely on the list.

I bring up movies because of the recent holiday season and because I’ve been thinking of the live-action The Grinch movie, starring Jim Carrey.

As of right now, I work as a server for one of the local IHOPs. Part of the job agreement is we’re not allowed to ask for particular days off. That’s okay, I didn’t want to be home all that much on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day anyway. (My reasons for this are my own.) So Christmas Eve, my stepdad picks me up from work (not thrilled by this but my sister’s schedule changed so I was the first one), and we have to stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. I go through the self check-outs, he through a cashier, and I actually get my purchases quicker. While I’m waiting for him to get through the line, I see this lady leave one like two away to my right, and she looks PISSED. She looks like she wants to ram her shopping cart into someone and actually almost comes close as she’s leaving. She apologizes to the people she’s almost rammed her cart into and carries on.

At work, I’ve been subjected to Christmas music, a good portion of it proclaiming what a wonderful time of the year December is, how generous people are, and so on, and I’ve not seen it. There are homeless people, children going hungry, but the generous nature of Christ has not infected the souls of the people around me. There’s more focus on shopping, on spending money to give, and I long for simpler things.

And I’ve been thinking about the Grinch. I remember when people told me they liked the half-hour animated special better because it was accurate to the book.

I absolutely love The Grinch with Jim Carrey. I love this movie because it absolutely reflects our current society of avarice and greed. I love how the Grinch got it long before anyone else did. I love how Cindy Lou Who got it before everyone else did, that the conflict wasn’t resolved right away by the Whos in Whoville singing their Christmas song around their Christmas tree.

Because it isn’t about the gifts. Oh, sure giving and receiving them is nice. I won’t deny that in the least. But money spent means nothing if there is no heart, no thought, no stipulation behind the gift itself. I’d rather receive a handmade gift over something purchased in the store. I’d rather someone put thought into my gifts than doing it because it’s required of them, because it’s what we’re supposed to do at this time of year and without hearing about how much someone has spent on Christmas shopping. And, yes, I’ve heard all of thoses things. I’ve heard them throughout my life. I’ve lived through a lot of emotional ups and downs, most of them from my dad, when I was a child.

Next Christmas, I plan on having a different job. Next Christmas, I plan on wearing fuzzy socks and fuzzy pajamas in my new home, and the only drama that will punctuate my day will be what I write, what I watch for movies and read for books, and what I play for my old video games.

And I will watch The Grinch with its expanded scenes and its reminder that what we truly need is not something that can be bought from a store. It comes from within us.

The paperback process and being fearless

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I am, as of this moment in time, not publishing my stories to audio. The people on facebook knowi t’s because the company through Amazon is requiring exclusivity, and, to me, that feels like a bit of a death knell for my publishing career. I don’t believe in restricting myself nor obeying what other people think I should be doing.

That was a previous entry, of course, so anyway . . .

I’m learning a lot about the paperback process through both NOOK and CreateSpace. I finally have Portal to Gaming available as a paperback through CreateSpace with my own ISBN (note: they require a CreateSpace ISBN to be available to libraries – I think I may donate. ^_^) and am currently working on getting The King and Queen of Wands and The Sons of Thor available as well. I’ve run into a snag with NOOK, as the cover needs to be a PDF, not a PNG or JPG. (I have ISBNs assigned for the ebooks. I just need to get them assigned on the sites.) NOOK Print on demand books will be done, perhaps not in time for Christmas, but they will be done.

Here’s the link for Portal to Gaming as a paperback on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Portal-Gaming-Arc-Fantasy-1/dp/0997118636/ref=la_B00MQF33K6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449873719&sr=1-1

List price is $11.99. I feel somewhat guilty for the cost, but then, when browsing through a local Barnes and Noble yesterday, I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in paperback for $10.99.

I’m finding I need to change the formatting for the more popular 6×9 formatting. I could go with the original document size of 8.5×11, but that could be a bit too much for some readers. It’s interesting to see how the margin sides need to be different as each formatting increases the number of pages. I also use their cover creator with the images my sister has already designed for me. I love what she’s done.

This has been a fun, nerve-wracking, and learning process for me. In truth, I have grossly underestimated the amount of time needed to go through the print on demand process as well as for promoting. But sometimes we have to crash headfirst into things to find out what’s going to work best for us.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before and not all that long ago, in fact, but it’s something I can’t reiterate enough.

At some point, we have to ask ourselves when are we going to truly be ready? When are we going to take that chance and do what it is that we dream of doing? I know the hardest part is not wanting to be rejected by someone out there, be it a reader, an agent, an editor, or a publisher.

But here is a truth most any published author will tell someone starting out: The rejection will always be therre. I remember reading about a woman who taught at a writing class at the college/university level. She’d published a book as well through a traditional publisher and received a rejection letter.

Stephen King received rejection letters. J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer . . . Nearly every author in our current history of publishing has received some kind of a rejection letter. These are things we cannot allow to deter us in our goals and in our dreams. We can apply all kinds of titles to ourselves in the process, be it a feminist, a social justice warrior, or just a plain old fiction writer, but it means nothing when we’re not taking the chances necessary to see our dreams realized.

I am not afraid nor ashamed to say that my goal as a writer is to make a difference in someone’s life. I can’t do that if I let fear hold me back, if I’m too afraid to tackle the subject matter that cause controversy. People get caught up “the market” when, thanks to Amazon, “the market” no longer really applies. In truth, the “market” hasn’t applied in a couple of decades, not when the comic book industry found out they had as many female, gay, and “minorities” as fans as it did the stereotypical straight white guy.

Art isn’t about making people comfortable. It’s about getting them to think.

Somethingj to ponder as you consider what it is you want to accomplish as a writer.

No Need to Be So Restrictive. It’s All a Matter of What You Need As an Author

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There is a bit of a disturbing trend I’ve noticed lately amongst many of my fellow writer friends, one that has impacted the way they see things.

So here’s the skinny of everything: I had a question about ordering proofs, namely the cost. I’m quite proud of the fact that I saved up the $295 required to purchase 10 ISBNs from Bowker. It wasn’t an overly easy feat, not when there are other things I could use the money for, but this had been a goal of mine for a few years. I was not even questioning whether or not to purchase the ISBNs. That decision was already made. Self-publishing requires a certain amount of money and time be spent on promoting. I posted my question to my fellow self-publishers, and I got a response about how purchasing the ISBNs was a rip-off, that I was better off using the one provided, for free, through CreateSpace, after someone had asked me why I had done the saving in the first place.

Wait, what?

I’m pretty sure I asked how much proofs were going to cost me so I can determine the finished product will be to my liking and I can hit “publish”. I’m pretty sure I asked that because the only money I have in my new bank account is going to cover the cost of the ten ISBNs only, not the costs of the proofs as well, and that those are going to cost me additional money to help me further my career as a writer. Why even bring it up if it has nothing to do with what I’m asking?

As a writer for the very broad genres of science-fiction and fantasy, I have made the conscious decision to not restrict myself in what avenues I pursue for publishing period. Yes, I’ve published all three stories to NOOK, and, no, I haven’t seen any sales there as of yet. I’ve only seen one sale for The Sons of Thor as an ebook. I have friends who don’t even own a Kindle or a NOOK, prefering audio or hard copy versions of books. By being ebook only at the moment, I have restricted myself in who can buy my books. That is not something I want to do nor something I will continue to do as I keep writing and keep publishing. I’ve even had to argue in favor of going to conventions because social media alone isn’t enough to help with the promoting of books.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ll be the first one to recommend a self-publisher save up and buy a block of ten ISBNs. That’s just a matter of control right there and a desire to be non-exclusive through one company or another. I don’t even plan to restrict myself to self-publishing, but then this is what I feel I need to do as an author. I am trying to let go of my hidebound nature in that “this is how it must be done” when, in truth, it is not so. Each author, each writer has different needs and so much act upon them.

And this isn’t just restricted to the conversation about ISBNs that I just had, either. It’s been this way in regards to self-publishing, how Amazon is better for authors than the traditional publishing houses, how you need this or that in order to be considered a “real” writer. It’s a level of extremism in thinking that truly disturbs me. Yes, I know people who don’t even want to consider approaching a publishing house. I know people who do, and I know people who want to do a combination of self-publishing with traditional publishing, and that’s all great! I even know people who want to get an agent first. All the more power to them.

But here is where I’m going to start taking jabs at various people and all based on conversations I’ve had or watched over in the last few years.

Do not be so hidebound in what you’re trying to accomplish.
Don’t presume you can tell another author the “best” way to accomplish something because it’s how you feel, think. Every writer, every genre is different.
Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you need to discourage it in others. Your path is YOUR path, just like my path is MY path.
Do not restrict yourself because your plans aren’t going the way you want them to.
Don’t hide behind failure just because you got rejected. Everyone gets rejected. Even Stephen King got rejected.
Don’t wait for financial stability to take any chances on your writing.
Don’t be afraid to explore other options.

And most important of all, don’t be afraid to take that chance on yourself. Who cares if your story is too out there for the “market” you’re aiming to reach? You cannot expect anyone to take a chance on you if you are not willing to do so for yourself. Write your vampire and zombie stories, write that wacky weird thing where women rule the world and men are subjugated. Write your social justice stories. Just don’t give up, don’t stop writing, and don’t stop perfecting your stories.

Because the only thing you will ultimately regret is not taking that chance in the first place and for letting the rejections get the better of you.

Sons of Thor – excerpt. ISBN update

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First up, The Sons of Thor excerpt

They arrived to Valkyrie’s Cove just before the sun started to set the next day and with no incident. Elation swelled in Daniel. For the first time since they’d left Tulupa, he was going to be sleeping in a real bed and taking a bath. A hot bath complete with soap and the chance to shave away his beard. A few splashes of cold water here and there did nothing to ease his stink. He didn’t begroan not having a hot meal. Everyone in their questing party had eaten one last night, and it was better than any tavern food. Daniel shifted Fortune in his arms and hugged the little girl close to him. A smile tugged on his lips, but caution, his own weariness from fighting the soul hunter’s attack, and yesterday’s revelations tempered Daniel’s excitement.
Wolfgang walked next to him, his expression troubled. Daniel tilted his head towards his brother and noted the way his twin’s eyes glanced around, seeing but not really taking in any of the sites. Wolfgang paid enough attention to not bump or run into anyone.
“Hey.” Daniel nudged his twin. “We’re gonna be okay, you know.”
“For now,” Wolfgang muttered. “They’re here. How are we gonna explain to them why Fen isn’t? I mean, the professor said Fen couldn’t participate in the quest anyway because the wyvern is his sisters somehow and didn’t want Fen along anyway. Still doesn’t make what we did right, though, and they don’t know about Lance.”
Daniel nodded, his lips now drawn into a line. He hadn’t thought of how to explain to the professors about what happened with Fen and Lance. He also couldn’t deny his guilt over his betrayal of his best friend had only amplified upon seeing his best friend’s parents. However, his exhaustion refused to let him think on how to say anything to the professors, refused to let him see them as anything but the professors.
“I know,” he said. A yawn escaped, and his eyes burned for sleep. “I know it don’t, and whatever they decide to do to me, I’ll accept. It was my idea to do that anyway. Right now, we gotta get some sleep. I don’t think I can take another step.”
“We be needin’ a place ta stay, Loki,” Magni called out, almost as if on cue. “And we dun have much money, either. Our stay in Chronus nearly wiped me and Modi out.”
“Relax,” the professor said. “It’s already been taken care of. The proprietor of The Oakshott Inn is expecting us. Half of the third floor was reserved for us. Hot baths and nice, comfy beds for everyone.”
“That’s a lot of coin,” Covelina said. “How . . .”
“A little Elf flew in and told him,” Fen’s mother said. She glanced at Daniel and Wolfgang and winked.
“Yes. Someone had the wisdom and foresight to do such a thing,” the professor said. He, too, cast a sly look at the twins. “It would be best to not ask questions. Someone might become embarrassed.”
“If it was you,” Dharma said, “please just say so. That way we can all thank you.”
“Not me,” came the reply. “But I am sure the one who did appreciates your gratitude.”
Daniel’s cheeks burned a little. For once, Dharma didn’t sound so snooty and condescending but truly sincere in her gratitude, exhausted and . . .
‘Is that resignation in her voice? She sounds like Fen when he broke up with Trenton,’ Daniel mused. He shared another look with Wolfgang. ‘That can’t be right. She’s had the most confidence and cockiness out of any magic-users I’ve ever encountered. Everyone else is usually just so shy and insecure. What gives?’
“Tomorrow, we’ll gather some more supplies,” Mrs. Willows said. “Tonight, we rest. All of you have had a long and trying journey so far. This is going to be one of the last nights we’ll have to just relax.”
“Sounds good to me,” Covelina said.
They turned onto a side street. The Oakshott Inn took up half a square, its wooden walls painted like a fiery and stormy sunset, the stable to one side. From what Daniel recalled when he set everything up, there was even a courtyard in the back. Young but weary-looking boys scampered around, leading weary-horses away and assisting men and women in finery with their belongings.
“I better hurry,” the professor muttered. “This is going to be fun.”
“Wonder what he means by that,” Wolfgang muttered. Daniel shook his head.
They soon found out. The professor slithered his way in between the fancy men and women and into the inn. Some of them grumbled about riffraff and loudly so at that. A few moments later, a scrawny man with thick hair emerged, an apron covering his clothes. He scanned the gathering crowd of people. When he saw Daniel and Wolfgang, he grinned.
“Welcome, welcome, my friends!” he shouted. Despite his lithe frame, his voice boomed over everyone. “We have been expecting you, honored guests. Please! Come in and join us by the fire while we prepare your rooms.”
All heads turned to look at the bedraggled group. Several of the ladies and a few of the men crinkled their noses in disgust, but the innkeeper simply shoved them to one side as he approached. When he reached them, the scrawny fellow kissed the hands of the women.
“Beautiful, as always,” he said to Mrs. Willows. “Your husband is a lucky man to have you.”
“You are always too kind,” Mrs. Willows replied.
“You flatter me with your modesty.” The innkeeper grinned. “As always. Just two horses?”
“We’ll be obtaining a cart tomorrow.”
“Good, good. The way is never easy, is it?” The man turned. “Jön! Ned! Bob! Assist these kind folks with their belongings!”
The three boys stepped forward, each with a wary expression. Without Daniel even having to nudge him to do, Wolfgang brought out a few coins and handed them over. The boys stared, jaws hanging and eyes wide, at the amount of money they’d just been handed.
“For you,” Wolfgang said with a grin.
The boys never spoke. Rather, they grinned back and hurried to do their master’s bidding in assisting the group. Magni approached them and leaned in close.
“That be mighty gen’rous of ya lads,” he murmured. “I wasn’ aware ya had that much money.”
“We don’t spend it,” Daniel replied, shrugging. “At least, not very often. No need, really.”
“They’ve been smart about it,” Mrs. Willows said. She took Fortune from Daniel and ushered them to the door with the innkeeper. “So has Fen, but now is the time to be careful. Inside we go. All of you need baths. I can’t stand to smell you anymore.”
“No arguments from me,” Daniel said. He rubbed his chin, his fingers tangling in the coarse hair of his beard. He yawned again then shivered. The chill from the soul hunter was leaving him. How, he wasn’t sure, but it was.
‘Please, let my dreams be peaceful. Just for one night.’
Their ragtag, filthy group strode by the wealthy people waiting to get into The Oakshott, earning dirty and disbelieving looks in the process. Some of the women even whispered and pointed at Daniel and Wolfgang, their expressions full of disdain. They wouldn’t be impressed by either twin any time soon.
For once, Daniel didn’t care.

The Sons of Thor is the second book in the Arc of Fantasy series, a multi-faceted series focusing on several different main characters, each with an important part to play in the war against the Salmorians.
Now for the ISBN update.

I have finally made goal. That’s right! For the last three months, I saved up what I could in order to purchase 10 ISBNs from Bowker, and I will be publishing Portal to Gaming, The King and Queen of Wands, and The Sons of Thor in paperback format. I’m currently waiting on a bank card from a local credit union. I’m hoping to be entering the ISBNs either on Friday or Saturday at the earliest or by Monday or Tuesday next week at the latest. The paperback versions of these books will be available in time for the holidays so if you know of someone who likes science-fiction and fantasy and doesn’t necessarily want the usual tropes, or would like such stories yourself, these books are a must-have!