Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

On today’s interview, I have a very special guest with an amazing story. Some of you are probably already familiar with her story: earlier this month, fellow Ohio author Chelsea Banning took to Twitter to vent her feelings. She’d been at a book signing for her debut fantasy novel, Of Crowns and Legends, where forty people RSVP’ed that they would attend, but only two arrived. The response from the Writing Community was unexpected and massive, with many authors, including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Joyce Carol Oates offering their own stories of poorly-attended events and offering their own help for Ms. Banning’s career. Stephen King even went out of his way to let his entire Twitter following know about her next event the moment she tweeted about it!

Since then, word about Of Crown and Legends has also spread and has become an Amazon bestseller with plenty of positive reviews (seventy-five at the time of posting). This is hopefully the beginning of a prosperous career, so I thought I’d pick the author’s brains sooner rather than later. So, please welcome Chelsea Banning, author of Of Crowns and Legends, to my blog.

Rami Ungar: Welcome to my blog, Chelsea. Tell us about yourself and your book, Of Crowns and Legends.

CB: My name is Chelsea and I am a Young Adult/Teen Librarian by day and author by night. I am also a self proclaimed geek. I love Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, cosplay, and Renaissance Faires. My book Of Crowns and Legends follows the twin children King Arthur was never supposed to have 20 years after his death. It is about their struggles to live in his shadow while also dealing with an upcoming war.

RU: I’m something of a big Arthurian legend fan myself, and have even written about it as well. What is it about the mythos that draws you to it?

CB: You know, it’s hard to say. I think it’s as mysterious as who exactly King Arthur is himself. There’s just some sort of magic that draws people into this story.

RU: Please describe your research and writing process for the book.

CB: I pretty much devoured any King Arthur book, movie, and TV show I could get my hands on. As I write, I did a bit of research along the way if I had questions. It’s a high fantasy, so it’s not historically accurate at all, but I did want to incorporate as much of myth as I could from all the different stories.

RU: Can you tell us about the book signing where only two people showed up and what happened later? What was your reaction to that?

CB: Yeah, I had reached out to Pretty Good Books after I saw them have another author signing. I had heard from quite a few of my friends saying they were planning on coming out, and then when the signing happened and only 2 people came, it was a little disheartening. I was still feeling a little bummed the next morning and just wanted to kind of get the feelings off my chest so they wouldn’t keep resonating in my head.

I did not expect it to take off the way it did and when I initially saw it, I was just in pure shock.

RU: Have any of the authors who encouraged and boosted you reached out to you personally? Have any of them read the book? What were their reactions to it?

CB: Brigid Kemmerer offered to help with advice about agents, and my old writing professor, Christopher Barzak, who is an award winning author himself, has been a huge help through all of this!

Joanne Harris offered some advice as well and it’s been so heartwarming. I love the writing community.

RU: So do I. Now, Of Crowns and Legends is currently an Amazon bestseller and averaging a 4.2 out of 5 there at the time of writing this. How does it feel to have found so many readers and getting so much positive feedback?

CB: It feels amazing. That’s every authors’ ultimate dream, isn’t it?

RU: Yes, it is. So, what’s next for you, both in terms of your writing and your career? Also, is there an audio version of your novel in the works? Asking for a friend who is actually me.

CB: I am currently working on book 2, as Of Crowns and Legends will be a trilogy. After completing this, I definitely plan to write more books. And I am working on an audio!

A very fantasy-esque photo of Of Crowns and Legends.

RU: Good to hear. Now, what are some books you’ve read recently and that you would recommend to other readers?

CB: Legendborn and Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn, Queen and Conqueror by Isabelle Olmo, The Black Witch Chronicles by Laurie Forest, Among the Hunted by Caytlyn Brooke and Akithar’s Greatest Trick by Jason Dorough.

RU: What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of background or experience?

CB: Keep writing and don’t give up. Do some research on the writing process and pick out what works for you. Not every writer will be the same, and once you found your rhythm, writing will start to come easier.

RU: Final question. If you were stuck on a desert island for a little while and could only take three books with you for the duration of your stay, what books would you pick?

CB: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Lord of the Rings, and The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider.

RU: Well thank you for joining me here, Chelsea. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of Of Crowns and Legends.

If you would like to check out Of Crowns and Legends, you can find it at most retailers where great books are sold. And if you would like to connect with Chelsea Banning, you can find her on her website and on Twitter.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope this piqued your interest in the novel (my interest certainly was). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares to all!

Fairy tales have been on my mind a lot lately. Granted, that’s nothing new. When writing Toyland, I knew fairy tales and children’s stories were going to play a part in the story, since it was about a school haunted by a ghost obsessed with a children’s fairy tale. And yes, I still hope to get that book published.

But recently, I took a class offered by the Horror Writers Association on fairy tales, which got my imagination working. And then I watched a couple of TED talks on YouTube on the subject. And last week, I wrote my own twisted, dark fantasy version of Cinderella in just one sitting while everyone else was watching the Super Bowl. This was at the same time I spent two weeks coming up with an idea for a novel involving fairy tale elements, the idea finally crystallizing on Saturday before going to see Giselle. A ballet, by the way, that could be considered a fairy tale. It certainly has enough fairy tale elements to qualify as one.

All this has made me hyper-aware of just how much fairy tales have permeated our society. Not just as stories or elements of our favorite stories, but in advertising, fashion, music, art, and even our expressions (“Cinderella story,” anyone?). They are freaking everywhere, and used/enjoyed not just by children, but by teens and adults too.

“But wait,” you’re probably asking, “aren’t fairy tales just kid stuff?”

Not exactly. In fact, fairy tales were often for adults as much as children. Early written versions of Little Red Riding Hood were told as parables to warn young ladies about getting into bed with the wrong sort of man, or as metaphors about entering womanhood (especially if cannibalism is kept in the story). In fact, that is still the case in some places: in Ireland, many still believe in fairies and tell stories, or “tales,” about them and what places to avoid. And in parts of Scandinavia and Iceland, beliefs in trolls and elves are still popular. Many countries in Asia, especially in southeast Asia, still believe in many types of spirits (and according to the classical definition of fairies, just about any supernatural entity can be considered a fairy, so it counts), and use stories to warn new generations of the dangers of pissing them off.

This adaptation of “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” is a prime example of how fairy tales can be recontextualized for new eras.

But beyond warnings, fairy tales, like many other kind of stories, are reflections of how we look at our world. Hansel and Gretel, for example, was probably told in an age of famine, poverty and witch hunts, given its elements and the lessons imparted in it. Even better, fairy tales can be recontextualized for new ages. Cinderella tales are increasingly told to make the lead less passive and more in control of her own life, and the Studio Ghibli film The Tale of Princess Kaguya, based on the Japanese fairy tale The Story of the Bamboo Cutter, retells the story with the theme of how Kaguya wants none of the finery her foster parents gift her, only to be surrounded by people who love her. This feels relevant in an age with rising consumerism, online image-building, and social isolation.

And that’s the cool thing about fairy tales, too. You can retell them in so many different ways. Hell, you can even come up with new ones. Plenty of writers are creating their own fairy tales, such as Diana Wynne Jones did with Howl’s Moving Castle, Melissa Albert with The Hazel Wood and many more. And many stories today use elements of fairy tales. The inclusion of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” in Stephen King’s IT isn’t just a fun choice by King, after all: King originally started plotting that story as a modern interpretation of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

Makes you wonder what elements of fairy tales and legends you’re putting into your stories, doesn’t it?

And that’s the thing. Even you can make up your own original fairy tales or retellings. In fact, plenty of writers are, and will as the world changes. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an updated version of Anansi and the introduction of stories to the world in the wake of so many states attempting to rewrite history or schools attempting to ban books. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this pandemic, or any of the major conflicts we’ve experienced in the past several years, make their way into a new or an old fairy tale. I’ve already come up with a few ideas for some, and might write one or two in the near future.

And I bet, no matter who’s telling the stories, they’ll continue to influence society for years to come. From the “Once upon a time” beginnings to the optional “they all lived happily ever after.”

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I spent most of President’s Day writing, so I’ll take the rest of the night off. I’ll be back soon, as I’m expecting to share some good news very soon. Until then, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and don’t try to wake me up with a kiss. I bite.

Also, here are some of the videos I watched while researching fairy tales. Give them a watch. They’re quite edifying:

Transforming our Understanding of Fairy Tales by Anne Dugan

Why We Absolutely Need Fairy Tales by Jason Link

Myths, Folklore & Legends: We Still Need Our Fairy Tales by Heidi Shamsuddin

Are you all annoyed with me yet? Or is this sort of promotion just expected from me at this point?

So, if you were unaware before, my short story “Agoraphobia” is releasing this month. Specifically, it’ll be releasing two weeks from today on Tuesday, March 16th. The story follows a man with severe anxiety and agoraphobia who has to face the prospect of leaving his home for the first time in hears due to a hurricane bearing down on his area. As you can probably guess, things don’t go exactly as planned.

Anyway, the story will be available for ebook purchase from Amazon, and the physical version will be available as a chapbook at events where I will be a vendor. (Click here to see what events I’ll be attending in the near future. Click here to find out what the hell a chapbook is supposed to be). And if you’re at all interested in reading it or in supporting me, you can preorder a copy now. The story is only 99 cents (or British and Canadian equivalents) and it would make me very happy if you decided to get a copy.

And if you do download the story (or buy it at a future event), I would be very happy if you left a review somewhere. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and your input not only helps me out in the long run, but helps other readers decide whether or not the story is worth their time. Between people actually reading the story and word of mouth, it’s one of the most important ways you can help an author out. At least one whose name isn’t Stephen King or Anne Rice or something.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be leaving the links for “Agoraphobia” down below, as well as my other works. Hey, you never know. One of those stories may appeal to you as well. Perhaps my fantasy-horror story Rose; or my serial killer thriller-horror Snake; The Quiet Game, my debut collection of short stories; or maybe my Arthurian fantasy/sci-fi mashup “Mother of the King.” Either way, I leave it in your hands.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia:Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quite Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Wow, I’m writing this post way later than expected. I blame the busy day I had. After work, I had to run errands, and then I had administrative work to do (answering emails, sending emails, setting things in motion, etc.), and I had to eat dinner…I’m sorry. I’m not sure why I’m bothering you guys with this stuff either.

Anyway, as you can tell from the title of this post, “Agoraphobia” is three weeks away from being released. This short story is about a man with severe agoraphobia and anxiety who is forced to leave his home due to a hurricane bearing down on his house. It’s a creepy, delicious little tale of dealing with your darkness under the most dire circumstances.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then guess what? The story is available for preorder right now. I’ll leave the links below. I hope you’ll check the story out. And if you do, I hope you’ll let me know what you think somehow. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers. And if you leave reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, it helps me out in the long run, as well as give readers a better idea of whether or not a story is worth their time.

(Hopefully you consider mine worth your time.)

Anyway, the story will release March 16th, so I’ll be posting reminders right up until release day. Hopefully you won’t be sick of me by then.

Also, if you’re wondering if there’s a physical version for the story, there will be. However, it, like “Mother of the King,” will only be available as chapbooks at events I attend as a vendor. Sorry, but that’s just the business strategy I’m trying out. (Click here to find out what events I’m going to attend this year. Click here to find out what the hell a chapbook is.)

Speaking of “Mother of the King,” I’ll leave links for that below as well. It just received its tenth review on Amazon (and five stars, no less!), so you should go and check it out. Or you can check out my short story collection, The Quiet Game; my serial killer horror-thriller novel Snake; or my fantasy-horror Rose. Any one of them will be worth your time. I’ll include links below.

Alright, that’s enough self-promotion. I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, so I’ll be mostly focused on that. However, you should see me again by the end of the week, if a certain film is released to streaming as promised. Until next time, good night, my Followers of Fear, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia:Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quite Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Happy February! How are you? Did you survive January? How’s 2021 treating you so far? How many fingers am I holding up?

Okay, enough of that. As you can see from the title, it’s been exactly two months since I published my short story “Mother of the King.” Given that milestone, I figured it was time to do another post about it. (I would have done a post marking the one-month mark, but that was also New Year’s Day. Didn’t think it was worth the bother)

So, if you’re unaware, “Mother of the King” is a fantasy/science fiction story centering around King Arthur, and the first story in a little side project of mine I’m calling “the New Arthur Universe.” The story is about the fabled return of King Arthur, told from the recollections of his mother. It’s a different take on the Once and Future King.

I actually planned for this to be a one-off story. I was like, “I just dove down the rabbit hole of Arthurian legend and came back with this one story idea. Let’s write it and see where it goes.” However, the response from readers was that they wanted more. And I was like, “Sure, why not?” So I’ve been thinking of ways to further expand the story and the universe of “Mother of the King.”

In fact, I’m working on a new story in the “New Arthur Universe.” It’s still early stages, but I hope I can put out a new short story or novelette at some point this year.

But enough about that. If you’re interested in checking out “Mother of the King” and supporting this new venture of mine, I’ll leave links below. You can read what other people are saying and maybe purchase a copy yourself. This is an ebook exclusive, with print copies only available at events as chapbooks (click here to see what events I’m currently scheduled to attend in 2021). And if you do end up downloading or buying a copy, please let me know what you think in a review. Positive or negative, I love reader reviews, and they help me out in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a full day of work ahead of me, followed either by some writing or a movie night. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

In my last post, I mentioned that I was prepping to move into a bigger apartment and was getting ready to do so. While going through some stuff, seeing what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to donate, I was surprised by what I found hidden at the bottom of a box: my three contributor copies of the Winter 2011 issue of TEA, A Magazine. This is significant because this was the first time I was paid for a published story!

While my memory can be very unreliable sometimes, I remember that story, and that magazine, so well. I was still in high school then, and I was just starting to try and get into the short story market. In those days, I was regularly borrowing these annual guides on the short story market, reading the articles for anything I could use to improve my own storytelling techniques and looking at the listings of magazines and small presses I could submit my work to. One of the listings was for TEA, A Magazine. You can guess what it was focused on. Articles, ads, recipes, and even fiction centering on tea.

I was a big tea drinker even then, so I was intrigued. And I thought, Why not try to write a short story about tea and send it their way? And I did, a short story called “Summers with Grandmother Fumika.” And as you can tell from that title, I was a huge nerd for anime, manga, and Japanese culture back then. In fact, I was crazier about it then than I am now! But back to the short story. “Summers with Grandmother Fumika” was about a young Japanese-American girl who stays with her grandmother during the summers, and one summer, they perform a tea ceremony for a kitsune, a multitailed fox spirit.

Definitely more fantasy-based than Rose was, though they both drew upon Japanese culture. And it had a happier ending.

I don’t think I really expected TEA to accept my work, but to my surprise, the editor actually enjoyed the story and wanted to work with me on it. A couple of months of edits, and they sent me a contract. Not too long after, they sent me a $100 check for the story, as well as my contributor copies.

My short story in the issue, “Summers with Grandmother Fumika.”

Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, once said that he could make a million dollars in his lifetime, but he would never feel richer than he did the moment he received a $400 check for his first story, A Princess of Mars. For me, I have the same feeling about that $100. Not because I grew older and $100 didn’t seem like such a big deal as it did in high school. But because that check came with more than just monetary meaning. It came with validation.

Imagine, only 17 and someone thought that something you had written was not only good, but they wanted to pay money for it! To include it in a magazine read by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people! “Intoxicating” doesn’t even begin to cover the feeling I had then. And I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since, trying to replicate it.

Of course, like any addiction, nothing ever compares to that first high. Thankfully, with this addiction, there are plenty of other perks when I manage to publish something people enjoy. You can probably guess what they are.

I’m glad I was able to rediscover that story and those contributor copies. It’s been so long, I’d forgotten that I even had them. And with it being around ten years since that issue of TEA was released, it feels almost timely. Makes me want to do something with “Summers with Grandmother Fumika.” Maybe a reading on a YouTube video? It’d be more fantasy than horror, but I’m sure there would be some people interested in hearing me read it. We’ll see after the move.

Anyway, thanks for strolling down memory lane with me, my Followers of Fear. It was a nice, warm, nostalgic moment in my day and I wanted to share it with you. And it reminds me that, even though it’s been awhile since I’ve had an acceptance, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Hell, if I can do it at 17, then I can do it at 27. Just a matter of time, work and finding the right publication.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, Shabbat Shalom, have a good weekend, and pleasant nightmares.

Back in November, I announced that I was going to release some of my short stories as e-book exclusives, with print versions available as chapbooks at events (click here to find out what a chapbook is, and click here what events I’ll be attending in 2021). At the beginning of December, I released the first of these stories, an Arthurian fantasy called “Mother of the King” (links below). That did very well and got good feedback. And based on that feedback, I’ve decided to tell further stories in that world.

While those are still gestating in my imagination, however, I still plan to release a few short stories over the course of the year as e-books. And, if the title of this post didn’t clue you in, I’ve decided on which story will be getting the e-treatment: “Agoraphobia,” which follows a man with severe agoraphobia and anxiety trapped in his home during a hurricane. And there’s something in his home with him.

I chose this story because I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from beta readers on the language and portrayal of anxiety. I also think, since this is more horror than “Mother of the King” was, more people will show an interest in it and want to download it. And of all the stories I’m considering for e-release, it’s the most edited, so that’s helpful.

Before I set a release date, however, I’m going to go through this story one more time and see if I can’t fix up any typos or whatever. I’ve recently learned how to do that thing where Microsoft Word reads your document to you, so I’m looking forward to using that as an editing tool. After I’ve gone through and cleaned it up as much as possible, I’m going to commission an artist to make a cover, as I feel that there aren’t any stock photos or covers I could use like I did with “Mother of the King.”

After all that, then I’ll set a release date, let you all know, and get the ball rolling on that marketing machine of mine. I hope you’re as excited as I am for me to get this story out there.

In the meantime, I’ve got some other stories available if you want to check them out. My other e-release, “Mother of the King,” is available, of course, but so are my fantasy-horror novel “Rose;” my serial killer-thriller “Snake;” and my collection of short stories, “The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones.” I’ll leave the links below if you want to check them out. And if you do end up reading them, please leave a review or let me know some other way what you thought. Positive or negative, I love your feedback, and they help me and other readers in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

My, how time flies when you’re defending Britain!

No, wait. That’s what my characters are doing. I’ve been busy with a million other things. But time has flown since December began and “Mother of the King” came out. And in that time, I’ve gotten a few sales, some great feedback and reviews, and a lot of ideas on the future.

So, for those of you who don’t know, “Mother of the King” is my Arthurian fantasy story that I released as an ebook exclusive. The story centers on the fabled return of King Arthur, as told through the perspective of the woman chosen to be his mother. The story delves deep into Arthurian lore, while also showing how the legend might evolve in the near-future.

And I’ve gotten a lot of good reviews so far on Amazon, Amazon UK and Goodreads. Here’s what some people have said:

What an interesting story! Part history and part futuristic. The legend of King Arthur plays in the forefront while the post apocalyptic England is developing a scientific plan to protect the British Isles from the advancing end of the world. A present young leader Arthur is a top position of protecting the young queen, most likely the last of the royal family and hopefully launch the successful application of the Camelot System that will save them all. The story of the historic King Arthur plays over current events in an interesting way and the story is told first person by Misty Adams [sic], the mother of the king (to be).

This is a well crafted novella and I really wanted to know what eventually happed. I was yelling “No! More now!” On the last page but the story definitely perks up your imagination. Rami Ungar is absolutely one of my favorite writers and look forward to more adventures from him soon. Enjoy!

Kimberly Napolitano, Amazon US and Goodreads

I had the pleasure of reading this book before it came out, it was an amazing read for me, love the main character Misty and the mystery behind her is amazing love it Rami

Kyle Baird, Amazon UK

A short and sweet tale that is inventive, modern, and relatable of a woman and her destiny in raising a King who would rise again. Loved her characterization and witty voice. She could easily be a mother next door and the reader gets swept away in her daily love and struggles of raising her son in coming to power. One of the most down-to-earth and relatable tales about a woman, unbeknownst to her, comes to find herself grabbling with motherhood of one of the most extraordinary kings in mythology.

Leslie, Goodreads & Amazon

And my friend and colleague Allen Huntsman made a video on his channel, DeathGroundReviews, on the story. HE made it sound so amazing both narratively and thematically, and I want him to narrate a future audio version if the future is kind. Check out what he said:

Ooh, I got shivers!

Yeah, it’s been good this week. However, I’ve noticed a trend in the reviews: you guys want more. That you want to know what happens afterward, or see more from Arthur Addison’s point of view. Some were even suggesting that I was laying the basis for a new connected literary universe or sub-universe, or that I was laying groundwork for a TV pitch.

Well, I don’t think a TV show is anywhere near a possibility in my life right now. But a connected universe? That might not be a bad idea. What would I call that? The New Arthur series? The New Arthur Universe? As long as nobody gets the central character confused with my Uncle Arthur, it should be fine…

Oh, alright! Fine! It sounds fun! I’ll do it! I’ll continue the story of Field Marshal Arthur Thomas Addison, AKA the new King Arthur! Like HP Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle, a series of short stories, novelettes, and novellas (and maybe a novel, who knows). It might take time. A lot of time. I’m not going to just write a story and put it out. I have to feel like it’s a good story to add to the major story. But I’ll write further stories in this world.

And when I do, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, if you want to check out the story, “Mother of the King” is available to download and read. I’ll post the links below if you’re interested. And if you do read the story, please give me some feedback and/or a review. Positive or negative, I love what you have to tell me, and it helps me and other readers in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to make dinner and maybe chill, maybe write. We’ll see. Until next time (which will likely be within the next few days), happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK

I’ve mentioned a few times that “Mother of the King” and any other short(er) stories I self-publish over the next year will only be available in print as chapbooks to be sold at conventions and other events. The conventions and other events part is easy to understand, but I’m sure some of you have wondered what a chapbook is. Well, as promised, I’m going to explain what those are and why authors make them.

To put it simply, a chapbook is a small pamphlet or booklet of 40 pages or less, either folded from a giant piece of paper or stapled together from several sheets of paper (fun fact: the latter is known as saddle-stitching). The practice of making and selling chapbooks began around the 16th century and were named after the men who sold them, chapmen, who were early traveling salesmen and dealers. Modern chapbooks are often made by authors using printers and staplers, or assembled in print shops and sold at events or sometimes in specialty bookstores.

So, that’s what a chapbook is. Why do we have them? Why would an author make them?

Well, chapbooks were originally printed for working class families who could read but couldn’t afford books on their own (even with the printing press, those things were expensive). They were easy to transport and helpful in disseminating ideas, information, entertainment and (often inaccurate) history into popular culture. They were also used to develop literacy, much like comic books and graphic novels help teens and people who don’t speak a nation’s native language learn and develop language and reading skills.

“The Chapbook, promotional poster” by MCAD Library is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Fast forward to today. Books are cheaper and libraries exist, but chapbooks are still around. They’ve been especially popular during the past couple of decades in certain circles thanks to copying and printing technology. For the first time, people could sell their stories and poetry directly to the people without the aid of a major publisher or someone who owned a printing press. It was kind of an early form of self-publishing, if you think about it.

With people making chapbooks and small circulation magazines from home, the chapbook has made something of a comeback. And though it’s still not as popular as the your regular hundred-plus page book, they’re still being put out every year. Authors and poets like how easy and cheap they are, and how they can make something of a profit from them while also giving potential fans something quick to enjoy and maybe get hooked on their work. Like I said, a form of self-publishing, though some presses also do chapbooks alongside regular books.

And presses and authors aren’t the only ones who have seen value in these little booklets. There are bookstores that sell chapbooks alongside regular paperbacks, events devoted to them as an artform (looking at you, NYC/CUNY Chapbook Festival), and major publishers using them as advertising tools for their catalogs. And sometimes, depending on the chapbook, who made it, the method of production, and how many exist, these babies can go for quite a bit of money. Sometimes hundreds of dollars.

Not bad for a cheap little booklet that was often recycled as toilet paper after the buyers were done with the story (yeah, that’s true. As well as strips of old newspapers. Beats a stick or a corn cob though, right?).

Anyway, I don’t expect to make hundreds of dollars off chapbooks of my work. Especially when they’ll still be available as ebooks online. But as I said above, they’d be a good way to get my work out to more people. For events out of town, they could help fund those trips. And let’s face it, they could be fun to have and to show off at my next convention. Whenever that is. Damn you, COVID-19!

Anyway, that’s a chapbook. A form of literature with a cool history and a revival in an age when people can control when stories come out. A diverse artform that takes very little time to make and enjoy. And I hope I can start making them (or going to the print shop to make them) very soon.

In the meantime, I already have one story out in a digital format, so it’s kind of like a chapbook. Yeah, you knew this was coming. My Arthurian fantasy novelette, “Mother of the King,” is out now and available as an e-book. The story is about the fabled return of King Arthur, told from the point of view of the woman chosen to be his mother. It’s been out barely two days, and it’s already garnering some great reviews! I’ll include the links below, so check it out!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off with a priestess, a dragon and a Deep One to find Arthur’s casket. Until next time, good night, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK

Good morning and happy December, Followers of Fear! We’re almost done with 2020 (and I think we’re all excited about that). However, while we’re still stuck in this year, there’s still much to do and look forward to. And I hope you’re including the release of my latest story, “Mother of the King,” in your list of things to look forward to!

For those of you who don’t know, “Mother of the King” is a fantasy novelette about the return of King Arthur, told from the perspective of the woman responsible for his return. It’s being released as an e-book exclusive on Amazon, and guess what? Today’s the release date!

(And sorry for those who prefer physical copies, but those will only be available as chapbooks at events like conventions or book readings. Just got to hope you can come to a future event I’ll be attending someday. And yes, I’ll be releasing a post about what chapbooks are as soon as I can.)

A story about the return of King Arthur. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

I’m very excited to release this story. I first got interested in Arthurian legend about two years ago, and went down a rabbit hole of research. The result was this story, which incorporates a lot of what I learned into the story while still being a (hopefully) entertaining tale.

I’ll include the links down below for anyone who’s interested. And if you do end up buying a copy and reading it, please leave a review and let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback. Plus, your reviews help other readers know whether or not they should check out the stories themselves.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me. Until next time, happy reading, pleasant nightmares, and LOOK OUT FOR THE MACE TO THE HEAD!!!

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon CAN, Amazon UK