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Book Review: Gods of the Mountain (A Cycle of Blades Book 1) by Christopher Keene


Gods of the Mountain, Book One in A Cycle of Blades has all the ingredients that make a fantasy novel interesting.

There’s an original magic system… I know, I know. In this day and age, with the massive number of fantasy bestsellers that have already flooded the market, is there even such a thing as an original magic system?

Maybe not. BUT in Gods of the Mountain, there are no long-winded arcane chants or hard-to-get herbal concoctions. Magical effects are instantly activated simply through mental visualization of the Lunari symbols. Pretty handy in a fight. With that sort of system in place, the mages-are-rear-line-support trope no longer holds true.

And that alone gives Gods of the Mountain a fresher look than most fantasy novels.

While we are still on the subject of magic, let’s talk about the gods. After all, they tend to show up when magic’s out and about. Much like rats in a food larder. Well, the gods in the mountain are selfish and whiny so I don’t feel like talking about them, but which bestselling fantasy novel worth its salt doesn’t have heroes or villains rising against the gods?

Much like Raistlin Majere, the ambitious anti-hero of the bestselling Dragonlance series, Gods of the Mountain too has a protagonist who breaks the rules and challenges the will of the gods. Unlike Raistlin though, Faulk, our protagonist, seems to do it out of the goodness of his heart. And unlike Raistlin, Faulk actually gets laid… Oh no! Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!

But that brings us neatly to the romantic sub-plot. In one corner, we have Yuweh, the aloof and unattainable Messenger of the Lunari gods. She receives a mission to find and capture outsiders guilty of abusing their sacred symbols and journeys to the Tyrian city. In the other corner, also in the Tyrian city, is a former army officer laid low by the death of his former commander and father figure. He lives a life of crime, in squalor, a shadow of his former self. Oh yeah, he’s also one of the outsiders guilty of abusing the Lunari symbols.

Virginal priestess and broken hero. Naive cop and hardened thief. You can see where this is going, right? I don’t know about you but I really enjoy watching unlikely couples get together. And this particular trope also seems to appear frequently in popular Japanese manga.

And look, fans of blood and gore are not going to be disappointed! Because while Faulk warms himself by a naked priestess, a certain disgruntled former Messenger of the Lunari gods skulks around in the shadows as he pits his students, Kessler the Tyrian assassin and Pry the Inqusitor’s assistant, against one another.

As the two unleash the power of the Lunari symbols, hundreds of corpses pile up in the city. And here’s where the explanation for the series title comes in. Cycle of Blades. Because of all the flying swords that are used to create the corpses.

And that’s as far as my explanation goes. If you want to know how to make swords fly and why there’s a need to create mountains of corpses, go read the novel. You can purchase a copy from Amazon.

Loh Teck Yong


Should Writers Help Each Other?

Trust Hand Teamwork Keep Cooperation Unity

* The above image is from Max Pixel.

Although there are a lot of writers who say that this industry is already as competitive as can be and what a writer doesn’t need is more rivals, I think there is room for cooperation. Especially among self-published writers.

And here, I will talk about the 2 most difficult hurdles a self-published writer has to overcome.

Shops Will Reject You

For starters, brick-and-mortar bookshops usually do not carry self-published books. I worked at a bookshop myself so I know everyone, my shop and our competitors, only carry books published by established companies. A small independent bookshop MIGHT deal with individual self-published authors but independent bookshops are dying so we can’t really depend on them.

So how can a self-published writer get exposure and sell his books? Well, other than bookshops, bookworms also head to writers’ festivals and similar events for their fixes. But these event organizers only invite established writers to hawk their stuff. So if you are an unknown writer with only one self-published title under your belt, you are not likely to be offered a spot at such events.

I thought to myself. Okay, what if a ragtag band of unknown writers pool their resources together and have their own writers’ festival? It’s impossible for one single writer to rent a venue and have his (or her) own writer’s festival. Because the costs will be sky high and who would come to an event that sells only one title published by only one author?

It’s a different story though, if a group of hitherto unknown writers suddenly band together to make their debut at an event. Possibly some gimmick will be needed to promote the event but that shouldn’t pose any sort of difficulty to a group of writers. Read the rest of this entry

To Work Or To Write

That is the question. According to many writers, it is difficult to do both.

“I walked eight to 12 miles each day, carrying a heavy satchel. I actually liked being drained that way, as if each piece of paper I put in a mailbox represented a small packet of my own energy. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t anything left for Second Book. I had the stamina to do the job and come home and recover from doing the job and then go do it some more the next day.”

Excerpt from I Published My Debut Novel to Critical Acclaim—and Then I Promptly Went Broke

And I can empathise with Merritt Tierce, the author of the above-mentioned article, all too well.  I couldn’t do it either, working and writing at the same time. When I started working on Guards Gone Wild! I was also working as a security guard at the same time and, just like Merritt, I had no energy left at the end of a work day for any kind of creative work. Read the rest of this entry

Would You Like To Be In My Book?

And I will throw in a limited edition Guards Gone Wild! postcard as well!

Previously, I made a blog post about one problem I am having with my crowdfunding campaign.

And that’s figuring out what sort of gift I should thank my donors with. I have thought long and hard about this and decided that the first idea I had, giving away free copies of my book, would overwhelm me financially.

So here’a an idea I thought of as an alternative to the free book offer.

For a minimum donation of 10 dollars, the donor’s name will be included on a special Thank You page in my book. And so, anyone who buys a copy of my book will be able to see who are the contributors who helped me make Guards Gone Wild! a reality. And the names will stay in my book, even in future print runs. That’s my way of saying, “I will never forget those who helped me before.”

In addition to getting listed in my book as an honoured contributor, a minimum donation of 10 dollars will also get you a limited edition Guards Gone Wild! postcard with a personal Thank You message written by me.

So what do you think of my idea?

Also, should I leave this postcard idea as it is or should I tweak it?

What if I announce that a donor can get one extra postcard for every additional donation of $10 (on top of the original minimum donation of $10)?

Personally, I am really uncertain about this particular tweak. It seems like it will make my crowdfunding campaign look crass and shift the focus from crowdfunding to raise enough money to produce a book to “selling” postcards.

But because this is my first crowdfunding project and I really don’t know enough about this subject, I feel that it is important to look through every option very carefully before I discard it. And it would be immensely helpful if those of you following my blog can weigh in on this topic.

Is it a good idea to replace the free book offer with the free postcard & a place in my book offer? And if I do that, should I tweak the postcard deal further by offering a free postcard with every extra $10 donated?

Your thoughts?

Teck Y. Loh

Writers Don’t Always Show

Sometimes they just tell.

Don’t believe me? Well, then check out this interview with New York Times bestselling author, Lee Child. You can’t go wrong listening to the advice of a New York Times bestselling author. 🙂

Personally, I just go by my gut feeling. If I feel like showing would work better for a particular scenario, I show. But I won’t hesitate to simply tell if I feel that showing would get in the way of storytelling.

My book, Guards Gone Wild!, is a collection of short stories about my adventures in the private security industry. As such, it contains scenes where I diligently perform routine security work. If I show in detail every instance where I greet a visitor to my building, Guards Gone Wild! will become a lengthy (and boring) textbook about security work.

On the other hand, certain scenarios must be shown in detail to add colour and depth to the story. Such as fights, for example. Read the rest of this entry

What’s Wrong With Guards Gone Wild!?


As the title for my book, I mean.

Recently, I had a meeting with a friend to discuss the possibility of using crowdfunding to raise fund to publish Guards Gone Wild!, a collection of stories about my adventures in the private security industry.

During the meeting, my friend had a strong reaction to the title. He said Guards Gone Wild! will make my book look sleazy. He also told me I will receive criticisms from others, including publishers, over the title.

That came as a surprise to me. Because I had already decided on using Guards Gone Wild! as the title since September last year and have been tossing it around here and there ever since. No one complained about sleaziness or whatever.

On the other hand, my friend felt rather strongly about the sleaziness of my title of choice. Which is why I would like to do a poll here. To see how many people actually consider the title to be too sleazy and if that might affect sales of the book. Read the rest of this entry

Rejection Letter #3

I just received my third rejection letter from a publisher.

“Thanks for the submission but Guards Gone Wild is not for us.”

Short and sweet. That’s from Publisher #2.

3 down and just 1 more left. I really hope Publisher #3 has some positive news for me.

Teck Y. Loh