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Alexandria Rising is on Audible, Update on sequels, classes and raves

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears,
send me your beers, forget your jeers and sneers
and take a dive into a world where joy truimphs over fear
” – Wilford Shakespeare, Juliet Caeser.

My friends, it has been far too long since I have written a blog post. Thank you for your grace in being patient as I have been quagmired under a whirlwind of new resonsiblities at work and home and, as with all of us, coping with this strange new world of COVID-19.

As all of us, I entered 2020 with high expectations of promise. I had several scheduled readings and classes across the state. When COVID hit, they were all postponed. As a writer, I don’t “live off of the crowd” as say a musician or athlete would, but I do deeply enjoy meeting new and longtime readers, encouraging young writers and meeting so many interesting people at these events.

I am looking forward when this chapter passes to seeing your faces, sharing a cup of coffee or a glass of stout and, most of all, a laugh and a chat.

I do still have a few virtual events taking place, however. But, first let me kick off with some great news!

ALEXANDRIA RISING ON AUDIBLE

One of the biggest piece of news from my corner of the world is that my first novel, “Alexandria Rising” is now an audiobook and available on amazon.com and audible.com. I began working on this project in November 2019 and was fortunate enough to partner with narrator Thomas Cassidy. An Englishman, Cassidy has a brillaint talent and was able to successfully capture the characters and pacing of the novel. Here is the trailer if you want a taste.

Impressive, isn’t it? You can purchase it here on amazon or here on audible.

THE SEQUEL TO THE PALE PRINCE

I am also excited to announce that the sequel to, “In Pursuit of The Pale Prince” is on track to be published in October 2020.

I will be revealing the title and have an interview with the artist who has been commissioned to create a painting for the cover in the next few months. This book really takes me into places and situations I had not envisioned before, primarily the world of magic. However, the magic is not a simple wave of the wand, but has rules i.e. I studied from Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’s” class and took a few lessons from, “The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis.

As with, “In Pursuit of the Pale Prince,” it is a Fantasy novel and appropriate for ages from 5 to 105. Stay tuned for details.

VIRTUAL CLASSES AND GATHERINGS

All said, while the bulk of the readings have been postponed, I do have a virtual Zoom class I am teaching in conjunction with The Fayette Library slated for July 18. You can register here.

I also begin a virtual blog tour on July 1 touting the audible version of Alexandria Rising. We have some very cool interviews coming up soon I will post on social media.

Do you have an idea for a class or virtual literary get together? Would you be interested in taking a class? If you have any ideas, email me at markwallacemaguire@gmail.com.

RAVES

I always like to share what I’ve been digging on in the cultural world in these blogs. If you have any ideas to share, please do. I am always seeking new art to consume.

1917: I saw this movie in the theatre and was virtually speechless for the two hours afterwards. Directed by Sam Mendes and helmed with Director of Photography Rodger Deakins, the movie is a masterpiece. I’ve watched some scenes over 20 times and bought it. It is brilliant across all spectrums and also gave me more empathy for my great-grandfather who served with honor in Argonne Forest in World War I.

Dark Places: Great short stories by Georgia writer Damon Poirier. Very well done and fantastic quick reads of quirky, yet, accessible imagination.

Lonesome Dove: I re-read this for the third time this past Spring and forgot what a fantastic epic it is. Larry McMurtry does an amazing job of capturing the fabric of the American west, but without losing the human element. Now, I am ready to re-read, “Comanche Moon.”

Music: I have been all over the place searching for a good groove this year. I’ve been re-listening to a bit of Gil Scott Heron’s “Spirits” album and Miles Davis’s early work. I also discovered Dublin post-punkers The Murder Capital and have been enjoying spinning parties from DJs such as DJ Nice.

Gregory Porter is a new favorite. His version of, “It was probably me,” by Sting and Eric Clapton is gorgeous – it even brought Sting to tears. I also love, “Take me to the Alley.”

That’s all for now. I hope to be seeing you all sooner, than later. In the meantime, stay in touch on social media or drop me a line at markwallacemaguire@gmail.com.

Peace,

MWM

Featured

2020: A look ahead

The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton

If I were more skilled in the ways of numerology I could craft a clever introduction to this post about the double numbered year we are entering or write an endearing piece about decades. Though my knowledge of numerology is limited, I can tell you that I’m very excited about 2020. The year has barely started, but I am blessed with a schedule full of book signings, readings and classes I will be teaching. What else is on the docket? I am finishing the fourth draft of the sequel to ‘In Pursuit of The Pale Prince’ and shipping a copy off to a beta reader by the end of January. The goal is to have that on market by October. I am also pursuing three other books I’ve begun, but right now my mind is with Arestus and Cirin and new friends on foreign soils. Below is a schedule of where I will be and what I will be up to the next nine months with more dates to follow. If you are interested in hosting me as a reader or to teach a class, please contact markwallacemaguire@gmail.com. Safe travels. Best, MWM

Jan. 25: Special Needs Dads Conference South. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fayetteville Christian Church, Fayetteville, Ga.

March 22: Monarch House Reading, Newnan, Ga. Time TBA

July 18: 1 to 3 p.m. Class and signing. Fayette County Library.

September: Fayette County Library. Time and Date TBA.

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Updated Appendices to The Chronicles

These are the appendices of Alexandria Rising and Alexandria Reborn. The adventure on combining the appendices for the third and final book are underway as it is very laborious in density and allusion. These are not in chronological order so proceed at your own risk for spoilers if you have not read both. Your humble friend, Thomas J. Callahan 

 

Dr. Dunkel: Dunkel is the German word for ‘dark.’ Dunkel was Virgillius’s assistant in “Alexandria Rising.” He had been with The Organization for over 20 years before defecting. His background and education is unknown.

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Black Sands: On paper, an environmental research facility location inside the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The strange black sands for which it is named are an anomaly to that region, however, the geology aids in their alleged biological experiments. In truth, it is The Organization’s North American headquarters. Founded by Erik C.C. Matos in 1974, the site has been used under various guises. Ian St. James was promoted to oversee it and experiments with The Slendoc Meridian recently. Attempts by the U.S. National Department of Interior and other organizations to study their work has been systemically denied.
  • Train 42: Rand takes the MARTA Train 42 to the airport to escape his pursuers. The number, ‘42’ is widespread in the works of author Lewis Carroll who was also an avid numerologist. The number is especially present in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where it is used several times directly or indirectly. LOST as well. Through the rabbit hole we go?
  • Kent St. James: Kent St. James achieved a level of renown while a student at Oxford University in the 1970s with his research on game theory. While still a student, a close friend of his mysteriously died. While no evidence was ever found directly linking St. James to the murder, he was labeled a suspect and considered an outcast by his contemporaries. After graduation, he disappeared from public record.
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  •  -9. The Cavern is located nine levels below the main floor. In “The Inferno” by Dante, there are nine circles of hell.
  •  The Slendoc Meridian. The name, ‘Slendoc’ is of old Atlantean origin and means, ‘sacred,’ though it has also been interpreted as ‘magic’ or ‘light-giving.’ Multiple studies in linguistics have found no other mention of its name in any language.
John Reuel Rhodes: Allegedly from Oakland, Rhodes enlisted in the U.S. Marines where he earned accolades for his hand-to- hand combat skills. On-record mission work include missions in Somalia and Iraq before receiving an honorable discharge. He has many aliases including, Jon Wallace and Ron Jones. Curiously, his middle name resembles that of author J.R.R. Tolkien though no direct line of relation has been established, yet.
Ian: Apparently in charge of The Organization’s North American headquarters. No last name is given. All reports only cite a young man in his late 20s/early 30s who is, “reckless, ruthless and relentless.”This cipher ended me. A clue to La Font de Montaignne was thought to be had.
  • Eliot Waterstone: This enigmatic leader is by many estimates 120 years old. According to the “Lost Letters of Henry O’Neal,” a supplementary second appendices to “Alexandria Rising,” Waterstone recruited Rand’s grandfather Henry in the 1940s. Water- stone is also alluded to on various “Alexandria Rising” related websites and discovered videos. Eliot, as he prefers to be called, cites several direct passages from T.S. Eliot during his conversations with Rand O’Neal suggesting a deeper understanding. The direct use of passages from T.S. Eliot has been proven as an intentional homage by the author. Eliot has been known by many other names throughout the years including, ‘The Kestrel’ and ‘The Elegant Executioner.’ I am labor- ing deeply to discover more on this man who appears to be – as his name suggests – the key operative of much we cannot see.
  • Michael Casey the cabdriver: Casey is a familiar name in Ireland, meaning in Irish Gaelic, either ‘vigilant’ or ‘watchful.’ Casey is the only character in the book who does watch over Rand and guide him in a vigilant manner to safety.
  • Sligo: Sligo, a gorgeous county in northwest Ireland, is often referred to as ‘Yeats Country’ a reference to the 20th century Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Yeats, in later years, became as well-known for his dynamic poetry as his obsession with the occult.
  • Rand: The name was mistakenly thought to be a nickname for Randolph by many. In fact, the name, “Rand” is ancient Anglo-Saxon for ‘wolf shield.’
  • Mentone, Ala.: Mentone is a small town in northwest Alabama that sits at roughly 1,737 feet above sea level. The area surrounding Mentone is a lush, unspoiled area that includes such sights as Little River Canyon, DeSoto Falls and Lookout Mountain. The town itself is gorgeous and features an eclectic variety of restaurants and shops.

     

The Castle: Little is known of The Castle where The Organization housed their European headquarters. It was located in the northern part of Austria, possibly within or near the Kalkapen National Park before it was destroyed by Rand O’Neal during the events of, “Alexandria Rising.”

Declan Gola: Declan Gola is from Phoenix, Arizona and spent one year at California Technical University working for a variety of start-ups in the San Francisco bay area where he was recruited to help with communications and IT work at the Mentone outpost. It is worth nothing that Gola is an anagram of Iago, the famous traitor who sets up and betrays Othello in the play of the same name. It would make sense since as another tie-in to Shakespeare and his work which play a strong role in “Alexandria Rising.” “Men should be what they seem,” – Othello.
Presque Isle, ME: Presque Isle is the largest city in Aroostook County, Maine. The population was 9,171 in 2015 as estimated by the U.S. Census. The city is home to the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Northern Maine Community College, Husson University Presque Isle.
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Winston Worsley: Winston was a key code breaker and cipher creator for The Organization and Those Who Split for many decades. As he told Rand, he was raised in Texas. Winston spent the bulk of his time with The Organization in Europe working behind-the-scenes. While in London, he met and married Lucy Galmish. His name has caused puzzlement among some researchers and readers. While Winston may appear to allude to historical characters, none of them appear to fit the mold. More importantly is noting his last name. Worsley appears to be a direct reference to Frank Worsley who was the esteemed captain of The Endurance, the ship of the miraculous Antarctican mission led by Sir Ernest Shackleton in the early 20th century.
Andrew O’Neal: Finally, we are revealed some insights into Rand’s parentage. Andrew O’Neal, nameless in “Alexandria Rising,” was the son of Henry O’Neal. He was a highly-regarded operative for The Organization, until he led The Split. Andrew was educated at Berry College and The University of Chicago. He often served as an adjunct lecturer in between jobs at colleges throughout the Southeast until his murder ordered by Kent St. James.
Madeline Lehmann O’Neal: Andrew O’Neal’s wife. She was born in Washington, D.C., educated at Washington & Lee and The University of Chicago where she met Andrew. The entire breadth of her work is unknown as of this writing, however, she is considered by many to be an unsung force in The Split. Described by many as, “only her gracefulness surpasses her intelligence.”
Lux Engineering: Lux, i.e., Latin for “light” engineering was, as Winston said, founded in the 1970s
.Harding County, NM: This county has a population of roughly 700. Its geography is a mix of prairie, semi-desert and canyons and is considered to be one of the best kept secrets of natural beauty in that state.
Mary Celest: Little is known of her prior to her work with The Organization. Some have speculated she was raised in the Pacific Northwest, other records point to Morocco. We know she worked with Winston for years in The European Sector primarily in Berlin and London. Interestingly enough, the name, ‘Mary Celest’ also appears to be tied to the ship Mary Celeste. This mysterious ship was found abandoned and adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1870s and is a source of mystery even today.
  • (Dr.) Henry O’Neal: Publicly known as an expert in Modern Anglo-Irish literature, cultural diplomat and philanthropist. Though he was a professor at Emory University, O’Neal occasionally lectured at Yale, Oxford and Trinity College in Dublin. He turned down numerous opportunities to further his academic career due to what he professed was a deep love of his hometown, Atlanta, from where he and his wife were born. He was a first generation college man who graduated with multiple degrees from Harvard.
  • Smyrna, Georgia: A city northwest of Atlanta.
  • Spota: Adam ‘Spota’ Tiskinski rose through the ranks of the Miami public school system in an odd parallel of academic prowess and a rash of disciplinary issues. Despite being dismissed from three public schools, he still earned a scholarship to MIT. Records of him from that point appear disjointed, but his name does crop up in relation to work with the U.S. Special Forces and as an adjunct professor at Cornell University.
  •  ‘The Falcon cannot hear the Falconer’: Rand recites this phrase in the library regarding the W.B. Yeats poem, “The Second Coming” The entire poem points to a breakdown with lines such as, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
    WBYeats1908-photo-public-domain
    ;” and “blood-stemmed tide is loosed upon the world.” That poem contains many allusions to world-shifting events and, according to some critics, direct relations to the Apocalypse. In many ways, Rand’s off-hand jocularity precedes his events in The Cavern where things do indeed fall apart.
  •  The O’Neal family motto: ‘verum in aeternum’ which translated from Latin means, ‘Forever True.’ It is unclear how this motto became associated with the O’Neal family. With their roots heavy in northern Ireland, the claiming of a Latin motto is atypical. This is a mystery among the O’Neals of which Rand never questions his grandfather about. Some inquiries state that Henry O’Neal’s father, Patrick, created the motto in an effort to distance himself from both of the warring parties fighting in north Ireland to create a new slate for his family in the United States when he arrived in early 1917.
  •  The Castle: Little is known of the castle where the Organization works. According to off-hand remarks by Kent St. James, it was constructed in the 12th century and is probably located in the northern part of Austria, possibly within or near the Kalkapen National Park.
  •  Drachen Dining Room: Drachen is German for Dragon. The Dragon is associated with many things mythical, powerful and otherworldly. The name is also intriguing since the number nine in Chinese is associated with the dragon.
  •  The Atlanta Observer: One of metro Atlanta’s mid-sized newspapers, it focuses on covering the city’s northwest suburbs. It was established in 1901 and has a reputation for bulldog journalism.
  • Mark Venator: Venator is Latin for ‘Hunter’ and Mark is named after ‘Mars,’ The god of war. Venator was sent to hunt Rand in this instance and as Eric mentions later is one of The Organization’s overseas operatives.
  •  Aeolus Industries: The company which Venator says he works for and is printed on his business card. In Greek mythology, ‘Aeolus’ was the ruler of the winds and many times referred to often in the arts as one of the chief muses. He is also referenced in ‘The Odyssey.’
  • Dr. Virgillius: Virgillius is a reference to Virgil who guides Dante through hell in “The Divine Comedy.“ There are no public records in relation to Dr. Carmine Virgillius.
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  •  Henry Cromwell: The Cromwell name is strong throughout British History. The two most notable being Oliver Cromwell who throughout the mid 17th-century was an English tyrant. His atrocities and genocidal acts to the Irish, in particular, are notorious. Another Cromwell was Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII, who helped usher in the age of the English Reformation. Regarding Henry Cromwell:  After graduating from Cambridge with multiple degrees, he earned a reputation for his insight and drive during a 10-year stint in MI-6. He retired from the service before the age of 40, then surfaced occasionally in public roles across the spectrum including the European Union, Icelandic oil claims and other seemingly unrelated ventures. He disappeared from public life in the late 1990s.
  •  Dr. Hope Lightfoot: A native of the American Midwest, she earned her undergraduate degree from Indiana University in English, Music Appreciation and French. She then took a circuitous route earning fellowships to study at Juilliard, Cambridge and Berklee.
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  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: While his name is synonymous with classical music, many have forgotten how prolific he was composing more than 600 pieces of music in his lifetime. He was also reputed to work furiously under deadline, a trait generally associated with those using the Slendoc Meredian.
  •  Ich habe die Macht! German for, I have the power! What Weston experiences as he hovers over the found piece of the Slendoc Meridian.
    • William Shakespeare: The greatest playwright and poet of his time, and perhaps all time. His words and phrases are commonplace today. However, as is alluded to in this book, there were the ‘lost years’ when he did disappear only to emerge as a vortex in literature. The simple tremendous quality and quantity of his work has often led some scholars to believe that Shakespeare was several people as one person could not possibly produce so much in such a short period. It is a myth The Organization has fostered.
  •  Weston: The scientist who found the piece of the meridian. Weston appears to be a reference to Professor Weston from, “Out of the Silent Planet“ and“Perelandra“ by C.S. Lewis. The Weston in Lewis’s books is physicist and scientist who spouts doctrines that include moral relativism, science as a god and the teachings of Nietchze.
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    Spota: Adam ‘Spota’ Tiskinski rose through the ranks of the Miami public school system in an odd parallel of academic prowess and a rash of disciplinary issues. Despite being dismissed from three public schools, he still earned a scholarship to MIT. Records of him from that point appear disjointed, but his name does crop up in relation to work with the U.S. Special Forces and as an adjunct professor at Cornell University.
  •  Conor Renfield: Renfield is a character from ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker. The book – still debated as fiction or historical – features Renfield is a disciple of Dracula before turning on him in the end. He dies without Salvation and alone.[6]
  •  Bearington Heights College. A small liberal arts college in Virginia founded in 1873 as a Methodist College for young men, it eventually became co
    -ed and established a reputation similar to other colleges its size such as Washington & Lee.
  • The Bear: The identity for The Bear is never established. He might have earned the name either for his bulky size and wild beard or as an allusion to his Russian heritage. At one point, it was believed his last name was Chekov, but it cannot be confirmed.
  •  Sine Timore: Latin for ‘Without Fear’ The Frankish Castle the Organization occupies is inscribed with many ancient sayings. Though the members come from throughout Europe and the castle itself is located in Austria, the common default language in writing appears to be Latin. Sine Timore could be a motto of The Organization or a reminder to separate one’s emotion from reason as one ventures into unknown territories inside and outside the mind.
  •  Dr. Dunkel: Dunkel is the German word for ‘dark.’ There are no other public records on a Dunkel, Dr. Dunkel or the like associated with psychology.
  •  Rand O’Neals parents: We have little record of them here, except what is told to Rand by Dr. Virgillius and Kent St. James. Of course, considering the source of the information, what they told Rand may or may not be true.
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  •  Karalveem Valley: An extremely remote area located in the far northeast corner of Russia. Initially used for mining and later for building nuclear power plants, the harsh nature of the environment prevented much contact with the outside world for decades. For example, television was not available to the area’s residents until the 1970s and temperatures in the winter can reach 30 below zero.
  • Dr. Anne Catherick: Anne Catherick is the name of the woman in white in Wilkie Collins’ ‘The Woman in White’ considered by many critics to be the first mystery novel written.
  • Terrible worth fullness, yet understandable.
  • Eliot Waterstone:  ultra vos sunt. ultra vos sunt. 337. 337. 337.
  • Mt. St. Helens (eruption): When The Bear refers to, “what happened at Mt. St. Helens,” he is referring to a massive eruption that occurred at Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, U.S.A. in May 1980. While this volcano has had several eruptions through the centuries this was one of the most severe in recent history causing the north face of the volcano to slide away, killing over 50 people and dumping ash in 11 states. Geologists and news reports attributed to general instability and magma surges, however, sources inside The Organization have cited it to a reckless crew pursuing a significant sized piece of the meridian. The event is generally used by The Organization as an example of placing too much trust in technology and not respecting the power of the stones.
  • Another time, another place: There are several pieces of poems , lyrics, books and movies that feature this phrase. However, the lyrics of “Another time, another place” by U2 appear to point obviously to the song of the same name: “Bright morning lights, wipe the sleep from another day’s eye, turn away from the wall, and there’s nothing at all, being naked and afraid in the open space of my bed.”
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    What’s in a name? Meet Digby and Tyrian

    As you know, I love using allusions and easter eggs in my books. In ‘The Alexandria Rising Chronicles,’ I used symbology, names and numerology from the works of T.S. Eliot, Dante, Tolkien, Carroll and even the show, ‘LOST’ as inspiration. 

    When I began writing ‘In Pursuit of The Pale Prince,’ it was a different world. I was world creating from scratch so while I had a few footholds in our reality, I had to create others, including names of characters and places.

    Cirin.

    Gerlund.

    The River Orth.

    Axton.

    Malvryn.

    Not so was the case of Digby and Tyrian. They are the two outliers.

    Digby is one of Georgia’s lost towns. A nameplate marks where it is. There is nothing else. Not a Digby gas station, much less a city hall or monument. It is one of the many disappearing communities in the post-mill and post-agriculture driven Georgia. It is one of the many rural places that only have a name. Even a google search leaves little, or almost nothing, except for an entry on the noted webpage Vanishing North Georgia by the talented and tireless Brian Brown.

    Screen Shot 2019-10-09 at 8.41.58 PM
    Greater Digby in February.

    Even on that site, with its great repository, it only has two lines. (And for what it’s worth, Vanishing North Georgia and its sister sites are worth a click.)

    Yet, Digby is a good name. It is strong and faintly English in sound. Depending on which etymological source you refer to it is a mash up of Old Norse and Old English which means something to the effect of town, farm or dyke.

    I discovered Digby last year during one of my frequent journeys from Fayetteville, Ga. south to Thomaston to visit relatives. The countryside in and around Digby is gorgeous. Long, open pastures only dotted by old growth Oaks and Poplars. The occasional Magnolia crouched in the shade. A few peach and pecan groves and placid glistening ponds.

    What better name for one of the northern kingdoms than Digby?

    the new cover

    Tyrian was an easy choice It is an intentional homage to the king in C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Last Battle,’ the final book in, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ Tyrian is an honest chap with a noble heart who is not the most fierce warrior, but is the most honest and pure of heart. It is, again, a good name for a northern kingdom. As an avowed Lewisian, it is not the first time I’ve used a Lewis name in one of my books and will most likely not be the last.

    Featured

    Celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of Alexandria Rising: A look back

    It all began with a bicycle accident. 

    Four years ago on Oct. 27, I was involved in a serious bike accident.

    Went over the handlebars. Shattered right wrist that required pins. Broken ribs. Lip split that required stitches. Nose broken. Tendons torn in my left arm. Concussed. Knock out. Cold. Blood pressure sank. I saw the White City. It was gorgeous and peaceful and birds flew around it. It was surrounded by the thin ribbon of a purple river.

    My wife woke me up by pinching my shattered wrist to see if I had a pulse.

    Ambulance to Atlanta. Long recovery afterwards.

    arr

    I had had broken bones before. As I often say, God gave me the spirit of an athlete, but not the body of one. I’ve broken over 20 bones in my life. Not a point of Bulldog pride, but a fact.

    But this accident was different. Too close to the next place.

    And I learned how short life is. And why wait? And don’t wait for what’s next. Make what’s next, if you can.

    I had begun Alexandria Rising about seven months before my accident, but twiddled and twaddled and let my ego get the best of me when shopping first drafts to agents. I was hesitating. Doubting myself. Frustrated at the market which was not exactly in search of the next action adventure novel.

    But, after the accident, many things took hold. One shift that happened was my determination to see Alexandria Rising finished and published. So in January 2016, I began finishing it. My physical therapy was a joke. My wrist and fingers ached every time I struck the keyboard, but I pushed through. I was focused.

    Then, after drafts and edits and drafts and edits and late nights and rewrites, it was done.

    After I finished it, I shopped it. But the book industry – like most print – is wary to spend money that doesn’t have a guaranteed return these days. And though I am not privy to the publishing houses thoughts, the type of book I was writing is not en vogue at the moment. (I told someone, if only I was writing in the 80s – Alistair McLean would be getting sick or me knocking on his door for a review!)

    So, I pursued Independent Publishing. Opened my own press named Speckled Leaf Press. Outsourced editing and proofing and ran the rest — design, marketing and such — in house.

    Almost 1,000 days ago today — tempus fugit my friends – Alexandria Rising was published.

    The series has sold in 19 countries and over 7,000 of you have read it.

    Thanks for being part of this amazing journey! Writing a book is a labor of love, but if one did not enjoy writing novels, one would simply not do it. There is joy in the process and, especially, when it is read.

    The first reviews blew my socks off.

    The European based, PS I LOVE THAT BOOK used the ‘f bomb’ as part of their review which made me ecstatic! Boundless Book Reviews raved about it and Are You Afraid of The Dark? gave me a great interview and fictional character interview. Ratings on amazon and goodreads were positive. And I entered the world of podcasting and was fortunate enough to be interviewed on several since then including, A Taste of Ink, Speculative Fiction Cantina and Jesse’s Coffee Shop. I was also fortunate to be interviewed on NPR’s Dante’s Old South which was a magical day. Multiple book signings opened up. I met new friends I still keep in touch with. I wrote guest blogs on writing and the need for escapism for publications and capped off with being named a finalist for Independent Author of The Year and a Georgia Author of The Year 2017 nominee.

    But, where next to next?

    Alexandria Reborn

    After the first book, I began writing Alexandria Reborn in January 2017.

    I did not know where to go with the book at first.

    But, I had visited Mentone, Alabama many times and loved that area. I also wanted to ‘flip the script’ and leave Europe and have the characters in a variety of new locations that were different, but that I still had some touchstones to. Thus, Alabama, Maine and The American West were brought into the picture. I took a deep dive into world creating and it paid off. Welcome to Winston and Spota!

    Again, it was successful. Why stop at two, right? We all love a good trilogy.

    Alexandria Redeemed

    Goodness, that was fun.

    Alexandria Redeemed was the easiest book I have written.

    It was fast. It was glorious. It was all in my head before I even started. I had never felt so free writing a book.

    If flew, it ran. The writing flowed naturally.

    I love that book.

    The series ends with Rand on his bicycle riding down the tunnels under The Library as explosions around him. He is wounded. He rides through the end of the tunnel and wrecks in the desert sand.

    Hope awakes him by pinching his arm.

    The same way my wife did for me.

    Thank God for bicycle accidents?

    Maybe.

    Featured

    2019: After the solstice, before the frost

    The year is clipping by, like a summer weathered schooner on a fair wind. 

    I have spent the bulk of the first half of the year in self-imposed book promotion hibernation and have not been engaging much outside of the digital world.

    However, the plan is to devote more time to readings, classes and artistic endeavors for the second half of this circle around the sun.

    Here are a few thoughts and reflections on the year thus far from my corner of the world and a preview of what’s up for the next several months.

    MWM Jul20 workshop flyerWriting Workshop for Young Authors: On July 20, I will be teaching a writing workshop to budding young authors at the Fayette County Library. This is a free interactive workshop aimed for writers 10 to 13. Afterwards, I will give a reading and participants will have an opportunity to buy a signed copy of my YA novel, “In Pursuit of The Pale Prince” with a portion of proceeds going to the library.

    The sequel: Yes, there is a sequel to, ‘In Pursuit of The Pale Prince.’ I have finished the first draft and am giving it another rewrite. Most of the concept art is complete and my goal is to have it published later this year or early in 2020. Spoiler alert: This installment of the ‘Arestus Adventure’ series will be more action packed, feature new lands and threats and even a bit of magic. Yes, magic. I went there, but was more inspired by the ‘rules of magic concepts developed by Susanna Clarke and C.S. Lewis, rather than random wands and out of context incantations.

    Interview on prettyhotlit: Thanks to the kind ladies at prettyhotlit for featuring me in this interview. Anytime this old dog can be associated with the words, ‘hot,’ he is happy. Interview is up here.

    19 nations and counting: India joined the party this year as the 19th country where the Alexandria Rising Chronicles has been purchased.

    Screen Shot 2019-07-06 at 5.57.59 PMYear of the Rabbit: I have seen more rabbits this year than in the rest of my life combined. Maybe the few in our community carved out a snug warren and were busy during the winter or perhaps I’ve been blessed enough to be in the right place at the right time. I find a curious joy seeing rabbits hop across the grass, especially at dusk or dawn. There is a wee bit of magic and the flight of a furry animal in the half light.

    Shout outs

    Rebecca Watts: I met Rebecca through a series of events earlier this year celebrating the 60th anniversary of Peachtree City. Rebecca is not only an author and historian, but a strong poet. I really enjoyed her poem, ‘My Dark Room.’ You can check it out here where it was published  in the Blue Lake Review.

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    TM Brown: Big ups to Newnan author and relentless Southern literature promoter TM Brown. Brown continues to carry the torch of keeping Southern literature relevant and accessible on the south side of Atlanta with his readings, author panels and festival work. I’m looking forward to being part of ‘Hometown Novel Nights’ on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at Roger’s BBQ in Hogansville. You can learn more about Brown here.

    Picks and Props

    Here are a few of my favorite artistic picks of the year:

    Christopher Robin: A bit of whimsy? Why not. This is a gorgeous movie. Very well shot, written and acted. I expected something more depressing, but was pleasantly surprised.

    The Ocean Blue’s ‘Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves’: One of my favorite bands and influences in music from back in the day, The Ocean Blue have released a new album, “Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves.’ Their music consistently delivers. The band often draws comparisons to The Smiths, but I think they stand quite well on their own with songsmith and guitarist David Schelzel at the helm.

    The Night Manager: John le Carré is one of my favorite spy novelists. His writing style, intricate plots and amazing character development keep me addicted to his creations. However, most of the time I know reading him is like experiencing a Shakespeare play – I will fall in love with all the characters and then they will all die. That said, the recent amazon production of le Carré’s, ‘The Night Manager’ is extremely well done and – sans spoilers – will not let you down. (It is also worth noting that The Bond team might have missed their mark by not picking up Tom Hiddleston to replace Daniel Craig.)

    What’s up next on the Maguire docket?

    July 20: Writing workshop at Fayette County Library.

    Nov. 21: Hometown Novel Nights

    December: Holiday event TBA.

    2020

    Winter: Newnan Carnegie Library reading

    Spring: Class TBA

    Thoughts? Ideas? Comments? You can always hit me up at markwallacemaguire@gmail.com

    the new cover

    Featured

    Year in Review: The Trilogy Ends. A Best Seller. Broadcasts and Podcasts.

    There are far too many people to thank for a wonderful 12 months. The interviews on air and in magazines and newspapers and the invitations to read and teach made an indelible impact in my trajectory as an author. An extra big thank you goes all to many, including:

    Clifford Brooks III, Damon Poirier, Celeste Duckworth, Marsha Cornelius, Sarah Trowbridge, David Hirsch, Everett Catts, Adam Miller and everyone with The Southern Collective Experience.

    Here is a quick peak back at some of the highlights from this year.

    ALEXANDRIA REDEEMED RELEASED, TRLOGY COMPLETE

    cover hadshot

    The first trilogy of The Alexandria Rising Chronicles was completed this spring when Alexandria Redeemed was published in March. It marks the final book in this part of the Alexandria Rising Chronicles. It was bittersweet, but I really enjoyed wrapping this one up, weaving things together and incorporating the timeless themes of revenge and
    redemption. Thanks to you all for being part of the journey. I crammed a ton of easter eggs into this third book including Shakespeare, Keats, Explorer Percy Fawcett, C.S. Lewis and, of course, T.S. Eliot. What’s next for the story? Prequels on Winston Worsley 1983 and Patrick O’Neal circa 1900 are in the works….

    ALEXANDRIA RISING RHYTHMS

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    A musical companion to the book? Recorded in four different locations remotely by four different musicians them bounced, edited and mastered that way? Yes. We did it. Major ups to my dogs on this project and much love, including Clint J. Meador, producer and studio wiz, drummer and synth player, Bassist and Low End Theory scion Glen Denig and consultate and contributor Allen D. Bell on piano. I played guitars and bass, but these chaps did the real work. Recorded in Ellijay, Ga., N. Muskeon, Michigan, Smyrna, Ga. and Fayette County, Ga. Check it out here.

    COUSIN CLIFFORD AND MAD DAWG MAGUIRE ON THE ROAD

    Big ups and much love to my friend and poet Clifford Brooks III for rolling with me and inviting me to roll with him in 2018. I met Clifford in late ’17 and we worked together on many a journey this year, including teaching two classes together and multiple readings with others, including Atlanta’s meter master Peter Junker and American export of contemporary life Jon Tribble.

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    Maguire, Sarah Trowbridge with the Fayette Library and Clifford Brooks III.

    I was extremely honored – no hyperbole. my friends – in April when I was invited to be a guest on ‘Dante’s Old South,’ a program broadcast on NPR. The show is broadcast out of WUTC in Chattanooga and hosted by Brooks. I gave a short reading from Alexandria Redeemed, shared some laughs and insights and talked about the glory of wearing a wizard hat. The show aired in April and features many other outstanding writers and musicians and is available via youtube here.

    GODRIC, HEANEY AND IN PURSUIT OF THE PALE PRINCE

    Sometime in the spring, I re-read, ‘Godric’ by Frederick Buechner.

    I love Buechner’s work. He is one of my top five authors. His book, ‘Godric’ is told from the first person point from Saint Godric, a 12th century monk in England. In the book, Buechner  uses unique style and word choice to evoke a sense of speaking and place in the world he inhabits. The book is strange to read during the first five chapters, but once you immerse yourself in the narrative and realize context it is beyond beautiful. (Nominated for Pulitzer, it was). Here he describes a river:

    “Here are the sounds of Wear. It rattles stone on stone. It sucks its teeth. It sings. It hisses like the rain. It roars. It laughs. It claps its hands. Sometimes I think it prays.”

    woodth.jpg
    I wrote much of the book in the Deep Woodth.

    I believe it was re-reading Godric mixed with my love of Seamus Heaney’s use of language that helped give birth to some of the language and phrasing in, ‘Pursuit of The Pale Prince.’ The sheer freedom in creating one’s own words and phrases is liberating, especially to one who has been under the rules and mechanics of MLA and AP style for 40 years. The book took form in the Deep Woodth of The Ridge as I let my imagination grow with the old growth trees sipping from big black puddles where I discovered the riddles of the herons. Words like,

    coolth. blueth. windth. waring. weir-bent. thung. falloweth

    sprung from the sallow marshes and my imagination.

    I have a sequel underway to, ‘In Pursuit of The Pale Prince,’ but am taking it slowly as I work on a few more books. (Did someone say experimental fiction and poetry? Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em)

    We’ll see what drops in 2019.

    KINDLE BEST SELLER! 

    Mark 6

    This summer Alexandria Rising hit Number One Best Seller in three categories for roughly a week. It was a grand promo. By November, Alexandria Rising had been read in over 16 nations on all continents except Antarctica – of which I am working on by the way.

    GREAT READS

    I am always seeking new books to read and appreciate any input from you all. This year, I read, “The Archer’s Tale” by Bernard Cornwell along with several of his other books all of which I highly recommend. He is outstanding and was an inspiration for “In Pursuit of The Pale Prince.”

    Roddy Doyle. Please. Thank you.

    I re-read ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison this year courtesy of audible. Ellison’s work is painfully gorgeous. His prose and authenticity is on the untouchable level of American literature with luminaries such as Pat Conroy.

    Screen Shot 2018-12-25 at 3.43.18 PM
    Ralph Ellison. 

    I always enjoy re-reading old Foxfire books, old magazines, The Chronicles of Narnia, Helmut Thielke and Henri Nouwen.

    Suggestions? Questions? Recommendations? Hit me up at markwallacemaguire@gmail.com.

    Have a Merry New Year,

    Best, MWM

    Featured

    YA Fantasy In Pursuit of The Pale Prince available on Amazon

    “A unique world told with a lyrical voice.” – amazon review

    Mark Wallace Maguire’s YA fantasy novel, ‘In Pursuit of The Pale Prince’ is published and available on amazon.com.

    Below is an article by Damon Poirer published in the Marietta Daily Journal.

    Mark Wallace Maguire recently announced the release of his Young Adult Fantasy novel, “In Pursuit of The Pale Prince.”

    “It’s technically a Young Adult Fantasy novel,” Maguire said, “but it is for readers five to 105.”

    The novel is told through the eyes of 12-year-old Arestus of The Wood, a young boy setting out on a quest to deliver the lost crown of Ellesund to The Pale Prince in order to unite the scattered and outnumbered Southwen against the northern kingdoms.

    Maguire states that while the novel is fantasy, there isn’t magic involved.

    “It has some real vivid grit and visceral-ness to it,” he said. “I also incorporated the ideas of language into the book. I had been studying Old English and Old Norse, and enjoyed coining a slightly different vernacular.”

    He is also the author of the action-adventure and alternative history series, the Alexandria Rising Chronicles.

    When asked how different it was to write a fantasy novel versus his previous trilogy, Maguire stated that writing action-adventure was a joy. However, a significant amount of his time went into research for the series.pale prince fb logo

    “I’ve always believed that if you are going to weave a fictional tale into a non-fictional world, you have to make sure your details are correct. So everything from flight patterns to climate to skeletal structure must be precise,” he said. “While I enjoyed the research to a degree, creating an entire new world takes time, but it is much more freeing because, as the author, you make the rules. You get to name the seas and the hills and create your own histories of places. It is very enjoyable.”

    Maguire notes that he has had some early reviews that have compared the novel to J.R.R. Tolkien, Bernard Cromwell and Lloyd Alexander.

    “But, I don’t want to box it in as I think it stands alone in its uniqueness,” he said. “It is post-magic fantasy so, it is in another world, but all the wizards have left and the issues that the characters grapple with are more tangible and less esoteric.”

    As a preacher’s son, Maguire spent his childhood crisscrossing the South. After a brief career in music, he became a reporter at the Marietta Daily Journal in 1998, and has spent the last 20 years in metro Atlanta as a columnist and editor.

    He is a 2017 Independent Author of the Year finalist and a 2017 Georgia Author of the Year nominee.

    “In Pursuit of The Pale Prince” and the Alexandria Rising Chronicles are available online through amazon.com.

    Featured

    Lost Letters of Henry O’Neal

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    THE LOST LETTERS OF HENRY O’NEAL 

    By Thomas J. Callahan

    February 2017/northern Europe/Location Ragnar 

    INTRODUCTION 

    During Henry’s illness, he wrote several letters for his grandson, Rand, to open upon his death. However, only one letter was passed on and it appears in the book, “Alexandria Rising.” Why this is, we do not exactly know. Perhaps, in his state – physical and mental – Henry lost track of these letters, forgot them, discarded them. Perhaps, he wrote them and then decided to destroy them (in one of the recovered letters, part of the page itself shows signs of being singed as if he thrust it into a candle or in a fire). The answer is only known to Henry, who is no longer with us.

    That said, I have worked diligently the past several months in recovering what I can and editing them. There are 5 letters here which begin in January. If you recall, in “Alexandria Rising” Henry’s letter to Rand was addressed March 5. Henry died in early June. I have done the best work I can in trying to assemble some type of narrative flow or chronology with them.

    Some portions of the letters are disjointed, unreadable, appear to make little sense or the writing ceases altogether. I have put my notes throughout the letters in indentions to clarify.

    I hope these letters provide some insight or clues into Henry’s journey and what the future may hold for Rand.  There are rumors that the author Mark Wallace Maguire might write a sequel, though it has not been confirmed. If so, I would expect for him to expound on these passages below.

    NOTE 1: I still have not been able to obtain a copy of the map that was destroyed.  Apparently, it was the only copy and is lost forever.

    NOTE 2: As of this writing, I have an update on Rand. The last dispatch I received was he that was in stable condition. I’ve received reports both from Berlin and eastern North America, but cannot confirm more than that. I am sure more will be revealed of his status in the sequel.

    January 3

    To my dear grandson Rand,

    There is knowledge that must be known, passed on and protected. Perhaps you can consider this a last confession or a call to arms.  There is no real way to start this, except at the beginning, I suppose.

       [Illegible writing for three paragraphs, the only words decipherable are, “changes,” “at present,” “you to know.” Then the writing trails off. New paragraph begins. He appears to be writing about his father, Patrick]. 

    Oh yes, then my father, Patrick, when he returned, as I said, he was lucid as ever, but distant. And there were other things. Letters arrived more frequently with air stamps from faraway places like Kiev, Rhodes, even cities I had not heard about in the Far East and the Pacific Rim.

    There were also visitors who arrived at all hours. Strange men. They were kind enough. They always brought my mother yellow roses and gave me candy, but after the brief introductions of, “some of your father’s friends from the war,” they would be sequestered to my father’s study where a great quietness would descend for hours, their only presence in the house betrayed by the pipe and cigarette smoke that emanated from that great room.

    Father also began keeping strange hours…I was only [Illegible] developing my own night-owl routine that would never leave me. (You, like me, enjoy the silent hours, the moon-washed nights, the times between dusk and dawn). Often I would creep throughout the house, sometimes hoping to steal to the backyard to climb our magnolia tree where I dreamed I could get a better glimpse of the stars, other times I would just meander about, sneaking into the library to sift through the mounds of books and curled up maps. Even though I was 14 or so, I still possessed quite a bit of the child in me and still wanted to find final frontiers to explore, maps to buried treasure and more.

       [The writing breaks off here and is unreadable for four sentences with the only decipherable words being, “cough” and “Anor.”]  
    door to his study closed, but behind it I could hear evidence of his presence – the crackle of a fire in the Winter, the occasional sigh, his voice low and muted. We only saw each other once during those hours that was when he surprised me by leaving his office as I was on my way to the backdoor to sneak into the yard. I feigned sleepwalking and the good man he was (he really was a good man, I want to assure you, no matter what else I write, he was a good man Rand) he took me gently by the arm and led me back to my bed. Afterwards, he waited by the door smoking his pipe making sure I was tucked in and past any chance of getting back up. Finally, I heard him leave to [Illegible].

    But it wasn’t just the house. He also began keeping odd hours with his job. Mother did not take to that at all. She understood [Illegible, word, “night” only decipherable]  but coming home at 2 or 3 a.m. and some nights not at all took a toll on her faith and she questioned his fidelity. Finally, I later discovered, she had him followed by a private eye for an entire week. She was greatly relieved when the report came back that he had no visitors during

    20170314_084644

    these hours at his office on campus and seemed only to study. Years later my father confided in me, “Of course, I knew I was being followed. Remember I was Counterintelligence in the Army – they just don’t teach you how to break codes, but necks as well. But I let it be. She needed that peace and I needed space to do my work.”

    January 12

    To my dear grandson Rand,

    When I left for college, I didn’t think much about father’s strange work. I attended college at Harvard as you know and was spending a semester overseas during my sophomore year studying Medieval Literature at Oxford when World War II  broke out as the United States entered the war, “officially” (we had been aiding the Brits for years.) I wanted to contribute. Though I only had a few weeks left, I contacted the consulate and enlisted with the Army Air Corps and was preparing for further orders. Shortly after filing my paperwork, I was visited by a man named Eliot Waterstone. [The name Eliot Waterstone crops up regularly in regard to The Organization. The most I have been able to discover at this point was a message I received via post which only had the words ‘ultra vos sunt 3.3.7’ written on a white sheet of paper. The phrase translated from Latin means, ‘you are not authorized’ or ‘beyond you.’ The numbers could be translated as a holy pattern with the religious symbolism of 3s and 7s or it could be a warning as the addition of the three numbers equals 13, a number used as bad luck or a warning.]

    Waterstone told me he was [Illegible for four sentences except for the word, ‘position’] even the survival of my species. Of course, I shrugged him off. How could one serve one’s country better than by fighting? And survival of the species? We all hated the threat of mustard gas, but thought that was a bit overdramatic and sounded borderline psychotic with a bit of Darwinistic tendencies to boot. And why would I want to run from it? But Waterstone pursued me again found me at the pub enjoying lunch, stalked me on my walks. On my final evening before returning to enlist, I returned from a goodbye party at the pub to find him sitting in my room waiting. He said he had incredible things to tell me, amazing things to show me, new, unimaginable ways I could contribute. He was good at persuading, but I began to find him tiresome and was at the point of shoving him out my door when he produced an envelope. Inside was a hand-written note from my father:

    Henry, 

    I have been in correspondence with Mr.Waterstoneand his Organization and I believe you are in a great place to help a great cause. I have secured you a deferment over here – completely dignified of course – so you can contribute to his operations as we fight a much Greater Enemy than you can imagine. Please follow his advice. I will contact you by phone in a week ortwo. Your loving father

    I found the letter unnerving to say the least. But, it was my father’s handwriting and I trusted him more than anyone else, including my own instincts. At Waterstone’s urging, I tossed away my train and ship tickets, told no one of my plans and met him the next morning. I felt awful about leaving, but he promised me it was all being taken care of, that I would return after the war more of a hero than I could imagine and my final work at Harvard would be taken care of. I expected us to catch a train heading south to London, the de facto hq of the Allies at the time, but instead we were picked up by a car and began travelling north toward Scotland. The roads were nothing like they are now and it took us a day and half a night to reach our destination. We drove through dozens of tiny towns, through Glasgow, past Inverness, out into the wilds and the Highlands and toward what I called the end of the world.

    [Here the text ends. The next letter starts without a date, but appears to be in the same vein.]

    Date Unknown

    To my dear grandson Rand,

       [first four sentences unreadable] ….. distant. Every venture into conversation, including Chamberlain’s failures to appease Hitler to the flappers dress to war rations and even Swing music ended with Waterstone barely uttering a word. Eventually, I quit trying to talk and between naps wondered what the devil I had got myself into. Finally, we came to a cluster of standing stones, just under the shadow of Ben Hope Mountain. The stones – half destroyed by weather [Illegible] car drew nearer, I noticed a clump of radio antennas a hundred or so yards away. The car stopped and Waterstone ushered me out. The car drove off with Waterstone and my suitcase inside. I started to run after the car, but stopped. Looked around. I was seemingly left alone. The space inside the stones appeared vacant as if no one had been there for centuries. Then on closer inspection, there was the shape of a man in the shadows of the largest stone. He was clad in a type of drab military fatigues and walked toward me. He introduced himself as “Matthew.”

    And that is where my adventure really began.

    February 5

    I tire quickly and find myself taking more breaks than I intend to. This cancer with the mighty morphine drip cripples my mind. I have appreciated your constant visits and help. Your grandmother often talks very fondly of you. You have given me great comfort and your attention has not been in vain…. But sentimentality has its place and it is not here…

    As I was writing before, [Illegible for six or seven sentence] from Mr. Waterstone and a letter from my father. “Good,” he said, apparently pleased with the situation.  I was growing irritated with the lack of information so I finally stopped walking and asked him what was happening, specifically where we were going and what this had to do with the war effort. He clasped me on the shoulder and looked deep into my eyes, staring for what seemed like minutes before finally telling me we were almost to our destination and this had everything to do with the war effort. That the work my father Patrick had started (I was surprised he knew my father’s name) needed to be carried on and I was a perfect candidate. He also assured me I was under no pretense of harm and all would be explained shortly, telling me, “I was in a greater war than I could imagine.” I remember those words precisely, not because of what they meant at the moment, but at what they would mean for the rest of my life…and how true they would become.

    February 21

      [A large part of this letter is burnt. I have salvaged what I could] 

    At the bottom of the stairs, I was met with the unnerving site of a warren of dozens of desks occupied by plain clothe personnel. There were people typing, listening on headphones, talking into microphones and conversing with each other. A pallor of cigarette smoke hung in the air. Maps, pricked with dozens of red thumbtacks covered the walls. No one took notice of our arrival and after giving me a minute to catch my senses, Matthew directed me to a hallway beyond the warren. We walked by the throng of workers. I tried to take it in, but was overcome by the flurry of action, the rat-a-tat-tat of typewriters, the various languages being spoken into the microphones. It was dizzying.

    We came to a doorway and ventured down a hallway, doors on each side, people in those rooms too. Everyone busy. Everyone talking. But no uniforms. Even if this was clandestine counter-intelligence, I expected to see some type of rank and file or decorum, but everyone was dressed in the same olive and khaki. At the end of the hall, we entered. Matthew left me with a handshake and I sat in a waiting room, hopelessly trying to flirt with a pert secretary.

    Eventually, I was led into a room where I met Dr. Jefferson Fleming, a man who was to change my life forever. In short, Fleming told me I was being inducted to a group called The Organization, or The Guardians, or to many then, a bastardized version, the Tutores – meaning tutors or protectors depending on which pretentious scholar was translating the name from which language.

             [It appears as if several paragraphs or even pages are missing here]  

    But in all this, I was one of the dirty men, forgive me. [Indecipherable writing here for several sentences] 

    In your studies, do you recall reading about Hitler’s unusual obsession with the occult? He was fastidious in his search for sacred objects, for tapping into the occult, into what he believed to be super powers to extend his empire.

    March 1

    I do not want to die with this undone

    [Indecipherable writing here for several sentences] 

    Once I was sharp, but this illness has dulled me. [Indecipherable] things we have kept secret are in danger of being exploited again.

    I have hidden it here for years

    Verum in Aeternum

    Featured

    Interviewed on NPR’s Dante’s Old South

    I was honored to be interviewed on NPR’s Dante’s Old South in late April. This eclectic radio show is based out of WUTC in Chattanooga, Tennessee and hosted by Clifford Brooks and Richard Winham. My interview and reading are around the 50 minute mark, but I encourage you to listen to the entire show for a great experience of the written word and music. Link here.Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 6.24.32 PMtang

    Featured

    The Wasteland and Alexandria Reborn

    Was T.S. Eliot aware of the existence of The Slendoc Meridian? Lux? Where is the red rock? What will Rand find there? Who is Waterstone? This passage above from, “The Wasteland” appears at the front of Alexandria Reborn. But why? What is the correlation between this passage of The Wasteland and the book? Click for clues. Delve deeper into this decade’s best action adventure trilogy.

    Featured

    The story behind Alexandria Rising Rhythms

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    What is Alexandria Rising Rhythms? 

    >>>It is instrumental music inspired by the novel Alexandria Rising.

    >>> It is a unique album as it was written, recorded and mixed in four cities  spanning thousands of miles apart during a 10-month span.

    >>>It has drawn comparisons to soundtrack music, ambient music and psychedelic rock and broke new ground in the creative recording process.

    >>> It is available on all streaming services, iTunes, amazon and such and for purchase here.

    So who are the people behind the names? Here is a quick look:

    Mark Wallace Maguire – guitars, bass, synthesizers.

    Clint J. Meador – drums, synthesizers, mixing and mastering.

    Glen Denig – bass.   Allen Bell- synthesizers.

    So, let’s get back to the origins of the process. Why make a music companion to the book? How did this evolve? What was the recording process like?

    Maguire dreamt up the idea of a musical companion to the book in Winter 2017 and began testing the waters to see if anyone was interested. He had released two musical projects inspired by books before, including the lauded, ‘Art from the Silent Planet’ music inspired by C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy with the aforementioned Meador in 2015.

    Maguire & Meador had also worked produced music for the podcast, ‘200 Seconds in Hell with C.S. Lewis’ and as part of the score for the indie film, ‘Tears of Bankers.’ Maguire calls Meador, “a wizard in the studio and the true backbone of Alexandria Rising Rhythms.”

    Denig and Maguire had written and performed in bands and ensembles throughout the 1990s, in particular, the mercurial power trio, Green Tea Knives that toured in the Carolinas and Georgia in 1992 and 1993 and received airplay on various college radio stations.  Denig has played with every type of ensemble, band and choir imaginable and has been dubbed, “the world’s best unknown bass player” by many, including Maguire.

    Bell has been a regular on the music scene throughout the Southeast in an informal role and, formally, as an arts administrator on many state and federal levels. Bell has a good ear and was able to contribute more than his opinions to this project when he played synthesizer during a session recorded in Ellijay, Georgia in June 2017.

    Here are your requisite liner notes:

    The Letter: This was the last piece I wrote. We needed a strong major chord piece on the album and I thought the idea of The Letter which spurs the whole adventure in Alexandria Rising would be a strong theme to play off of. I recorded the guitars and bass and then Clint added drums. At a remote recording event in north Georgia called the Ellijay Sessions in July 2017, Clint and I wrote the horns and strings you hear at the kick off of the second section.

    The Cavern: This piece was extremely fun and intense to write. It also was written and recorded at the Ellijay Sessions. Clint set up an initial beat and effect, then Allen and I wrote the synthesizer parts in tandem live on the first take. Later we added more drums and additional guitar. Adding the guitar was a challenge since we did not know which key we wrote it in. I really enjoy the textures of this song and the mood it sets.

    Ich Habe Die Macht: Wow. This was one of the first pieces of the album. Clint composed this piece and sent it to me. He really captured the intensity of The Slendoc Meridian and the reaction of the characters to it in the book. I love the intensity of this piece. Clint wrote it and sent it to me and I added guitars. Then, over the course of a couple of months, we sent it back and forth and did the final edit together during December 2017.

    Hope: The third piece written and recorded at the Ellijay sessions, the drums and bass were written and recorded live on a third take before lunch. Later, that day as the sun set, the guitar part was added. This was probably my favorite to write since it was played live together and birthed during the course of a day. You can really hear the depth of the live recording on this one with the guitar and drums bouncing off of each other as they add echo and buoyancy in the piece.

    Kent St. James: I sat down one night and wrote the nastiest, angriest, disjointed guitar parts in my soul. I didn’t know if it was too much, but Clint gave it the green light. He then added drums, bass and synthesizers. This piece is a guilty pleasure and I think captures the evil nature of the novel’s chief antagonist.

    Ancient Scrolls: One of the first pieces of the project was sent to me in Fayetteville, Georgia all the way from North Muskegon Michigan courtesy of bass genius Glen Denig. Though it was the first piece, this one might have undergone the most editing. It was sent between the four of us over 10,000 miles over its nine month gestation. The final late addition was the drums which really add the gravitas to this piece. I find the mood of this piece the most intense on the album and a capitol way to end it.

     

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    What’s in a name? Meet Rhodes

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    Ron and I were exchanging jokes on the loading dock at the newspaper, the smell of newsprint and fresh ink creased the air. It was winter 2017 and the breeze caught the blue smoke from his cigarette and whisped it across the street where it scattered and dissipated over the muddy park. As usual, our conversation jumped from observations on people, basketball and stories from our old lives, including Atlanta’s dynamic music scene in the late 1990s, of which we both enjoyed and had small roles in.

    I asked him if I could ask him some questions for my new book. Though he enjoyed Alexandria Rising, he still shot me a cursory look, not quite sure what the mad man had up his sleeve.

    Ron was an army veteran, had his share of martial arts training and had tasted his share of street fights. I was developing a character to train Rand in some of the finer arts of hand-to-hand combat, but, like any smart author, always prefer getting authentic information from people, instead of only books.

    He showed me a few moves. I asked questions. And more questions and more questions and Ron gave me a wary eye again a few times, not quite sure where I was going. Over the next 15 minutes, a few shiny cars filled with our fellow workers passed us by and we knew it was time to get back to work. It never bears good witness to be seen in the same place twice.

    A few hours later, Rhodes was born.

     “So, this is him.” A deep voice came from behind them. Rand turned and was met by a tall man with the complexion of dark coffee. He had long arms and legs with the build of a basketball player, a couple of inches taller than Rand. But, he wasn’t skinny. Even though he was clothed in utilitarian tan cargo pants and T-shirt, Rand noticed the wiry muscles underneath his skin, ripples of tendon and muscle twisted over and across bone. He had bright, brown eyes. A two inch long goatee with sparks of grey mixed in. Rand knew the type. Could almost smell it on certain people. This man had the killer instinct. 

    This scene is from when Rand meets Rhodes for the first time.

    As I mentioned in prior posts, one of the most enjoyable things about written fiction is concocting names. It is by far one of the hardest, yet most fulfilling tasks of writing. Rhodes was one of those beautiful unexpected characters. By that, I mean when you begin a book, you may have an idea of the plot – which will change – and characters along the way – which change as well.

    In his physical appearance and disposition, Rhodes drew a lot from Ron – though thankfully Ron is not nearly as intense as Rhodes, is more gregarious and quick with his wit.

    The character Rhodes was also inspired by Coach Rodney Webb who I had the honor of playing basketball for at Monroe High School in North Carolina many moons ago. Coach Webb always had that push, that nudge – and sometimes not so subtle – to challenge you to do your best.

    So, finally, back to Rhodes. How did I conjure the name Rhodes? It is a mix of Ron’s first and last name – which shall not be published here at his request. Rhodes also has connotations in the ancient world as the island and its immediate area is drenched in history and mythology. And if you’ve read the Appendices from Alexandria Reborn, Rhodes’s middle name is Reuel, which resembles Tolkien’s middle name as well. As many of you know, I love to give Easter Eggs to my favorite authors and since Ron is a fan of LOTR as well, this was an easy choice.

    Want more?

    The best way to get to know Rhodes, of course, is to read the Alexandria Rising Chronicles.

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    The mysterious Mary Celest…and what might be next

     

    The doors leisurely opened and a tall, willowy woman, her skin the color of cinnamon glided out, braids of silver hair dangling regally down her neck. She wore a long silk dress, the hue of a pale morning sky. Despite the heat, a royal blue shawl adorned her shoulders. 

    “My friend,” she said in a melodious voice. A voice as serene as the patter of raindrops, but also with a strength of thunderclaps, Rand thought. 

    And such is the introduction to the lead female protaganist Mary Celest who makes her first appearance in Alexandria Reborn. But how much do we really learn about Mary Celest? In the Appendices of Alexandria Reborn, we learn: “She worked with Winston for years in The European Sector primarily in Berlin and London. Interestingly enough, the name, ‘Mary Celest’ also appears to be tied to the ship Mary Celeste. This mysterious ship was found abandoned and adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1870s and is a source of mystery even today.”

    More of the other mysterious clues as to her shadowy past might be the phrase near the end of Alexandria Redeemed, where this scene takes place:

    Mary Celest was cradling a Barrett M82 sniper rifle, a slew of magazines peeking out from a backpack that lay by her feet.

     “Mary Celest, I never took you for a, well, someone who used guns,” Rand said, the three of them standing in a circle checking guns, sifting through ammunition. 

    “No, most don’t. That is why I was so successful many moons ago. They used to call me the. veuve noire. »

    “Sorry, ma’am. My Latin isn’t very good.”

    “It’s not Latin, it’s French. It means the Black Widow.” 

    There was no trace of ego in her words, just facts. She read the expression on Rand’s face.

    “Stories for another time, another place, Rand. I was a different person then, but, none of us are who we were.”

    If you like Mary Celest, there is a rumor she might appear in a piece of short fiction starring Winston Worsley that takes place in 1983. Stay tuned. Publication date and title TBA.

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    T.S. Eliot action hero? The mysterious Eliot Waterstone and his connection to Rand O’Neal

    eliot progOne of my favorite introductory scenes in Alexandria Reborn is when Rand O’Neal meets Eliot Waterstone in The Library.

    “I want to see you in the light,” the voice said.  “Just there. I want to see who’ve you become or, rather, who you are. The seed of The O’Neal’s.” 

    As the voice spoke, a figure emerged from the shadows. A tall wispy man whose carriage was held up by a silver cane, the handle of it in the shape of a greyhound. The man’s body was not bony, but thin, whispery, almost like a wraith. He walked forwards, one hand on the cane, the other held above his head as if he was shielding off a drizzle of rain or blocking the sun.

    Throughout the book, Eliot quotes lines from T.S. Eliot’s poems. A bit of ‘The Love  Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ here, The Wasteland there. It was intentional, of course. I joked with my wife as I wrote it that I was creating T.S. Eliot Action Hero. It was only a half-joke joke, because I wanted the wizard archetype in the shadows, the elegant assasin, the mage inside his self built cage.

    Eliot’s past is mysterious. We know he knew Rand’s father and grandfather. We know he tutored the villainous Kent St. James at one point. But what else? A clue. If you have read the short fiction piece – free at this link – you will see that Waterstone has more than a passing connection. If you like Eliot, here are two spoiler free teases: Eliot will appear in a prequel set in 1983 with Mary Celest and Winston.

    More importantly, he will appear in Alexandra Redeemed: Book 3 coming in March 2018.

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    Interconnectivity, symbolism and numerology in Alexandria Rising

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    Someone asked me the other day about how much symbolism I crammed into ‘Alexandria Rising. Well, the answer is pretty straightforward: As much as I possibly could. Why do this in an action adventure novel? Well, I figured if I was going to write a novel, I might as well have some fun with it. Example? Okay, no spoiler here, but a character in the book takes Train 42. The number ‘42’ is widespread in the works of author Lewis Carroll who was also an avid numerologist. The number is especially present in Alice in Wonderland where it is used several times directly or indirectly. If I was going to give the number/name of a train, etc. I wanted to convey a message. I am very much inspired by T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Dante’s Inferno. While I would not put my work on a literary level with those two brilliant pieces, I do love how those works contain mass amounts of allusions, symbolism and interconnectivity. Writing ‘Alexandria Rising’ gave me an opportunity to create my own little world using those devices. Bonus? I have a section on this site ‘engage with the appendices’ which provides the reader with links from The Appendices which lead to video, images or research associated with names, places and numerals throughout the book.

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    What’s in a name? Meet Kennon

    I was unlocking my door on Fifth Floor at Berry College’s Dana Hall in the fall of 1993. I caught a peripheral glance out of the corner of my eye of another student doing the same a few doors down. We met each other’s eyes.

    Recognition?

    Shock?

    Rejoicing.

    I couldn’t believe it.

    It was Kennon Brooks.

    Kennon and I had previously attended  Brevard College at the  same time and, then, unbeknownst to either of us, had both transferred to Berry.

    There was a joyous exclamation along with high fives, hellos and probably even a hug when we saw each other that day.

    Kennon had been one of the kind souls on my hall at Brevard College who not only tolerated, but encouraged me and my mischievous roommate Jeremy in our shenanigans. He was also gregarious and kind. Though a star on our basketball team, he would be the guy who wouldn’t knock on your door if you were playing guitar too late, but might join in the fun, especially on the weekends.

    It was great to see a familiar face at Berry where I first arrived.

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    Kennon, present day.

    Thought Kennon and I lived in different orbits those final years at Berry – basketball team and English majors don’t cross paths by nature – we always enjoyed seeing each other and hanging out.

    Of course, life happens and, well, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

    I hadn’t heard from Kennon in almost two decades when ye olde facebook linked us.

    When Alexandria Rising was published, he bought it. And loved it. It was a great encouragement when he posted a photo of the book on his fb page. After I named a character after our mutual friend Spota, he quipped that I should name a character after him. So, of course I did. Here is one of the scenes where Kennon Brooks – chief of security at Lux Engineering – is featured.

    The static of a walkie talkie buzzed in the room.

    “One second, Rand,” Eliot said, then reaching under one of the legal pads he pulled out the device. The long fingers liver spotted and delicate clicked it on.

    “Eliot here.”

    “Sir, we’ve found a device sir.” A rich Scottish brogue, only intensified by the hum of the static. “On Dr. Lightfoot, she – ”

    “Slow down. A device?” curiosity ringed Eliot’s voice. Rand’s brow furrowed.

    “Yes. She had a device. A tracking device. Implanted in her. Very well done, sir, exceptionally small, excellent insertion and activation according to the doctors. Only perceptible when we were scanning her for broken bones or other physical ailments as part of our heath check in –”

    “She’s not one of them,” Rand said, his voice rising as he half rose in his chair “She’s not!”

    Eliot motioned him to sit down with a slight lift of the hand.

    “Sorry Kennon. Just one of our team. Please continue.”

    “Ah, aye, sir. We don’t think she was aware of this. Like I said, it was a plant.”

    Thanks to Kennon and all of those for being part of the journey. 

     

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    Independent Author of The Year Finalist

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    The Independent Author Network announced their 2017 winners today and I am pleased to announce that Alexandria Rising was named a finalist in the Action-Adventure category. As an independent author, these are the types of honors that keep us going against the odds. Big ups to all of y’all for your encouragement, purchases and support.

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    Meet Winston Worsley…

    One of everybody’s favorite new characters in Alexandria Reborn is Winston, the ‘old cowboy’ as he calls himself who hails from west Texas. This is one of my favorite scenes when he first meets Rand and Rand discovers the other side of those who work with The Slendoc Meridian. (And, yes, a spin off book on his adventures is in the works)

    “All right now, son,” Winston said. “You’ve heard enough of my story. Tell me yours. I have a feeling I might need this,” he lifted his glass in a silent toast.
    “I don’t drink liquor.”
    “No problem, chief ” he said as he grabbed Rand’s glass, tilted it and consumed it in a single swallow. “Ah, just the stuff. Now, get started.”
    “Here’s the Cliff Notes version. My grandfather left me a map to destroy. I got chased. I got kidnapped. I was taken to The Castle. They found some of the Meridian through the map, then –”
    “Slow down. Slow down. Slow down. Damn son.” Winston lifted a hand to his temple, closed his eyes. “Okay, start over. Your grandfather? What was his name?”
    Rand hesitated.
    “Come on. I’m all you got to trust right now. Are you just going to sit there like a stubborn mule all night? Shit, I’ve got a couple of guns down here. You want them as insurance? Would that make you feel better talking to me?” The man gave a chuckle. “I’m too old for this. Kidnapped? Chased? Austria? Just start over. Slowly. Who was your grandfather?”
    “Henry O’Neal.”
    The man sat there staring at Rand. His eyes slowly moving over his face. Studying him. Trying to peer into him, Rand thought, wanting to see if he was true. If his words were real.
    “I’ll be damned,” a low whisper escaped from the man’s throat. “What? Did you know him?” Rand asked.
    The man dropped his head, stared at the table. Twisted his lips
    in a look of resolve. Locked his eyes on Rand. “So you’d be Andrew and Madeline’s boy?”
    “Yeah, that’s right.”
    “Son of a bitch. Small world.”
    “What do you mean by that?”
    “Looks like we have a lot of talking to do.”

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    ‘This would make a cool movie’ – P.S. I Love That Book

    Thanks to Lithuanian book review site P.S. I Love That Book for the review of Alexandria Reborn!  Reviewer Martyna gave the book four hearts – their version of four stars – and wrote – as many of you have said of both books, “I actually think this would make a cool movie.” One issue raised by Martyna was wanting more detail on characters, especially: “I liked Winston, but I wanted to know more about him.”  Well, fear not, good readers, I began a short fiction piece on Winston a few months ago. I will not get into the details of it, but will tell you it takes place in the early 1980s and features a few of the other characters as younger versions of themselves. It is slated for release late this year or early 2019, but, first we’ve got Alexandria Redeemed up coming later this winter.

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    Interview in Blue Mountain Review

    Big ups and a major thanks to The Blue Mountain Review for interviewing me in the latest issue of that gorgeous magazine. You can check out the entire issue here which is chock full of prime prose, poetry, interviews and art.

    As a former journalist, I must say it was different, yet pleasant, being on the other side of the table. I’ve been interviewed prior on subjects ranging from “The Screwtape Letters” to advocacy for the disabled, but never been asked so many in-depth questions about my own writing, inspirations and my life the way Brooks pitched them. It was fun, though sometimes in my own head, I saw myself as Jimmy Rabbitte from the movie and book, ‘The Commitments’ as he interviews himself throughout that great Roddy Doyle creation.

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    By no means, take any disrespect from old Jimmy in the bathtub, but humor and self-depreciation have always been my go-to defense mechanisms.

    All that said, it was dad gum fun. The interview was part of the magazine’s member spotlight series where they profile new members of The Southern Collective Experience of which the magazine is affiliated with. I was recently accepted into the collective and am honored by be a part of a group of fine individuals.

    I encourage you to read not only the interview, but the entire magazine. Brooks, who operates the magazine as part of collective, is a luminary for Southern culture and makes a point to provide art that is not only good, but also accessible.

    Thanks to all for being part of the journey.

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    Farewell J.P. Donleavy: God have mercy on the wild Ginger Man

    The great J.P. Donleavy has died at the ripe old age of 91. I’ve been a Donleavy fan since my senior year in college when I discovered his work while studying in Ireland. Donleavy is the King of The Tragicomedy. “The Ginger Man,” in particular, his first novel exemplifies that concept and the main character, Sebastian Dangerfield, weaves his way through life in a forays of mischief, alcohol, mastery of a silver tongue and general shenanigans. Though Dangerfield is not a gent to be sure – an understatement many would say –  his wit and charm win over the reader.

    Dangerfield defines many of Donleavy’s characters who are far from moral heroes, but likeable and enjoyable to read because of Donleavy’s grand writing style.

    In, “The Ginger Man,” Donleavy weaves together a stream-of-conciousness narrative that alternates between first and third person – somewhat Joycean –  but with stronger word choice. He also ends every chapter with a poem, generally three of four lines and rarely rhyming, but a gorgeous literary device that works to sum up the state of mind in the character’s life quite well at the point. Here is an example:

    All I want
    Is one break
    Which is not
    My neck.

    God knows, I’ve uttered that phrase many times on this orb.

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    To say I’ve been influenced by Donleavy would be an understatement. I haven’t totally immersed myself in his writing style, but do use his techniques of shifting between third and first person, though on a much smaller and tamed basis. I also find his use of humor and wit unrivalled in many aspects.

    While I find certain parts of “The Ginger Man” a bit uncomfortable reading it many years after I first read it, I still do praise Donleavy’s style of writing. Perhaps, most of all,  I believe that perhaps alongside Pat Conroy, he is the greatest describer of nature I have read, particularly in “The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman.” And I believe that gift of his is greatly overlooked. For example, take this passage from one of his books.

    “The sun of Sunday morning up out of the sleepless sea from black Liverpool. Sitting on the rocks over the water with a jug of coffee. Down there along the harbor pier, trippers in bright colors. Sails moving out to sea. Young couples climbing the Balscaddoon Road to the top of Kilrock to search out grass and lie between the furze. A cold green sea breaking whitely along the granite coast. A day on which all things are born, like uncovered stars.”

    And this:

    “Come here till I tell you. Where is the sea high and the winds soft and moist and warm, sometimes stained with sun, with peace so wild for wishing where all is told and telling.”

    Simply gorgeous.

    Godspeed to Donleavy. I end this with the great last line from ‘The Ginger Man” which serves as a fitting eulogy.

    “On a winter night I heard horses on a country road, beating sparks out of the stones. I knew they were running away and would be crossing the fields where the pounding would come up into my ears. And I said they are running out to death which is with some soul and their eyes are mad and teeth out.

    God’s mercy
    On the wild
    Ginger Man.”

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    You ain’t Spota be doin’ that! What’s in a character’s name?

    Spota.

    This is a picture of the man who inspired the character in Alexandria Reborn.

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    What an interesting name? How did he get this name? Who is this guy and why is he in your novel? Who is the real Spota then?

    No spoilers here, but in the scene where he introduces himself to Rand, it reads as such:

    “By the way, my name is Rand,” a handshake extended and met.

    “Nice to meet you, Rand. You can just call me Spota.”

    “Spota?”

    “Yeah, as in you ain’t spota be doin’ that. You ain’t spota say that. You ain’t spota blow that shit up like that. You know? I have many other names. Some good, some bad. Some people call me the man because I am basically the best at what I do. Some call me Clooney because I am so handsome, but most people here just call me Spota.”

    Rand laughed. Needed it. Spota’s levity was instantly contagious.

    “Spota it is then.”

    “Good, now let’s get out of this heat.”

    Spota is one of the new characters in the Alexandria Rising Chronicles and is inspired by a longtime friend Adam Kijanksi who – when I met him at Berry College 25 years ago or so – was nicknamed Spota because he wasn’t spota be doin’ that or spota be sayin’ that. The demolition stuff? No, entirely made up for the book. Adam is actually an outstanding citizen, husband and father whose work with veterans and mental health is commendable (and no, he is called Adam these days, though I am sure he wouldn’t mind a Spota reference now and then).

    So how did I come about to use Spota in Alexandria Reborn? What about the other names? Are some of them real people?

    Well, one of the best aspects about writing fiction is creating new characters. You can take a piece from one person you know, a little from yourself, a bit from someone else and then blend it up, toss in some imagination, a random trait, symbolism and see where it leads you. Some – like the villain of the first book Kent St. James – are just bloody fun to write because he is so evil and condescending. Others – like Michael Casey the cabdriver – are just an impression of, yes, a cab driver I met while traveling in Ireland 20 or so years ago. By myself. Like Rand. Riding in the front seat. Like Rand. And the man did have a bushel of nose hair.

    One of the things I wanted to do in the sequel was to further world creation. Rand is somewhat limited in his scope of The Organization’s reach in the first novel. In Alexandria Reborn, I wanted to show the other sides and, along the way, introduce new characters. While Rand is a smart aleck at times, I wanted some true levity and mano y mano bonding and brotherhood. No yuk-yuk banal humor, but true wit, word play, authenticity of character and scenes of brotherhood and bonding.

    Adam was kind enough to let me use the Spota name in this book. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know this new character as you read the book. He does add some levity, is great with wordplay and dialogue, and, much like the man who inspired the character – is authentic, true and a brother in arms along the journey.

     

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    Alexandria Reborn: Your prep kit.

    Alexandria Reborn, the sequel to Alexandria Rising and Book 2 in The Alexandria Rising Chronicles, is now available in paperback and kindle. So, what do you need to know? I mean, a sequel is a sequel, right?

    Yes.

    Yet….

    A couple of items worth noting.

    The book picks up immediately after the last chapter in Alexandria Rising. There is no preamble, recap, Star Wars like crawl or ‘six months later.’ I mention that because some of the early readers of the sequel have mentioned that they had to re-read the last few chapters of first book to remember where things left off. The first chapter of the sequel is essentially Chapter 74 of The Alexandria Rising Chronicles. I intentionally wanted to keep the pacing steady with the series.

    It might also be worth to skim The Appendices of Alexandria Rising. And, if you haven’t watched any of Thomas J. Callahan’s videos or read his research, it might be insightful i.e. it is not necessary, but I do enjoy adding clues, easter eggs, allusions and such in various forms of multi-media.

    Finally, get prepared. Get relaxed. Turn off your phone and grab a drink, whether that is a cup of tea, coffee or, something stronger from the bar of, say, Kent St. James. As one of my favorite reviewers on Goodreads wrote after reading Alexandria Rising, “it was so good you had to grab hold of your own bottom to hang in there. I loved not being able to figure out what was going to happen next!”

    I hope I achieve that level of excitement with this tome.

    Many people lent their time, insight and help with the sequel and while they are thanked in the author’s note in the book, I want to give them a shout out here: Adam Miller, Bob Wallace, Bruce Wallace, Beth Poirier, Whitney Betts and, last but not least, my wife, Jami.

    Thank you all for being part of the journey. Hope you enjoy the adventure.

     

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    What is the symbol on the front of the book?

    Since “Alexandria Rising,” published last October, I have been asked on one than more occasion:

    “What is the symbol on the front of the book?” 

    or

    “I’m sorry, I don’t speak that language?” (always the smart aleck in a group, right?) 

    or

    “So, are you ever going to let us know what this is about or do you just make up crazy letters for your books?” 

    Well, here is your answer:

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    The symbol is The Slendoc Meridian. It is on the map that Henry O’Neal left to to Rand. It is present on the Atlantean stones that Rand sees in The Cavern. And it is present here in one of the early trailers.

    It is part of the Atlantean alphabet you might say. Though I am not an expert philologist, I have been piecing this together along with the aid of the insightful Thomas J. Callahan, keeper of the Appendices for The Alexandria Rising Chronicles.

    As we obtain more information, it will be released.

     

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    The thirst for escapism and the need for fantasy

     

    “You should really work on publishing that semi-autobiographical book you wrote, “The Preacher’s Son.” There is a lot of good stuff in there on religion, race, Southern culture, fractured father-son relationships, real good dark stuff that could sell.”

    I’ve heard that sentiment echoed the last several months. I did write said book, “The Preacher’s Son,” several years ago. And while it does have some strong story points, I am happy to leave it in my drawer. Dust laden and undistributed for a long time, perhaps, forever, its 120,000 words quietly collecting dust. Why? A few reasons.

    First of all, It was great therapy to write that book. I needed it. But, it was also painful and now that it has been exhumed from my system, I have no desire to revisit it. Even attempting to re-edit it has proved to an exercise in dark exertion.

    Secondly, after having a close-enough-to-death experience in a cycling accident a few years ago, I decided that life was too short to do something one did not like i.e. if I was going to write another book, I wanted it be fun.

    Fun to write.

    Fun to read.

    The type of book I like to read.

    • Ludlum-laced tension. 
    • Tolkien-striving world creation. 
    • Dan Brown pacing. 
    • T.S. Eliot and Dante inspired symbolism. 
    • Mysteries. Clues. Hints. Loss of truth. 
    • Cold-blooded villains. Broken heroes. Mysterious maps.

    I suppose it was that amalgamation in my conscious and subconscious of those elements that birthed, “The Alexandria Rising Chronicles.” It is a series I enjoy writing and as I have told people again and again, “I hope that shines through.”

    (By the way, writing is fun, editing and proofing and researching are work)

    Through many, many years of writing in many forms, I have discovered that reading to escape, to create and to – yes, it is very low brow to state – have fun is key to a pleasant existence.

    And I say this, not as a naïve dreamer, but as a hardened English major who survived Victorian literature – if you ever have a chance to read, ‘Dombey and Son’ by Charles Dickens, don’t – and as someone who has worked in journalism for almost two decades.

    So, like those who read to escape.

    I write to escape.

    You see, it is much more fun and healthier to slay a villain after verbally annihilating him, than it is to do so to a colleague or someone who cuts you off in traffic.

    There is also the fact that sometimes we all need to escape. This world is not perfect, we’re all fighting some type of battle. Those we love die. Those we expect so much from, let us down. We let others down. Bills pile up. The car breaks down. Injustice and hypocrisy is everywhere.

    So, again, back to the point.

    Writing and reading to escape.

    I often like to refer to J.R.R. Tolkien when I talk about this type of borderline apologetics for writing escapism. Tolkien went to World War I along with 17 of his classmates at Oxford.

    Only two returned.

    Two.

    After surviving the gore of the Somme, he was quoted as saying:

    “I have been a lover of fairy-stories since I learned to read,” he later wrote in an essay in which he passionately defended fantasy and “escapist” fiction: “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

    Here, here.

    And as a side note, “The Alexandria Rising Chronicles” has just been the start of this new chapter – pun intended – in my creative life. I’ve also recently begun two young adult novels which take place on other planets. I suppose if one is to go all out, well, let’s go all the way.

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    New review published: 5 hearts!

    It can be a dangerous thing for a writer to read his/her own reviews. The bad ones have the capacity to sink one’s hopes, while the good ones can over-inflate one’s sails – okay, enough nautical metaphors, right?-  thus I try to avoid reading them. However, I was pleasantly surprised today to read a review of ‘Alexandria Rising ‘on the popular book review site P.S. I love that book!  I had sent them a copy for consideration in October 2016 and with all the reviews they do not only in writing, but also on youtube thought perhaps I had been either waylaid, misplaced or not measured up. But I was, graciously, wrong. Their reviewer Martyna gave me five hearts – their equivalent of five stars – and highly recommends it. She also wrote, “Will definitely check out the sequel (cough, cough)!” which is encouraging as I recently finished the third draft of the first half of the sequel and am wading into the second half, hoping I haven’t exhausted my adjectives. If you get an opportunity check out their site, reviews and very fun youtube channel.

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    World Creating and why writers don’t rest on the 7th day

    Well, thanks to you wonderful readers and your encouragement, your faithful scribe has been busy the last several weeks writing the sequel to ‘Alexandria Rising.’ I am on a ridiculously tight deadline, but am hoping to have it on the market by the fall. (My initial plan was to start writing it in March, but after your positive feedback, I started around Christmas and now hope to have draft one completed by March. I guess that is what one gets what one ends a book on a cliff-hanger; I’m not complaining as it is a fantastic challenge to have.)

    One of the joys, and a source of constant revision and vision, has been discovering the idea of World Creating in fiction. As I said during an interview with ‘Are you Afraid of the Dark?’  while writing, ‘Alexandria Rising’ I was introduced to the ideas of world creation which – while I was aware of i.e. J.R.R. Tolkien, George Lucas, Susanna L. Clarke, etc. – I had not dived in before to this extent. Discovering that path and challenge has been loads of fun.

    This  weekend I had a few days off for a Winter Break. While I may have only accomplished writing a few thousand words, I actually worked for many hours researching, creating, drawing maps to help me flush out my locations, cross-referencing names, double-checking symbolism and, at the same time, trying to work these ideas into the story while not slowing down the narrative.

    The last few days, I’ve read about Hopi Mythology, types of antique Victorian tables, Spanish mission architecture, how adobe bricks are made,  weather patterns for July in middle America and the average miles a trip-phibian plane can make on one tank of fuel.

    These are the types of things a writer does if he/she wants to make their story believe-able. Fiction can be a fickle beast, but providing some real-life anchors can aid in the suspension of disbelief in other areas I believe.

    I suppose I write this to give you all a glimpse behind the curtain of my strange little world I live in. I also write it to show my respect and affection for those masters of world creation and fiction. I first read Lord of The Rings about three decades ago and, like a fine wine, I revisit it every 6 to 10 years. I am re-reading it now again and my awe of Tolkien only grows every time I take that trip to Middle Earth.

     

    To paraphrase Tolkien, it is an adventure stepping out your front door as it is stepping into your own book of which I am about to do now.

    PS: The image is of a location in the sequel. There are no spoilers, but a few clues.

     

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    Kent St. James interviewed!

    Best-selling author A.F. Stewart features this entertaining interview of Richard Dale with Kent St. James, chief villain of ‘Alexandria Rising’ on her blog today. Thanks for this creative collaboration!
    Fireside Chat with Kent St. James

     

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    Ga. Book of The Year nomination!

    Excited and pleased to announce that Alexandria Rising, has been nominated for the 53rd Georgia Author of the Year Award (GAYA) in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category. The banquet takes place in June where winners and finalists will be announced. Thanks all for reading. More of the journey awaits with recovered video footage, in-depth character exploration and more coming before Spring.

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    Khatyrka meteorite relation to Slendoc Meridian false – report by Thomas J. Callahan

    Numerous news sites are filled with reports related to the Khatyrka meteorite this morning. Thomas J. Callahan has researched and filed a report from an undisclosed location in north Europe

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    A peek behind the curtain

    An action adventure novel? A dose of historical fiction? Get a glimpse of what the book is about below…

    Feel free to follow thee book on my facebook, author page and instagram for updates, clues and promos on this action adventure novel.

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