The Same Old Argument

I had a visit with a friend over the weekend who is making a big splash in the world of Big 5 publishing. Here’s a few differences I noticed between that route and self/small press publishing.

Guild Of Dreams

By Bruce Blake


I did something unusual this weekend…I had a Saturday off. If you heard angels singing, now you know why.

While it’s not typical for me to have a day off from the ole day job on a Saturday, it wasn’t a surprise. Mainly, it didn’t surprise me because I asked for the day off. Those guys sure  know how to reward good work.

038575440XI took the day off because a friend of mine who is a traditionally published author was doing a book signing at a local book store. My friend–Jordan Stratford, author of the fantastic Wollstonecraft Detective Agency books for young readers–has a very interesting story that we can all feel jealous of (check it out here), but that’s not the subject of today’s post. No, today’s post is inspired by the conversation Jordan and I had regarding the differences between…

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Interview with Peter V. Brett, Author of The Warded Man (The Demon Cycle)

I don’t normally reblog posts that I haven’t written, but when Amanda said she had a Guild of Dreams post featuring an interview with Peter V. Brett, author of the Demon Cycle books, how could I not?
Enjoy this interview with a best-selling author!

Guild Of Dreams

by A.M. Justice

51hu1K5f9LLAbout eight years ago, my husband came home from work and announced that his coworker Peter had given notice so he could become a full-time fantasy author. Curious and skeptical, I bought the coworker’s book, thinking, “Let’s see what this guy’s got.” I quickly learned he had the right stuff. From the opening lines about a community gathering together in the wake of a strange fire, New York Times Bestseller The Warded Man hooked me, and I’ve been a loyal follower of Arlen, Lessa, Roger, Renna, Ahmann, and Inevera since. My copy of The Skull Throne, Book Four of The Demon Cycle, published by Del Rey, will be delivered to my Kindle today, and I look forward to reading it on an upcoming family vacation.

I admire Peter’s tight prose, inventive storytelling, and nuanced characterizations. Arlen is one of my all-time favorite fantasy heroes, and…

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If All Were Equal

Chantal Boudreau looks into the problem of gender bias that plagues fantasy fiction (and our wolrd at large). Great read, so take the time to have a look.

Guild Of Dreams

fisherby Chantal Boudreau
When someone mentions female characters in fantasy, some stereotypes come to mind. There is the damsel in distress, the plucky princess, the matronly queen or the bawdy tavern wench, just for a few examples. These seem to show up everywhere, unfortunate tropes who sometimes serve as sidekicks and who often give the male hero extra purpose to their cause, but don’t have much purpose in their own right.
Then there’s the flip-side – the “strong female” character: the man-hating amazon, the stoic and noble female warrior who is an exception to the norm, the experienced sorceress or priestess who often proves self-sacrificing. While they may have a prominent role in the story, they tend to be loners and atypical of the women in that particular fantasy culture. Most of the women in the story other than that one outstanding character fall into the traditional medieval female roles:…

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When Shadows Fall, by Bruce Blake – 99c Promo Blitz

Three days only…grab a copy of When Shadows Fall for only 99 cents!



If you like epic fantasy, the kind that feels like reality, you want this book. This is a world the likes of which you cannot even imagine. No problem, Bruce Blake has already done that part for you. Honestly, you want this book. And you want it now, while it’s on this incredible deal.


What’s that? You don’t know if it’s for you?

Read an excerpt:

It rained fire the day the Small Gods fled.

Balls of flame fell from the sky, shattering homes and skulls alike, burning gardens and turning forests to ash, setting alight both farmers’ fields and farmers’ lives with disregard. Much later, it would be said the Goddess banished them for their wicked ways, but on that day, the Small Gods were naught but men and women afraid for their lives. In the eyes of history and legend, the width of the line between…

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Cheesy Fantasy Movies, Part 1

Great post from Steven Montano. What are your favourite cheesy fantasy movies?

Guild Of Dreams

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pretty awesome.  Game of Thrones, perhaps even better.  For fans of epic fantasy, these efforts represent the culmination of what we love about the genre, everything that pulls us in whenever we pick up a new novel or sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons with our friends — the drama, the politics, the darkness, the sense of danger and wonder and excitement and the discovery of worlds that can only exist in the imagination.

But not every effort to bring epic fantasy to the screen have been nearly so successful.  In fact, it’s safe to say that most of them were pretty awful…and yet we love them anyway.

It’s hard to say why epic fantasy translates so poorly to film, but it seems that much of what feels so sweeping and serious in the personalized experience of reading a novel comes across as a bit…

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Building a Story

For those of you who may not follow the Guild of Dreams blog, here’s my latest post in which I’m dabbling with a horror short story. Let me know what you think.

Guild Of Dreams

by Bruce Blake


A pleasant thing happened to me the other day…one of those things that all writers have experienced, but want to have happen more frequently.

A story began to form in my head.

'Prospector' by ToOliver2 courtesy of Creative Commons ‘Prospector’ by ToOliver2 courtesy of Creative Commons

It came out of no where, opening before me like a rolled carpet careening down a hill. It was only a few lines to begin with, but the more I turned them over in my head, inspecting them  with the keen eye of a prospector determining the value of a nugget, the more it stuck, grew, developed.

This is how it started in my head:

It was Friday, April 13th the day they locked the door; none of us knew when it would open again. If it ever would.

I liked it. Two quick sentences to set up some questions in the reader’s head–who was being locked…

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2-For-1 Cover Reveal

Thought I would save those precious electrons that power the interwebs and kill two cover reveals with one blog post. Let me know what you think!


Khirro’s Journey: The Complete Trilogy

Release date: April 25


A coward. A king. A curse. A quest.

Follow the fate of Khirro, a farmer who never wanted be anything more, on a quest to save a kingdom. All three books of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy–Blood of the King, Spirit of the King and Heart of the King–available in one volume. The series has been called “an excellent adventure, “incredible”, “the best read in a very long time” and “a masterpiece” by satisfied readers. Thousands have joined Khirro and his companions on their adventure through haunted lands, in their defiance of scheming magicians, and their fight against an army of the dead. Now is your chance to take up the journey and live the adventure.


The Handmaid (The Lady Corsairs Part 2)

Erotica from Miss Rosie Bitts with Mr. Bitts

Release Date: May 1


The adventures of Anna and Margot–the Lady Corsairs–continue.

After being left behind on a pirate ship filled with cut-throat corsairs, Margot has only the handsome and dangerous Billy the Bone to turn to for help and protection. But at what price will his protection come? With hundreds of miles of the Mediterranean Sea separating Margot from the life she once knew, it seems a journey across the sea isn’t the only journey the handmaid is set to take.


Author photo courtesy of JoAnn Way Photography
Author photo courtesy of JoAnn Way Photography

Rosie Bitts is a burlesque diva, chanteuse, impresario and sex in heels. When you’re known as the “Libido of Burlesque”, writing erotica is the next logical step.


Rosie is a performer, producer, keynote speaker, and writer of her multiple award-winning one woman play, “The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts”. She was named a “Notable Canadian Woman” by the National Post, and award-winning author Cherie Priest called her “…the real deal and the whole package.” She has performed all over North America, is the founder of Best Bitts Productions, and is excited to be sharing her sexy with the world through literature.



Mr. Bitts is the pseudonym of best-selling fantasy author Bruce Blake. His Khirro’s Journey epic fantasy trilogy was awarded the Life Changing Read Award by author and reviewer Ella Medler, and his first novel, urban fantasy On Unfaithful Wings, was a semi-finalist for the Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Book of 2012. Life as the trophy husband of a burlesque diva has led Bruce to many places he never expected to go, so it wasn’t a surprise when Rosie wanted to team up to write historical erotica, and the Lady Corsairs were born.


Welcome to 2013

Christmas, Xmas, Christmas tree, new year, christmas tree disposl
Bye bye Christmas

The holiday season is behind us. Gifts were given, parties attended, celebrations celebrated and resolutions made. I know for a fact it’s done, because today I took my Christmas tree to be recycled and tomorrow (Monday) my daughter heads back to school. There are no surer signs of the close of the yuletide season.

I’ve already seen a number of other authors welcome the new year on their blogs, so I guess I’m a few days behind, but I wanted to share with everyone what is in store for the coming year.

First off, I want to be clear that I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest: a resolution these days seems to suggest imminent failure. I drove past a church the other day, and the sign outside said “May your troubles this year be as short as your resolutions.” If a church can’t have faith, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Instead of resolutions, my wife and I partake in a New Year’s eve ritual in which we observe the past year, noting gains and losses and clearing resentments, and then set goals and intentions for the coming year. The difference between a goal and a resolution is that a goal must be specific, measurable and involve a deadline. For instance, you may have a resolution to lose weight, but your goal might be to lose 10 pounds by March 1. A resolution is to finish your novel; a goal is to have the first draft complete by Feb. 1, personal edits completed by March 1 and the book published by April 1.

The other thing that gives power to goals is accountability, and to have accountability, your goals must be shared with others. So here I am to share.

My two main goals for writing this year are to publish four more full-length novels in my usual genre (fantasy) and a minimum of six other projects that I will publish in other genres under pen names. Let’s deal with the novels first.

#1 novel for the year (Heart of the King – Khirro’s Journey Book 3) is almost done my personal edits. It goes to my editor Jan. 19 and will be published for Feb.1.Novels, goals, writing

#2 novel for the year is the third Icarus Fell Novel (Secrets of the Hanged Man). I wrote 50000 words of this for NaNoWriMo and will be retooling and adding to it for April 1 release.

#3 novel is an epic fantasy I’ve been wanting to write for years. The basic outline is in place and I actually have a bit written, but I will likely start again from the beginning. Aug. 1 release.

#4 novel is another epic fantasy, the idea for which recently wormed its way into my head where it lives, nattering in my ear. At this point I don’t know if it will be a one-off or a series, though I have my suspicions that, once I get into the story, there will be a lot more to it than I might think. Dec. 1 release, in time for Christmas.

As for the minimum six other projects (I say minimum because I currently only have one planned and a vague idea for the others, so I am unsure of their lengths), the first will be completed by the end of this month and ready for publication. The others will be published every other month, or perhaps quicker. This goal will be updated and adjusted as I find out exactly what it is I’ll be writing.

On top of this, there will be the three parts of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy released in one volume, an omnibus edition of the first three Icarus novels, and I am about to re-release all my short stories as individual quick-reads for 99 cents each.

All of this is leading to my ultimate goal:  a minimum of 25000 ebooks sold this year.

If you would like to follow along with my progress, tune in to the blog every once in a while, or you can follow this link and sign up for my newsletter (another goal for the year being fulfilled).

See you next time!


Another Excerpt From Birt & Paul’s Danger Peligros!

I have a great life. I’m married to a wonderful woman (who is a top burlesque performer), I have two great children, and I spend my days writing, editing, and doing other facets of business related to the production/publishing company my wife and I run together. I love my life, but still I get jealous of others at times. When I met Autumn Birt, who writes a great travel blog called No Map Nomads, I felt that twinge as the green monster reared its ugly head. Then, earlier this week, she released her new book Danger Peligros and I assisted by posting an excerpt. Reading it, my thirst for adventure travel disappeared…I’m more of a hotels and room service kind of guy, it turns out.

Let’s join Weifarer and Raven for another adventure to keep me in my place.

Danger-Peligros-CoverWhat are Peligros? That is a tough one to explain. They are the best and the worst of your day, travel, life. They are what draws us out from safe and comfy homes – the little itches that make such abodes feel too confining, too much the same. They are the essence of that moment when everything has gone horribly wrong and you are left thankful to be alive with parts that still add up to a functional whole. They are that moment when someone you don’t know lends you an unexpected, warm hand. They are when your luck goes from nonexistent to good, because you wouldn’t need good luck if things hadn’t looked scary for a time, now would you?

You know what a Peligro is, only you just didn’t know what to call it.

Raven and I have been traveling since we met on Martha’s Vineyard oh-so-many years ago now. From those early days barely surviving learning to sail on Vineyard Sound to more recent motorcycle trips through the Canadian Maritimes, we’ve had our share of trouble and of luck. Danger Peligros! collects some of those stories of our misadventures so that when you follow a Peligro out the door, you might be a little better informed!

How NOT to Cross Vineyard Sound

Ignorance protects the foolish and the young. And boy, were we lucky it did! This nearly unsuccessful crossing of Vineyard Sound taught us to laugh at our mistakes – once we were sure we were going to live to tell about them.

We were both wrong. Raven was right: we should have left earlier. I was certainly right and we definitely should have stopped in Oak Bluffs for gas. Beyond that, there was so much we didn’t have a clue about it was only the powers that protect the foolish and young that got us safely back to the mainland. Ignorance is bliss, especially if what you are ignorant of is the knife’s edge of success or death.

The sailboat was a beat up and well used MacGreggor 25. Bought on Martha’s Vineyard, we had lived aboard it for two months while working on the island. We’d sailed it exactly twice. The second time we had broken a block due to improper rigging of a boat which we knew absolutely nothing about. We had a lot of theories though.

Anchored in Katama Bay, we were off the charts, away from marinas and anyone who would have given us practical advice. Like the charts were way wrong and the outgoing tide was far above the listed 4 knots. And maybe our “chart” should have been more than a fancy waterproof placemat anyway. Or that maybe we should have rigged the boat correctly before trying to motor across to Cape Cod, just in case we had to use the sail. But no, we were alone with just a few clammers fishing the muddy sand at low tide, the sea gulls, our haphazard sailboat, and ignorant bliss.

It was only mid-summer, but we needed to leave the Vineyard early. Time to raise anchor and head up to Maine, literally. Of course, we weren’t crazy enough to sail THAT far. We were going to just putt across Vineyard Sound, pull the boat in Woods Hole, and tow it up to Maine. The crossing is only 8 miles of open water. Heck, you can see the mainland from Martha’s Vineyard. This wasn’t the English Channel. How hard could it be?

I wonder if we even checked the tide chart the day before? I mean, we knew that much. If the tide was low enough, the boat actually ended up grounded. Surely we would have planned ahead to ensure we had sufficient water to begin our journey? Still, we woke up to a thump. A shift in the current had bumped the hull against the quickly approaching sand bottom. Today was the day we were supposed to leave. The Jeep was already waiting in Woods Hole with the trailer. A few hours delay could put us too late to cross and would mean parking tickets. We were out of bed and looking over the side at the disappearing water. Raven pulled the anchors and started the engine while I put in my contact lenses.

Is that when we realized the gas tank wasn’t full? You would have thought we’d check that before we left. Better, before we drove our only method of land transportation off island so that if we’d realized our gas oversight, we would not have had to hitch a ride to a gas station. But no, by the time we hefted the gas tank, realized it was half full, calculated the usage of the 9.9 outboard and figured . . . we could make it, just, we were already underway.

Now, as slightly more cognizant adults, we would have probably realized that two mistakes don’t make a right, the fates were against us, and let’s just try again tomorrow. But in your twenties, you figure you can wing it. Our guardian angels must have never thought they’d manage to get us through to our thirties!

I smoothly motored us out of Katama Bay and by Edgartown. Our thoughts were on the summer, wondering when we’d see the Vineyard again and be able to spend time on our favorite beaches. The fact that we were heading out into the Sound on an outgoing tide racing to meet the Atlantic Ocean with a half tank of gas and broken rigging never entered our heads.

As Oak Bluffs came into view, the white gazebo painted vividly in the sunny field of grass, I did suggest that we could swing into the marina there for gas. But as we’d traveled up the western side of the Vineyard, we hadn’t encountered any problems. We just needed to round the tip, jump across the Sound, dive through the hole in the Elizabethan Islands between Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound and we could call it good. Why get even more off schedule for a pit stop in Oak Bluffs?

We knew the hole could be tricky. The current funneling between the islands created a wave as the water backed up against the rocky barrier before whipping past and out to sea. Still, things had been going well and we continued past the northern tip of Martha’s Vineyard and pointed the bow directly northeast and into the outgoing tide.

The island had protected us until that moment. But her embrace was now behind us. Our 25-foot boat took the full force of the current directly into her bow. We opened up the 9.9 half way, then three-quarters. The engine strained. The gas gurgled.

The island had also protected us from the wind. Now there was a slight breeze. Boats far ahead of us, almost to the mainland along the ferry route, were heeled over in the wind. We thought we could try the same thing. Raise the sail and motor forward. It would save gas and should work.

Except for that darn busted rigging. Well, the term “jury rigging” was obviously developed on a sailboat. Raven played a rope rerouting dance and we eased back on the throttle. Two things happened. We slipped next to and then a little behind the bell buoy we’d managed to force our way beyond ten minutes before. We weren’t even holding ground. We were losing. And the other thing is the ferry came.

Did I mention that Vineyard Sound can seem as busy as a water expressway? Fishing boats, pleasure boats, Coast Guard, research vessels, commuters, and really big ferry boats all ply the channel. And we were in the middle of the ferry route losing a battle with the tide.

A 25-foot boat feels about the size of a golf ball orbiting the moon next to a car ferry. Plankton had a better chance of fighting the whale about to swallow it than we did of making the ferry move. We just were not going to win that competition even if “vessels under sail” have the right of way. We hauled ass, kicked the motor to full 9.9 horse power and got the heck out of the way.

Which left us on fumes in the middle of the channel. But hey, the sail was raised! We called a boat tow company who offered to come to our aid with a can of gas for a mere $300. We were broke college student twenty-somethings. The offer didn’t feel like a rescue, but more like extortion for idiocy.

We declined and looked at each other as the engine gave a shuddering sputter and the bow threatened to turn to run with the tide. Well, why not? We had the whole arm of the Cape to make landfall. Woods Hole wasn’t the only game in town even if the Jeep was there. And let’s face it, we were never going to make it through the rocks and into Buzzard’s Bay if we couldn’t even beat the tide mid-channel.

We cut the engine and pivoted the boat into the waves. Who needs gas? This was a sailboat after all. Raven took over and angled the boat along the coast, dancing her with the swells. A small group of yacht club kids doing regatta runs made it all look so easy. But by then, we were near the sweep of the cape and protected from the worse of the tide.

Sans engine, Raven sailed up Falmouth Harbor and docked us in front of the gas tank. I was never so happy to be tied to something in my life. We filled the tank, dropped the jury-rigged sail, and motored further east to the Green Pond boat ramp. It was nearly deserted, had a gently angled ramp unlike Woods Hole, and we could take all the time we needed to get situated and pull the boat. Which was good, because Raven had to take a taxi back to Woods Hole to get the trailer and Jeep!

We survived but it was important lesson in how alone you really are, even when surrounded by a sea full of people. No one stopped to help us. Our first reliance was on each other. It took both of us to cross Vineyard Sound. That and an absolute ton of luck!

Book Blurb:

Explore the best moments, mischief, and mayhem from the adventure travel website No Map Nomads. Whether by boot, by (motor)bike, by boat, or by whatever it takes, Raven and Weifarer will take you along to experience trips from sublime to nearly disastrous. With serendipity tucked into the saddlebags along with some capricious Peligros, every turn leads to the unexpected.

This book includes the complete story arc to Cruise Ship Mutiny, the Cabot Trail on motorcycle, memories of the first motorbike trip to Canada (in October no less), hikes on tropical islands and much more.

Find it on Amazon

or Smashwords

These Are The Days Of Miracle And Wonder

It’s been a while since the last time I posted (over 2 weeks if you don’t count Emily Ward taking things over for a day).

“Why?” you might wonder aloud, and rightfully so. “Why would an independent author who relies so much on interaction with people to sell books neglect his blog for an extended period? It says right in the name of the blog: struggling writer. Perhaps this is why, Bruce.”

Perhaps. But I do have an excuse and, in my world, at least, it’s a doozie.

You see, on the 3rd of October, 2012, I lost my job. Suddenly, inexplicably, with no notice or hint, I found myself unemployed. Not laid off. Not downsized. The business didn’t close. No, the owners decided I no longer fit with their plans anymore and cut me a pretty decent cheque to stop working for them. It didn’t just catch me off-guard, but everyone I worked with, especially the dozen or so people who asked me when I’d be getting the general manager’s position when he quit just a few months before.

See how happy I look?

Now I know  conventional wisdom says that I should be all broken up about being “let go”, perhaps take a couple of days off, then beat the pavement to find another job, but I don’t want to live that conventional life. In fact, I haven’t wanted to live it for quite some time. My wife and I (for those of you who don’t know me and haven’t bothered to read the about page, my wife is a bit of a big deal burlesque performer here in Victoria) have been scheming for a while trying to figure out how to get me out of a job and into the things I really want to do. And now it has been thrust upon me. The universe works in mysterious ways.

I’m convinced the owner has had a few moments of ponderment in which he thought to himself “why did I do that again?”. Because the universe made you.

So you’re probably thinking to yourself: “What’s in it for me?” The answer is the same for you as it is for me: more and better. Let me give you some examples:

Over the last 3 days (that’s Fri-Sun as I write this) I wrote over 12500 words on my current work-in-progress. That’s more than  I would have written in 3 weeks before the days of miracle and wonder began. That means the first draft of Spirit of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 2), which I was hoping to finish by mid-November, could be done as early as the end of this week (the end of next at the latest). Finishing that means I can get started on the next Icarus Fell novel (Secrets of the Hanged Man – I’ve been planning), not to mention the YA fantasy I’ve been aching to do, and the fairy story I want to write with my 11-year-old daughter, and the one about the guy with no magic, and…I digress.

Today, I took the day off from writing. I didn’t take the day off, however. Instead, I finished formatting all three of my novels for CreateSpace, so as soon as I can get my cover guy to format the covers for print, they will be available. And I did some research and planning for an erotica website my wife and I want to do. And I researched better ways to promo. And I wrote two blog posts. And I researched how to make my blog and my social media better. I even folded the laundry.

All of this time, all of this focus, means more novels, better posts, higher quality. I can spend time looking for ways to help other people. Things are going to be different around here. It’s good for me and it’s good for you. It all starts with my very next post when I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: review a book. And watch for the name of my blog to change. I’m done with struggling.

So you see, dear friends, the unfortunate incident of me being ‘retired’ is not unfortunate at all. It’s the beginning of something wonderful. Truly, these are the days of miracle and wonder.