While I always dreamed of the day people would like my work (therein lies the true satisfaction I get from writing) I decided to keep my expectations (at least publicly) low. In my mind I have visions of world domination- but that’s another story. Today I have just enough clout to take over parts of Costa Rica, maybe. A lovely country if you’ve never visited. I recommend going.
I wrote Hammers in the Wind with the intent of only being two books. I was never interested in doing a series until the book got picked up by a small publisher who said ‘we want more’. A lot of head scratching and a few quality cigars later I took drastic action. Hammers, as written, was around 175k words. (I love loooooong stories). Like a person getting a new haircut, I chopped it in half, added some filler and then went on to write 4 more novels- each around 100k
The task was arduous but fulfilling. The end result is a 600k word tale that takes you to some very dark places, adds a little humor, and has enough twists involved that you just won’t guess all of it correctly. To date, Hammers in the Wind and the subsequent Northern Crusade series has accumulated roughly 500 reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Hammers was the #1 Free Kindle book four- that’s 4- times last year and, at the time of me writing this, currently #11.
Not to say its been all roses and potpourri. I’ve gone through three different covers. Had enough negative reviews in the beginning that I needed to redo all six volumes. But it is worth it. There is satisfaction from reading a complete stranger get so excited that he is reading his copy with his son and they enjoy it together. Wow.
Excerpt from Hammers in the Wind:
Evening rains had cooled the night air to a considerable chill. Bahr pulled his great overcoat closer and worked his way home from the Nest. His belly was full from a little too much to drink and his mind was troubled by the worrisome pair of Nothol Coll and Dorl Theed. They were good people, but too liberal for his liking. He wanted men who did what they were told. Combined, those two were too much to handle in large doses.
The faint patter of the last few rain drops tickled his scalp. Finally relaxed, Bahr felt the stress of the day leave. There was time enough for worry in the coming days. The sound of waves breaking comforted him. A strong desire to take to his ship and ride out to sea struggled for ascendency, but he couldn’t. Not now when the stakes were so high. Bahr did his best to shake off the nagging doubt corrupting his thoughts. Oh well, he thought, there was nothing for it. He resigned himself to the lure of the softness of his bed in his expansive estate. Even he couldn’t resist that. Bahr turned the final corner towards his estate and headed up the porch.
“The fabled Sea Wolf of Delranan,” said a scratchy voice from the shadows in the corner before he managed another step.
Bahr’s hand instinctively, albeit drunkenly, grasped the hilt of the longer dagger at his hip.
“There’s no need for weapons with me. Besides, a fabled warrior such as you would only make short work of the likes of me.”
Bahr seriously doubted this stranger was anything but harmless. Still, he watched him with a wary eye, desperately peering into the faint porch light for answers. Smallish in stature, the stranger wore elaborate white robes worked around a tightly trimmed beard. His face was shallow and pinched, making his nose appear slightly bigger than it was. It was the eyes Bahr found most impressive. Even in the near darkness they held several lifetimes’ worth of tales. Whoever he was, this man had seen his share of the world.
“You seem to know me old man, but that leaves me with a disadvantage. I’m not the sort who appreciates that kind of situation,” Bahr said.
The stranger smiled warmly. He bore the elegance of immense wisdom charged with a certain level of lethality. His skin was leathered from countless years in the elements and he held presence as a king.
“The answer you seek is not an easy one to give. I am old beyond measure in mortal lives. I am as ancient as the setting sun and the rising moons; ancient and wicked both. I am the light and the dark. I have seen gods die and dragons born. I am the wind and snow. I, who was old when this land was still submerged beneath the seas, need no introduction.”
“None of that fancy talk really impresses me much, old timer,” Bahr bit back.
A mischievous twinkle filled his eyes. “In the interest of simplicity, my name is Anienam Keiss.”
Bahr felt his muscles spasm. He’d heard the name before. Hells, practically all of Malweir knew it. Murmurs and rumors abounded at the mention of his name. A wizard, said some. Others cursed him as the plaything of demons. No good would come of this meeting. Regardless of what men said, Anienam Keiss was a myth; the deceptive thing of legend without a face. Yet here he was standing on Bahr’s porch. The Sea Wolf suddenly felt very small.
“Ah, I can see that you have heard of me,” Anienam said with a degree of smugness.
Bahr nodded. “Every man in these parts has. Damnation, a wizard on my own front porch! How is it a creature like you manages to show up during the troubled times?”
The smaller man stood quietly watching him as if assessing the quality of his character. “Mine is the will of eternity. I come and go as the world desires. Do not seek answers your mind is incapable of understanding.”
Bahr rubbed his chin. His patience was gone. “Let’s cut to the chase. I’m in no mood for little games.”
Anienam continued, “The world is changing. Fate has summoned me to Delranan for a purpose I cannot yet fathom. What I do know is that you are at the center of it all. If you do not mind, I would speak with you under more, hospitable, conditions.”
“Why me? They say men die when you come around.”
He smiled. “You give me more credit than I deserve. Malweir would be a much different place if I had that ability. Alas, it is not so. Master Bahr, you have been chosen and only to you may I deliver my message.”
Bahr weighed his options. If Fate was involved, she was fickle bitch with a mean sense of humor. His night had progressively gotten worse. Maybe he should give in, let it ride. The other options seemed less inviting. Damnation, he growled. He eyed the old wizard and said, “Okay. Let’s get it over with.”
He wearily stalked past the old man and opened his door. The rain began to fall again.