Friday, May 12, 2017

Character-Naming Contest!

Hello, all! I'm about to begin writing The Lion's Crypt, the second book of The Emberlyn Chronicles, and I'm looking for some great character names! It's a fantasy series, so keep that in mind.

The rules:
1. Names must end with either a "c," a "k," or a "ck." They are intended to be male names.
2. They shouldn't sound too Vulcan; after I came up with my loose rules for the language, I realized that Vulcan names generally end in "c" or "k," so I've been trying to avoid anything that sounds too similar.
3. You may submit up to three names. I need some evil-sounding names among them.

Here are some names used in The Lion's Crown, to give you a feel for what I'm looking for: Faric, Braedok, Karak, Lanioc, Dourok.

The Prize: If I use one of your names, it will appear in The Lion's Crypt and/or the third book of the series, The Lion's Court. You will also receive an ebook copy of the book(s) your name appears in and a mention in the acknowledgements section of the book(s).

Submit your answers and any questions to with "Naming Contest" in the subject line. If you've yet to read The Lion's Crown, you can get your copy here.

This contest ends May 31, 2017.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sale & Free Ebooks, May 6-12

Beginning on May 6, I'm having a sale on eight of my titles! Three of them will be completely free, and the others five will be just 99 cents! Click on any title below to get your ebook copies from Amazon.

FREE: Sullivan's War (The Sullivan Saga Book 1)
99¢: Sullivan's Wrath (The Sullivan Saga Book 2)
99¢: Sullivan's Watch (The Sullivan Saga Book 3)
FREE: Sullivan's Blood (The Sullivan Saga Book 4)

FREE: The City Beyond the Sands (The Strange Lands Saga Book 1)
99¢: Riders of the Red Land (The Strange Lands Saga Book 2)
99¢: The Sea Dragons (The Strange Lands Saga Book 3)

99¢: Provocation

Sale details: Sullivan's War, Sullivan's Blood and The City Beyond the Sands are free May 6-10. Sullivan's Wrath and Sullivan's Watch are 99¢/£0.99 May 6-10 at and Amazon UK only. Riders of the Red Land, The Sea Dragons and Provocation are 99¢/£0.99 May 6-12 at and Amazon UK only.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Book Signing May 25-28 at Phoenix Comicon!

Authors Alexia Purdy, Jenna Elizabeth Johnson, Katie Salidas, David Jones and I will be attending Phoenix Comicon! Come by and say hello; we'll be giving away prizes and signing books all weekend long!

Find us at Booth #696 on the main exhibitor floor.

Facebook Event Page

Purchase Tickets to Phoenix Comicon

Friday, April 28, 2017

The World of The Lion's Crown

Up until this point, I've primary written science fiction, but fantasy and science fiction are two genres that have become closely associated despite their apparent differences. This is because they are "speculative fiction," a term that encompasses any tale that takes place in a world that is not our own, whether that be a future in which technology has progressed beyond or to the limits of what is currently possible, a past in which things did not unfold as history describes, or a completely made-up fictional world.

The Lion's Crown (Amazon link), the first book of The Emberlyn Chronicles, takes place in the last of these settings, as does much "high" or "epic" fantasy. Today I'd like to share with you some details of that world without, I hope, revealing too many spoilers.

Let's begin with "Earth" as it exists in The Emberlyn Chronicles. What makes the setting unique is the presence of the Hobswood, a vast, nearly impenetrable forest in the center of the landmass that the characters call home. It lies between the kingdoms of Emberlyn and Gronstave--frequent enemies who currently recognize an uneasy truce--and it is completely ringed by a dark, forbidding swamp. This is the Bleaklands, and the peasants who live along its edge are called Bleaklanders. They scrape together a meager living by working the land--which is owned by local lords--and digging peat from the bog, which is used as fuel and sold to merchants traveling the Peat Road, which runs from the major cities of Emberlyn to the villages along the Bleaklands.

The characters who go in to explore the Hobswood all come from the Kingdom of Emberlyn. It is named for the Ember Lion, a legendary creature that the royal family believes was responsible for their ancestor's victory which united the warring Eastern Kingdoms into one country. Emberlyn's capital, Granisle, is dominated by the castle that sits on an island at the confluence of two rivers, the Stout and the Deerford. To the east is the Oulfeist Sea, and what lies beyond it is a mystery.

The great Hobswood Forest covers much of the eastward-jutting peninsula that Emberlyn sits upon. To the west of the forest is the Kingdom of Gronstave. While Gronstave is mentioned only in passing in The Lion's Crown, it will come to play a more important role in the sequels, The Lion's Crypt and The Lion's Court. To the west and south of Gronstave are desert and jungle lands. If Emberlyn and Gronstave can be understood as "European," these lands are roughly analogous to Africa and the Middle East. There is some contact and trade with the people who live there, but little is truly known of the cultures and civilizations in these lands.

Now, concerning the Hobswood Forest itself. The interior is a mystery at the beginning of the novel, and I don't want to reveal too much; I think it will be more fun for readers to make those discoveries along with the characters. What I will say is that there are people in the Hobswood, but they are unlike those who live outside the forest. They have been embroiled in a generations-long war, and it doesn't take long for the book's protagonists to get caught up in the conflict. The forest is also home to the Ember Lion, which our main characters discover is much more than a myth.

The characters who make up the expedition are:

Penelope "Penny" Blackmoor - a Bleaklander living along the edges of the bog.
Sir William Carlyle - a knight, the leader of the expedition.
Owen Blackmoor - Penny's brother, who went into the Hobswood as a child. He returned after two weeks, but he came back a "fool," as the Bleaklanders say. Even though he is now an adult, he appears to have the mind of a child. As the only living person to enter the Hobswood and return, he has been ordered to accompany the knights. Given his condition, Penny refuses to let him go unless she can also join them.
George Ashberry - A Bleaklander in love with Penny. When he learns Penny and Owen are joining the expedition, he convinces Sir William to let him also go along.
Sir Harold Swift, Sir Stephen Laurenge, Sir Alfred Pierce - the other knights accompanying Sir William.

There are more key characters you'll meet once the explorers enter the Hobswood, but I can't say too much about them without giving away spoilers.

You'll learn much of this information while reading The Lion's Crown, but I hope that this little primer about the world of the story will help cement some of the settings in your mind. I drew a crude map for my own purposes, but it's not very presentable. At some point I'll create one I can share with you all.

Until Next Time!
Michael K. Rose

It's just 99¢ through the end of April!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Lion's Crown: An Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from my new fantasy novel, The Lion's Crown (Amazon link). Sir William Carlyle and his companions have been tasked with exploring the mysterious Hobswood Forest. The party has crossed through the Bleaklands, the bog that rings the forest, and have made camp for their first night inside the wood.

* * *
Wraith Smoke

Sir William let out a puzzled grunt. He reached forward to stoke the fire but paused. He was looking beyond it and beyond Sir Alfred, who was sitting opposite him. “A lurking shadow,” he whispered. “The wraith!”
Everyone but Owen sprang to their feet. Swords were drawn, but William was at the pile of packs. He pulled out the torches and tossed them to the others. They lit the torches in the fire, but before anyone could act, the dark shape swept toward them. Sir Alfred yelled out as it whipped by him, but his torch was already lit. He lashed out, and the flame licked at the edge of the shadow.
A scream like wind rushing through a cavern pierced their ears. The wraith dashed past them and up onto the boulder. It glided across the rock and down into the ravine beyond.
The four knights stood with their torches held aloft, facing the boulder. George armed himself with a brand from the fire and pushed Penny and Owen back behind him.
“If we can’t kill it,” Sir William said grimly, “then we can’t sleep. It could return at any time during the night.”
They spread out in a circle around the fire and stood silently, watching and waiting. Minutes passed without anything happening, but the second their guard began to slack, the thing rushed out from the trees on one side of their camp. Again it charged by them, seemingly trying to graze them without getting caught by one of the torches. But as it whipped past George, he flung his burning stick toward it. The brand hit the wraith squarely and passed through it, but another chilling scream told them it had been injured. It sped around the camp in a circle, making quick, jerky advances ever few seconds. Sir Stephen cried out as it touched his leg, but he was able to graze it with his torch before it could dart away again. He fell to one knee but he kept his torch at the ready as he rubbed his calf where the wraith had stung him.
Again and again, the wraith tried to graze them, and even though Harold, George and William each also suffered the thing’s touch, they were able to retaliate every time.
The wraith’s dizzying rush began to slow, and as it made one final advance toward Sir William, he brought his torch down like a headsman’s axe.
The burning end of the torch seemed to pin the wraith to the ground, and as it flailed, William took several more stinging touches before it finally fell still.
William collapsed onto the ground next to the wraith. His forehead was glistening with sweat, and his face was twisted in agony.
“Is it dead?” Harold called, hobbling over.
William poked at the wraith with his torch. It didn’t flinch. “I believe so.”
They all gathered around the thing for a better look. Its edges were indistinct, but the body was roughly diamond shaped. A wispy tail trailed behind it, but they couldn’t make out any eyes, mouth or limbs. Without it moving, it was almost impossible to see. It was a shadow on the ground, nothing more, and Penny had to fight an impulse to look around for the real creature that was casting that shadow.
As they studied it, the wraith began to thin. The shadow grew lighter, and a moment later it dissipated as a breeze blew across the camp. It drifted away like smoke, and they were left staring at an empty patch of ground.
“By the lion’s tail,” Sir Alfred muttered.
Sir Stephen turned away and looked into the dark forest. “Do you suppose this is the same one that attacked us at the village?”
William shrugged. “That wraith did escape across the bog.”
“But how many of them could there be?” Stephen asked. “The forest could be thick with them for all we know.”
“Sir William?” George said.
“Penny and I have lived on the edge of the Bleaklands all our lives. If there were many such things, I believe they would be encountered much more often. Until the recent attacks at the village, wraiths were only known from ancient stories.”
William stood up from his kneeling position. “I hope you’re right. Still, there are six of us who can stand watch. Two of us will be on guard at all times. I will stand the first watch with… Penny.”
The others mumbled their agreement and rounded the fire back to the bedrolls lined up along the base of the boulder. George gave Penny a light kiss before he left, and she blushed as she glanced over at Sir William.
William extinguished the torches with a thick cone of stiff leather but kept them nearby, ready to be relit. He sat down on the side of the fire opposite the boulder. “Back to back,” he said to Penny. “We can lean against one another so we don’t get too many aches.”
She sat behind him, facing away. “Why not just lean against a pack?”
“This way one of us will know if the other begins to fall asleep. And since we can feel each other moving, that will help keep us alert.”
Penny felt strange with Sir William’s back pressed against hers, but after a few minutes her discomfort subsided. The warmth was reassuring. She felt him fumbling with something, and a moment later it was pressed against her arm.
“Here, take it,” he said.
She reached around and took the object with her other hand. It was Sir William’s knife. She slid it out of the leather scabbard and looked at the blade. “But wraiths aren’t hurt by weapons,” she said.
“No, but wraiths aren’t the only thing to be concerned about.”
She felt stupid for not thinking of that and was glad Sir William wasn’t able to see her blush. “Of course,” she said. She looked across the fire at George. “Sir William, why did you choose me to keep watch with you?”
“I wanted to speak with you.”
“What about?”
She heard William take a breath. “I wanted to say that I am sorry.”
“For forcing Owen to come with us. Only I had my king’s order….”
“I know.”
“And we must be able to rely on one another, yes?”
“So I hope we can be friends. Neither you nor George has done or said anything to concern me, but I do have to be able to trust you both. With my life. If there is any resentment, I hope you’d let me know now. We could talk it over and come to an understanding.”
Penny leaned her head back to look at the sky but straightened her neck again as the back of her head pressed against William’s. “Perhaps you won’t understand this,” she said, “but people like us… George and me… we’re used to having no say in what happens to us. The lord who owns our village is a good man, and for that we are fortunate, but we must still obey him without question. So when you, a knight, comes and says something must be done… well, it must be done.”
“I do not want you to see me like that,” William said quietly. “And my life is no different, whatever you may think. When my king commands me to do something, I must do it. My life is not my own either.”
“But you, in turn, can command others. Even your fellow knights must follow your orders, as you’ve been put in charge by the king. I command no one.”
“Owen does what you tell him.”
“That’s not the same. He’s older than me and a man. If he were normal….” She let the thought go.
“I understand,” he said. “And I am sorry. Please don’t see me as the one who commands you. Let us be friends.”
“Friends,” Penny said. She looked left then right, scanning what could be seen in the ring of light cast by the fire.

* * *

The Lion's Crown is only 99¢ through the end of April!
Click here to get your copy from Amazon!