Wizard Redeemed, Book Seven is now available in eBook, Print, and Audio Book format.
Wizard Scouts have long been the defenders of the Intergalactic Empire, but they are a dying breed.
For a hundred thousand years, the elves' Tree of Light has protected the forces of good from an evil so dark it threatens to destroy every living creature in the three galaxies. That time of protection may be coming to an end. The forces of darkness have in their possession a key that can open a gate to the demonic plane unleashing armies of nightmare creatures on unsuspecting civilizations. Only Wizard Scout Richard Shepard and his friends stand ready to defend against certain destruction.
Longtime enemies must put away their grudges to find common ground as Richard and the High Priestess Jeena rally the forces of good to fight those of the dark. Can humans and elves work together to find a way to prevent the gate from opening? Can combining technology and magic win the day or will eternal darkness finally triumph over the light?
Haunted by his past, Wizard Scout Richard Shepard must overcome his own hatred before he can hope to rally his hard-won allies to victory. The way is fraught with peril, but if he succeeds, even a wizard scout may find redemption at the end of the day.
The eBook and print versions of Wizard Betrayed, Book Six went live in September 2017. The audio version went live January 2018.
Wizard Redeemed, Book Seven has been sent to proofreader for final editing. I'm hopeful it will be published by mid-March. Rick, Jeena and their friends are once again thrown into the fray. Action is split between both the magic and physical dimension as the civil war between the Empire and the Conglomerate builds.
I've also written a new young adult book called Fire Defender that should be published in April. I'll post more information about this new series in a couple of weeks.
Wizard Rebellion, Book Five went live on April 25, 2017. The print book is also live. The manuscript for Wizard Rebellion is with the audio book producer and he has set up a schedule with the narrator. The producer is hoping to have the audio book completed by end of July 2017, so I'm hopeful the audio book will be live sometime around mid-August.
I am currently working hard on Wizard Betrayal, Book Six. The manuscript is due at my copyeditor by July 15th, so I'm shooting for a mid to late August release date, but it could be early September depending on what my editor finds.
On a personal note, as of May 1, 2017 I am no longer working my day job as a computer programmer and am devoting myself to writing fulltime. Hopefully that will mean a little faster pace on getting the Intergalactic Wizard Scout Chronicles series completed. As you may or may not know, it is a 12 books series, so Wizard Betrayal will be the halfway point. Rick, Nick, Jeena, and their friends still have a lot of adventures ahead of them, but things are getting tougher for them as the series continues. Fortunately, there's a lot of good times ahead as well. I'm hopeful the series fans will continue to find the wizard scout books interesting as the series builds to its culmination.
When I was growing up, several times a year during the summer my dad would gather some logs and start a large bonfire. Around evening time when the fire had burned down to deep red coals with a few flickering flames, my aunts, uncles, and grandparents would show up at our farm with pitchers of tea, cans of soda, and large bowls filled with potato salad, coal slaw, baked beans, and other delicious goodies. Once things settled down, we kids would run over to a stack of limbs which dad had whittled down and select a stick with a sharp point at the end. The wisest of us kids would try to find a stick with a fork at the end with two sharpened points. Then we’d run over to an ice chest, pull out a pack of hotdogs, shove one or two on the end of our stick, and then dash to the fire to start the process of getting our hotdogs to just the right shade of blackened crust. Before long, the air would be filled with the delicious aroma of cooking hotdogs and the laughter of children and adults alike.
Flash forward 25 years. There I was in the Persian Gulf. The war with Iraq had ended, and my unit was in the process of deploying back to the United States. We’d spent weeks cleaning our equipment and getting it packed on container ships or cargo planes. The last week or so I was in Saudi Arabia, my aviation brigade was living in a parking garage just waiting for our turn to get bused to a nearby airport to catch a long anticipated flight home. Now even the United States only has a certain number of airplanes, so it’s not like we could all leave at once. So there I, and several thousand more of my fellow soldiers, was biding my time in the parking garage waiting for our turn to head home. It wasn’t bad at the parking garage compared to what we’d been through. I mean after all, we had just finished fighting a war. So things were definitely better. We had cots to sleep on, electric lights to see by, and hot food to eat three times a day. Our cooks were the last ones to pack up their equipment, so we were eating pretty well.
Then it happened. Our cooks got their orders to leave, so they packed their gear and after a final meal, they were gone. So what were I and the other 2,000 plus troops still waiting in the parking garage supposed to eat? Not to worry says our leaders. The U.S. Army personnel responsible for contracts had coordinated with local Saudi vendors to feed us, so we’d be taken well care of. (Yeah, sure we will. And I’ve got some valuable swampland I’d like to sell you real cheap.)
Anyway, for the next couple of days we got fed decent. The food wasn’t up to the standards of our own Army cooks, but it wasn’t bad. Then the U.S. Army personnel responsible for setting up the contracts with the Saudi vendors got their orders to board a plane and head back to the United States. Well once they left and there was no one to supervise the local Saudi vendors, we noticed the quality of our food head south real quick. I remember the last night I was in Saudi Arabia, I waited in a 1,000 person line for our supper meal. Once I finally worked my way up to the first food station, I held out my paper plate and the cook (I guess he was a cook), stabbed something gray which was about 5 inches long out of a can and shoved it onto my plate.
“What’s this?” I ask.
Naturally, the ‘cook’ doesn’t speak English, so the soldier behind me answers instead.
“I think it’s a hotdog,” says the soldier.
Hmm, I think. A hotdog? Now I’ve had quite a few hotdogs during my life. I don’t ever remember grabbing a gray hotdog out of my parents’ ice chest and putting it on my stick at one of our bonfires while growing up. And I don’t ever remember ordering a hotdog at a football game and getting something gray. Hotdogs are supposed to be red. What’s going on?
Well, I mosey up to the next food station, and someone shovels some kind of beans onto my plate. I don’t have a lot of memory of those beans, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t look anything like the baked beans my mom served at Thanksgiving or during one of our bonfire cookouts.
Finally, I go to the last food station. The ‘cook’ there reaches into a cardboard box and pulls out a hotdog bun and slaps it onto my plate. I immediately notice something strange about the bun.
Hmm, I think. I don’t remember my mom giving me a hotdog bun with something green growing on it.
I look again, and sure enough, not only is my ‘meal’ composed of a gray hotdog with mystery beans for a side, the hotdog bun has several splotches of green mold growing on it. I peek over the lip of the cardboard box and see that all of the hotdog buns have green mold growing on them.
Well, the last ‘food station’ was a large trashcan, so I, and hundreds of other soldiers, quickly deposited our ‘last meal’ in Saudi Arabia into the trashcan and made our way back to our cots. I vaguely remember hunting down a MRE to eat before going to bed.
Thankfully, I got on a plane the next morning and was soon on my way back to the good old United States where hotdogs are red and hotdog buns don’t have green on them.
Moral of the Story: First off, hotdogs are meant to be red, not gray. If you ever see something that doesn’t look right (food or otherwise), the odds are it isn’t. Walk away real quick. Second, people (vendors or otherwise) need to be held accountable otherwise they’ll take shortcuts. So, if you’re ever in charge of something, make sure you hold people accountable so your ‘troops’ don’t get stuck with gray hotdogs. AIRBORNE!
I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division as a new infantry private in the paratroops in January 1972. (Wow that was a long time ago!) A few weeks after joining my unit, the company was marched to headquarters to form up with the other companies in our battalion. I don’t know how it is now in the military, but back then we didn’t have smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, or any other way to get news other than through our chain of command. And believe me, they didn’t tell little old nineteen year old Private Hartman very much. So when about 200 of the soldiers in our battalion were called out of formation and ordered onto trucks, I had no idea what was happening. However, since all of my fellow privates in my platoon were put on the trucks along with me, I wasn’t too concerned. As it turned out, none of them knew any more about what was going on than I did.
After a thirty minute truck ride, we stopped, got off, and lined up in formation. An officer walked up to the front of our formation and explained what was happening. We had all volunteered to participate in the US Army’s Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) testing. It was a great honor, he explained, and only the best of the best would earn the coveted award.
The what? I thought.
Naturally, I didn’t ask any questions aloud. After all, I was only a private, and back in 1972, privates who asked too many stupid questions were occasionally taken into a room to be ‘counseled’ by two or three sergeants. When the counseling was done, the private often had a few bruises to attest to the effectiveness of the counseling session. So, I kept my mouth shut. Now, I knew what a Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) was. Heck, the Vietnam War was still going on, and almost all of the sergeants and a lot of the specialists and even a few privates had CIBs since they’d served as infantrymen in a combat zone. Even as new to the military as I was, I’d often found myself jealously looking at soldiers wearing CIBs over the left-breast pocket of their uniforms while the left side of my uniform was conspicuously bare. But I’d never heard of an Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) before that morning.
Well, through osmosis from listening to the wiser soldiers in the formation, I found out that only one soldier (a sergeant) in our company had an EIB, and only seven soldiers (all sergeants) had earned the EIB in the entire battalion the previous year. On top of that, all seven of those sergeants had CIBs which took precedence over the EIB, so no one in the battalion currently wore an EIB on their uniform. Since most of the soldiers in our formation were newly arrived personnel who’d never been in combat, we all began talking about how cool it would be to get to sew an EIB onto our uniforms. It wouldn’t be a CIB, but we figured it would be better than having nothing on our uniforms.
Now, I’d never been much at taking tests or doing homework, and I had the horrible grades in high school to prove it. Consequently, I had no illusions I’d be awarded an EIB. However, I was determined to do my best. Besides, I was with my friends, and taking tests sure beat cleaning latrines, so I wasn’t complaining.
As it so happened, our testing consisted of a lot of hands-on stuff. Our formation was divided into small groups, and we were marched to various round-robin stations to prove our mettle. Each of us had to throw dummy grenades, disassemble and assemble weapons, plot points and routes on maps, call in simulated artillery on some kind of horizontal board with small buildings on it which gave out puffs of smoke where the artillery round supposedly hit. (To this day, I still don’t understand how that thing was supposed to work.) We also setup dummy claymore mines along with a few personnel and antitank mines I’d never seen prior to that day. There were a lot of other tests which I really don’t remember after 45 years. (Wow. That really was a long time ago.)
Eventually, the tests were completed late in the afternoon, and we were loaded onto trucks and shipped back to our units. No one told us squat about how we did. But it didn’t matter. If only the best of the best were awarded EIBs, it was nothing I needed to be concerned about. I’d never excelled at anything during my 19 years of life. I was just content being with my friends.
The next morning, everyone who’d participated in EIB testing the previous day were marched to battalion headquarters and put into formation. A sergeant began reading off names and told to line up in a different formation. One by one, all of my friends’ names were called. Before long, only a handful of other soldiers and I remained in the formation. I remember feeling sad. It wasn’t that I’d expected to pass the tests, but I’d at least hoped to qualify for the second day of testing so I could stay with my friends.
Suddenly, the sergeant ordered the soldiers whose names had been called out to return to their units. The soldiers still in formation were told to board a single truck (there weren’t many of us left) to take the second day of EIB testing. As our truck pulled out of the parking lot, I remember watching my friends march back to our company. I remember thinking, How come I’m on the truck and not them? It was a complete mystery to me.
The second day of testing didn’t last as long, and we finished by noon. Once again, no one told us how we did, and I didn’t ask. (I was only a private after all.) I don’t remember what tests we took on the second day, but I don’t remember them being very hard. Still, I hadn’t been given any training to prepare for the EIB test other than what I’d learned in basic training, so I wasn’t hopeful.
The morning of the third day, the entire battalion was assembled in formation. A crusty-old sergeant read out 33 names. One of them was mine. We lined up at the front of the formation, and our battalion commander walked up and pinned EIBs on our chests. (An EIB is a badge which looks like a rifle. Unlike a CIB, it doesn’t have a wreath around it.) I vaguely remember the battalion commander talking about how the soldiers standing at the front of the formation were the best in the battalion and how everyone should try to emulate their achievement.
Really? I thought. Me? The best? But I’ve never excelled at anything.
Later that day, I went to the cleaners and had them sew an EIB badge onto my uniforms. For the next year, I was one of the few soldiers in the battalion, and the only one in my company, to wear an EIB. That did a lot for my self-esteem. I don’t mind saying I was proud. It was a little strange to have my friends be envious of me.
Moral of the Story: Sometimes, it’s not always best to stay with your friends. Your path may be different from their path. Also, you can often do so much more than you think you can. Don’t ever let anyone or anything hold you back. If you don’t try, you won’t know, and you’ll always wonder. I’ve heard it said that the only person who never fails is one who never tries anything hard. I think that would be a bad way to live a life.
When I was in helicopter flight school, we had to memorize emergency procedures for our helicopters. In fact, during my entire career as a pilot, we had to continue to refresh our knowledge of emergency procedures and keep them memorized. We memorized the procedures that we as pilots needed to do for all sorts of emergencies: engine failures, hydraulics failures, electrical failures, tail rotor failure. You probably get the picture with the word ‘failure’ being the key. When you’re flying an aircraft with thousands of moving parts, you can pretty much bet if something can go wrong, it eventually will. That’s where our memorized emergency procedures came in handy. During the crisis of an emergency, our brain takes time to react. Having an emergency procedure memorized (and practiced) allows the pilot’s body to react quickly to a problem in an efficient way.
I remember one time in flight school we were in a class on emergency procedures where an old instructor pilot was answering questions from the pilots in training. We were discussing the emergency procedures for an engine failure. Now when you’re in a helicopter which doesn’t want to fly in the first place, it’s very important to know what to do when the engine fails. The old instructor pilot had covered the standard emergency procedures for an engine failure, and he was allowing us flight students to ask ‘what if’ questions. One of our flight students got in the following exchange with our instructor:
Student: What if our engine failure happens at night? What do we do?
Instructor: You do the same emergency procedure as you would do for the day, except when you get to 100 feet or so above the ground, you’d turn on your searchlight and use it to pick out your landing spot.
Student: What if we’re in the mountains when our engine fails, and all we see with our searchlight is rocky, uneven ground that the helicopter can’t land on?
Instructor: (After pausing for a second and giving a slight smile.) That’s easy. If you’re flying in the mountains at night and have an engine failure, and if when you turn your searchlight on you don’t like what you see, just turn the light off. (Our class cracked up laughing.)
Moral of the Story: Obviously, as I hope you know, the moral of the story is NOT to turn your searchlight off if you don’t like what you see. The moral of the story is that sometimes things go wrong. You need to prepare for things to go wrong as best you can to alleviate risk. Of course, you can’t prepare for everything, and sometimes, even the best-laid backup plans won’t help you. BUT…, having backup plans (i.e. emergency procedures) certainly increases your odds of coming out of a bad situation in one piece.
SO…, what do you do if you turn your ‘searchlight’ on, and you don’t like what you see? Well, the answer isn’t to turn your searchlight off. You leave it on and try to gather all the information you can in whatever time you have, and then you use that knowledge to do your best to get through the situation. You’d be surprised how many people have survived ‘impossible’ situations just because they never gave up. They kept fighting and struggling as long as they had breath in their bodies. Never give up; even if a searchlight tells you it’s impossible.
Well, for better or worse I’ll be leaving my current computer programming job at the end of May 2017 in order to write fulltime. I’m not sure if that will mean I’ll be putting out more books each year, but at the very least it’ll mean I’ll be able to devote more time to making sure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted before my books are published.
After working for 20 years at the same company and with many of the same people, it’s going to be strange not to be getting up at 04:45 each morning and driving 65 miles to work with another 65 mile drive at the end of the day to get back home. Hmm…, actually, I’ve a feeling I won’t be missing the 3 hour commute all that much after all. However, I will miss my managers and co-workers. They’ve been good friends.
While I could leave my current programming job sooner, my bosses have been very good to me over the years. I’ve got too much military in me to leave my fellow soldiers (okay, fellow programmers and managers) in a bind. Leaving at the end of May will allow me to finish my current programming projects, plus it will let my wife and me to catch up on some of the bills before we lose my steady paycheck.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and wish me luck if you get the urge. I’ve a feeling 2017 is going to be a wild ride. : )
I’ve had several fans ask me when the audio version of Wizard Omega, Book Four will be released. My audiobook producer contacted me last week with an update. While he’d hoped to have it done in time for Christmas, he’s running a little behind. However, the producer is adding some extra recording sessions to try and get it completed as soon as possible. Of course, once the producer and narrator have done their thing, I’ll have to listen to the proof copy and request changes if necessary.
So…, I’m guessing the audiobook will be available sometime in January 2017. And since I currently have a 3 hour roundtrip commute to work 4 days a week, I’m looking forward to having another audiobook to listen to while I drive.
I've been asked several times about the direction of the wizard scout story arc and how many books it will be.
Instead of continuing to answer individual queries, I thought I'd write a blog entry instead.
Although I haven't mentioned it anywhere, The Intergalactic Wizard Scout Chronicles is a set of 4 trilogies with books 1 through 3 being the Academy Trilogy, and books 4 through 6 being the Empire Trilogy. I know it doesn't say that anywhere, but that's how I have it in my mind. Although each of the 4 trilogies are part of the larger story arc, each trilogy is intended to have closure. In other words, no cliffhangers. Of course, there will still be some unanswered questions about the larger story arc, but hopefully nothing earth shattering at the end of each trilogy.
So, what are the 4 trilogies?
The Academy Trilogy, Books 1 through 3, is about Rick's time at the Intergalactic Wizard Scout Academy.
The Empire Trilogy, Books 4 through 6, covers Rick's time as a wizard scout for the Empire.
The Trecorian Trilogy, Books 7 through 9, is about ....? Well, I think I should keep that a secret for now to avoid any spoilers.
The Armageddon Trilogy, Books 10 through 12, covers the battle for the 3 galaxies. (If you like massive, intergalactic battles, it's the trilogy for you.)
I am aware a 12 book series is an ambitious undertaking, and if I was a reader, I might wonder, "Hmm. How long is it going to take him to finish?"
Well, as you may (or may not know), I have a full-time computer programming job. Consequently, I write in my spare time. So, it takes me about 6 months to finish each book. However, I am seriously considering taking up writing as a full-time profession. If I am able to do that, then I should be able to write a new book in the series in about 4 months. And, really, 3 books a year is about as fast as I can go and still put out a good story, which is as important to me as I'm sure it is to you.
So..., there's the plan and the timeline in case anyone is curious.
Thanks for listening.
Wizard Omega, Book Four, is out as an eBook and doing well. The print version should be out in another month, and my audio producer assures me the narrator, Guy Williams, will be finished with the audio version of Wizard Omega in early December (just in time for Christmas). Yay!
Although not quite as large as the previous book (Wizard Scout), a lot happens in Wizard Omega, Book Four, which sets the stage for the rest of the story arc. Also, the last of the primary characters for the story arc are introduced to the readers in Wizard Omega.
So what’s going to happen next in the life of our favorite wizard scout, Rick, and his battle computer, Nick? Well, I obviously can’t tell you. That would spoil the mystery, right? But I will say for those of you who like large-scale battles, I think you’ll enjoy Wizard Rebellion, Book Five, when it’s released Summer of 2017.
(Note: I know that sounds like a long time away, but when you’re working a full time job and writing in your spare time, it goes by really quick. Trust me.)
I want to say thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to write and tell me what you think of the Intergalactic Wizard Scout Chronicles. To those of you who’ve given praise, thank you, it keeps me motivated. To those readers who’ve pointed out flaws in my writing, thank you as well. You’ve helped make me a better writer. I do take your critiques to heart and try to do better the next time. The story is the story, but I owe it to you, the wizard scout fans, to write down Rick’s and Nick’s story the best I'm able. Hopefully, the writing in each book is a little better than the last.
Well, all for now. It’s back to writing. The story’s in my head struggling to get out on paper (or computer screen as the case may be), but it’s not going to type itself.