Jack Bloodfist: Fixer Review

fixercover

This book is like the Dresden Files with an orc…and a more realistic libido. I stress the word “like” there too. Had a lot of fun with Fixer. Jack is a fun character, smart, tenacious, caring, and, being an orc, tough as hell. Like Dresden, he’s basically the only game in town for what he does. Unlike Dresden, Jack is not a wizard. He’s basically jack-of-all-trades, playing handyman, mediator, facilitator, things like that, for his family. Which is not, as I had originally thought, a mafia thing. It’s just a regular family…made of orcs and goblins. The story itself is interesting, engaging, and clips along nicely. Great pacing. I’m giving it 4.5 stars, ultimately, cause of a few minor text issues and a slight personal preference. Nothing read breaking, certainly, and things I’m sympathetic to with being an author-publisher as well. It’s really hard to edit and proof by yourself. As for the preference issue, the book is primarily told from Jack’s first-person POV, with third-person sections sprinkled through out. I tend not to like that kind of split but, again, that is entirely personal preference and it doesn’t break the read. Beyond that, everything else was great and I can’t wait to see where James goes with the next book.

Speaking of which, why isn’t the next book out already? I need it.

Orctober – Creator Spotlight – James Jakins

orctober

Welcome to the first Orctober, here in my little plot of cyberspace! For the month of October, we’ll be celebrating Orcs and the people who create art with them. It’s Monday and that means the first Orctober post and the first Creator Spotlight post. Let’s kick things off with a peer of mine in the Fantasy Literature world, James Jakins!

 

I met James on Twitter, I think after he found A Demon in the Desert. Like me, he’s someone who decided he needed to write something starring an orc. What he made was Jack Bloodfist: Fixer. He’s a pretty nice dude with the usual geeky interests. He was nice enough to answer my little Orctober survey. Here’s what he had to say.

When did you start creating?
I started writing when I was 11 or 12(none of those creations will see the light of day) but I only really made the conscious decision to pursue it in my early twenties. So I’ve spent close to a decade trying my best to create something that anyone other than myself would give a damn about.

Why do you love orcs?
My love for orcs goes back to the original Warcraft. I always started a human campaign out of some weird race loyalty, then I’d dump that campaign and start an orc one because they had badass green dudes riding giant black wolves, and you really can’t beat that.
Then years later I started reading more Fantasy and was told that orcs are supposed to be the bad guys, which bummed me out a little, but I accepted it(I was a dumb kid). Then, six years ago, I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons(way too late in life, I know). Orcs are supposedly the bad guys in there, too, but my DM had a tendency of introducing us to orc NPCs that reminded my why I used to love the old green-skins.

As I get older, and now as I try my best to write orc characters, I think I love orcs because in a lot of ways they’re a blank canvas. Yeah, there’s a lot of lore there from games and books and all that, but most people don’t think of that when they think of orcs. They see the big, probably dumb brutes, or Tolkien’s orcs, and I love being able to take those conceptions and change them. Creating something new, but still familiar. That’s fun.

What’s your favorite piece of your work?
That’s a really hard question… Generally, my favorite piece is always the one I’m excited to write next, until I actually start it. But out of things that actually exist… I have a novel that I trunked a few years ago because I realized I hadn’t leveled up enough as a writer to do it justice. Some of the characters and scenes in that book are my all time favorites. Hopefully in a few years I’ll be able to share it and not feel immense shame.
But after that, I think Jack Bloodfist: Fixer is my favorite. I set out to write something fun and I think I actually pulled it off. Plus it’s out in the world so I’m able to read the nice things people say about it. So until another of my books gets better reviews, he’s the favorite child.

What’s your favorite piece of someone else’s work?
I have a growing list of orc related reads that I really want to get to. Grey Bastards by Jonathan French looks great, and the little I read of it really got me interested in his Sons of Anarchy inspired orc world. Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is currently one of my most anticipated releases next year. And I’m still missing a few of the classics, Stan Nichols is still on my to read list, for which I feel shame, so I can’t speak for everything out there, but I actually really enjoyed A Demon in the Desert. I felt like I was reading a weird west themed D&D campaign, which for me, at least, is a huge sell. And, Grimluk just felt like an orc.

What’s your biggest hope for orcs in media?
A Jack Bloodfist TV series? Other than that, I think things are definitely moving in the right direction. More and more books are being released starring the handsome devils. We had the Warcraft movie, which I haven’t seen yet, but it at least exposed a good chunk of the world to them, and I’ve heard rumors of other properties that may or may not actually see the light of day.

High up on my wishlist would be for Wizards of the Coast to make Orcs a default playable race instead of just the go to baddies. Half-orcs are cool and all, but I want a full-blooded orc barbarian in my party.

But seriously, Jack Bloodfist TV series.

That’s James, everyone. You can find him on Twitter @bethteva. Stay tuned for my review of Fixer this month as well. And Wednesday will be ORC FACTS, where I share some wonderful bit of lore from already established franchises like Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, Warhammer, etc., as well as lore about Grimluk and his world. And don’t worry, no spoilers for Grimluk.

The Demons We See Review

My friend and fellow writer, Krista D. Ball, just released her newest book, and first in a new series, The Demons We See.

This book. This fuckin’ book. I knew it was gonna be good and I’m in love with the cover. Look at the cover. Love it. Anyways, my thoughts on the story itself. The narrative itself is lighter. That’s not a bad thing. It sets things up with its basic premise of “a rebellion is building among slaves.” From there, it delves into the lives and interactions of the main characters. The interactions between the characters is fun. Everyone has their own little quirks but all share a love of snark and sass (just a matter of how much). Friendships and romance build up in a way that feels wonderfully natural while this big war brews in the background. Lex and Dodd come into their own once they get their hats. Allegra has a nice arc that ends in the place you hoped for. And Stanton is there being wonderful and charming and heroic.

I’d say the two biggest aspects to note about the story is the use of various mental health conditions and the topic of identity. The effects of fear and anxiety are on full display, there’s talk of PTSD in a realistic way, there’s a huge point about gender identity with Lex and that was done very, very well and felt real. Choices and consequences and grief and all of it feels very genuine and well done.

And as I write this, the next two books aren’t out and it’s THE WORST. But if you like snappy dialogue and magic and want a world that feels familiar but different and a different sort of adventure in politicking, read this book. You will love it.

In addition, if you love anything Musketeers, you’ll definitely love Lex and Dodd and Stanton. And I know for a fact that if you like Dragon Age Inquisition, it will pique your interest. And seriously, the dialogue is so good.

Christmas Sale

I know I might not like Christmas a whole lot but December is a busy month for gifts and kind of important to a budding business. So, I’ve cooked up a couple of deals. But first, THE BLURB:

cover image

A Demon in the Desert

The Wastelands mining town of Greenreach Bluffs is deteriorating: with each passing day its inhabitants grow more fearful and paranoid, plagued by…something. They suffer nightmares and hallucinations, there are murders at the mine; the community is on the brink of madness and ruin and, as events escalate, realization dawns: the town has a demon problem. Two attempts at hunting it down fail, Greenreach Bluffs is at breaking point…and then Grimluk the Orc strides in out of the Wastes to answer their call for salvation.

So, holiday deals. Unfortunately, it’s a bit complicated due to certain issues with Amazon. Regular prices are $10 for print and $3 for digital. Now, KDP isn’t a huge fan of allowing anyone who isn’t enrolled in their exclusive (as in, sold nowhere else but Amazon) program, KDP Select, to have promotional codes. So, for folks who regularly use Amazon, sorry, I would love to include my biggest source of income in with holiday savings but, here’s what I can do:

For paperbacks, if you order directly from the Createspace store, you can use the code TKPXVPAV to get 25% off.

For digital, head over to Smashwords and use the code XL49R. If you want to load it to your Kindle, just use your Send To Kindle address (can be found in your account settings, manage your content, settings) or app.

Unfortunately, those are the only venues I have direct control of for promotional deals. That said, since Amazon has Kindle Matchbook, you might watch and see if A Demon in the Desert goes on sale if you’d like the ebook as well as the print. If you DO prefer to use Amazon, then I would encourage you to use the version that donates to chairities. It’s not as good as a direct donation, sure, but it’s somethin. Other sites might put the book on sale as well (B&N.com and Kobo for instance), so keep an eye out.

I still have about 25-30 paperbacks for signing as well, so if you’d like a signed copy, contact me and we’ll work something out. I send through 2-day priority mail, which is $5.25 in itself. Add another $2 and you get a print copy, signed, for $7 bucks.

As for extras, well, I’m all up in goodreads, where you can find more reviews as well. You can read the whole first chapter there or on my site too. On top of all that awesome stuff, you can find the OFFICIAL BOOK SOUNDTRACK and stuff it into your beautiful little ears while you stuff my book into your beautiful little eyes. Happy reading and happy holidays.

New Stories!

Bit of an update to go with these new stories as well. I’ve shut down my Patreon. After the security breech, and the fact that I’ve only had one patron, I figured I should just put it on the back burner for now. In the meantime, I’ll be uploading everything I posted there and then occasionally adding new pieces as well. The most important two, however, are the ones I’ll be linking below, as the first was going to be a part of this month’s postings, and was a request from said patron, and the second is the short story I had submitted for publication and was so excited for over the summer. Happy reading, y’all.

“Sadie’s Kitchen”

“From Tusk Til Dawn”

Patreon and an Update

While I haven’t gotten tons of writing done this week, I did get more plotting done for the second Grimluk book, which will help. The book’s coming along at near 15,000 words, almost a fifth of the 80K goal. And in only a month a half, that beats the hell out of my pace for the first book.

In other news though, it’s Friday and September so it’s time for a new story. “From Tusk Til Dawn” is now up on Patreon. Part of me kind of hates doing this because I really really want folks to read this story and realistically, putting it as backers only means few people will, buuuuut I’m also trying to be a professional here. So, for those who haven’t heard, this story is about a lady orc wanderer who ends up having a close encounter of the fanged kind.

https://www.patreon.com/ashearmstrong