Monday, December 19, 2011

EK: Workaday Reads' Best Self-Published Novel of the Year

WOW! I just found out that Sarah at Workaday Reads named Eternal Knight as best self-published novel of the year! I've said it before, but nothing beats hearing nice things said about something you created. I'd like to thank Sarah for the honor. Workaday Reads is a wonderful blog. Go take a look!

I know I've been a bad blogger lately. The real world, work, life, family, etc... I have plenty of excuses. I'll just let you know that things are going well and I'll try to be a better blogger in the new year. More importantly, I'll be a better writer in the new year.

I'm so psyched about Sarah's selection that I'm going to give away a free, signed copy of Eternal Knight. Due to postage costs, I'm only making it available to residents of the USA. However, if you are international, I'll give you an ebook copy if you would still like to enter.

All you have to do to enter is to make a comment on this blog post. I'll choose the winner on December 26th.

All my best,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Argh! The guilt!

Not writing. Not a word in weeks. It is not writer's block. It is just not writing.

A good friend of mine is an author. When I spoke with him about how I longed for solid periods of writing time he laughed. "You have to make time to write. And you have to write every spare chance you get. Even if it is just twenty minutes."

I know he is right, but it is so hard to do. A spare twenty minutes is so easily filled with some (any) other activity than writing.

Writing a novel means climbing a mountain of 100,000 words. When I wrote Eternal Knight I climbed that mountain at a pace of several thousand words per day. In fact, I climbed up and down every crag of that mountain multiple times and ended up with 250,000 words. Too much climbing!

A while back I wrote a post about writing 1,000 words a day. The mountain of my next novel would be climbed in 100 writing days (plus editing and revising time, of course). That didn't seem so bad. But I couldn't hit 1,000 words. I couldn't hit 500. And the mountain kept getting taller.

It isn't that the book is getting longer... I still have it planned for 100,000 words. It is just that the fewer the words I write per day, the longer it will take to hit 100,000. And the longer the final goal is from being achieved, the harder it is to motivate myself to write.

I must break this cycle. The book will not get done at all if I don't put pen on paper. My life is different from when I wrote Eternal Knight. I need to accept that fact, adjust, and get to work.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

October Numbers

The real world has been occupying a lot of my time recently. With the end of the first quarter I found myself with a ton of grading and lesson planning needing to be done.

I'm just popping by to report my October Numbers:

October (September, August, July, June, May)
6 (5, 12, 38, 60, 125) Paperbacks sold in person. 

3 (3, 5, 12, 6, 28) Paperbacks sold on Amazon
47 (16, 8, 3, 5, 15) Kindle ebooks
1 (1, 0, 0, 0, 1) Smashwords ebooks
1 (0, 0, 1, 0, 4) Apple ebooks
0 (0, 0, 2, 5, 2) Nook ebooks

Total October Sales: 58

Total sales since release: 415

When I published Eternal Knight six months ago a friend asked me how many books I hoped to sell. 

"A gazillion," I replied. "But five hundred would be cool."

It looks like I'll hit that five hundred mark sometime around the turn of the year. Two things really have me feeling good: 1) the continued positive feedback I am getting from readers. I cannot say enough how rewarding it is to hear nice things said about your book. 2) $.99 ebooks are the way to go. You don't make much money, but it sure gets the book into a lot of hands. The new price definitely caused the Kindle numbers to pop.

Have a good one. I'm going to go grade some tests. And then mow the lawn/leaves. (Mowing leaves sure beats raking them.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hey! I'm on TV

This year the Wissahickon High School TV Club started a new project. They created a book chat TV program. And I'm the host!

Each episode is half an hour long and consists of three segments. It shows on our local access cable channel on a rotating basis. So far we have filmed three episodes, and will probably do ten total for the year. Jessica Brasch, the TV Club sponsor has some contacts in the publishing world and is using them to bring in authors.

My job is the fun part. I get to interview the authors on camera. Let me make this perfectly clear to you, I am totally unqualified for the job. I have no on-camera experience at all. The interviewing part is no problem... it is the teleprompters and the switching back and forth from camera to camera to guest that is the tough part.

After three interviews I am getting more comfortable, but I am definitely still a rookie. I ended the second episode (ridiculously) abruptly. Ugh. I don't know what kind of editing magic will fix it.

Here is the first episode. I can't tell you if it is any good because I haven't watched it. If I watch it I will just beat myself up over ever mistake I made. And I'm sure there are many. In the fist episode Shelleah Jackson and I interview each other. Shelleah Jackson is a student-author in our school. Enjoy! (I hope)

WissLit Episode One

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: Loki

God of Mischief. Father of Lies. Harbinger of Destruction. Exiled and tortured by the gods, Loki swears vengeance. He will summon the mighty Fenris Wolf and the legendary Midgard Serpent, and they will lead an army of giants and all the dead in Niflheim. Brimming with the power of the most destructive being in the Nine Worlds, he will not rest till Asgard is in ashes and all the gods are dead under his heel. book description

Mike Vasich's novel, Loki, was frustratingly close to being excellent. The writing was terrific. The research and world building were first class. The action scenes were well choreographed and truly exciting. So what's not to like?

Loki is the story of the Norse gods, their battles with the giants, and the coming battle of Ragnorak. Reading the cover, I was expecting the god Loki to be the protagonist of the novel. I thought I was going to get a retelling of Norse mythology from Loki's perspective. That quickly proved not to be the case. The story is told from many points of view. The positive aspect of this is that the reader gets the whole story - you are always where you need to be in order to learn about what is going on. Unfortunately, I never became attached to one particular character. I had nobody to root for in this dramatic battle between Loki, the Norse gods, and the giants. I found myself not caring about who would win. I never had a reason to root for one side or the other. Instead of reading like a novel, it was more a narrative retelling of Norse mythology. 

As such, it was terrific. The gods are distinct characters, each with their own personalities, powers, likes, and dislikes. I know a little bit about Norse mythology. It was great to see the stories I knew from my youth come alive in a fully realized way. If you have any interest in Norse mythology, Loki is a must-read. 

I have one major recommendation if you want to read the novel as a novel and not as a retelling of Norse mythology. Every so often in the book the author has written out Norse prophesy. (You can identify these sections because they are in italics. They also make up a small percentage of the book's length.) The prophesy sections are then followed by a chapter or two of narrative. Do not read the prophesies! They give away all of the major events of the following chapters. Seriously, my recommendation is to skip the italicized sections. They destroy all of the tension in the following chapters. The book is far more exciting without them! Rant over. 

If you read Loki without reading the italicized sections it will read much more like a novel. An exciting novel with an impossible-to-beat climax. 

Mike Vasich is a talented writer. I highly enjoyed Loki and look forward to reading more of the author's work. 

I give Loki four stars (if you skip the italicized sections). 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

September Numbers

I was walking out of school the other day and a student walked up to me and told me how much she liked Eternal Knight. I had never met her before. I don't have the words to tell you how great that felt.

But that's not the point of this blog entry. I'm just stopping by to let you know how September went. It started of with a bang - a book club was hitting Kindle up for their copies and we were off to the races. Unfortunately, the second half of the month slowed down. 

September (August, July, June, May)
5 (12, 38, 60, 125) Paperbacks sold in person. 

3 (5, 12, 6, 28) Paperbacks sold on Amazon
16 (8, 3, 5, 15) Kindle ebooks
1 (0, 0, 0, 1) Smashwords ebooks
0 (0, 1, 0, 4) Apple ebooks
0 (0, 2, 5, 2) Nook ebooks

The $.99 pricing model seems to be paying off in October. Ten Kindle sales (and a couple of Smashwords sales) in the first six days of the month. We'll see if the pace keeps up.

Don't forget about the Goodreads Eternal Knight giveaway. There are only a few days left to enter. Click the link to the right to enter. 

Have a great one!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eternal Knight on Sale

Eternal Knight is on sale as an ebook for 99 cents. The new price is already in effect on Amazon and Smashwords. It should be in place on Barnes and Noble and Apple very soon. 

The 99 cent sale price will expire on November 1st. At that time I'll hold a Goodreads Author Q&A session that will last for one week.

I'd also like to remind you of the Goodreads Eternal Knight giveaway going on right now. There are three signed copies of Eternal Knight up for grabs.  All you have to do to enter is to click the button to the right of the page!

Spread the word!

All my best,


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Club, Giveaway, and Great Review

Book Club

I went to my second book club meeting as a guest author last night. What a wonderful time! It reconfirmed that meeting with readers is the best part of being an author. We spent a good bit of time talking about how Eternal Knight was written and what it is like to go through the self-publishing process. It was also nice to spend some time talking about other authors and books (like The Hunger Games and Twilight) and our likes and dislikes.

One topic that came up was how The Hunger Games could affect Eternal Knight. Like The Hunger Games, Eternal Knight features a strong female protagonist who shoulders the burden of responsibility for the well being of her family. Katniss and Hadde are both strong-willed and both happen to be excellent archers. Could the huge success of The Hunger Games (both the novel and the forthcoming movie) have a halo effect on Eternal Knight? Will Katniss fans become Hadde fans? 

Many thanks to Ree McGinley for inviting me into her home and introducing me to her book club friends!


I’m giving away three free, signed copies of Eternal Knight on Goodreads. The contest is free and very easy to enter. Just click the button on the right of the screen. Go ahead and sign up!

I’m trying to make Goodreads a bigger part of my promotional efforts. The site is a haven for bibliophiles.

Great Review

Eternal Knight just received a terrific review from Sarah at Workaday Reads. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but despite the fact that Eternal Knight isn’t exactly raking in the dough, it gives me incredible satisfaction when I hear that somebody loves (or even just likes) my creation.

Still having fun. I could definitely do this for a living!

By the way, if you have a book club, or know of someone who has a book club, I'd be more than happy to meet them! I've had a blast doing them so far and will do everything I can to make it to a book club meeting. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: Servant of a Dark God

The novel’s events take place in a world where the use of magic is strictly controlled by powerful magic wielders know as Divines. A rebel group, the Order, is secretly growing their organization in the hope they will one day overthrow the Divines. When one of the rebels is exposed, Talen, a young farm boy, finds himself caught in the middle of the ensuing conflict.


The novel does not have a single protagonist, nor does it have a single point of view. The main character is Talen, the son of a prosperous farmer. He is a well-written, but sometimes irritating character who steadfastly stays true to his beliefs. I didn’t always like his thoughts or actions, but they were realistic and believable actions for him to take. The reader also spends a good bit of the book in other characters’ POV’s--for most part those of Talen’s friends and family. I will not go through all of them, but will simply say that they were distinct characters with their own interesting story lines. One of my favorite POV’s was that of Hunger, a dreadful, powerful monster.

World Building:

Good world building is extremely important for me as a reader. Without it I cannot build the willing suspension of disbelief required to become fully engaged in the novel. Having said that, John Brown has done an fabulous job at world building. The magic system is unique and interesting. There are no fireballs or spells of invisibility, instead magic-capable people steal Fire and Soul from others in an effort to multiply their own strength and longevity. The world building also includes a very realistic conflict between foreign overlords and the oppressed locals they have conquered. The cultures are creative and believable, with their own rules and rites. I’m also pleased by the fact that Brown knows his weapons and armor (as well as the tools of everyday living). Nobody tries to “load” a bow (is that longbow magazine fed, or bolt action?) and they draw their bows with a thumb-ring. Small details like these, well-placed, enhance the realism of Servants of a Dark God.

Engagement/Willing suspension of disbelief:

For most of the novel I was completely engaged in the story. The process of discovery and the ever-growing threat to the protagonists had me reading the novel as fast as I could. As the novel reached its climax there were two elements that pulled me out of the story. One was the non-stop series of disasters that befell the protagonists. It was relentlessly grim--to the point I believed only a miracle could save the day. The problem is, miracles are really unbelievable. I want the protagonists to save the day. The story got to the point where I didn’t believe they could realistically do it. This left me expecting an unrealistic ending and not fully engaged. The other aspect that pulled me out was the incredible power some of the magic wielding humans and creatures possessed. Anyone on the next “level” above you in the hierarchy of magical power was completely out of your league. You had absolutely no hope of defeating them.

These were not major flaws in the novel, but they did create some space between me and the story. They certainly did not slow the pace of my reading. I had the novel in my hands every moment I could spare.


Despite the small complaints, I highly recommend this book. It was a great adventure in a wonderfully realized world. The richly textured world and unique magic system are still with me days after finishing the novel. I look forward to what the author will bring us in his next novel. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Workaday Reads Interview

I was interviewed on Workaday Reads. The topic of the interview was polishing your manuscript. Sarah is doing an entire month on Small and Self-Publishers. Stop by and take a look at the interview!

I am also still looking for actors to play the parts in the Eternal Knight movie. Make your suggestions in the comments section of my last post if you'd like to play. Anyone who participates gets a free Smashwords copy of Eternal Knight.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Casting Call Part Two

Thanks to everyone who participated in Part One of the Eternal Knight Casting Call. In part one we looked for actors and actresses to play the parts of Hadde, Arno, and Waltas.

For Waltas I especially liked the suggestions of Cilian Murphy and Alan Rickman. Both would be superb choices. Waltas is a scheming bastard, but he also has to be believable as a knight and a Saladoran nobleman. I suppose we'll leave it to the director whether or not he or she wants an older or younger version of Waltas.

My favorite Arno suggestions were Ken Watanabe and John Rhys-Davies. Although they are not specifically described as being Asian in appearance, the Landomeri are described as black haired and "exotic" (in Waltas' words). Maret also comments on how Hadde looks different than the Saladorans. I think it would be great if the director chose to use Asian actors and actresses for the Landomeri, in which case Ken Watanabe would be perfect for Hadde's father. John Rhys-Davies could definitely pull off Arno's gruff humor. A personal top pick for me would be Nathan Fillion. He was great in Firefly and Serenity and would make a fantastic Arno.

Now, the most important role of them all... Hadde. I loved all of the Hadde suggestions: Thandie Newton, Grace Park, Hailee Steinfeld (she'll be old enough to play the role in a few years), Natalie Portman, and Jennifer Lawrence (although she'll need to have black hair). My favorites from this list would probably be Grace Park and Natalie Portman. I loved Grace Park in Battlestar Galactica and I certainly think she could pull off a great Hadde. Natalie Portman would be a superstar draw for the film. I've added Your Highness to my Netflix queue and I'll soon see how she does in a fantasy role (as an archer to boot). I am not as familiar with the other actresses, but now that I have read up on them I want to see some of their movies. (I just put True Grit [Hailee Steinfeld] on my Netflix queue as well.)

Years ago, as I was just getting into writing Eternal Knight, I imagined Angelina Jolie as Hadde. I later also considered Natalie Portman. My two recent top choices for the role have been Maggie Q and Summer Glau. Although less famous than Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman, I can see Hadde in my head when I look at both Maggie Q and Summer Glau. Maggie Q came to my attention when I saw her in Live Free or Die Hard. Summer Glau is best known for the TV series Firefly and the movie Serenity. The Hadde role requires an actress who can handle a tough, physical role and who can display a fiery spirit. Based on what I have seen in their prior roles, both of these women would be great for the lead role.

Now on to the next batch of characters:

Morin (Age 25) The tall, handsome Prince of Salador. He is the second only to Champion Nidon as a swordsman, and second only to his brother Boradin as an elementar. A bold leader of men and smooth charmer with the ladies.

Enna (Age 42) Hadde's mother. Religious, practical, and tough. She loves Hadde more than anything in the world. Lame in one leg due to an old wound, she is fiercely protective of Long Meadow and not one for foreign adventures.

Astor (Age 27) Prince Morin's best friend and brother-in-arms. Many think he looks more like Morin's brother than Morin's real brother does. He worships (and envies) Morin. He is Morin-lite, and knows  he will never be Morin's equal.

Put your suggestions in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fourth Month (August) Numbers

My three month charity period ended last month, but I'll keep posting my sales numbers just for the heck of it.

August (July, June, May)
12 (38,60,125) Paperbacks sold in person. 

5 (12,6,28) Paperbacks sold on Amazon
8 (3,5,15) Kindle ebooks
0 (0,0,1) Smashwords ebooks
0 (0,0,4) Apple ebooks
0 (0,5,2) Nook ebooks

Total books sold in four months: 329

Paperbacks sold in person dropped off a lot because I didn't do any book signings in August. The numbers will go up in September because I am back in school and Eternal Knight will be on sale in our school library (with all profits going to charity).

I picked up several new reviews (both from readers and book bloggers). Eternal Knight is currently the 10th best reviewed epic fantasy (and 21st for all fantasy) on the Kindle Top Rated list.

I am expecting good things for September. I have a review from a book blogger with a very large following coming out later in the month. I also have an interview coming out on September 12th on Workaday Reads. Saving my favorite for last... I will be visiting a book club on September 21st. My first book club meeting was a blast and I can't wait to meet this group!

September is already off to a good start with nine Kindle sales in the first six days. 

And I'm sill having fun!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hadde's Banana Blueberry Smoothie

Hadde stopped by to visit on several occasions this summer. I was doing a lot of planning for the sequel to Eternal Knight, and really wanted her advice. Now, you should really understand that I am not Hadde's favorite person in the world right now. If you've read Eternal Knight you know that I put her through some really awful abuse. In fact, I think the only reason she agreed to come at all was because it has been a really hot summer in Landomere (and especially on the Kiremi Plains) and I have 1) air conditioning and 2) a freezer.

Despite the tragic events in Eternal Knight, Hadde thought she had some reason to expect a break when the novel concluded. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and things have actually gotten worse for her. I can't go into any story details, but she did at one point attempt to stab me with a pen as I was showing her the outline. I am not showing her the last three chapters.

Anyway, Hadde was visiting, and as she always does, she raided my fridge looking for some "exotic" foods they don't have in Landomere. I hadn't been shopping in a while and the fridge was pretty empty, so she started digging around the freezer. There she found some frozen bananas (I was saving them for banana bread) and some frozen blueberries (my wife makes some mean blueberry muffins). Hadde grabbed the ingredients and starts experimenting. Here's what she came up with:

Hadde's Banana Blueberry Smoothie
2-3 ice cubes
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup to 1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crush the ice cubes in a blender. Add all the other ingredients to the blender. Blend. Hadde likes to blend it for a long time (long enough for the blueberry skins to completely disintegrate). Use 1/2 cup of milk if you want ice cream consistency. Use 1 cup of milk if you want milkshake consistency. Makes two servings.

Hadde's B-B Smoothies are so good that I have stopped buying ice cream altogether. And the smoothies are MUCH healthier. I tried to tell her how good they were, but she just took the blender and stormed out.

I got a note from her the other day (Maret took dictation) demanding that I write banana trees and freezers into the next novel. Guess I'm not getting any more help.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Killer of Men and Marathon book review

I am adding a book review feature to my blog. Twice a month I will review novels (fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction for the most part) and post my reviews. I will only review books that I think deserve four and five stars and am not taking solicitations for reviews. These will all be books that I have personally selected.

For my first review I have selected two books: Killer of Men and its sequel Marathon by Christian Cameron.

I will freely disclose that I know Christian and am a fan of his writing. I have also previously interviewed him.  The following is my honest review of his latest two novels. American (US) readers will be discouraged to learn that Christian's novels are difficult to obtain in the US because his publishers apparently feel that we can't handle realistic historical fiction. There is the possibility of purchasing the Kindle version from

Killer of Men and Marathon Review

Summary (from Goodreads): Arimnestos is a farm boy when war breaks out between the citizens of his native Plataea and and their overbearing neighbours, Thebes. Standing in the battle line - the wall of bronze - for the first time, alongside his father and brother, he shares in a famous and unlikely victory. But after being knocked unconscious in the melee, he awakes not a hero, but a slave. Betrayed by his jealous and cowardly cousin, the freedom he fought for has now vanished, and he becomes the property of a rich citizen of Ephesus. So begins an epic journey from slavery that takes the young Arimnestos through a world poised on the brink of an epic confrontation, as the emerging civilization of the Greeks starts to flex its muscles against the established empire of the Persians. As he tries to make his fortune and revenge himself on the man who disinherited him, Arimnestos discovers that he has a talent that pays well in this new, violent world, for like his hero, Achilles, he is 'a killer of men'.

Characters: Killer of Men and Marathon are both first person accounts of the life of Arimnestos, the son of a Greek blacksmith who grows up to be a fearsome warrior-- a killer of men. The book takes the form of a story being recited to Arimnestos’ daughter by him. As such, we know that 1) he survives and 2) he becomes a great man. What we are left to discover are the trials and tribulations of his strife-torn life. I’ll leave it to say Arimnestos does not have an easy life.

There are many other characters in the books, many with similar sounding names. It is sometimes a challenge to keep the many other characters straight, but the book wouldn’t be the same without the large cast. The novels are too epic in scope to have a small cast.

World building: Cameron completely captures the feel of the ancient world. The novel is filled with rich descriptions of geography, economics, technology, religion, arts, and government. This is not done in the form of info-dumping. The culture comes through the story in a very natural manner. Cameron has a scholar’s mastery of the ancient Greek world.

Engagement (Willing suspension of disbelief): Killer of Men and Marathon both utterly absorbed me. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put the books down. There were no jarring or unrealistic elements that pulled me out of the story and into the real world. When you read one of Cameron’s books, you are IN his world.

Writing/Mechanics/Editing: I found both novels to be error free. This seems to be increasingly rare, even with professionally edited novels. Cameron perfectly balances a fast-paced, engrossing read, while also getting across important philosophical and political concepts. Cameron also writes action scenes as well as any author I have ever read.

Cameron does use a lot of Greek vocabulary in his writing as opposed to using modern alternatives, however the meaning of the Greek terms is easy to pick up in context. To me it enriched the novels.

Impact: Cameron’s novels stay with me long after I have finished reading them. One of my favorite elements of his novels (including his Tyrant series) is how well he captures the spirit of the soldier and the profound importance of the “brotherhood of arms”. Arimnestos might be a killer of men, but he is still a human being who feels loss and knows the impact of his actions. The killing in Cameron’s novels is not there for mindless entertainment, it always serves a deeper purpose.

I highly recommend these books and eagerly look forward to the next one in the series.

(Five Stars)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Eternal Knight Casting Call

"Who do you think should play Hadde in the movie?"

It is one of the most common questions I get. [We  are all positive thinkers here, right? A movie deal will happen.] Now, I have some ideas for some of the characters, but I will freely admit to being a little out of touch with what's hip in Hollywood. That's where you come in.

Who do you think should play the major characters? Just leave your choices in the comments, and in a few days I'll reveal my picks. Feel free to mention why you like that character and/or any roles they've been in. I'll post a couple of characters every few weeks until we get through all of the significant characters.

Hadde (Age 20) Petite but athletic. Black haired and considered exotic/different/barbarian by the Saladorans (think aristocratic northern Europeans). Hadde is brave and stubborn, sometimes to a fault. The actress needs to be able to handle a demanding athletic role.

Arno (Age 42) Hadde's father. A bear of a man. Sarcastic, funny, and tough. He is a village leader and is willing to make tough decisions when they need to be made.  Handsome in a mature, rugged way.

Waltas (Age 24) A powerful South Teren (Saladoran) Earl. Hawk-nosed and fierce looking. You need an actor who can play a Class I jerk. Elitist, racist, and sexist, he's a slimy schemer, but also a warrior to be feared.

Have fun! As an added bonus I'll give a free Smashwords ebook copy of Eternal Knight to anyone who participates. Just mention that you'd like a book in the comments.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Terrific Reviews

It has been a good couple of weeks for Eternal Knight. The novel has pulled in some nice reader reviews as well as two excellent blog reviews.

The first blog review is from Leslie Wright at Blogcritics. In it she says:

Heppe has done a great job of building a world on the edge. The wasting is a plague on the place and its people and he makes you feel the despair and hopelessness of the people. -- and -- The story is full of action and adventure, and some very interesting bits of magic. If you enjoy epic stories of warriors and adventure, you will certainly find your fill here.

The review itself wasn't starred, but Leslie did give it five stars on Amazon. Before you jump over to read the review I will mention that it does contain a good bit of plot summary.

The second blog review is from Kayelee Rock at Sift Book Reviews. Here is the point in the review where I developed an author crush on Kayelee:

Small happenings in the story that we as readers might think inconsequential come back to surprise us at unexpected times. Each part of the story connects and intertwines with the rest of the story so incredibly well that I was blown away at the cleverness of it.
It is feedback like this that keeps me writing. (It certainly isn't the money.) Eternal Knight earned 4.5 out of 5 stars from Kayelee. 
I'd like to thank both Leslie and Kayelee for taking the time to review Eternal Knight.  Book bloggers do a great service to the writing community, and their efforts are much appreciated! 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Free Books...

That's right, I'm giving away free copies of Eternal Knight. 

There is a catch or two. Or three.

1) I am only giving ebook copies away via Smashwords.

2) I am only giving them away until August 14th.

3) If you accept a free book, I am asking you to write a review.

The details:

Smashwords is an online book publisher. They have made Eternal Knight available in a variety of ebook formats. Have a Kindle? Works. Nook? Works. Sony reader? Works. PC? Works. Other formats? Probably works. You get my drift. The download onto your reader might not be the typical one-click, but Smashwords has made it pretty easy for you.

Just go to: and when you buy the book enter the discout code: SQ35Q

Now about that review...

The review doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just your honest opinion of the novel. You are not required to write a positive review! And, um, how could I stop you if you did?

Cross-posting your review in various places would be greatly appreciated. Just cut and paste. Places you could post your review:

1) Smashwords
2) Amazon (The big Kahuna. Really, this one is important.)
3) Barnes and Noble
4) Goodreads
5) Your blog
6) Your facebook
7) Twitter (just have to cut it down to 140!)
8) Anywhere else it might get some attention.

Hey, Matt, I really didn't like it that much. Do you stil want me to post a review? I don't feel right posting a bad review.

No problem. I'll be totally honest here. 5's and 4's help me. 3's don't hurt that much. 2's and 1's hurt. If you took me up on the free book offer and like the book, I would really appreciate the review. The only way Eternal Knight is going to be successful is through word of mouth. If you don't like it and don't want to write a bad review, I would still appreciate it if you would drop me an email and let me know what didn't work for you. I am working on the sequel, and the feedback will help!

And feel free to spread the word about this offer.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Finally Tally

As my three month Eternal Knight charity period has drawn to a close, it is time to do the finally tally.

38 + 60 + 125 = 223 paperback books sold by me (including a dozen sold by Susan Miller at a Cure-CMD conference). Most of the books were sold at school and at three book signings.
12 + 6 + 28 = 46 paperback books sold on Amazon and CreateSpace.
3 + 5 + 15 = 23 Kindle ebooks sold.
0 + 0 + 1 = 1 Smashwords ebook sold.
0 + 0 + 4 = 4 Apple ebooks sold.
0 + 5 + 2 = 7 Nook ebooks sold.

Total books sold over three months: 304.

Total amount raised for Cure CMD and the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation: $1,400. I am very happy that I have been able to raise this amount of money for these two great organizations. They both do great work and are worthy of our support.

I am also very pleased by the total number of books sold. As I previously mentioned, some of the numbers have fallen off due to the end of the school year and the loss of initial sales to friends and family.

There are some positive signs, however. Book reviews remain very strong. Eternal Knight now has 21 reviews and is the 27th top rated epic fantasy on Eternal Knight is also 65th top rated amongst all fantasy genres. I continue to believe that strong sales will follow good reviews.

I also just received an invitation to speak with a large book club. I had a wonderful experience with the first book club I met and can't wait for this second opportunity.

Back to work!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Club Meeting

Just as soon as Eternal Knight was released a former student of mine, Kelsey Tarzia, picked it up and read it in a single day. I loved hearing that. I also loved that she Tweeted about it, Facebooked it, and reviewed it on Amazon. What else could and author ask for?

Well, she told her mother about it. And not long after that, Robin Tarzia made it her selection for her book club's summer read.

Last Wednesday I went to Robin's house and met the eleven members of the book club. It was one of the coolest experiences I have had as an author. Now that I sit here thinking about it, it was the coolest experience, beating both the book release party and my first book signing.

The meeting lasted for two and a half hours. I didn't want it to end. We spent half the time talking about the writing process and how Eternal Knight came to be written. The rest of the time focused on the characters and themes of the novel. None of the club members are big fantasy readers, although most had read Harry Potter and a couple had read some of Lord of the Rings. It was nice to hear that once they got into the world of Eternal Knight they really enjoyed it.

It was fun hearing some of their questions. I think I started a few too many responses with, "It was really important to me that..." and blah, blah, blah off I'd go. But they were very gracious about listening too me and none of them actually nodded off.

I also had the chance to ask them a few questions. My favorite question to ask readers is about their favorite scene. I love knowing what worked for them, as well as what didn't. I'd share some of them, but don't want to give any spoilers.

The biggest problem with being the center of attention for the evening was that I didn't get a chance to take advantage of the fabulous spread of food Robin had laid out. I was talking so much I could only take small bites and was once caught chewing a mouthful of cheese and crackers while everyone waited for a response to a question. I'll have to work on my eating strategy for the next event. The wine drinking strategy worked fine, however.

The book club was a terrific group. I have to say I envied them. I love books and would love to be able to join a club. I asked if the club was really just an excuse to party every once in a while, but they insisted it wasn't. They are true bibliophiles.

My sincere thanks to the entire club for having me over. I had a great time. I'd love to come back when the sequel is finished. A special thanks to Robin and Kelsey Tarzia for making the event happen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

11 Days Left

As most of you know, I have dedicated the first three months' profits from Eternal Knight to charity. I am very happy that the novel has raised over $1,200 (and counting) for Cure CMD and WEOF.

At the beginning of my efforts I had low expectations and high hopes for how much money Eternal Knight would raise. Well, I beat my low expectations, now it it time to make a final push for the high hopes.

If you were thinking about buying Eternal Knight, I hope you do it now. I want to make this fund drive as successful as possible. Let me take a minute to share a little bit about Liam Miller with you. Liam is the son of two of my best friends and is my motivation for donating my profits with Cure CMD.

I've mentioned Susan, Scott, and Liam Miller before (in the "charity" post I linked to above). Liam is going into eighth grade--a fact that makes me feel really OLD. How can he be one year away from high school already?

Besides being a natural born killer in Call of Duty (a game I will never play against him again for fear of utter humiliation), Liam is a huge hockey fan and serious power hockey player. Liam is a member of the Philadelphia PowerPlay, a power wheelchair hockey league.

(image linked from the Philadelphia PowerPlay website)

Most importantly, Liam is is an all-around good guy.

This weekend is the Cure CMD Family Conference. Susan is taking a stack of signed copies of Eternal Knight to the conference and will be selling them at a table between sessions. Thank you, Susan. I hope you have a great conference.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Second Month (June) Numbers

How did things go in the second month? Numbers were down, but that was to be expected. My May numbers were very big (relatively speaking). I had access to a very large market in my high school (I could sell there because all profits were going to charity) and there was a lot of friend and family demand for the novel.

The numbers:
June (May)
60 (125) paperbacks (sold by me)
6 (28) paperbacks (sold through Amazon and CreateSpace)
5 (15) Kindle ebooks
0 (1) Smashwords ebooks
0 (4) Apple ebook
5 (2)Nook ebook

Five additional book bloggers have agreed to review Eternal Knight. I am really looking forward to these reviews. I think the book bloggers will have a strong multiplier effect.

I received five additional Amazon reviews. I now have fifteen Amazon reviews with an average score of 4.8. Eternal Knight is the 45th top rated epic fantasy on Amazon. I am very hopeful that the good reviews will translate into stronger future sales.

The challenge right now is to keep up the faith and keep promoting Eternal Knight. Of course I imagined EK sales exploding right from the start (hell, I'm a fantasy author--I have a vivid imagination), but I rationally understand that this is an unrealistic expectation. Adam Heine passed this link on to me. It shows sales growth for various self-published novels over time. The important lesson I got from it is that it can take time for a novel's market to develop. What it doesn't show is the effort that goes into marketing your novel. I have to keep exploring new avenues.

Eternal Knight is about to enter its last two weeks of charitable fund raising. It it's first two months it raised approximately $1,200 for the Cure-CMD and WEOF.

And just a reminder, if you are a fan of Eternal Knight, please consider reviewing it on Amazon (or wherever you buy your books). Reviews make a difference. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This is what it's all about

I don't know if Eternal Knight is going to ever make a profit. Right now it is down several hundred dollars (and a gazillion hours of effort).

I'm pretty sure it will someday make back the cash I put into publication and promotion. Making up for all the hours of effort... I'm not so sure.

I'm also not sure it matters too much. I'm currently working on the sequel to Eternal Knight. My labors are not fueled by the piles of cash Eternal Knight is raking in. That just isn't happening (yet).

Right now I'm fueled by good vibes.

When I crunched all the numbers (costs and revenues, profits and losses) and published Eternal Knight I forgot to factor something in. I forgot to factor in the value of good vibes. Where do the vibes come from?


It is hard to put into words just how wonderful it feels to get positive feedback from readers. It brings such a great feeling of accomplishment when someone tells you that something you created purely from imagination and effort brought them pleasure.

Sometimes these complements come from expected sources, and as genuine as they might be, they cannot compare to the kind words from an unexpected source.

So, with permission from the author, I'll share with you a message I received yesterday. I almost called it fan-mail, but calling it that wouldn't do it justice. And while I have received several wonderful reviews, this message trumps them all (my apologies to the kind authors of those reviews).

The author is the daughter of an old army buddy and his wife. Friends I haven't seen in sixteen years.

Hello Mr. Heppe, 

I am Megan Johnson and I met you when I was only one year old, but now I am seventeen and about to enter my senior year at high school. 

My mom and dad (Bjorn and Sheri) have mentioned you from time to time and I wanted to personally write to you to say how much I enjoyed your book. Your book related to me very well. The main character Hadde never quit and always tried to beat her opponents, which always seemed to be the opposite sex. 

This book had everything that I like in a book. It had the romance, battling, and pure excitement throughout the whole story. I would have to say that my favorite part of the story was when Hadde was showing up all of the men during the bow and arrow contest. 

This book was so interesting that is was one of those books that I literally never put down, that is unless my parents said I had to do something or go to bed. I am so excited and can't wait until your next book. Also thank you for serving our country. Good luck with the next book!

Megan Johnson

Now how cool is that? I think it made my day week. 

I also think I'll print it out and put it on the wall next to my computer. It will be a nice place to look for inspiration.


Friday, July 1, 2011

How old?

How old should my child be to read Eternal Knight?

I've been asked this question many times in the past month. It is a challenging one to answer.

Eternal Knight is not a Young Adult (YA) novel. It is funny how many people automatically think that fantasy means YA. I think it is a result of the Harry Potter age we live in. If you aren't a fantasy genre reader it is easy to make the fantasy=YA assumption.

Most fantasy novels have great appeal to YA audiences. They might not have been purposefully written for the YA audience, but there is nothing objectionable in them. The Lord of the Rings was not written as a YA novel, but how many of us read the books as teenagers? When I think about some of the books that had an impact on me as a teenager (Shannara, Thomas Covenant, The Belgariad, Riftwar, Amber, Dragonriders of Pern) I can't remember much that my parents could object to. I wouldn't have a problem with giving any of them to a thirteen year old.

GRR Martin is about as popular as they come right now. His works are considerably grittier than much of the fantasy I have read. The sex is more explicit, the violence is more graphic, and the tone is grimmer. The books are also more sophisticated in content and style. A Game of Thrones would not pass my thirteen year old test. That is... for most thirteen year olds.

So should a thirteen year old read Eternal Knight? I'll give the answer any good economist would give... it depends. My question is how sophisticated is the thirteen year old in question. Eternal Knight is not stylistically challenging to read. It is not a piece of sophisticated literary fiction that demands the reader chew on every sentence. However, some of the content is adult. No, there's no sex on the page. But it is implied to have occurred between two of the chapters. And there are a few sexually charged scenes. Some of the violence is pretty graphic as well. 

I know a couple of thirteen and fourteen year olds who have read, and enjoyed Eternal Knight. I do worry that a grumpy parent will seek me out, upset at something their child read in the novel. It isn't a conversation I want to have. After the child has read the book is too late.

When parents ask me if Eternal Knight is right for their child I give them the straight scoop on what their kid is going to read. And if they still aren't sure, I tell them that they should read it first. I might lose a sale with this approach, but it is better than dealing with a disgruntled parent. Hey, if the parent reads the book they just might like it. Fantasy isn't just for kids.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Doylestown Book Signing Photos

Here are some photos from my book signing at the Doylestown Bookshop on Friday.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get them up here. Things have just been crazy around here lately.

The signing was great. Thanks to everyone who came out! And thanks to the Doylestown Bookshop for hosting me.

My daughter and I before the signing. She was in charge of 
keeping my supplied with books and getting underfoot. 
She did an exceptional job at both.

Signing the first book. This doesn't get old. 

Things are hoppin' at the book signing!

An adoring fan. 
Thanks for coming, sis. 

Caught in an "author pose" at the end of the signing. 

Talking with Scott and Susan Miller after the signing. 
Their son (Liam) is my motivation for donating the Eternal Knight 
profits to charity. Liam wasn't feeling well and couldn't make the event.

On July 4th I am doing another signing at Beachcomber Swim Club in Blue Bell, PA. It is actually more of a fundraiser than a signing. Unfortunately, you can only get in if you are a Beachcomber member. The good side is that I'll have a large crowd and should raise some nice money for WEOF and Cure-CMD.

I have a couple of more events waiting in the wings. I'll announce them as soon as I have hard information.

Have a good one!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Signing This Friday

Just a reminder that I will be signing books at the Doylestown Bookshop this Friday, June 24th. The event runs from 7-9 PM.

I am really looking forward to this event. Doylestown is my hometown (I was born in the (old) Doylestown Hospital and graduated from Central Bucks West High School). Lots of friends and family will be able to make it. Even my high school English teacher is even going to be there. This is going to be a blast!

By the way, my wife pointed out to me that Eternal Knight is the #72 Best Rated Fantasy (epic) on This is really great news for a new, self-published novel. I know a lot of you have read the novel and privately expressed how much you liked it. It would be a huge favor to me if you would take a few minutes to review it (Amazon or elsewhere). The review doesn't have to be fancy, just a short, HONEST review. Thank you.

Hope to see you on Friday!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Two Timeline

Time to get cranking on book two. Here's the timeline:
5 day to complete outlining. The process is almost done.
100 days to write the novel. The pace? I have to average 1,000 words a day for those 100 days. I don't know if I can do this. I used to come home from work and write 1,500 words an evening. That was BC (before child). I could also pound out 5,000 words in a solid day of effort--again BC.
To some of you 100 days might seem very short. But you have to remember that this is a sequel. The world (and character) building is all done. I've also been thinking about (and outlining) this story for years.
As I finish each chapter I will send it to my critique partner, Mike Shultz. He'll see the novel in rough first draft form and help me beat it into shape. Mike is great for both story and writing advice.
10 days to clean up the first draft, turning it into the second draft.
30 days with my Beta Readers. Two definite Beta Readers will be Kemp Brinson and Ann Emery. Both were invaluable in the writing of Eternal Knight.
5 days to complete Beta Edits. A lot of these edits will have already been done as Ann and Kemp worked their way through the novel.
1 day for CreateSpace formatting and upload.
10 days for CreateSpace vetting and shipping of proof copies.
20 days with Proof Readers. Five trusted proof readers will go through the novel with a fine comb. Their job isn't to critique as much as it is to find mistakes. Although their suggestions are always appreciated.
1 day for final proof corrections.
1 day for CreateSpace, Smashwords and Kindle formatting and upload. Over the next few days the novel goes live.
A grand total of 183 days. Let's add around a 10% fluff factor and we get approximately 200 days. Mid to late December.
Wow. I'd better get it in gear.
Really get it in gear.

By the way... I had a short article appear in, the online edition of several Bucks County, PA newspapers. The main point of the article was to remind everyone about my book signing event at the Doylestown Bookshop on June 24th, starting at 7PM. I hope to see you there.