Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hello There


Yeah, it's been a little while since I've shown my face around here.

What have I been doing with my time?


Shadow of the Knight now sits at 123,000 words. A few weeks ago I didn't think it was going to be this long. Not that 130,000 words is especially long. Patrick Rothfuss and GRR Martin write books well over 200,000 words long. I still have to write one chapter, the prologue, and the epilogue. I'm thinking the final word count will hit 130,000 words. January 1st is my target date to finish the rough copy.

Once my rough draft is finished I'll spend almost a month on revisions and editing before I send it off to my critique partners. They'll have it for a month before I make adjustments based on their criticism, and then put it through proofreading.

My very roughest estimate is that Shadow of the Knight will be published on April 1st.

Besides writing, I've been having a great time playing Dungeons and Dragons with a group of friends. We only meet every 2-3 weeks, but I'm the Dungeon Master, so have some extra "work" to do between sessions.

I have to say, they've done a fantastic job with Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. I'm really impressed with the game and how they've presented it. I'd love to play more often.

Back to writing!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons

After a 26 year break, I'm playing Dungeons and Dragons again.

I've tried online "role playing games", spending the most time on World of Warcraft and EVE Online. They can be engrossing... even addicting, but they don't compare to Dungeons and Dragons.

In junior high and high school I was a D+D fanatic. Of course I didn't make this public knowledge. Today we are living in the Golden Age of Geekery, but this wasn't the case in the early 1980's. Back then D+D was a secret known only to a few friends.

Things have changed. First of all, I have changed. I am past the age where I care what people think of my hobbies. I write fantasy novels. I make longbows. I very occasionally dress in funny clothes and pretend it's the Middle Ages.

I play Dungeons and Dragons.

Think it's weird? I really, truly, honestly don't care. I'm having a blast with my friends. It's great not being in junior high school any more.

The world has changed as well. In the 80's people didn't really realize what geeks were bringing them. Today they do. Like your iPhone? A geek brought you that. Same with your computer and the internet. Enjoy Game of Thrones on HBO? Thank a geek. The popularity of The Big Bang Theory is clear evidence of how far we've come in our acceptance of geekery.

So what triggered my return to D+D? It was this article on i09.

After reading the article I decided to pick up the boxed set. It was only @$12 on, how could I go wrong? The box arrived and I was very impressed. It gave you a campaign and all the rules you need to advance to 5th level.

Of course I then ordered the new Player's Handbook. In fact, just seconds ago, I pre-ordered the Monster Manual. Yep, I'm hooked.

The next step was to find players. I knew Mike Shultz would want in. He's my writing critique partner and we've talked D+D on many occasions. But how to find other players? I was pretty sure Bob and Steve, two friends I've reenacted with would jump aboard. They did. Three players isn't bad, but I wanted a good sized group. How to get more?

"Hey, want to play some Dungeons and Dragons?" Not the easiest question to ask other forty year olds. Mike and I knew that one of our co-workers, Ian, was already in a campaign. We hit him up and he was in. In fact, every single person we asked wanted in. They all thought it was a great idea. Two friends, Jim and Tim, had to back out due to family responsibilities. This is one issue younger players generally don't have to deal with. We did pick up Dan. The group was set. Five players: Mike, Steve, Bob, Ian, and Dan. I would DM.

The band of heroes.
I was very happy to assume the role of Dungeon Master. I'd always done it with my friends, so it was something I was comfortable with. What really had me psyched was that I was going to place the game campaign in the world of my novels. All of the players had read both Eternal Knight and Child of the Knight and were up for campaigning in the world of The Orb series.

How did I adjust the world to fit a D+D setting?

1) The campaign is set 300 years after the events of the last (yet to be published) novel in the series.
2) The Orb of Creation was "unlocked", releasing the ability to do magic into the world. Now more than just elementars, singers, and summoners (you'll read about the singers and summoners in Shadow of the Knight) would be able to do magic.
3) As readers of the books know, Akinos created the giant capcaun and urias, as well as the berserk varcolac and the silver elementars. What readers don't know is that he did more experiments. These other experiments resulted in many other "fantasy" creatures being created.
4) Rigaria is now overrun with monsters, and a place where only high level adventurers dare to go. The East Teren is the "wild west", subject to constant invasions from Rigaria. A good place for new adventurers.

What came of the eternals? The ones that survived (those who separated themselves from the Orb) have become liches. They create pyren (vampires) and ghouls to serve them.

The varcolac split into two lines. Some assumed more of their animal nature and became were-creatures. Those with stronger human influence became orcs.

Dwarves and halflings? Rejected experiments by Akinos. (Don't call a dwarf an "Akinos reject", however. They don't take it well.)

Elves? The spiridus, of course.

Anyway, you get the idea. I've turned The Orb novels into an "origin story" for my D+D world. This wasn't done just for the D+D campaign. I've always thought of the books as an origin story for a more traditional fantasy world. More on this another time.

Well, I was going to write about our characters and their adventures, but this has gone long enough! I'll write another post about the campaign itself. Maybe I'll make it a regular thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Shadow of the Knight Progress Report

Hello All!

Dropping by to let you know how I am progressing with Shadow of the Knight. As it turns out, things are going very well. I just passed the 30,000 word mark and have been doing very well meeting my writing goals.

As with Child of the Knight, I've put together a spreadsheet (click it to see a bigger image) to keep me on track:

The first five thousand words were a struggle. I wrote and re-wrote chapter one several times. I finally found the right voice and got the ball rolling. Every day I record my starting and ending word counts, which automatically generates more data. I get: word count for the day, words until finished (approx), average words per day, days until finished (words until finished divided by average word count), and projected finish date.

I've added colorful "badges" as a visual reward (or punishment).

RED= zero words
Yellow= 1 to 499
White= 500 to 999
Blue= 1,000 or more.

Come on BLUE!

I am trying very hard to write every day. Missed the mark on Sunday, but I'm back in the saddle. I would love to get the average over 1,000 a day. I'm close.

Well, back to writing. This post isn't helping my word count!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Newsletter Sign Up

I'm taking care of something I should have done a long time ago. Every author should have a newsletter, and I have (until now) neglected to set one up. My newsletter will be a (very) infrequent email I send to readers. Infrequent as in less than once a month. I promise not to spam you!

The newsletter will tell you about upcoming releases, special offers on my books, and any events (book signings, readings, conventions, etc) I have planned. Please take a moment to sign up. 

Here's the link: Matt Heppe's Newsletter

By the way, I'm making great progress on Book Three! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to work

Making progress. I spent much of July doing book research, outlining, struggling with chapter one, and goofing off doing summer things.

I got a little fed up at my lack of progress, so declared (quietly, to myself) that I would get my ass in gear starting on Monday, August 4th. Not for any particular reason other than I would be just returning from a four day trip to Minnesota for my sister-in-law's wedding.

Two days in and things are going great. I changed the starting point for Chapter One and it has really improved the flow of the chapter. 2,000 words over two days isn't bad for late evening writing. And now that I'm into it, I'll start moving faster.

Child of the Knight is getting very good reviews, but sales are slow. I'm not going to make the same mistake I made after Eternal Knight. After EK I had hoped that awesome sales would motivate me to write more books.

I had it wrong. Writing more books motivates readers to buy more books.

Oops. Back to work.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

One Month In

Child of the Knight is one month old!

So far so good. The reception to Child of the Knight has been very positive. No, not a bestseller... yet. But very positive feedback and some very nice reviews. As of today CotK has seven five star reviews on Amazon and nine out of ten of its Goodreads ratings are fives. The one four on Goodreads included a very nice write-up, so no complaints there!

I know the average will fall over time. The earliest reviewers all appear to have come from readers who were expectantly awaiting the sequel to Eternal Knight. The positive sign is that most readers appear to like Child of the Knight even more than Eternal Knight.

If you are a reader, please consider writing a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Smashwords, Goodreads, or wherever you made your purchase. And tell a friend! Novels succeed on reviews and word of mouth. Especially independent novels like CotK.

One very supportive reader, Chris Verwijmeren, took the time to send me this awesome photo:

Chris is a very knowledgeable archer and he's given me a lot of archery writing advice. In fact, he's become one of the experts I rely upon to keep my books realistic and believable.

Speaking of writing, I'm already at work on Book Three (as of yet untitled). I won't say that I'm HARD at work, as the beginning of summer is a very turbulent time. Lot's of swim meets and family travel make it hard to get consistent writing done. However, Book Three is entirely outlined and ready to go. It will not take three years to get this one done!

It has been a great month. I'm happy Child of the Knight has had such a good reception. A big THANK YOU to all my readers!

All my best,


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Release Day!

Here we are... RELEASE DAY! Child of the Knight is live!

Join us over on Facebook where we are having a release party from 9-11PM EST tonight (June 5th).

I'll post contests where you can win free signed copies of Child of the Knight. We'll also have conversations about writing and books. Any post at all will register you for a raffle to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

There will also be a Twitter conversation. Just follow #childoftheknight

I don't want you to be left out if you don't have Facebook or Twitter. Just post a comment to this blog post and you'll be entered to win a book as well as an entry in the Amazon raffle.

Oh yeah, go buy a copy of Child of the Knight!

CotK on Amazon
CotK on Barnes and Noble
Also available from Apple, Smashwords, and Kobo

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Virtual Release Party

Hi All,

I'm inviting everyone to the Child of the Knight Virtual Release Party!

Where? The interwebs.

The primary location will be on Facebook.
We will also party on Twitter @mattheppe with a # of ChildoftheKnight
And we'll also hang out here!


This Thursday, June 5th, from 9PM to 11PM


To celebrate the release of my second novel, Child of the Knight


There will be games and prizes. I'll give our free books, and there will be a grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card.

I hope you can make it. Let me know if you have any questions!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Child of the Knight - Back Cover Teaser

Last post I showed you the new Child of the Knight front cover... here's the back cover teaser text.

It is supposed to get you to want to read the book. I hope it works!

Akinos is dead, and the Wasting ended. For a year and a half all is well in the world.

Then terror arrives in Landomere. Mercenary raiders capture the infant children Orlos and Enna. Orlos, the son of Maret, is the only living spiridus. Without him the Great Spirit of Landomere will perish. Enna, the daughter of Hadde and Morin, is a rival to the throne of the Kingdom of Salador. It is a claim Queen Ilana would like to see ended. 

Maret, captured with the children, struggles to keep them safe during the dangerous journey to Salador. Hadde will risk everything to save them.   

To the north, a weary Champion Nidon returns from war to find a paranoid Queen Ilana plotting against threats real and imagined. To her eyes, Nidon is the greatest threat of all. 

Far to the east, beyond the Dragon’s Gate, Cragor wields the Orb of Creation. And with every passing day, his mastery of the Orb grows and the date of the next great invasion draws closer.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Child of the Knight Cover Reveal

Here it is...

A big thanks to Ken Hendrix for another great cover. I love it!

Child of the Knight will be released on June 5th. I'll start shouting when it is available for pre-order.

Getting sooooo close!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Finished! (Final Edits)

That's a wrap! Finished my final edits on Child of the Knight during lunch today.

A HUGE thank you to Mike Shultz, Ann Emery and Jax Reeder. Mike served (once again) as my critique partner, while Ann and Jax pulled editorial duties. This process would have been impossible without their help. Well, not impossible, just disastrous. They stripped out redundancies, focused the story, and taught me many valuable lessons about writing.

Child of the Knight went to Mike as a 128,000 word, 45 chapter manuscript. It now weighs in at 119,000 words and 42 chapters. This is very close to Eternal Knight's 116,000 words.

What's left?

1) Format the manuscript and upload it to CreateSpace for binding and printing.
2) Order three proof copies and send them to my proofreaders.
3) Finish the back cover text while my proofreaders have my book. Send finished back cover material to my cover artist.
4) Make proofreading changes and formatting adjustments.
5) Add a dedication and acknowledgments.
6) Format the ebook.

When do I hit the publish button?

June 1st

Am I sure?

Sort of. If not June 1st, it will be very close to that date. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Eternal Knight Cover

With Child of the Knight soon to be released, I thought Eternal Knight should get a fresh cover. Soooo....

The new EK cover is designed to match the Child of the Knight cover. The circle is larger and moved down on the page, all of the writing is black (so it will show up better on websites), and the cover has a little less of a washed appearance.

I will soon reveal the Child of the Knight cover. Maybe in a week or so.

As far as CotK goes, I am 75% done my final edits. I expect to be finished in less than a week. After that it goes to proofreading.

I am hopeful for a May 15th release.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review: The Fell Sword

The Fell Sword, by Miles Cameron, is the sequel to The Red Knight.

Miles Cameron is also the pseudonym of Christian Cameron, the prolific, and excellent, historical fiction author.

Characters: The Fell Sword has a very large cast of characters. First and foremost among them is the Red Knight himself. The mysterious Captain (he's simply called "Captain" by his soldiers) of a company of mercenaries, the Red Knight is both an accomplished magister (sorcerer) and a deadly knight. You spend a good bit of page time from the Red Knight's point of view, but The Fell Sword has a large cast and you do switch POV a lot. One interesting element of the novel is that the villains get their share of time as well, so the reader gets to see the plots and plans of both sides. To be honest, I did lose the thread of the story on some of the lesser characters. Personally, I found myself less interested in the Outwallers and the Jacks than in the story of the Albans and the Moreans. Despite the large cast, characters all have unique strengths and weaknesses and are distinct individuals.

World Building: The world building in The Red Knight and The Fell Sword is phenomenal. Imagine medieval Europe butted up against pre-colonial Canada. Alba, Galle, and Morea are reminiscent of England, France, and the Byzantine Empire. In "The Wild" we have Outwallers based on native North American civilizations. There are enough similarities with the historical locations that readers will be able to identify with cultural elements that lend a sense of familiarity to the reader. But the differences in history and characters (there are no actual historical personalities) give the world a unique feel. Cameron's magic system is also highly inventive, with magisters wielding power from within "memory palaces". Woe to anyone going into battle without their own magister. Magic in The Fell Knight is very powerful.

Writing/Mechanics: Cameron is an excellent writer. I've never read another fantasy (or historical fiction) author who can bring a world to life the way he can. Cameron does not shy from using historical terminology, or archaic language in his novels. But the way he does it is so seamless I am never caught out by it. Cameron is excellent at using context to bring out the meaning of obscure terms, and by using those terms, the world of the book is enriched.

Engagement/Willing suspension of disbelief: The Fell Knight is a long book, but it is engrossing. The multiple plots are intertwined in a way that lets the reader know that the series is building towards a titanic climax. No, you are not getting that climax in this book. There is more to come. But this book did have a satisfactory ended, that gave the novel a "complete" feel. While speaking of engagement, you will not find better medieval combat scenes (physical and magical) than in a Cameron novel.

Impact: An excellent novel. I read it every moment I could spare. I anxiously await the next book in the series. Luckily, Cameron is a prolific writer, and I won't have long to wait for the next Traitor Son novel.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Author Review - Quinn, Puttre, Howey

Every once in a while I review good books I've read. I thought I'd change the pace and review a few authors.

As an indie author I make an effort to read and support other indie authors. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a daunting task. Anyone can publish a book these days. Sometimes the books are still in need of a little work before they are ready for prime time.

But things seem to be changing. Lately I've had a much easier time finding really good indie novels. Today I want to share a couple of these excellent authors with you.

Susan Kaye Quinn writes, well... I can't put her into a genre box. I think I first heard of her when I saw a link to her blog on the website of another blogger I follow. The first Quinn novel I read was Open Minds, a young adult sci-fi novel. I enjoyed the novel very much even though I wasn't in her target audience. I next read Delirium, an adult sci-fi novella that I thought was terrific. I have the rest of the series on my to-read list. Her latest book, Third Daughter, is a young adult steampunk novel set in an India-like setting. I haven't read much steampunk and really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend Open Minds and Third Daughter to fans of young adult novels. Delirium is definitely for the grown-ups.

Michael Puttre's novel Outre Mer is an excellent adult sci-fi (space opera). I learned of Puttre when he was recommended by my favorite traditionally published author, Christian Cameron. Outre Mer is an excellent combination of international diplomacy, intrigue, and war. The characters are deep and the world building (universe building) is top-notch. I am looking forward to the sequel.

Hugh Howey is akin to a prophet to the indie publishing community. His international best-seller, WOOL, was an absolutely engrossing dystopian sci-fi novel. If you haven't read WOOL yet, go out and get it. And if you are an indie author, his website is a must read.

Which reminds me... I also read Susan Kaye Quinn's Indie Author's Survival Guide. Another must read if you are interested in publishing your work.

Enjoy! You can't miss with any of them.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Child of the Knight Progress Report (Critique Stage)

Keeping with my blazing once a month blogging pace... a progress report.

I am currently in the critique stage of Child of the Knight. What does this mean?

A few weeks ago I finished the rough draft. This process including spell checking (I turned spell check off while writing) and my own revisions. Revisions mostly consisted of clearing up inconsistencies that developed over the course of writing.

Right now the book is in the hands of my friend Mike Shultz. Mike critiqued Eternal Knight and has been a sounding board throughout the writing process for Child of the Knight. Mike is a novelist and accomplished short story author. He is very good at the craft of writing. I think of myself as a good storyteller, but I struggle with the craft of writing. This is where I rely on good critique partners and editors.

The more I write, the more I learn. I learn from doing, I learn from reading, but most of all I learn from other talented writers like Mike. The first draft of Child of the Knight is much better than the first draft of Eternal Knight. And the first draft of Something Something Knight will be better yet.

Mike is currently critiquing chapter nineteen. I am following behind and should be on chapter twelve tonight. We are moving at similar paces and this critique stage should be completed in early February.

After that Child of the Knight will go to my three editors: Ann Emery, Kemp Brinson, and Jax Reeder. What's the difference between editing and critiquing? Critiquing involves a lot more discussion of plot and story, while editing is more about the writing. I'll still take story advice from my editors, but by the time it reaches them the story should be pretty stable. Ann was a critique partner for Eternal Knight, while Kemp was an editor. Both were hugely helpful. Jax is a new addition to my circle of writing friends.

Post editing we go to proofreading, formatting, and publication!

I love the critiquing and editing part of the process. I love bringing new people into the world I've created and seeing how they help me make it better. Some writers fly solo, but even if I could, I don't think I would want to.