Sam’s Character revealed by plot


People often talk about a character arc plotting the changes of a character because of what happens to them. I prefer to think of plot as not changing the character but revealing it.

We see Sam’s character when he is presented with the opportunity to join the pressers. He refuses because he knows his father, mother and siblings need him to tend the farm. Imagine a teenager presented with the offer of freedom, independence, and more importantly, the chance of getting a girl. Sam has to turn away from all of that to face a life under the thumb of his father, working the fields, and without any hope of meeting a girl. That is character. From day one he thinks of others and does what he thinks is right.

Of course, he changes: he loses his innocence, he sees battle, he sees death, and he is not a superhero. But these changes are really just the light shining on a different facet of his humanity. We need to see he is a human, not Captain Marvel. Death scares him. The idea that a horde of Northman want to kill him, makes him so scared he can barely get out of the privy. I like that glimpse of his humanity. But what is important is that he rises to the challenge. He does his duty. Scared to his bones but willing to fight as best he can.

Everything that happens to him reveals another facet of his character. He was always a hero, even when he was just bent over his father’s knee getting a spanking. Nothing changed but the light shone on him. To see a character we need the light of circumstance to shift so we see hidden facets glimmering. We see Sam when is powerless and when he is powerful. We see him tempted, hurt, experiencing sorrow and joy.

He seems incorruptible. There is a moment when he has done well, earned respect, he has status, but then he trips over his tongue when confronted with a beautiful girl, and he falls tearfully into his mother’s arms without any thought to how people will view his manliness for it. Of course, all humans are corruptible… but that’s more of a book 2 thing.


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The big news is the first draft of book 2 is now complete

What I do now is take a couple of weeks away from writing before hitting the first rewrite. In those two weeks I need to do some artwork for maps, and for the cover. I also have two other books I am writing. These are non fantasy related but have been pulling my heartstrings for a while.

  1. The Hills of Orinda – Is a Romantic Comedy about a realtor in an affluent town in sunny California.
  2. Who writes the scripts – Is a dark dark mystery thriller which is a partly true story. It is a very uncomfortable read because it has scenes of violence, child abuse and murder.

Sales of “They Came by Night” have been up and down like crazy. I will need to spend some time working on promoting it.

I have been working with an actor on the audible for They Came by Night. It is coming along nicely and soon I will provide a sample on this very site.

So please sign up to my newsletter if you haven’t alread…

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I just need more hours in the day.

Busy Busy Busy

Metamind, Siva and Yuang

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There are philosophical concepts which play out in the Icor tales.

The Metamind : I started thinking about this as a teenager and it has deeply influenced my philosophy and is the backbone of the Icor Tales. The concept is this. Our minds are made of neurons, each neuron in itself has a pitiful amount of information but when it is brought together into a subsystem network it becomes gestalt i.e. it is greater than the sum of its parts. It seems incredible that something as simple as neurons can create minds. In the 1980s I used to build neural nets as part of an anti missile missile guidance system and I was always shocked by how such a simple technique provided powerful results. What was even more interesting was when I combined neural nets to create nets of nets. The results were spectacular and I could not get my mind around how it worked. I used a system called MOPS (Memory organization packets) META-MOPS and TAUS (thematic activation units). My system could read a scientific paper and truly understand it such that you could ask it questions on it and it would respond intelligently or it could paraphrase it, simplify it an even find logical errors.

Human minds are recursive nets of nets, but what most people do not understand is that the physical and logical neural net does not end with the brain matter…

Imagine a man is sitting under a tree. The sun heats the air, that moves the clouds so the heat hits the ground and causes the air to expand and form a breeze which shakes the tree’s branches which causes an apple to drop and hit the man on the head, the pain signals hit the brain and bippity boppity boo he discovers gravity. Now ask yourself where the thought process began. Our thoughts are part of a process that goes on in our environment all around us, and we only become aware of it when it enters a tiny portion of our brain.

Icor is about this concept of a greater mind, and of what consciousness really is.

Jung made a time machine and stole collective consciousness from me

To be continued…

#1 Best Selling Fantasy Novel on Amazon

“They Came By Night” – Andrew Bathgate was the best selling Fantasy Novel on Amazon over the weekend.

What a ride these last five days have been. This was the last five days of the vital 28 day post publication period. I had to drive my rank up or be forgotten by the Amazon algorithms forever.

Job Done

To put this in perspective, all I wanted to break into the top 100 For Epic Fantasy. I never dreamed of #1.

Also to put this in perspective, this was a free promo, and Monday morning it will be paid purchasing only so my rank will tank. There are now thousands of people reading my book, and with any luck they’ll like it and recommend it. It is all word of mouth from here on.

It was a great first battle

I just finished writing the first great battle scene of Book 2, and I am very proud of the result. It will of course go through two full rewrites and then a developmental edit followed by another rewrite and then final proofing, but its bones are done. It’s just 1,785 words but packs a punch.

I am about ready to offer it to beta readers.

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Battles Have Aftermaths

Today I start the Conclusion of Book 2

The Hall of the ancients has arrived at its epic three thread conclusion. It’s an exciting moment for me as an author. So many revelations happening.

If you’d like to ask me questions I can be reached at

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The Drasti – A flying Boat

Promo goes wild

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A lot going on. The promo for a free kindle version was very successful. Thousands of downloads. I have people getting in contact saying they really enjoyed the book, and that is wonderful.

When the promo is over I am going to price the book at 99c and leave it at that price. I will lose money, but that’s okay. The audible should come out in a couple of months, and if I have developed enough reviews and following then maybe … just maybe, I can make some money on that.

Then in September I will release book 2. And book 2 is going to be AWESOME! The characters deepen. The plot thickens. And greater world becomes an issue.

In the meantime I have to get heads down and write write write.

P.S. Someone asked me for an autograph today. My first one. That’s nice.

The Kindle Version is free until April 11th. Get it while you can!

#3 Fantasy Book on Amazon

The Free promo pushed it up the best seller list!

I should note I am spending a lot of time doing the last marketing push for Book 1.

Book 2 just passed the 30k word count. I really think it is my best work yet.

Before “They Came By Night”

In “They Came By Night” the time of the ancients is our present day. Before writing TCBN I had begun writing another novel which was about the fall of the ancients. I am determined to return to that novel one day. It is about the moment when our society reached a critical Rubicon… the creation of an intelligence singularity. The protagonist accidentally creates a singularity and she wants to fix all the world’s problems with it, but that is a lot harder than it sounds. The singularity is the power of God, but who supposes they have the wisdom to wield such power?

Here is an excerpt

“In the golden age of man, back when the air crackled with the hum of wifi and every pocket held an electronic smorgasboard of eclectic electric delights, there might be seen, in the cafes or book shops, a certain undersized, myopic breed of man, that looked like the genetic waste of the human race.   Hunched over their laptops they tapped their secret code, building an infrastructure for a distrustful society.  Unlike the peasants of the land, this breed would hoard, not gold, but equities. Bright and shiny equities in companies that feasted, digested and fathomed unfathomable quantities of information. Companies that spread over the world like a cancer devouring its host.  Companies with do-good creeds, that swore off plastic straws while churning coal burned gigawatts in a myriad of servers ranked and banked in conglomerate data centers.

This was an age of both enlightenment and bewilderment.   Those that truly understood the direction of technology were an ever-shrinking elite.

And it was a dangerous time to be of that elite.  A dangerous time to be intelligent and educated. Not just because a growing portion of society despised intellect, distrusted education, and instead clung to the increasingly difficult to maintain illusion that their kind, their color, their creed, their locale – were the bedrock upon which society stood.  Not just because truths were becoming enemies, and society had begun a backward march towards the age of darkness: the Earth was flat, vaccines were bad, man had not landed on the moon, there were chemtrails, climate change was a hoax, women belonged barefoot in the kitchen as baby machines and daycare, and immigrants were the enemy. There was another threat; one that only the shrinking elite understood, and only these elites could meet.”

Our protagonist uses nanites to clean the world’s pollution, to cure the sick and to disarm the tyrants …but that causes more problems than it solves, and in the end it creates what TCBN refers to as “The Fall of the Ancients”

The world that is formed after the fall of the ancients is the magic world of the Ceniac island where TCBN takes place. The power behind magic in this world are the nanites, and the rules that govern magic are the code within the nanites.

Erib Fortress – 2

I had to do some more work on creating a map for Erib Fortress. The seige is complex and I needed a firm idea of where everything stood before the action begins.

There will be more maps coming as the action proceeds…

FREE PROMO Coming Soon!!!

The first 28 days after publishing are super important because the Amazon algorithms mark this period as a trial. They will to a small extent push your product. After 28 days if you dont sell well, then the algorithm drops you like a stone.

So in the last 5 days of those 28 days, I will offer They Came By Night kindle edition for FREE!

April 7th to April 11th

After that it goes to $4.99, and I basically stop promoting it and switch all my attention to Book 2 “In the Hall of the Ancients” whose marketing will start in August.

Another Milestone…

Today I wrote my 250th song.

I am going to record it when I hit 25k words of Book 2, which is currently at 22k words.

Here are the lyrics for the first verse …

There was a time, when you loved me like a good wine

And the future smelt of roses

But I couldn’t take it, had to break it

Now my mind finds that it loses

Doesn’t matter what I sing, when the song begins

I put my heart out on display

When there’s tears in my eyes, that’s when I realize

When I sing, I really pray.

When Dad is a Fantasy author

Every night I would tell my kids stories. They are all grown up now, but they still remember their favorites. Sometimes I’d paint images from the stories on their bedroom walls. The Great Big Powerful Mouseking had a little door painted on the skirting boards (baseboards). The unicorn that saved them from the giant spiders was painted under a rainbow. The Royal chef’s massive block of cheese was a foot high in the center of their room… and much discussed by visiting parents.

I would have cliff hangers every night too… “And Rose opened the bog of magix and you’ll never guess what she found there ! It was … a great… big … giant… and that’s all we have time for tonight.”


I miss my kids being little… but then again, they don’t hide secret piles of meat under their pillows any more so there’s that blessing. There is a myth that we lose our imaginations as we grow, but I believe our imaginations grow with us… if you feed it. They both became little story tellers and I can see the seed of the stories grew within them to make them very imaginative women…

The Battle of Erib Fortress

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Book 2 – The Hall of the Ancients has two major streams of events. One is the trials that Sam, Rose and Aravand must go through to confront Bestich and save mankind plus Yurkin, and the other is the defense of Erib Fortress from the combined might of Merconian and Dwarven armies who have many cannon.

I have read many books on sieges and really wanted to steal Caesar’s Battle of Alesia which is probably the most epic siege in history. However my timeline is too compressed. Everything needs to be resolved in a few months.

Also… I am SUCH a nerd. When I first read Lord of the Rings as a pre-teen I had extended arguments about what the physical attributes of Dwarven men would mean for their style of fighting… and this is going to be the crucial element in the oncoming battle.

So Book 2 has dwarves AND a dragon which were not in my initial outline.

Here is a sketch I’ve made to help guide me write out the fortress siege scenes

Things I am Working On

I am well ahead of schedule on Book 2. It’s been exciting to write. We have new characters. We learn a little bit about the great barrier. We meet dwarves, and dragons…. and we learn why they exist.

However, I have to do some leg work on promoting the series. This website is not up to snuff. People can’t find the like button, the follow button, the sign up for emails feature… and those things are essential for success.

Next week there will be a big marketing push, and I must be prepared, so I must work on keywords, reducing printing costs by reformatting to increase font size but reduce page count and I will rework this website. Busy busy busy.

First Section – In the Hall of The Ancients

(Book 2 of the Icor Tales)


North of the Splintered Isles

            The beast is coming.

Yurkin could hear the heavy shuffling footsteps. He could see the sudden cowed looks on the crew and he could sense their complete abasement.

He stood on the foredeck as far from the beast’s quarters as he could get, shivering from the cold and the fear.   The beast had reached the main deck.

Yurkin felt the stones on his necklace; there were seven of them now.  He wanted to rip the necklace off and cast it in the ocean, but just like every other time he had tried, it would not come off.  He could not pry even one stone away from his skin.

There will be pain, thought Yurkin. Now would be the time to jump. I may never get the chance again.  I would sink into the frigid depths and never feel pain again.

He felt a tingling sensation, he was on the precipice, his body could sense the honed edge of the tipping point.


He had made his decision.  He would embrace cold death, rather than face the beast again.  Just then, the beast spoke.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Bestich said with a hint of a chuckle. “Go on then.  Show me how brave you are boy.”

Yurkin closed his eyes and jumped.  It was a strange feeling. He braced for the impact of the water, but it never came.  Opening his eyes he could see the familiar white mist of the icor wrapped around him lifting him up in the air and bringing him down to the main deck.  Bestich’s magic won’t let me die. Bestich grunted and turned his back on Yurkin and walked towards his cabin.  The icor carried Yurkin behind him.

Bestich entered the cabin and sat at his table.  The icor gently placed Yurkin at the only other seat at the table.

Since losing his campaign against the Southern Ceniacs, Bestich had become even fatter, he had grown an unkempt beard and he had taken to drinking.  He smelled of red wine, pork, and something dire… something dead.  Before his loss, Bestich had always looked neat, confident and playful.  He had applied perfumes every day, and bathed within his tent every evening.  Even when he was committing atrocities, he wore a smile and a velvet red cummerbund.  But his great cause had been dealt a serious blow. Now he wore a scowl and his atrocities had no purpose. He would mutter to himself and on occasion his internal anger would be released in a stream of fire directed at some innocent bystander.  He had killed a cook, a boatswain, a powder monkey and the chief gunner.

“Well, it is understandable that you wish to escape your plight boy,” said Bestich in a slurred patronizing tone. I know life’s been hard for you.  I know you call me the beast…” Bestich paused, as if unsure what he had planned to say next.  “I’m really not that bad you know.  I’m an absolute delight, in the right circumstances.”  His eyes lost focus for a moment and he made a slight snarl.  “I was supposed to be a god by now, and I would have been if it hadn’t been for one silly girl.”

Am I supposed to say something? Am I supposed to sympathize with this beast that killed my brother?

“I need to sends a message to my wizards,” Bestich said.

A sudden miserable fear gripped Yurkin.  This would require a lot of power and that would cause pain.  He felt tears welling up. His lower lip began to quiver, despite his efforts to suppress it.

“Am I supposed to sympathize with you?” sneered Bestich.  “You should be thankful.  You get to live in luxury.  You can have any comfort you desire…” He cocked his head at Yurkin.  “Girls… you should have girls in your cabin.  You’re a teenage boy, obviously you want girls right?”

Yurkin gave Bestich a look of befuddlement. You’ve killed my brother, you torture me daily, and you think forcing a girl into my cabin will make it all good? Like I am the sort of creature to inflict myself on some unwilling victim like that?

“No?” said Bestich confused.  “Perhaps boys?”

Yurkin’s mouth dropped open.

“No?” Bestich chuckled. “Sheep?  I know you Northmen love your livestock. Ha ha ha!”

A sudden anger gripped Yurkin and it bypassed his fear and without a moment for his intellect to intercede he threw a punch at Bestich’s face. It bounced of the icor shield.  A ball of flame appeared in Bestich’s right hand and he brought it forward to within a foot of Yurkin’s face.

“That’s what I get for trying to be nice,” Bestich snarled. “You are so ungrateful.”

The orange flame turned blue as he brought it closer to Yurkin’s face. Yurkin could feel the heat on his face and also heat on his chest from the power being drawn from the power stones.  He could see the white mist of the icor flowing from his necklace towards Bestich.

Yurkin screamed.

Bestich’s smiled, and his eyes gleamed with blue light reflected from the flame.  Yurkin had never seen the beast exhibit such sadistic pleasure.  Usually his acts of violence had been a means to an end or a sudden burst of anger, but Yurkin could tell that Bestich was enjoying seeing him suffer.

The white icor turned red.

Yurkin tried pulling away as he saw the red icor flowing from his chest.  Bestich’s expression changed from sadistic glee to curiosity.

The blue flame subsided, but the red mist grew and the pain from Yurkin’s chest remained.  Yurkin gritted his teeth trying to bear the pain.

“Interesting,” said Bestich, looking at the red mist with fascination.  “I have never seen it do this before.”

Yurkin felt the power stones heat more as Bestich drew more of the icor from it, but now the red mist was not being absorbed by Bestich, instead it formed a cloud. Bestich released Yurkin who fell to the floor in agony.

Goddess stop this pain, thought Yurkin, and immediately the pain stopped. Bestich was no longer drawing power from him. Yurkin scuttled backwards towards the cabin wall as he watched a head manifest from the red mist.  He recognized it.  It was Unmind, the dead Northern warlord. Yurkin had seen Unmind die.

Bestich’s mouth opened in an expression of genuine surprise.

“Unmind?” said Bestich.  “Is that you, my old friend?”

“He who knows himself knows everything,” replied Unmind.

Bestich appeared confused.  “What?”

“We have work to do,” Unmind said.  “You recently completed your campaign in Alafay and ordered them to join the remnants of your Ceniac forces to reinvade the South.”

“Yes,” said Bestich. “We will invade and I will take the sickening, the council, the golden key…”

“No,” said Unmind.  “The icor on the Ceniac island is too strong, and has sided with the old woman and her boy.”

“So it is true then, the icor has decided against me?”  Bestich looked down in an expression of defeat.

“The icor has not decided, it has divided. There is the white icor that believes humanity has a chance at freedom and happiness, and there is red icor which understands humanity’s true purpose divined from its creator.  Life without pain has no meaning.”

Bestich smiled.  “It is as I have always said.  Humanity’s purpose is to be a slave race, to suffer… under me, it’s ruler, it’s god.”

“The red icor you see is called Siva and it will grant you the status of god.  The power you have experienced with Yuang’s white icor is insignificant compared with Siva’s red icor.  I will teach you how to magnify your power by channeling suffering into Siva, then you reach out as you commune with your wizards and you will teach them.  Then we will unleash an army of crimson wizards upon the world.”

Yurkin looked on this exchange with horror.  They will bring even more suffering upon the world.  Is there no end?

“What about my invasion forces?” asked Bestich.

“Send them against the Eastern Isles.  Yuang has no Sickening on the Eastern Isles which makes her weak there.  But you do not need a Sickening, because you can power Siva with suffering. Bring suffering to the Eastern Isles and then you will have the power you need to invade the Ceniac Island and I shall have my vengeance, not just upon the South, but also the North who have joined with their oppressors.”

Bestich’s wore an uneven smile.  It looked like the grin of a mischievous child.  “What of the icor’s rules? Do they not bind Siva?”

Unmind nodded. “Siva is bound, which is why I give you a quest.”

“A quest?”

“Take a small force to the Ceniac Sickening.   Siva will grant you access to the hall of the council and to the hall of the ancients.  From there you must wake the creator’s partner, Ethan, who can be persuaded to rid Siva of the rules constraining her.”

Yurkin looked from Unmind to Bestich.  Bestich looked down at Yurkin with a big grin.

“Oh Yurkin, we’re going home!”

Tough day

I screwed up the promotions, and people could not buy my book in several countries. The first 28 days are crucially important for a book. If there is no traction in that time the Amazon algorithms send the book into the depths and it is tough as nails to resurrect it.

Tough Day

How did I screw up? Several ways…

  1. I set up a pre order date, and my galleys did not arrive so I had to approve publishing without actually seeing a printed version of my book. And it turns out there were formatting issues for the paperback
  2. The blurb was not catchy. It was too long.
  3. So when I went to update these things it caused the book to be taken off the market in several areas.
  4. I had over 200 people tell me they had problems trying to buy the book.

So how do I fix it…

  1. I am turning off all ads until April 7th
  2. I am reformatting to lower print costs and make it prettier and more readable.
  3. I have put together a promo for April 7th to April 11th the ebook will be free for that time.

Promising signs

  1. The honest feedback has been incredibly positive. These won’t show up as reviews for a month, but by end of April I should have an avalanche of reviews coming in from market makers
  2. Several influential blogs and publications have told me they will be doing write ups.

April will be a big month. Lots of reviews will come in. The promo will happen and maybe, just maybe I’ll crack the fantasy best sellers list again.

Sex and Swords

When I set out to write the Icor Tales I wanted the innocence and coming of age vibe of Harry Potter married to the gut wrenching reality of Game of Thrones. The question is how do you put a boy in a medieval world with any sense of reality and maintain that feeling of innocence?

Sexy Swords

In medieval Britain, marriages would happen as young as nine years old, and the median age was seventeen. But a modern audience is going to find that unacceptable, especially for the good guys. In my first draft I had Rose destined to marry Morefield when she was just 13, but I felt this was going to turn off my audience so I made it a little more restrained. They were to be betrothed, but she would not marry for at least 3 more years.

The courtship rituals came from a description by a real life medieval monk called Fra Lippo Lippi. A courtship would include a formal walk with a chaperone, followed by ‘banns’ posted on a board by the local priest. This would offer time for people to object during the betrothal period. Years later the nuptials would be watched by an audience and the blooded sheets hung from a balcony to prove the legitimacy of the marriage. Only then would the gold dowries be exchanged. The blooded sheets would be handed to the father of the bride to be used in court if the groom decided to abandon is wife.

Noble woman of Burgundy courted in the 1400s. Antique hand-colored print

A modern audience would find the whole thing a little repulsive (I think). So it is unclear at this point how much I will keep for the marriages which may take place at book 2 or book 3 (depending on if I am forced to split book 2 into two).

The fact that the icor tales is set in the future gives me a lot of artistic latitude. What I end up with needs to make sense, but it does not need to be historically accurate, which is a relief because history is awful.

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Aravand is a an unusual character. People like him and they ask me… where was he for 200 pages? As those who follow my blog know I had to trim 300 pages from my original book in order for it to be publishable. I had no problem trimming Amsten the evil wizard but I was loath to trim Aravand’s chapters.

The beta readers agreed that he was interesting but he did not push the plot forward. He was vital to understanding the humanity of the North, and also he introduces us to his brother Yurkin who becomes a central POV in book 2.

So Aravand was cut to the bone.

Another thing about Aravand that is weird is that he was written in reverse. I wrote his last chapter first, and worked my way back. The ambush scene was the first Aravand scene I wrote.

I would tell you more about him but… no spoilers.

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