All posts by jmoellerwriter

Caina: Mac or PC?

A reader emailed inquired as to what kind of computer Caina Amalas would use, should she happen to live in the modern era. Mac or PC?

The answer, of course, is neither. Caina would likely use a custom-built Linux distribution, encrypted and specifically built for the maximum amount of security. She would scoff at anything so trivial as passwords, and insist upon two-factor authentication and key-based encryption for everything. And likely her computer would have a bomb rigged inside the case to explode in the event of any security breaches. (I suspect she would likely be one of those Linux people who run six miles every morning and then bicycle to work.)

Mazael Cravenlock, if he needed anything done online, would just make Molly do it.



Now working on the layout for the print version of FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF.

Print layout is tricky. I prefer to do as little fancy formatting (custom fonts and such) as possible on my ebooks, because one of the great strengths of ebooks is that you can dial up the font as large as you wish. I know several visually-impaired people who have gotten back into reading simply because they can make the font enormous on their Kindles and iPads.

Additionally, I know of several writers who ran into trouble because they used custom fonts for their books, and then when Amazon released the higher-resolution Kindle Fires, those writers received quality complaints because their custom fonts did not render properly on the new Fires. So my approach is that an ebook should have just enough formatting to be comfortably usable and no more.

But in print books, everything has to be specified, because the book is printed (he said, stating the obvious) and the printer does exactly what the book file tells it to do. So the font and margins and everything else must be exactly specified.

Still, people keep buying FROSTBORN print books, so there will continue to be print editions of the new FROSTBORN books!



I’ve been making good progress on FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF, and I’ll be ready to post a preview chapter after Easter. Meanwhile, here is the Table of Contents!


Chapter 1 – Wings

Chapter 2 – Venom

Chapter 3 – Only One Way

Chapter 4 – Vulmhosk

Chapter 5 – Sons of Mhor

Chapter 6 – The Lake of Battles

Chapter 7 – One Theft Too Many

Chapter 8 – Coldinium

Chapter 9 – The Crow’s Helm

Chapter 10 – The Heralds of Mhor

Chapter 11 – A Wanted Man

Chapter 12 – The Dux and the Magistria

Chapter 13 – The Challenge

Chapter 14 – Pursuit

Chapter 15 – Memory Bleed

Chapter 16 – No Longer Useful

Chapter 17 – Gift of a Dagger

Chapter 18 – Catacombs

Chapter 19 – Tentacles

Chapter 20 – Mercy

Chapter 21 – Thieving

Chapter 22 – Vengeance of the Family

Chapter 23 – Traitor to the Realm

Chapter 24  - Debts To Pay


a question of aliases in GHOST IN THE COWL

Someone asked why Caina starts using the name “Ciara” as an alias in GHOST IN THE COWL.

It’s because whenever I try to type “Caina” on my phone, AutoCorrect automatically changes it to “Ciara”. And who am I to argue with my phone?

Though I suppose if Caina uses “Ciara” as an alias because of autocorrect on my phone, if I was writing THE GHOSTS novels in the days of MS-DOS, Caina’s alias would be BAD COMMAND OR FILE NAME.


FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF editing now underway

I had some side projects to wrap up, but now that they’re done, it’s time to start editing FROSTBORN: THE MASTER THIEF! The first two sentences of the book:

Forty-one days after it began, forty-one days after the day in the Year of Our Lord 1478 when blue fire filled the sky from horizon to horizon, Ridmark Arban moved alone through the forest.

Something felt wrong, and he wanted to have a look around. 


The Hour of the Dragon, by Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard’s THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON is now available on Project Gutenberg for free, so this seems like a good time to post a review of this classic novel.

THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON the original sword & sorcery novel, and indeed one of the best.

The plot: a band of disaffected nobles and a fallen priest gather together to overthrow King Conan of Aquilonia. The fallen priest uses sorcery to summon up Xaltotun of Acheron, once the chief sorcerer of a hellish empire now three thousand years dead. The conspirators plan to use Xaltotun’s powers to overthrow Conan and divide Aquilonia among themselves. With Xaltotun’s aid, the conspirators succeed, but quickly discover that Xaltotun has own ideas, and plans to resurrect his ancient empire of horror and necromancy. Conan manages to escape from Xaltotun, and it’s up to him to save both his kingdom and indeed the entire world from Xaltotun’s infernal grasp.

Howard wrote with a vigor and an energy that few modern writers can match. The popular image of “Conan the Barbarian” is of a muscle-bound Schwarzenegger-esque dullard, but the real Conan is cunning, prone to gloomy pondering, and a man of action. No postmodern angst for him; if Conan were to encounter postmodern angst, he’d split its head with his broadsword, loot the corpse, and keep going.

Consequently, the books crackles with narrative tension. Conan’s up against enemies his sword cannot harm, but he’s not about to let that stop him, and he jumps from greater danger to greater danger in his quest to save his kingdom. Xaltotun makes a formidable foe for Conan; the conspirators who summoned him from the dead seem to represent every idiot politician who conjured up a force (war, demagoguery, reform, whatever) that he can no longer control.

Interestingly, the novel replays Conan’s entire plot arc over Howard’s original stories. Conan went from a penniless wandering thief to King of Aquilonia, and when Xaltotun’s minions overthrow him, Conan once again become a penniless wanderer – but this time he’s going to get his throne back. THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON replays Conan’s entire arc in one novel, so if you’re going to read just one of the original Conan stories, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON is the one to read. Though better by far to read them all. :)