Review of Dragma’s Keep by Vance Pumphrey

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book by the author for review.

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Epic Fantasy has met its match with the publication of Dragma’s Keep, the first in The Valdaar’s Fist series, written by Vance Pumphrey. Swept into a magical world full of drow enchantments, mage-summoned demon familiars, armed Minotaurs, underground labyrinths, powerful ancient artifacts, mind-bending puzzles, and a dead god, our outlandish band of characters are assembled by way of theft, arson, persuasion and rescue. Forced to overcome their distrust of each other, the fearsome five find themselves on a journey toward resurrecting a dead god named Valdaar to restore a balance of power long since forgotten by most. This spellbinding book appeals to the adventure seeker in all of us, compelling the reader into depths of the unimaginable and fantastic.

Dragma’s Keep introduces the reader to a remarkable cast of characters who begrudgingly trudge down a path toward friendship. A good mix of humor and despair, Vance Pumphrey expertly crafts a memorable and endearing group, without sacrificing the fiercest of battles, and keeps the reader glued to the pages. I look forward to the journey’s continuation in The Library of Antiquities.

Happy reading,

KD

The Valdaar’s Fist Series Review

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The Valdaar’s Fist series, authored by an up-and-coming writer named Vance Pumphrey, includes Dragma’s Keep, The Library of Antiquity, Ice Homme and The Platinum Dragon. An interest in Dungeons and Dragons, while spending years at sea, sparked his desire to pen a tale of the most intriguing of characters, each with their own strengths and quirks, to hook and enthrall readers for hours on end.

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The robust cast of characters, initially with differing agendas, unite under the guise of finding the elusive Dragma’s Keep, a lair filled with ancient spell books and a magical staff among copious amounts of booty. This lair, hidden for eons within a deadly labyrinth, is thought to hold an ancient staff known as Pendromar, Dragon’s Breath, once owned by a powerful sorcerer (a.k.a. Dragma). The staff is now sought after by Sordaak, novice sorcerer, and his enlisted crew of Savinhand, thief, rogue and all around hack, Thrinndor, a paladin of the Paladinhood of Valdaar as well as Vorgath, a barbarian dwarf of the Dragger clan from the Silver Hills.

Upon a shaky start, the fearsome foursome add a fifth member when they stumble upon and rescue a young woman by the name of Cyrillis who had been bound within the labyrinth and left to die a most gruesome death. With the accrual of a healer of Valdaar, the group presses on uncertain of their futures and of each other. However, amidst the journey to Dragma’s Keep, the legend of Valdaar’s Fist, a sword crafted long ago, entices the group further down the path towards waking a god long since dead for thousands of years.

Their harrowing journeys throughout the series find them navigating labyrinths, an ancient teleporting library stocked full of rare and valuable books and relics, lands ruled by minions of Set, and dragons that possess superior intellect in addition to magical prowess, all in which solidify an enduring bond between the companions, hurtling each member towards heart wrenching disasters and bittersweet triumphs.

The series abounds with twists, turns and unexpected revelations while even accruing other beloved characters along the way. As each member grows in their crafts and skill sets, ground shattering truths, heartaches and friendships are pushed to their ultimate limits.

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Vance Pumphrey has crafted a titillating tale of beautifully flawed, but determined, individuals who sacrifice their own personal gains for the microscopic chance of resurrecting a god lost thousands of years before. It is to this humbleness of needs, this inherent desire to achieve the seemingly impossible, that sets these books apart.

With quick wit, a superior plot, a remarkable cast of characters and engaging dialogue, The Valdaar’s Fist series is an entertaining and captivating read sure to impress for generations of readers to come.

For more information about the author, or to purchase one of his books or merchandise, please visit www.vancepumphrey.com.

In the coming weeks, I will be delving into each book separately. Stay tuned, my friends!

Happy reading,

KD

Book Review Time!

Hello to all my fellow readers and writers! It’s been awhile as I’ve been busy reading, editing, writing and reviewing. I do hope the New Year has treated you kindly and that it’s the beginning of a great year of Dramas, Thrillers, Epic Fantasies, Romance, Historical Fiction and all things written.

Today, I bring you my review of H. Eugene’s latest thriller called Linda’s Closet and to tantalize a future review of an Epic Fantasy series written by Vance Pumphrey that will knock your socks off. I’m delighted to have given the following Editorial Review for H. Eugene’s latest and greatest!

Enjoy!

H. Eugene’s latest masterpiece, Linda’s Closet, winds an intricate plot around well developed characters mired in suppressed childhood demons, marital strife, the intricacies of friendship, and the complexities of death.
With a well designed storyline reminiscent of the likes of Stephen King, H. Eugene’s novel begins with the introduction of Linda Chambers. Faced with the imminent demise of her marriage, she reaches for the familiar comforts of her closest girlfriends to blunt the effects of an unwanted divorce and the implications to her children.
One rash decision, in an ill attempt at righting a terrible situation, propels Linda into a nightmarish existence where bonds of family, sisterhood and reality unravel where sides must be taken, ending in a reckoning of the past to the present in ultimate proportions.
The read is captivating from beginning to end, wrangling interest from page one. Taboo subjects are delved into, not simply touched upon or skirted around, making this novel a supreme thriller and gifted enough to be seen on the big screen someday. I can definitely say that I am taken with Linda’s Closet and look forward to H. Eugene’s future novels.

K.D. Upton, Author

If you haven’t read any of H. Eugene’s books, I highly suggest you pick up a copy or e-book. His tangled plots are sure to pique the interest of thriller/mystery readers everywhere. Also, don’t forget to sign-up for his monthly newsletter for all the latest insights, giveaways and details on his upcoming novels.

Now, I’ll switch gears for a moment to mention a series of Epic Fantasy books written by Vance Pumphrey. Filled with Goblins, Mages, Healers and Dwarves, Pumphrey catapults the reader into a world of Gods, enchantments, spells, potions and harrowing adventures that quickly captures the inner thrill seeker in all of us. Stay tuned for my future review for a more in-depth discussion of these amazing books.

Until next time, happy reading!

K.D.

 

 

A Time for Thanks

Thanksgiving is two days away for those celebrating in the United States, and I’m salivating at the prospects of pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, ambrosia and rolls, pumpkin pie and, well, you get the gist. For me, I love to plop down onto the sofa, stuffed to the gills with good food rumbling inside of my belly and surrounded by my loved ones watching my most anticipated event of the season… The AKC Dog Show, of course!

Yes, my love of dogs goes beyond borders, kingdoms and realms. They put a pep to my step and bring out the ooey gooey talking, lovey dovey heart of a child the second I lay eyes on my pup. *sigh* She’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a dog, and she never lets me down. Always devoted to my mundane habits of tap, tap, tapping away at the keyboards or midnight kitchen jaunts stealing yet another glass of water after my foggy mind attempted to write down a concept ripped from my dreams. Yep, she jumps to attention, her velvety soft ears pointed in my direction, and her gaze giving me the once over just to make certain I’m safe. I melt in those pools of soft chocolate, and I thank my lucky stars for the gift that she is.

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Of course, I’m grateful for my kids, too. Oh, yeah! My kids rule the roost in this family of complete and normal dysfunction. *wink* We’re no less dysfunctional than the rest, this I know, but we excel in our failed attempts at hitting the laundry basket or keeping all the peas on the plate. Sure, some land on the floor and get stomped and smashed to smithereens, trailed through the house in a final blaze of glory, while the pup even turns her nose up at it before plopping down on her half of the couch in a huff. “Silly humans,” she must think as she refuses eye contact for the next five minutes in hopes of shaming we mere mortals into tossing her a salmon flavored treat, down on our knees, begging for her forgiveness.

And I digress. Family. Right. You know, we’re all family if you think about it. My dog is as much a part of this family as the humans. That’s what I love most about my spouse, children and pup. If someone is ill, another fixes meals or picks up the laundry or simply sits by our sides binge watching Netflix or HuluPlus, sympathizing and caring in the best way we know how. We have our ups and downs, but our family is strong and have weathered many a storm. To this I am THANKFUL. GRATEFUL. BLESSED.

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So, while many are posting days of ‘Thanks’ during the month of November, I’m there with ya, shouting to the world how wonderful these people (Canines, too!) are by my side, but it’s no different than the other 11 months out of the year. I choose to live each day with a grateful heart regardless of the month.

One final word of ‘Thanks’ goes out to all my family near and far. Merriam-Webster lists “Family” as “a group of people who are related to each other,” or “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head,” but I beg to differ. My family constitutes those in my household but extends to those special friends in my life that are neither ancestrally related or by marriage. My family circle is blessed this Thanksgiving with wonderful family and friends living in Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, Colorado, California, and Australia and is enriched by those I’ve met through writing from the UK, Norway, India, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and the list goes on and on. There’s lots to be grateful for, and I wish all my family and fellow #NaNoWriMo writers a wonderful end to November.

Best of luck, happy eating, and, of course, happy reading/writing!

KD

NaNoWriMo and Exercise

Hello November!! My love for this month grows exponentially each  year, and yet, my body wasn’t quite as prepared for the onslaught of writing and exercising that I’d imagined. Of course, I don’t think anyone can be completely prepared for the NaNoWriMo experience, but that shouldn’t stop anybody from attacking it.

It’s been a whirlwind of keys flourishing over the keyboard, hand cramps as a result of using a pen and paper routine before entering it into the digital realm, researching, writing, writing, and did I mention writing??? Yesterday, last week, today, and tomorrow all blur in total confusion, elation, and hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the mire of a fulfilling writing life, I mentioned in a previous post about dipping my toes into the world of exercise. I believe it’s important to have a fit body to be an effective parent, spouse, and, of course, writer. With a lot of autoimmune issues, I struggle to tread water working full time, writing and being in ten places at once; let alone exercise. Yet, I believe it’s possible, and so I push on, and this November has started brilliantly.

NaNoWriMo: The Marathon

You know, there are a ton of similarities between exercise goals and writing. The first one being the decision to do either. One day, we decide, “Today, I will exercise,” or “I will write…” The courage to begin is probably one of the hardest things to conquer, but we begin anyway, and we charge forth as any energetic, bright-eyed, hopeful person does. Of course, it doesn’t take long before our first stumble or road block in the form of injuries, fatigue or writer’s block rears it’s ugly head. It is to these moments that can make or break us.

Not only does the will to begin need to be etched in stone, the courage to continue needs to be forged in iron, or adamantium (whichever you prefer). Yep, I went there;-) We must lace up those shoes and hit the pavement to work our way up to the 26.2 miles of a marathon, and writing is no different. Our mental muscles must be worked from flabby to fabulous over a period of time which varies from person to person. No matter how long it takes, we must continue to run, walk or even crawl across that finish line in the end because only we possess the ability to do so.

Where to begin?

However, I got ahead of myself. Allow me to backtrack. After we’ve determined we want to traverse down the path of exercise or writing, we eventually settle into a routine of sports drinks, fruits and veggies, or triple shots of caffeine, nights filled with jotting down notes from dreams, and the ever incessant clack of the keyboard. I’d be remiss if I left out the multitude of google searches, thesaurus checks or reading other books for inspiration, but the same would go for exercise, too. In order to cross that finish line, we must make ourselves knowledgeable. So, off to the races we go.

Next…

Next, we try routines. Some work out while a mass of others fall by the wayside, but we keep going because our inner drive compels us to, or we envision all those people that told us we couldn’t or wouldn’t ever make it. We run from our fears or head them head on, but we run nevertheless. Yes, we pay our dues, and we come out better people for it. Sure, we may not end up where we previously envisioned, but that’s okay. We may start out practicing for a marathon only to end up running a 5k, or we may outline a lengthy novel that ends up being a short story, but who cares? It’s still an achievement.  It’s all a part of the process, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, we end up running that marathon. It may not be pretty, but come Hell or high-water, we drag ourselves across that finish line and relish in the euphoria of accomplishing the once unthinkable.

Yep, exercise and writing go hand in hand. There’s lots of planning, training and perseverance in the slimmest of odds, but the results are well worth it. So, today I write to you frazzled, fatigued, and sore, but my mental muscles are growing in size along with the once puny muscles that quivered at the sight of weights. My first battle conquered, I plod on with hope in my heart and an arsenal of knowledge in my pocket.

While I tackle this month of writing and exercising, I’ll keep you updated on my failures as well as successes. Until then, lift, read, run, squat, and write on! I’m interested in hearing your tips for this month of writing, too. I look forward to your comments and messages!

 

Happy writing and exercising,

KD

Writer’s Life of Research

Good day to be a writer, don’t you think? I know NaNoWriMo is around the corner and lots of people are vigorously preparing for the onslaught, ahem… process. My life, unfortunately, is filled to the brim with research, editing, formatting, rewriting, and writing, among other life adventures, that I am not participating in November’s 50,000 words. However, for those of you that are, I wish you the very best in your November adventure!

For me, daily life consists of, well, writing. Of course, I write a little, but my mainstay of writing is the research. Tons of hours go into research, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Studious as a college freshman, I read, highlight, take notes and inspect pictures to the ‘nth’ degree before ever putting pen to paper or typing like the wind on the keyboard. Some writers plan every nitty gritty detail of each chapter using excel spreadsheets, and that’s great if it works for you! Alas, it’s not for me.

So, what’s my plan for writing? Glad you asked;-) I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants with a skeletal outline of the beginning, middle and end. Of course, I throw in notes for the parts between the beginning and middle/middle to the end, but that’s it. I write, edit, rewrite, edit, so on and so forth until the inner instinct kicks in, telling me it’s ready to publish. However, this post is more about my love of research. So…

For me, research is key to elevating a good book to a great one. Sure, it takes loads of time. Sure, it can seem cumbersome and slow down the time it takes between published books, but it’s my cup of tea, and I’m sticking to it. For instance, right now, I’m writing my second in a series beginning with The Protectorate. Globe trotting and running head first into trouble, my main character Anna never had it so bad  good;-) Since her travels take her to the likes of Austria, Argentina and Germany, among others, I get to research these wonderful places and put Anna through the ringer either in a rainforest, museum or war memorial. It allows my mind the ability to create with an ease I’d never have without all the research.

You see, I’m one of “those” people who can’t write without knowing a little about the places my characters visit. While I don’t have to be spot on, I’d like to be as accurate as possible, and until I’ve made enough money to travel to those far away places, I’ll have to settle for second hand accounts of places my characters visit. Of course, I use google, but I also read countless books on historical places and speak to people who’ve been to some of these places. Pictures from trips are a treasure trove of information as well. It’s important to utilize all sources when writing.

In my second book, Anna travels to Germany, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading up on the culture, museums and places to visit. One such place I’ve stumbled upon is the Wilhelm Kaiser War Memorial in Berlin. Snug in the center of shopping and hotels, this museum has a history that compelled me to write it into the second of my series. I’ve spent days on learning the structural aspects of this restored church, architecture and history before ever putting pen to paper. Even after all the research, I find myself wanting to know even more about it’s history, and this is why I love the writer’s life. Folks, we get paid to dream, and research is a huge part of that for me.

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Photo credit: Thomas Favre-Bulle

 

Is researching a must in writing? No, but I’d be lost without it. So, off I go into the world of researching and writing, and who knows? Maybe one of these days, I’ll visit a place close to your home;-)

I love to hear from you! Has anyone visited the Wilhelm Kaiser War Memorial in Berlin? Where else have you gone that’s stuck inside your memory banks forever? Comment or send me a message, and please, whatever you do, keep reading!

Happy reading/writing,

KD

Indie Author Love

According to Amazon, October is the month to celebrate indie authors, and we writers are to share why we decided to go the route of self-publishing. While each author writes for various reasons, so too do we publish according to our own wants, desires and beliefs. Regardless of which way we choose, we all share the same goal of making an impact in the writing world.

Traditional publishing has always been touted as “making it” in the writing world, but with the advent of Amazon, we no longer must wait for those form letters telling us “Thank you,” but “No, thank you.” Our dreams need not be shattered with letter after letter of rejection. Instead, we studiously write, our fingers flying over the  keyboards or cramping under the strain of pen to paper for hours on end. We edit and rewrite knowing there’s somewhere for us to achieve a dream.

Self-publishing opened doors that were permanently rusted shut for the vast majority of writers until the likes of Amazon, Kobo, Apple and many others declared, “Come one, come all who write. We have a place for you!” Millions of writers flocked, and still flock, to upload their cover designs, copyright pages, dedications and tear stained manuscripts. We clinch our jaws and fidget in our chairs for eons, inching our index fingers ever forward towards the ‘enter’ button that would load our books onto the internet for all to see.

Sure, the odds are stacked against us, and our sales may forever be severely less than desired, but it’s the dream, the possibility of reaching the masses that compels us onward.  My journey has been fraught with ups and downs, and I soldier on. Life happens, loved ones get ill, bills must be paid, and yet we writers still keep going. Do some fall by the wayside with the enormity of our task? Absolutely. The researching, world building, editing, rewriting, formatting, and feedback could make anyone want to run for the hills, and some do. Lots of people give up for many valid reasons, and there’s no shame in that. This world is not for the faint of heart.

So, why do we do it? Why do we go the route of indie publishing? Why do we put all of our eggs in that basket knowing the majority fail? All great questions. While I can’t answer for everyone else, I can tell you my reasons.

Growing up in a military family and moving around lots as a child, I greeted many schools and new faces. One of the constants in my life that never changed, though, was books. The library was my sanctuary, no matter what town/city we moved to. Books don’t judge; they welcome. They are friends, sometimes best friends, when everything else falls apart.

Don’t get me wrong, my childhood wasn’t terrible. Moving around meant leaving friends behind and forced me to adapt to changing environments. I believe it helped make me a good storyteller.

I’ve always wanted to write books, but up until recently it wasn’t a real option. I choose to be an indie author because I like to control the process. I no longer need someone else’s acceptance to publish to the masses. It’s incredibly difficult to get a publishing company to take notice, and time is of the essence. I wish to publish on my own terms, and I’ll take the hardships that go with it. Yeah, it’s a TON of work, but hard work always pays off.

Will I ever be successful at writing? Yes! I’m already successful. So, for now, I choose to self-publish, and I applaud all writers in whichever way they choose to publish. As for me, you can find me on my blog with WordPress, twitter and google. I’ve even ventured into Pinterest.

I’d love to hear your stories of which publishing path you’ve taken. Please feel free to message me or comment below!

Many thanks to all the storytellers out there! You can and do make a difference;-)

 

Happy reading/writing! #PoweredByIndie

K.D.