The 2020 Silmaril Awards: The Most Silver Tongue Award Ceremony

I am sorry to report that due to circumstances beyond our control, today's ceremony to announce the winner of the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril in the 2020 Silmaril Awards has been cancelled. There was an unfortunate failure in the magical countermeasures intended to prevent any untoward incidents at this year's Silmaril Awards, resulting in the kidnapping of the presenter, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, and all five of the nominees.

However, despite this mishap, Mr. Baggins still managed to present the award. In addition, we have succeeded in reconstructing the events of the presentation by means of casting an enchantment from the spellbook of the wizard Coriakin of Duffer Island upon a palantir from Middle-Earth. The following is an accurate representation of what befell the missing presenter and nominees, who were later rescued.

“Now, Mr. Baggins, tell me…from what country do you come?”

Bilbo Baggins blinked in confusion. He realized he was not entirely certain of where he was. He knew where he was supposed to be…at least, he thought he knew. He had a vague impression of some sort of arena, where he was meant to be giving some sort of award…but it was all very fuzzy. At the moment, he was sitting in a rather shadowy room with no windows, and there was a woman speaking to him as she played on some sort of stringed instrument. A woman dressed in emerald-green…who seemed vaguely familiar, in fact…and there was a very odd smell in the air that tickled his nose uncomfortably. It seemed to be coming from the crackling fire in the hearth.

“Er…” Bilbo coughed. “I realize this will seem like a strange question, madam, but…who are you?”

The woman gave a musical, trilling laugh. “Why, Mr. Baggins, surely you cannot have forgotten me?”

“Er…well…” Bilbo felt very embarrassed indeed, and a trifle nervous, as well. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten here.

“But of course,” said the Lady, “you are still suffering from the drrrrreadful enchantment that was cast upon you. It has affected your memory. That is why you must listen very carefully and try to remember everything. Tell me, where do you come from?”

“Ah.” Bilbo frowned. He really ought to remember this. “Well…it’s green, that much I remember.”

Grrrreen.” The woman smiled as she strummed her lute…if it was a lute. “Such a lovely color. Are the walls painted green, then?”

“No…I meant the grass.”

“Grass?” His bizarre host laughed again. “Do tell me…what is grrrass?”

“Well…it’s green, and sort of…grassy.” Bilbo struggled to sort out his thoughts. That smell was muddling his head terribly. Describing grass couldn’t be that difficult, could it?

“And where is this…green place, exactly?” said the woman.

“It’s…in the middle of something.” Bilbo thumped his head with the heel of his hand a few times. It didn’t help. In an effort to find something, anything, that might jog his memory, he looked around the room. He saw a blindfolded man in scarlet, another man in a jester’s costume, a third who was barefoot and rather scruffy, a fourth who had the wings and talons of a bird, and last, a small boy who was looking very confused and a little sad.

Who in the world could all these people be? And, for that matter, who was Bilbo Baggins?

“While Bilbo attempts to gather his thoughts,” said the Lady, simpering, “let us move on to you, Eanrin.” She gestured to the man in scarlet. “Tell me of your home.”

Eanrin’s brow furrowed above his blindfold. “It’s…er…hold on a moment, let me think…”

“Take all the time you need, my handsome friend,” said the woman, smiling coyly.

“I have a feeling it may have been somewhere…above here.” Eanrin gestured vaguely upwards. “Are we underground? I seem to remember being taken underground.”

The woman in green giggled. “Undergrrrround? What a strange word. And how could there possibly be a country above us, up among the stones and mortar of the roof?”

This jibe stirred something in Bilbo’s memory, but he could not quite get hold of it. Something he had read somewhere, perhaps…or a story that someone had told him…someone with feet like a frog’s? Surely that was impossible.

“It had a name, I know that,” Eanrin insisted. “Rood…Rud…Rid…”

Rrrrridiculous, perhaps.” The woman’s laughter took on a hard, mocking edge.

“A woman!” Eanrin cried out. “I remember a woman! Lady….Sparkle-something.”

The woman gave an almost-uncouth guffaw. “A suitable name for a child’s imaginary playmate, perhaps; but you are far too old for such silliness, sir.” Before Eanrin could protest, she turned her attention to the man in the jester’s costume. “And you, Leonard, where do you hail from?”

“Er…south, I think?” Leonard winced in embarrassment. “Sorry, my brain’s a bit fuzzy for some reason…I don’t suppose we could open a window? Oh, wait, there aren’t any windows…”

“Moving swiftly on,” said the woman, “Artham, would you like to talk about your home?”

“It’s…shiny, I think,” said the winged man, blinking rapidly as he tried to marshal his thoughts. “Though not as shiny as it used to be—”

“How unfortunate. Armulyn?” The woman nodded to the barefoot man.

He merely smiled. “Whatever enchantment you’ve tried to put on us, it will fail. I don’t need to play your games. I know I have a home; that’s enough for me.”

Anger flickered briefly in the woman’s eyes, but her sunny smile never wavered. She looked at the youngest of the four. “And you, Curdie?”

“My home's…in the mountains,” said Curdie, breathlessly, as if it took a tremendous effort to get the words out.

The woman continued to play her hypnotic melody as the air seemed to grow even thicker with that strange smell. Bilbo wanted to intervene, to help the others somehow, but his limbs felt like lead.

“Mountains,” the woman echoed. “Tell me…what are mountains?”

“They’re big,” said Curdie.

“Yes, but what are they, sweet child?”

“Big…rocks?”

The woman laughed again. “Is that all?”

“Very, very big rocks. Bigger than a house. Bigger than a whole heap of houses.”

The woman clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Now, now, Curdie, don’t tell stories. There are no rocks that big. There are no such things as mountains. And there are definitely no such things as goblins.”

Curdie frowned. “I didn't say anything about goblins.”

“Of course you did.” The woman strummed a trifle faster, as if she were trying to hurry things along. “And now that we've got all that out of the way, why don't you all go to bed? To bed…to sleep…deep sleep…soft pillows…sleep without foolish dreams…

Bilbo wondered how he had failed to notice the woman's crown before. It held a single orange jewel…though something appeared to be wrong with the stone. It was cracked, and marred by shifting swirls of darkness, like ink poured into a clear pond.

The others were all nodding off. Bilbo had just enough determination left to pretend to do the same.

“And now,” said the woman, “the real work begins.” Her voice was distorted by an unsettling hiss. “I will drrrrrain your talents from you–your pleasant voices, your quick wits, your flowery words–and leave you silent, lifeless husks.” Her laugh was a jarring cackle now. “All your powers and skills will be mine. Your silver tongues will be absorbed into the Silmaril I obtained a year ago…and if that proves successful, I will acquire more of these wonderful gems. I already have the Silmaril which was to be awarded to one of you today. It will be a simple matter for me to cross the worlds and acquire those of the previous winners.”

Bilbo suddenly remembered what the frog-footed man had told him about this woman…and about how she had been defeated. He cut his eyes toward the crackling fire…

Ouch.

No, he decided. That would be far too painful. Better to try something less dramatic. Fortunately, more memories were coming back to him now…including the award ceremony he had memorized in case he happened to misplace his notes. He coughed emphatically and began to recite.

“In fifth place,” said Bilbo, “with five votes we have…Leonard Lightning-Tongue!”

“Oh,” said Leonard, his eyes wide. “Oh…I’m starting to remember now.” He looked a bit disappointed at having received the least votes, but this was outweighed by his happiness at remembering who he was.

“Excuse me, hobbit,” said the woman in green, baring her teeth, “but I think you’ll find that I am in control here.”

Bilbo went on defiantly. “In fourth place, with nineteen votes…Artham Wingfeather!”

Artham unfurled his wings triumphantly. “I’m remembering too!”

“No, you are not!” shrieked the Lady, throwing her instrument to the ground. It shattered into a shapeless lump of strings and splinters. “There is nothing to remember! There is no Shining Isle of Anniera, there is no—”

“Third!” Bilbo interrupted loudly. “Armulyn the Bard, with twenty-three votes!”

“Stop that!” Scales began sprouting on the Lady’s face, and her whole body began to undulate in a serpentine manner.

Armulyn grinned at her. “I told you it wouldn’t work,” he said softly.

Bilbo soldiered on. “Second, Curdie, with forty-one votes!”

Curdie skipped happily despite the fact that he’d fallen just short of winning. He began to compose a poem on the spot, which said various uncomplimentary yet justified things about strange women in green who kidnapped children and tried to steal their tongues.

“And finally,” said Bilbo, as the Lady of the Green Kirtle continued to writhe in fury, “the winner…EANRIN!”

Everyone cheered, except the Lady, who was incandescent with rage, and Eanrin, who changed back and forth from a human to a cat six times in the space of fifteen seconds from sheer joy and bewilderment. “Hurrah!” he cried, once he'd found his voice again. He capered around the room, still shapeshifting at random. He paused briefly to direct a censorious frown at the Lady. “It’s Lady Gleamdren, by the way, and while I have not had the dubious pleasure of seeing your face, I’m quite certain she is far, far prettier than you.”

“At the moment, Eanrin, that's not a very high bar to clear.” Leonard curled his lip in disgust at the part-human, part-snake creature which the Lady had become. “Eugh.”

The Lady gave an earsplitting hiss…but before she could complete her transformation, she was distracted by a loud explosion on her forehead. The Silmaril in her crown, overtaxed by the rebellion of the five nominees, burst into fragments. Its orange light flickered and died, overwhelmed by darkness.

“No!” Now fully human (or whatever her true species was) again, the Lady fell to her knees and began frantically shoving the pieces of her Silmaril back together again. “No! My prrrreciousssss!” A forked tongue flicked out of her mouth as she spoke the last word.

Bilbo noticed something glittering in the remains of her broken lute. He stepped over and dug through the splinters until he found a ribbon, and pulled out the stolen Silmaril for this year’s ceremony. Smiling in triumph, he went to Eanrin (he had to chase the ecstatic bard/cat around for a bit until he finally caught up with him) and slipped the Silmaril around his neck. Eanrin finally came to a standstill, grinning from ear to ear with pride.

While Artham watched the Lady sternly in case she decided to try turning into a snake again, Leonard got to work beating out the Lady's magical fire with a rug. “Well,” he said, coughing on the ashes, “thank goodness that's over.”

“Yes,” said Bilbo, “but now we've got to figure out how we're going to get back to our own worlds.” He sighed. “This has been, without a doubt, the most disastrous ceremony for Most Silver Tongue in the history of the Awards.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say so.” Eanrin stroked the ribbon of his Silmaril and smiled.

Mr. Baggins and the others were eventually retrieved from the Lady's realm by an elite interdimensional strike force led by King Tirian of Narnia and King Aragorn II Elessar of Gondor, equipped with a Time Turner borrowed from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1997 and magic rings which agents of the Silmaril Awards recovered from the wreckage of a train crash in 1949. The temporal paradox in the Narnian timeline caused by Tirian's presence in his own ancestor's past was resolved with the use of waters from the River Lethe, which erased any memory of the incident from the minds of all parties involved…except Bilbo, who knows how to keep secrets, and Eanrin, who like all Silmaril winners was sworn not to tell anyone about his adventures by means of a very stern pinky promise.

Despite the destruction of her Silmaril, the Lady of the Green Kirtle will not be eligible to receive the Most Silver Tongue award again in the future. While she is still eligible to receive awards in other categories, she is banned from all future Silmaril Award ceremonies for the safety of the other nominees…though we can make no guarantee that she won't somehow show up anyway.

To recap, the vote tally was as follows:

Eanrin from The Tales of Goldstone Wood – 52 votes

Curdie from The Princess and the Goblin – 41 votes

Armulyn the Bard from The Wingfeather Saga – 23 votes

Artham Wingfeather from The Wingfeather Saga – 19 votes

Leonard Lightning-Tongue from The Tales of Goldstone Wood – 5 votes

Don't forget to visit the official Silmaril Awards website to keep up with the rest of the award ceremonies; many of which were not nearly as disastrous as this one. If you're a fan of The Tales of Goldstone Wood, be sure to check out the new fansite Knights of Farthestshore, where you can interact with fellow lovers of the books. Here's the official description:

We, seven fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, created this site to fangirl about analyze characters, explore the world and prose of Goldstone, and invite others to come and feel at home here. For a long time, these books have gone without being well-known, and we’re hoping to change that. So while you’re here, explore the library, read some posts, delight in quotes from these wonderful books, and sign your name in our guestbook.We and others will want to know you’ve visited so that we can say hi… and know that, perhaps, you’re another kindred spirit. We hope you enjoy your stay at our Haven for fans of Goldstone Wood!

Links:

Blog: knightsoffarthestshore.wordpress.com

Instagram: instagram.com/knightsoffarthestshore

Pinterest: pinterest.com/middleearthmusician425

Playlist: (tinyurl.com/goldstonewood)

 

And finally, there are only a few days left to enter the Silmaril Awards giveaway! Sign up using the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The 2020 Silmaril Awards: Vote for the Most Silver Tongue (CLOSED)

SHUT UP.

Not you. I wasn't talking to you. Just to the fifty-one Silver Tongues who didn't make it to the final round of the Silmaril Awards. I mean, I will say that this year has been a relief in many respects…I haven't had incompetent henchmen making poorly-conceived attempts on my life, or nefarious villains making far more effective attempts on my life, or magnificent dragons setting my hair on fire. Nope, this year it's just…talking. Lots and lots and lots of ta–RECORD SCRATCH

Huh? Wait, I didn't type that…

The Author was having a difficult time with this year's awards. How, he pondered, could one make Silver Tongues as interesting as henchmen and villains and dragons? True, he'd had a difficult time putting up with them all over the years, but it had to be acknowledged that they kept life interesting. Silver Tongues, on the other hand…talked. Beautifully, one had to admit, but after hearing fifty-six of them give impassioned speeches, the Author was beginning to wonder if a few Copper Tongues had slipped into the group. In fact, he was beginning to question the value of speech at all. There were so many better ways of expressing oneself. Semaphore, for example. Interpretive dance. Texting. (This was after texting, but before interpretive dance got really popular in 2021, a year whose slogan was “You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet.”)

AHEM. Excuse me a moment, ladies and gentlemen, we appear to be having a small metafictional crisis. Please stand by.

Excuse me, Mr….uh…do you have a name?

That's rather a complicated question. Some call me S. Morgenstern, but others…

Right. Never mind. I'll just call you “Narrator” to keep things simpler. You are the narrator of The Princess Bride, correct?

Correct.

Okay. As I already told you, you didn't get enough seconds to make it to the final round of the awards. I regret it; I really do, but it's out of my hands. You were supposed to be back in your own universe with your memory erased by now.

It didn't work.

Yes, I had a feeling it might not work on you. Tampering with the memories of complex transdimensional beings is always difficult. I really hope nobody ever tries to nominate Darkseid for the Nefarious Villain category again…but I digress. Would you be so kind as to hop back to your own reality and let me handle this blog post in peace? My life is multiversally complicated enough as it is.

Fine, fine.

Thank you.

But before I go, just one more thing…

Ohhh, I see what you did there. Nice one.

Thanks. Since your forte is clearly more…well, let's face it, evil characters…

Watch it, Columbo.

…why not let me introduce the nominees? As sort of a consolation prize?

I'm really not sure about that. If I let you do it, they'll all want to.

Yes, but all the others had their memories erased. You've got nothing to lose.

Hmmmm. All right, fine. Just this once. I suppose I shouldn't complain; at least it's not Kronk trying to crash the party again. Carry on, Narrator; I'll go check the dimensional shielding around the arena for the award ceremony again.

Wonderful. You won't regret this.

Oh, I'm sure I will; I'm just interested to see how it all works out despite that.

And so, the Author left the Narrator to his task. A spotlight shone down on the arena–which was still under construction, and had all sorts of state-of-the-art magical countermeasures to prevent catastrophes just in case. The Author didn't expect much trouble from the other Silver Tongue nominees, especially since he'd adopted the clever strategy of erasing their memories of being nominated in the first place, but there was no harm in being cautious. In the gleam of the spotlight stood five people; the only Silver Tongues who had made it to the final round.

The first was a tall, blonde man who was both good-looking and keenly aware that he was good-looking. He kept casting charming smiles toward the audience despite the fact that the audience hadn't actually arrived yet. He was dressed in scarlet, with a flowing cape and a hat adorned with a feather. His eyes–or rather, the places where his eyes would have been if he'd had any–were covered by silken patches. If I were asked to compare him to an animal, I'd pick a cat, due to his graceful movements and easy confidence…as well as the fact that he's just turned into a fluffy orange-white cat. He does that a lot. His name was, and is, Eanrin.

Yes, I'm aware that I played fast and loose with tenses in that paragraph. It's a Narrator's prerogative. Have these events happened already, or are they happening now? Who can say? Certainly not you; you're not the one telling this story, are you?

The next person on stage was dressed in a jester's costume…fitting, since he had the air of a performer and a jokester. He, too, smiled at the still-absent audience, and moved his lips as he practiced what he was going to say to them when they were actually there. Given that he occasionally chuckled to himself, he must have found his material humorous. Who could say if the audience would agree? Regardless, Leonard the Lightning-Tongue certainly had the will to win. And the words, if the length of his murmured soliloquy was anything to go by.

Third in line, there was an unkempt and barefoot gentleman practicing softly on a whistleharp (a clever little instrument which had both strings to strum and a mouthpiece to blow into). If the quality of his practice was this superb, his actual performance would no doubt be exquisite…though, of course, words would carry more weight than music when push came to shove. It was difficult to tell a great deal about him at first glance, though I, as the Narrator, can confirm that he is exceptionally brave and that he can play upon the emotions of his audience as skillfully as he plays his whistleharp. Armulyn the Bard is his name.

Fourth…oh dear, it's going to be difficult to talk about this character without spoiling things, isn't it? Well, we'll try to keep this as vague as possible while still doing the man justice. He looked as if he had been through a great deal. That was obvious from his somewhat haggard appearance, and the fact that he had been partly transformed into a bird. However, there was much nobility in his aspect, as well. He had wings on his back, and talons on his hands instead of fingernails. He remained silent as he gazed out at the empty seats before him, but his eyes spoke of great victories and terrible losses…the things from which captivating stories are made. When he speaks, no one will dare interrupt Artham Wingfeather.

Fifth and last, there was a young boy, not yet thirteen years old, with pale skin and curly brown hair. He was singing along with Armulyn's whistleharp practice, though he appeared to be making up his own words to go with the unfamiliar melodies. Most of the lyrics consisted of unflattering commentary on goblins. Though he was the youngest of the nominees, he seemed completely at ease on stage with the rest. Possibly the lack of goblins in the stadium was giving him added confidence…then again, Curdie seemed like the sort who wouldn't be afraid of goblins in the first place.

Thank you, Narrator. I'll take it from here.

First of all, just to recap, our nominees for Most Silver Tongue are:

Eanrin, from The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Leonard Lightning-Tongue, from The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Armulyn the Bard, from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
Artham Wingfeather, from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
Curdie, from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

You can vote for your favorite Silver Tongue in the form linked below, as well as your choices in the other nine Silmaril Awards categories.

Vote in the Silmaril Awards! (voting closed, link inactive)

Also, be sure to visit the other voting posts in the Awards to find out more about the rest of the nominees. Here are the links:

TRACEY DYCK – MOST EPIC HEROINE

MADELINE J. ROSE – STRANGEST CHARACTER

CHRISTINE SMITH – MOST MISCHIEVOUS IMP

SARAH TALEWEAVER – MOST MAGNIFICENT DRAGON

D.J. EDWARDSON – WISEST COUNSELOR

ZACHARY TOTAH – MOST EPIC HERO

MACKENZIE KEENE – MOST NEFARIOUS VILLAIN

JENELLE SCHMIDT – MOST FAITHFUL FRIEND

E.E. RAWLS – LEAST COMPETENT HENCHMAN

Come back here on September 21st to find out who won the award for Most Silver Tongue. And don't forget to sign up for our awesome Silmaril Awards giveaway! You'll have a chance to win:

  • A Book Depository gift card
  • A BEVY of books
  • Character stickers
  • White Tree of Gondor bookmark
  • Thorin key, pen, and bookmark
  • A custom hand-drawn map

You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The 2020 Silmaril Awards: Most Silver Tongue Nominations (CLOSED)

The Silmaril Awards are back!

Wait, whoa, hold on, why are you hiding behind furniture? That wasn't a threat. Yes, I do realize this is 2020 and…yeah, there isn't much more I need to say, is there…BUT, the Silmaril Awards are a GOOD thing. No murder hornets or vampire aardvarks involved, I promise.

Malcolm, PUT THOSE BACK WHERE YOU FOUND THEM.

Ahem. As I was saying, the Silmaril Awards are extremely fun, and you will enjoy them. Also, you will be very happy to know that after three years of henchmen, villains, and dragons, I have chosen a very safe and benevolent category that cannot possibly result in any interdimensional cataclysms.

But before we discuss the category, let's go over what the awards are.

The Silmaril Awards are all about celebrating fantasy fiction. But whereas most awards go to authors or books, these awards go to the characters themselves! Sound like fun? Read on.

Started in 2016, these awards are a four week online celebration of all that’s best in fantasy literature. There are ten awards given every year. The characters who receive them have to be from books generally considered to be in the fantasy genre. And a given character cannot receive an award more than once. These are lifetime awards.

Nominations are submitted on the websites of each of the presenters for that year. Anyone can submit a nomination and you can second (and third and fourth, etc.) any number of nominations besides your own.

After the nomination period (lasting one week) ends, the five characters receiving the most nominations will make it onto the ballot and you’ll have one week to vote. After the votes are tallied, the winners will be announced, one per day, over the final two weeks of the awards.

 

This year, I will be managing the Most Silver Tongue award. As I said, there is absolutely no way that this can go wrong, so submit your nominations in the comments without fear. Which fantasy character do you consider to be the most gifted with words? The most skilled at diplomacy, exhortation, and persuasion? The most capable of convincing his or her enemies that they are actually plotting against each other so that they destroy each other without the character actually having to lift a finger?

(Okay, fine, I will admit that the potential antiheroic qualities of a Silver Tongue MAY have played a role in my asking for this award category. But at least I'm placing an equal emphasis on heroism and villainy this year. I have clearly grown as a person.)

Now, let's go over the rules for nominations.

  1. All characters created by J.R.R. Tolkien are ineligible to be nominated. With regard to these awards, Tolkien characters are considered the ultimate standards for their respective categories already. As such, they will present the awards at the end of this event.
  2. These awards are for fantasy characters only, so no science fiction characters are eligible. That said, we are willing to consider characters from a sciencey book if it has enough magickey stuff going on to warrant admission. For example, characters from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are admissible due to the presence of some magical elements in that series. If you're not sure whether a character is eligible, let me know in the comments, and I and the other Silmaril Awards presenters will decide the issue via gladiatorial combat.
  3. When you nominate a character, you must mention the book that the character comes from. Otherwise you might end up nominating another character with the same name from a completely different book. For example, do you have any idea how many fictional characters are named “Steve”? I rest my case.
  4. Feel free to nominate as many characters as you wish and “second” as many characters as you wish. The top 5 MOST seconded characters will go on to the final voting round. Characters dismissed from the first round will be returned to their respective universes after having their memories of the Silmaril Awards erased. If you complain about the character's dismissal, you will be sent to a random universe after having your memory erased.
  5. If you are an author, you are welcome to participate, but you can't nominate your own characters; sorry. That said, feel free to direct your minions to this event. Fans. I meant fans.
  6. Characters who have won in a particular category in a previous year are ineligible to be nominated for the same award again. The Silmarils are Lifetime Awards. For a list of the previous winners in each category, please check out our Hall of Fame.
  7. Please remember that these are Fantasy BOOK Awards. A movie character is only eligible for nomination if they were in a book first. Novelizations, tie-in books, coloring books, and Hallmark cards do not count.
  8. We have a Facebook group for the people voting in the awards to get together and discuss them. Click here to find out more and to join.
  9. Finally, don't forget to visit the other blogs and nominate characters for all ten awards! You can find a full list of the other participating blogs in the graphic below, and there are links to all of them on the official Silmaril Awards website.

One more thing before you start nominating: in addition to Tolkien characters, here are the other characters who have won the award in the past and are therefore ineligible for nomination:

Nominations close on the evening of September 4, so put your choice in the comments below while you can! And check back on September 7 to discover which characters are moving on to the voting round. You can find out more about the Silmaril Awards on the official website. Below, I've got links to all the other nominations posts. Be sure to visit them all and nominate characters in the rest of the categories!

Tracey Dyck – Most Epic Heroine

Madeline J. Rose – Strangest Character

Christine Smith – Most Mischievous Imp

Sarah Taleweaver – Most Magnificent Dragon

D.J. Edwardson – Wisest Counselor

Zachary Totah – Most Epic Hero

Mackenzie Keene – Most Nefarious Villain

Jenelle Schmidt – Most Faithful Friend

E.E. Rawls – Least Competent Henchman

We also have a fantastic giveaway for you to enter! You will have a chance to win:

  • A Book Depository gift card
  • A BEVY of books
  • Character stickers
  • White Tree of Gondor bookmark
  • Thorin key, pen, and bookmark
  • A custom hand-drawn map

You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Deadwood: The Audiobook—Now Available!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The audiobook version of Deadwood, Crockett and Crane Book 2, is now live on Audible![/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/6″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

It’s not the people in this town you have to watch out for.

It’s the buildings.

Monster hunter and part-time centaur Todd Crane didn’t ask to be sheriff of Deadwood. For one thing, he’s never had an easy time staying on the right side of the law. For another, he’s too busy trying to find a dangerous sorcerer who nearly destroyed the United States of Neverica.

But some men—and centaurs—have greatness thrust upon them. Not only is Todd the reluctant defender of the peace in Deadwood, he’s the only one who can thwart the schemes of a powerful magical entity manipulating the town from the shadows.

And when Todd’s past comes back to haunt him, the stakes get a lot more personal for him and his friends.

Heroes will fall. Secrets will be revealed. Everything is about to change.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Kieran Flitton has done a fantastic job bringing a cinematic scope to this story with his amazing voice work, and I'm very excited for all Crockett and Crane fans to hear how he's brought the book to life. Just be prepared to have your feels shattered…

You can get the audiobook of Deadwood for FREE with a new Audible subscription if you use this link, or you can enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a download code.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Kieran will be voicing the Crockett and Crane gang again in the audio version of Hollow, Crockett and Crane Book 2.5, coming later this year. Stay tuned for more news on this and other projects![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Last Days of Lady Cordelia: Now Available on Audio!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The last of the audiobooks I'm releasing this year is now available to purchase! And, fittingly, it's The Last Days of Lady Cordelia, a spooky tale of nightmares and alternate realities narrated brilliantly by Kim Bretton.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I'm very happy with the finished product of this audiobook; Kim did an amazing job capturing the voices of my characters exactly right. It's been a great pleasure to share all the amazing voice acting of the four narrators I've worked with this year. I look forward to collaborating with all of them on more projects in the future.

You can download The Last Days of Lady Cordelia for FREE if you sign up for a new Audible subscription via this link, and you can also enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a free download code![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The giveaway for a download code for The Beast of Talesend audiobook is still active as well–just go to this blog post to enter that one. I also have two other audiobooks available: Horseman (Crockett and Crane, Book 1) and The Janus Elixir (A Blackfire Story).

Quick note: The Last Days of Lady Cordelia is best enjoyed by those who have read The Beast of Talesend, Book 1 of the Beaumont and Beasley series. The series information currently posted for Last Days on Audible is incorrect; it's not Book 3.5. I'm working with Audible to get the series page fixed.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Beast of Talesend: Now Available on Audio!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]FINALLY. It took forever, but Audible has at long last finished their quality check and released The Beast of Talesend audiobook into the wild. Prepare for magic, monsters and merriment.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I'm very excited that this audiobook is finally available. Joel and Adam Daffurn of Daffurn Sounds have done a fantastic job narrating and producing (respectively) this story. They've made it sound exactly how I'd hoped it would, and it was a joy to work with them on the project.

How about another audiobook giveaway? Pick one or more of the options below to enter! Two lucky winners will get free download codes for The Beast of Talesend audiobook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You can also download The Beast of Talesend audiobook for FREE using this special link if you do not yet have an Audible subscription. And don't forget that I also have audiobooks available for Horseman and The Janus Elixir. The Last Days of Lady Cordelia will be released on audio soon, probably before the end of the year. Find out more and listen to the trailer here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Strange Waters Review: Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea

I'm going to assume, right from the start, that you know what Strange Waters is. And I refuse to tell you anything about it.

No. I won't. Absolutely not.

Stop it.

Okay, FINE. But you really should have heard all about it by now. Then again, perhaps you have recently been stranded on an island, undergoing an intensive training regimen to return to your hometown and prowl through the night as a vigilante, taking revenge upon your enemies, in which case you probably haven't had the chance to check Twitter very often.

I understand. No need to explain.

Strange Waters is the next anthology of short stories from the Phoenix Fiction Writers' group, of which I am a member. It's releasing in just a couple of days–Saturday, October 19th–and it includes stories from each of us based around the writing prompt of a single image (the cover image, to be precise).

Today, I'm reviewing E.B. Dawson's entry, Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea. Here's the synopsis:

An unorthodox professor of archaeology sets off to find his own answers about an unusual archaeological find, accompanied by an accident-prone student in need of extra credit.

The Archaeological Society of Catalan has pieced together a long and rich history for the planet of Illiana, based on a revolutionary dating system. But Dr. Barnaby Brown has his doubts about the accuracy of the procedure, which tends to give out false readings. His private findings seem to suggest that nothing on the planet is more than 500 years old–a hypothesis which, if proven true, would shake the very core of society.

When a set of incongruous new artifacts turn up, Barnaby learns they are inextricably linked to an old legend surrounding the Glass Sea. With an accident-prone student in tow, he sets out to find answers for himself and embarks on an adventure he never bargained for.

 

And here's a little about the author:

E.B. Dawson was born out of time. Raised in the remote regions of a developing nation, traveling to America was as good as traveling thirty years into the future. So, it’s really no wonder that she writes science fiction and fantasy.
She writes stories that acknowledge darkness, but empower and encourage people to keep on fighting, no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. She lives in Idaho with her family and her cat Maximus. You can find out more about Beth and her work on her website at ebdawsonwriting.com.

My Review

If I had to sum up the whole Strange Waters anthology in one word, I'd probably go with “fun.” Oh, that's not to say there aren't darker moments here and there, or scene that will bring a tear to your eye (looking at you, Nate Philbrick), but even those are in the context of stories that make you smile or leave you exhilarated in one way or another. I feel like we all really allowed our imaginations to soar when brainstorming our stories…and Barnaby Brown is no exception.

I really, really enjoyed this story. I've become hooked on E.B. Dawson's short fiction ever since reading her excellent titles Beast in the Machine and Voyage of the Pequod (click the links to see my Goodreads reviews of those), and this story is very much in the same vein. There's a strong Indiana-Jones feel to it, but the otherworldly setting adds a fresh new element to the mix. I'm tempted to describe this as “Indiana Jones meets Star Wars,” but that's not quite accurate and a little too simplistic. In any case, I love anything that has to do with archaeologists in space, so this story was right up my alley from the start.

The characters are all a joy to spend time with. Barnaby Brown in particular is a very intriguing and likable lead who draws the reader right into the story. The plot has some very clever twists (which I won't spoil). And the atmosphere is breathtaking. I felt immersed in this highly original world the whole time I was reading. It's escapism in the best sense of the word.

If Barnaby Brown has a fault (and really, it doesn't), it's only that it feels like the beginning to a much bigger story that is not currently available to the reader. However, that's not to say that it made this story disappointing–that's not the case at all. The main conflict of this particular story is wrapped up in a satisfying manner, and I wouldn't call the ending a cliffhanger; more of a very enticing hook for what may come next. There's a ton of depth to both the characters and world of this title that is yet to be explored, and I hope very much that E.B. Dawson decides to continue it in some fashion.

In short, Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea is yet another reason to pick up Strange Waters on October 19th. (As if you needed any more reasons. Seriously. Take a break from your vigilante activities and catch up on your reading, why don't you?) Also, if you'd like to read Malcolm Blackfire's reviews of all the Strange Waters stories, be sure to sign up for the Blackfire Circle newsletter and follow Malcolm on Instagram. He will be sharing his thoughts on each one of the stories over the next week.

The 2019 Silmaril Awards: The Most Magnificent Dragon Ceremony

Welcome to the cave of Malcolm Blackfire. Sorry for the poor lighting; that big blazing lantern on the ceiling doesn't illuminate things nearly as well as I'd like it too. I'll admit this place looks a little sparse at the moment, for a dragon cave, but that's because I told Malcolm to clear some space for the Silmaril Award Ceremony. He's still left plenty of gold and gems lying around, as you can see…but I would strongly recommend you not touch any of them.

“INDEED.”

“GAAAH!” I jump and spin around to face a pair of huge, glowing eyes. “Oh. I really wish you wouldn't creep up on people like that, Smaug, it's very unsettling.”

Yes, that's the Smaug. Try not to stare at him for too long, you might get…whammied.

“Overwhelmed by my magical influence,” the enormous, red-and-gold dragon explains. “Hypnotized, to employ the human term.” He laughs. He's got a very creepy laugh. “The use of such power may not exactly be sporting, but there are times when one doesn't want to bother chasing down one's food.” As he looms over us, his belly glitters with a layer of treasure he uses to shield the more vulnerable skin in that area.

Don't worry, I'm not going to let him eat you. Why don't we sit down over there and just watch? Between you and me, I think this is going to end badly. Yeah, even worse than the Least Competent Henchman Ceremony. And the Most Nefarious Villain Ceremony.

Just brace yourself. And be ready to run. I've made sure the back exit is clear.

Let's see, who do we have here…well, Smaug, of course, presenting the awards. You probably know him already. Then there's Clefspeare, from the Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis. He's the noble and good-hearted father of Billy Bannister. If everything goes haywire, I'd recommend staying near him–he's probably the safest dragon in this place right now (though that's not to say he's actually safe in a general sense).

That red-and-black dragon over there is Amber, or Lady Dragon, from the Rizkaland books by Kendra E. Ardnek. She's…complicated. Technically a villain, but that word doesn't really encompass the full range of her motivations. She thinks she's doing the right thing, which, in a way, makes her even more dangerous, as is the case with all the most formidable villains. I can't really say much more because of spoilers. And because most of these dragons have been extracted from fairly early in their respective continuities, spoilers are incredibly dangerous things right here and now. Saying the wrong thing could alter the histories of entire universes…or even destroy them.

The blue dragon is Saphira, from the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. She's kind of quiet–she only speaks telepathically–but the magical properties of this cave should allow us to hear her anyway. I hope I don't have the volume on the mental interception sigils turned up too loud; it'll give us a nasty headache. Anyway, Saphira's quite an admirable dragon, in my opinion, if a little unpredictable. Don't threaten her human, and you'll probably be fine around her.

And, of course, we have the red dragon Malcolm Blackfire. True dragon name: Malchazor. And yes, I write him. To say that I “created” him would open the door to all sorts of weird causality paradoxes, so let's just stick to the word “write” for the purposes of this ceremony. The last of the five dragon finalists–the green one–is Julio, Malcolm's son (dragon name Khulyrithar). He's a little more approachable than Malcolm. He and his dad really don't get along, but they're not blasting fire in each other's faces this morning, so at least that's something. I made them promise to behave. Those smug expressions of theirs are worrying me a little, though.

I'm not sure what's in those big goblets all the dragons are drinking from. I was too afraid to ask.

“Good day,” Smaug booms, as he surveys the group of dragons. “I must say, I do look forward to these ceremonies. What an unusual day it is when we dragons convene in such large numbers. Especially without trying to eat each other.” He grins. “Of course, who can say what may happen before this day is done?”

“Excuse me,” says Malcolm, annoyed. “This happens to be my cave, and I strongly disapprove of cannibalism.”

“Hear, hear,” Clefspeare rumbles.

“Bleagh,” says Julio, making a face.

Smaug makes no comment on this, but merely goes smiling in an unsettling way. “Once again,” he says, “it is my duty to reveal who, among the five great dragons selected this year, has been granted the title of Most Magnificent Dragon. Only one of you may possess this coveted Silmaril.” He raises a forefoot to reveal a large, glowing red gem dangling from his claws by a ribbon. Its red light flickers in the eyes of all the dragons. They all lick their lips…except for Saphira, who seems confused by her fellow dragons' interest in the shiny object.

Why is this so important? Her words echo through everyone's minds. It is a rock; nothing more.

Everyone gasps. Amber and Smaug look coldly at Saphira, as if she were a child who has spoken out of turn.

“Moving on,” Smaug grumbles, “we have a…ugh…” He briefly looks ill, then swallows hard and continues. “We have a special appearance–” (his tone as he speaks the words drips with sarcasm) “–from the ‘winner' of this Silmaril from last year.” He uses his claws to make air quotes around the word “winner.” “Though I do not for a moment consider him to have been worthy.”

A young human boy steps out from behind Smaug, looking rather pale and terrified. He blinks in the dim light and leans against the wall to find his way through the cave. Or at least, he thinks it's the wall. When Smaug's scales move under his touch, he squeaks in alarm and staggers back from the beast.

“Introduce yourself, hatchling,” Smaug sneers. “I haven't the stomach for it.”

“Do not bully the boy,” Clefspeare intones, and steps forward. He gives the human an encouraging smile…though encouraging smiles from a dragon are rather easy to misinterpret as hunger. Eustace turns a shade paler, but finally nods and pulls himself together.

“Eustace Clarence Scrubb,” he says. As if in response to his sudden burst of courage, the Silmaril hanging around his neck glitters a little more brightly. “And before you say anything, yes, I know, I'm not a dragon right now, but I used to be.”

“Hello!” says Julio, waving a claw. “Very nice to meet you.”

Malcolm looks suspiciously at the child. “I must admit, I don't see why he's eligible. Honestly, these humans under spells; they think they can waltz right in and claim honors which belong to true dragons…”

Amber's eyes flash. “My natural form happens to be human.”

Malcolm exchanges an uneasy glance with her, then clears his throat. “What I mean is…yes. Never mind. Carry on.” He takes a sip from his goblet to disguise his embarrassment, as Eustace bows briefly from the waist and makes a hasty exit.

“Enough,” Smaug growls. “Let's get this over with. SCRIBE!”

His shout nearly brings rocks down from the ceiling. I rise to my feet and address Smaug austerely. “I happen to be more than a ‘scribe,' thank you very much.”

“Whatever. You're Malcolm's servant, aren't you?”

“Absolutely not!”

“Well…” Malcolm begins, but a glare from me silences him.

I hold up the envelope containing the results of the grand contest. “Before we begin, I think a word of explanation is in order.”

The dragons all mutter amongst themselves in irritation, except for Saphira, who simply gazes at me with calm, unblinking eyes, and Julio, who's bouncing up and down on his forefeet with excitement.

“This was an unusually…intense competition,” I say, choosing my words carefully. “And in the end, the contest came down to two dragons who were neck-and-neck in the final hours of voting.”

“Aha.” Malcolm smiles and turns to Julio, who chuckles. “I think we can guess who those were.”

I close my eyes. “Malcolm…”

“It's all right,” he says. “No need for modesty, is there? After all, we are both quite magnificent dragons. It's only logical that we would be the final contenders for the Silmaril.”

“This is true,” says Julio cheerfully. “We are very magnificent.”

“Oh, get over yourselves,” Amber drawls, stretching her wings and yawning. “Good grief. Your world may revolve around you, but there are plenty of others. Mine happens to be very fond of me.”

“That's…not what I've heard,” Clefspeare points out, trying to be diplomatic but failing.

Amber curls her lip at him. “Quiet, you. You're another one of those people who simply doesn't understand. I desire power because I am owed power. I am supposed to rule my world. And once I do, it will be better off, trust me. I'm not another preening, self-absorbed kleptomaniac like those two.” She jerks her head in Malcolm and Julio's direction.

“Hey!” they shout in unison.

“I don't even have time to be here,” Amber adds. “I've got better things to occupy myself with than winning a gemstone, albeit a very intriguing one.”

Saphira shakes her head. I do not understand any of this. Can we not simply fight over the shiny rock and be done with it? I wish to return to Eragon. He cannot manage for long without me.

“We can end it very quickly,” says Malcolm. “Just tell them the obvious truth, Shultz. In the final showdown with my son, I beat him soundly and emerged the one true bearer of the Silmaril.”

I grit my teeth. “Malcolm, will you be quiet for a second?”

“Yes!” Julio adds indignantly. “Shut up so he can tell them that I beat you!”

“Can you just listen?” I throw up my hands in irritation. “The big showdown wasn't between the two of you!”

Malcolm and Julio both blink. “What?”

I hand the envelope to Smaug. “Let's just get on with this,” I say wearily. “Go ahead and read off the placements, Smaug. I did my best.”

Smaug snatches the envelope from me as I go back to sit down. “Very well.” He slices it open with a claw, squints his glowing eyes at the page, and begins to read. “In fifth place, we have…”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Julio whispers. “Get the dragons at the bottom done with so we can find out–”

“…Julio Blackfire.”

Silence falls. Julio's jaw drops open, and a wisp of smoke drifts from his throat. “¿Qué?”

“You heard me,” says Smaug. “Fifth place, Julio Blackfire of the Afterverse, with 6.7% of the vote.”

“Oh,” says Malcolm. “I see. Too bad, Julian.”

“Fifth?” says Julio.

“Next…”

“Fifth?” says Julio.

“NEXT,” bellows Smaug, “in fourth place, Amber, or Lady Dragon, from the Rizkaland series, with 13.5% of the vote.”

Amber growls and scrapes a claw on the stone floor. “This is unacceptable. I demand a recount.”

“I thought you didn't care about the gemstone,” says Clefspeare.

“Shut up,” she hisses.

“Fifth?” says Julio.

“In third place,” says Smaug, “Clefspeare from the Dragons in Our Midst series, with 21.5% of the vote.”

Clefspeare merely nods and smiles. “Oh well. I'm very grateful for all the votes I received, in any case.”

Amber clicks her tongue. “Really. A competition of dragons is no time to be sickeningly magnanimous.”

Clefspeare ignores the barb.

“Is there really any need for further delay?” said Malcolm. “You could simply announce the winner and be done with it. You're far too melodramatic, Smaug. I've always said so.”

Smaug glares at him. “You want me to skip ahead to the winner?”

“If you would.”

“Fifth?” says Julio.

“Fine.” Smaug's eyes return to the page. “The winner, with 29.4% of the vote…”

Malcolm smiles and takes a sip from his goblet.

“…is Saphira of the Inheritance Cycle.”

“GLLK?!” Malcolm's eyes grow wide as he inhales a mouthful of his drink and starts choking.

“And the penny drops,” I mutter.

Malcolm's goblet clatters to the floor as he continues coughing furiously in Scottish, sending fireballs shooting in every direction. Clefspeare steps over to help him. “It's all right, friend,” he says, patting Malcolm on the back between his great wings. “Breathe. Breathe.”

“Fifth?” says Julio.

Wnn…gnn…” Malcolm wheezes. “WHAT?” The word finally explodes from his mouth in a blast of flame that gets rather too near our fragile human eyebrows.

“Malcolm Blackfire of the Afterverse,” Smaug continues, “is in second place, with 28.8% of the vote.”

“This is an outrage!” Malcolm fumes. “I can't lose a Silmaril in my own cave!

I am the victor? Saphira looks from Smaug to me, then back to Smaug. I have won the shiny rock?

Smaug gives her a disapproving look. “So it would seem. And while this result is far more appropriate than the outcome of the last ceremony, I am not sure that I am completely in favor of your victory. You fail to see the value of treasure. You proudly fraternize with humans.” He raises the gem on its ribbon. “How exactly are you worthy of this Silmaril, and the lofty title that comes with it?”

“Yes!” says Malcolm hoarsely. “How? Who are you, anyway? I've never even heard of you!”

“Now, hold on.” I step forward and put a hand on Saphira's shoulder. Gently, just in case she decides to try to bite my hand off. She doesn't.

“I happen to be fond of Saphira,” I say. “Granted, I only just met her–haven't even finished her first book yet, in fact–”

Saphira's brow furrows in confusion at the mention of books.

“–but she's a very brave, loyal dragon. Easily my favorite character in the story so far. I do think she deserves this Silmaril.”

“Traitor!” Malcolm snarls.

“Fifth?” says Julio.

I smile sympathetically at Julio. “For what it's worth, I voted for you.”

Smoke billows from Malcolm's nostrils in huge, angry clouds. “You…did…WHAT?”

“Why shouldn't I?” I turn on Malcolm. “I've got every right. What difference does it make to you if I consider Julio to be slightly more magnificent?”

“Well, apparently, it might have made enough difference for me to lose the blasted Silmaril!” he roars.

C'est la guerre, Malcolm. Grow up.”

Smaug, meanwhile, reluctantly places the Silmaril around Saphira's neck. Though she still looks confused by the whole affair, as she glances down at the red jewel gleaming against her scaly chest, a hint of pride comes into her eyes.

It is…pretty. She gently taps the gem with a claw, causing it to swing back and forth on its ribbon. I think Eragon will like it. He will be proud of me.

“He should be.” I smile at her. “Well done, Saphira.”

“And with that, the ceremony is over.” Smaug looks at me hopefully. “It is over, right?”

“Yes.”

“Thank goodness. It got very tiresome towards the end. All that bickering.” He shakes himself, causing the treasures embedded in his flesh to jingle against each other. “Which way is the exit, Malcolm?”

“Find it yourself!” Malcolm snaps, as he marches off to sulk in a distant chamber of his cave. “Every last one of you had better be out of here within the next ten minutes, or I'm going to be even crosser than I am now! Get out!”

“Gladly.” Amber rolls her eyes. “Quite a sore loser, isn't he?”

Clefspeare shrugs as he walks along beside her. “He's a dragon. Even the best of us are prone to narcissism.”

Very pretty. Saphira smiles and touches her Silmaril again before following Smaug, Clefspeare, and Amber down the big tunnel leading to the exit.

Well, that actually went slightly better than I thought it would. And tomorrow will bring us a new winner, as Madeleine Rose reveals who has been voted the Most Mischievous Imp!

The lights are getting dimmer. We'd better go now, but thanks for coming!

Darkness falls upon the silent cave of Malcolm Blackfire.

“Fifth?” says Julio.

Horseman: NOW AVAILABLE on Audio!

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The sound of hoofbeats fills the air.

A dust cloud appears on the horizon.

I can finally stop refreshing my inbox every two seconds.

The audiobook of Horseman is here!

In case you haven't heard, I recently had Horseman (Crockett and Crane, Book 1) adapted to audio by prolific voice actor Kieran Flitton, who's done an incredible job bringing the story to life.

Listen to the trailer below for a sample![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”27998″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.kylerobertshultz.com/hoofbeats”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A little more about the story, for those new to the Crockett and Crane series:

Todd Crane is on the run from the law.

Good thing he’s got four legs.

But even the magic ring that lets Todd turn into a centaur isn’t enough to help him escape from Marshal Amy Crockett, who’s got a bone to pick with him. Something about selling not-entirely-legal magic potions. No big deal, right?

Hang on. It gets worse.

There’s a downright terrifying monster roaming across the West…even worse than the usual monsters one finds out there. A creature that could leave the United States of Neverica in ruins.

The Headless Horseman is back.

Todd and Amy are the only ones who might be able to save the day. Fortunately, they’ve got help…in the form of a guitar-playing dragon shifter and a book-loving gorgon.

Yes, this is the western you’ve been looking for. Enjoy.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You can now purchase Horseman on Amazon and Audible (it will be listed on iTunes soon as well). If you don't currently have an Audible subscription, and use this link to sign up for a new one, you can get Horseman for FREE. (UK listeners, use this link.)

Also, to celebrate this release, I'm running a giveaway for the audiobook! Two lucky winners will receive free codes to download Horseman. Use any of the options below to get your entries in![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I'm very happy to finally share this amazing audiobook* with my readers, and I hope you all enjoy it!

*It IS amazing. And no, that's not me being self-congratulatory; I'm talking about Kieran Flitton's narration. … And also my writing. So yeah, maybe I am congratulating myself a bit. But it really is amazing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Vote for the Most Magnificent Dragon in the Silmaril Awards!

FORTY. DRAGONS.

That is literally how many dragons I had to sort through over the weekend thanks to all your nominations and seconds.

I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY, YOU DRAGON-OBSESSED MANIACS.

What is it with fantasy authors and dragons, anyway? Don't they have better things to write about?

And yes, I know my hair is on fire. So would yours be, if you had just been coping with that many dragons. Excuse me while I dump a bucket of water over my head.

Whew. That's better. Now, let's talk about our five finalists. The competition was fierce, as you can imagine, but we finally have our contenders for the Most Magnificent Dragon Silmaril. They will be appearing today in their dragon forms (regardless of whether they possess the ability to shapeshift into human form), which is why I'm holding this opening ceremony in Malcolm's cavern. He was not happy about me making him move all his treasure into a different chamber.

Let me just open the envelope here…it's a little charred…okay, here we go. First dragon:

Amber/Lady Dragon from the Rizkaland Legends series by Kendra E. Ardnek

A proud, impetuous woman who can transform herself into a dragon thanks to a magic dragon scale, Amber has been corrupted over the millennia by the dark sorcery she wields. She possesses the ability to transform her enemies into statues of ice. Unable to age or die, Amber has lived six thousand years, and has ruled two worlds. With the power of the dragon's scale, will there be a third?

What's that? No, thank you, ma'am. This is the Afterverse. It's already got plenty of people/monsters/what-have-you trying to take it over. Very crowded field of candidates. I'd try a different universe if I were you. No, you're not allowed to turn me into an ice statue just because you're annoyed. You signed the same form everybody else did. Check Paragraph 19; it clearly addresses ice magic. My lawyer thinks of everything.

Next!

Clefspeare from the Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis

Clefspeare is also known by the human name Jared Bannister, and was granted a human guise centuries ago through divine intervention. A noble creature and a loving father, Clefspeare has a strong sense of honor and will protect those whom he loves, no matter the cost.

You know, I've got to say, it's refreshing to meet a dragon without any megalomaniacal or kleptomaniacal tendencies. A pleasure to have you here, sir. Please ignore the other dragons; they mean well. Except possibly Amber.

Next contestant…

Saphira from the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

A good-hearted blue dragoness, and the loyal companion of the hero Eragon. Saphira is wise, proud, and fond of combat. The latter quality makes her rather terrifying at times, but at the end of the day, she will do what is right.

I already told you, Eragon couldn't come. Humans aren't allowed in this ceremony. Yes, I'm an exception. I'm the host. Get over it. And stop looking at me like I'm an hors d'oeuvre.

Next, we've got…hoo boy. This is gonna get awkward.

Julio Aquino from the Crockett and Crane series by Kyle Robert Shultz

Julio's personality and behavior are deceptively youthful, but he's actually thousands of years old. Julio is fiercely loyal to his friends, but has some mysterious and unresolved conflict with his family–specifically, his father. He speaks in a pronounced Quixotan (a.k.a. Spanish) accent.

Look, Julio, this is just as difficult for me as it is for you, so don't start. Just stand over there with the others. It's not my fault, I'm not the one who got you on this list. Blame the nominators. And you had better not FWOOM anything if you don't win the award.

And, finally…

Malcolm Blackfire from the Beaumont and Beasley series, the Blackfire series, and any other Afterverse series he feels like showing up in by Kyle Robert Shultz

A Caledonian (Scottish) dragon with a short temper and a lack of patience for the shenanigans of non-dragonish species, particularly humans. Malcolm's moral scruples usually outweigh his love for treasure and setting things on fire. However, he's willing to do things others might consider questionable for the greater good, and there is a great deal of undisclosed darkness in his past.

Yes, thank you, Malcolm, I'll stop you right there. I know all about your family issues, and I couldn't care less. Sort them out on your own time. Just stand there next to your son and shut up. Yes, I did just tell you to shut up. I'm your author. I'm allowed to. And don't you dare set my hair on fire again.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our five dragons. The rest is up to you. It's time for you to vote! Use the form below to vote in all the categories for the Silmaril Awards. Be sure to visit the rest of the participating blogs via the links at the end of this post to learn more about the finalists in the other categories!

powered by Typeform
Voting lasts from today, September 9, until midnight on Friday, September 13. The awards ceremonies will take place on participating blogs between September 16 and September 27th (one every weekday).
The other Silmaril bloggers:

Jennette Mbewe – Most Epic Heroine
Christine Smith – Least Competent Henchman
Deborah O'Carroll – Most Silver Tongue
E.E. Rawls – Most Faithful Friend
Zachary Totah – Most Nefarious Villain
Tracey Dyck – Strangest Character
DJ Edwardson – Most Epic Hero
Madeline J. Rose – Most Mischievous Imp
Jenelle Schmidt – Wisest Counsellor