Audiobook Update and Giveaway Drawing

Howdy, folks!

First off, I’d like to give you a quick audiobook update for Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective.

Tallow Audiobook

Andrew Tell is about 80% finished with the narration. I have listened to everything he has completed so far and it is fantastic. Unfortunately, he came down with a severe cold earlier this week, halting his ability to record.

With next week being Thanksgiving, it looks like the narration won’t be completed until the last few days of the month. Once it’s finished, Audible takes a week or two to process it. So this pushes the release of the audiobook back to early December. I apologize for the delay.

In other news, I will be doing a Patreon Audiobook drawing at the end of the month. I will be giving away ten free audiobooks to members of The Big and Little People Tribe. (That’s what we call those who have joined my Patreon. If you want to learn more about how and why to join my Patreon you can view my post about it HERE.)

https://www.patreon.com/trevorhcooley

All of my Patrons will be entered, one ticket for every tier.  This means that those who join at the $5 level will get one ticket, the $10 Patrons will get 2 tickets and so on. The drawing will be held on December 1st so if you want to be a part of it, please join and become part of the Big and Little People Tribe before then. https://www.patreon.com/trevorhcooley

In addition, I wanted to remind you all that the Fantasy Short Story Anthology, Chronicles of Mirstone will be released on Amazon Kindle December 1st. I have written a two-parter story for this collection. You can preorder for just .99. https://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Mirstone-Richard-Fierce-ebook/dp/B075PFMD9P

Anthology Cover-6

Lastly, I want to announce that I have begin writing on Tallow Jones, book 2 (Title still to be decided.) I will start sending chapters out to my Alpha Reader Patrons within the next week. It’s an exciting time to be part of the tribe!

Several of you have asked when I am going to start work on The Dark Prophet Saga. My plan is to write the first book once I am finished with this second Tallow Novel.

Thank you all for your support!

Trevor

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Early November Update! Audiobooks, Patreon, and an Amazon Email.

Howdy folks!

Thank you everyone who has backed my Patreon page so far. Welcome to the Big and Little People Tribe! You have pledged $300 so far as of the time of this writing. That puts us just over half way to our second goal already and I hope to pass it up in November! I’m mailing out decks of Universal Cards to my Dark Wizard Hunter tier Patrons today. They will be signed my myself and my father, who created them back in 1977.

My alpha readers have received a short story I wrote from an upcoming anthology with another one following in a few days. (referenced below) Then, I start on Tallow Jones 2 and they will receive each chapter as I finish it.

Fun times! Also I received an interesting email from Amazon. I messaged them a few weeks ago documenting that my readers have been telling me that they have not been receiving emails when my new books are out. I finally received this email admitting that they haven’t been emailing my followers and claiming that they’ve fixed the issue:

Hello Trevor,

I hope this email finds you well!

This is Xxxxx  the Author Central supervisor. I’m following up with you regarding the email notification for your book “Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective” associated with the “Follow” feature.

After working along with our developers, we have been able to confirm the email notifications are now working properly. If some of your followers are still not getting the notifications, it could be related to their e-mail preferences on their individual Amazon.com accounts. They would need to edit these setting through the Your Account page on their own accounts.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/gss/ccp?ie=UTF8&ref_=ya_comm_preferences

I hope this information helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Best regards,
XXXXXX

Amazon.com

Now, this message admits only that Amazon has fixed the issue where people who follow me on my Author Page weren’t receiving emails. This does not mean that they will email those people now telling them that my last three books have been released. It also doesn’t acknowledge the fact that they haven’t been telling past readers of my series that the books are out.

If you don’t know how to “Follow” an author on Amazon, here is the method. First you have to go to their author page. Mine is here: https://www.amazon.com/Trevor-H.-Cooley/e/B0083U46CM

Then you click on a button under the photo of the author. (See the one checked following on the image below)

Screenshot (3)

Otherwise, to guarantee that you know what’s going on, subscribe to this blog or keep an eye on the Facebook Pate or join the Patreon to keep notified.

In other news, I have been listening to the early narrated chapters of Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective. Andrew Tell is doing a great job. I will post again once the book is available on Audible so stay tuned.

Also, I have been writing two short stories for a fantasy anthology coming out in December titled: Chronicles of Mirstone. You can pre-order here for just .99!

https://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Mirstone-Richard-Fierce-ebook/dp/B075PFMD9P

Anthology Cover-6

Next up, Tallow Jones 2. Stay tuned for a title reveal soon!
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I May Have a Solution. My Patreon Page is Live.

Howdy, Folks!

In my last post I got real with you and told you the status of things here on Cooley Ranch (Ranch name pending.) I’m not comfortable sharing hard times I’m having. I know it’s not a good look for an author to ask for help.

I fully expected people to be irritated with me since after all this is the internet I’m communicating on. But I have to say that I have been overwhelmed by the understanding response of readers here and on Facebook. I appreciate all of you.  I have heard many suggestions on ways I can continue to write full time and the thing that most people were enthusiastic about was Patreon.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to get paid and for fans to join in the creation process. It is similar to a Go Fund Me or Kickstarter except that instead of an individual funding event it is an ongoing page that sets up a continuing relationship between Patrons and Creators. Think of it as back in the old days when painters or theater troops would have wealthy patrons who funded their work. Only you don’t have to be wealthy to participate.

Patreon allow you to go around the traditional publishing system and cut out the middle men. You can pay me directly for the entertainment I am creating and in return you will be able to join in the the creation of my books. In some tiers of patronage I offer rewards like becoming an alpha reader or naming a character or even designing a monster.

No matter what tier of patronage you choose, all Patrons will gain access to an exclusive community of like minded fans and special classes on my Discord server. I will post constant updates, telling readers where I am in the current novel and other details regarding my books and the worlds they inhabit.

In addition, you will be entered into monthly drawings for swag or audiobooks or whatever else I can dream up. Let me know what would interest you.

Lastly, you could have my help with your work. Are you writing a novel of your own? A short story? I could help you with your process.

Patrons are charged at the beginning of each month and you can change your tier of patronage or cancel at any time.

I became familiar with Patreon a little over a year ago when a youtuber I really liked set up a Patreon page. This creator had a small group of dedicated fans who loved his work, including myself, but no matter what he tried he was unable to bring in enough money to continue. I didn’t have much money to add to the cause, but I was able donate $5 a month. Eventually, his patrons have grown and now they bring in over $2000. Enough for him to continue his channel.

I have since supported two more creators that I really liked.

After deciding that I would give it a go, I spent a few days researching the best way to set up a Patreon page and figure out how it works. The end results are a lot of fun. Check it out.

Here is my page: https://www.patreon.com/trevorhcooley

Let me know what you think of the page. Do you like the rewards? Do you think they are too high or too low? What have I missed that you would like to see?

I want you to know that I’m not giving up. I will continue writing no matter what, but if I can keep writing full time I plan to release 3-4 books in the next year including another Tallow Jones book and the beginning of the Dark Prophet Saga. Thank you all for your constant support over the five years since I started this writing journey.  Here’s hoping that we can do this forever,

-Trevor H. Cooley

 

 

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Readers, I Need Your Help

Hello, everyone.

So it’s been over a week since Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective has been released and I could really use your help.

I’ve been delaying writing this post for months, but I thought it would be best to be frank with all of you. This has been a long year. The last two Bowl of Souls books have under-performed and sales of my books have slowed down to a trickle. My wife went back to work a few months ago, but even with her income we are barely able to pay bills.

Now I’m not sure why things have come to this point. In the past when I have released a book, Amazon has told people about it, a sizeable amount of my readers continue with the story, and a slew of new readers start from the beginning. The same thing happened with new audiobooks. That trend has ended.

The feedback I’ve gotten from readers over my last three books has been great, but Noose Jumpers didn’t sell at all and less than half of the people who purchased the Bowl of Souls series up to Troll King purchased Priestess of War.  I had hoped that the release of Behemoth to finish out the Jharro Grove Saga would bring people back, but I realized that Amazon isn’t sending out emails to my readers to tell them my new books are out. Most of the purchases have been from active Facebook fans who actually hear when the books are released.

This is why I decided to finally write that Wizard Detective story that has been in my head for so long. The Bowl of Souls series had fatigued, which meant that instead of writing book one of the next saga I needed to start a new series and bring new blood in. So I worked really hard, slept very little, and finished the book in less than three months.

That brings us to today. I’m really excited about Tallow Jones and I think it is my best book yet, but for whatever reason only a small percentage of my readership have picked it up and Amazon hasn’t been recommending it.  Things have come to the point where if things don’t pick up soon, I will need to go back to a day job.

If that happens, this won’t mean I will have to stop writing altogether. My plans on the horizon are to write more Tallow Jones books, start the Dark Prophet Saga of the Bowl of Souls, and eventually continue the Noose Jumpers series. (I have so many ideas for that one.) It will mean, however, that I won’t be able to write my books very quickly. My previous pace of 2-3 books a year will dwindle.

How can you help?

  1. If you haven’t given my new books a try. Please do. If Tallow Jones is able to climb the charts, Amazon will start to share it and bring in new readers to keep things afloat.
  2. If you have read my newest books, please leave a review on Amazon or Audible. Reviews are extremely important both to Amazon’s mysterious algorithm and to readers trying to decide whether to give a book a chance.
  3. Tell your friends. All new blood is good new blood. Also, you will have someone else to discuss the books with.
  4. Give me suggestions on how I might better promote my books. I have tried almost anything that a poor writer can do, but I am always open to more suggestions.

I will hang on to this career as long as I can. This week I am writing a short story that will be part of a fantasy anthology that is coming out in December. After that, my plan is to start on Tallow Jones, book two. If I’m not at a day job I may be able to finish it by the end of the year. In 2018 my plan is to begin the Dark Prophet Saga with the first book: Sir Edge and hopefully several more books.

Time shall tell.

There is one last possibility I would like to run by you. It isn’t as common for novel writers, but there is a platform called Patreon where fans can support content creators and allow them the freedom to keep working. This is really helpful for people that have a small group of dedicated fans, but are not well known enough to make a living otherwise. Fans can pledge a certain dollar amount a month to help the person they want to support and in exchange the content creator can offer rewards and prizes. Fans can change or cancel their pledges at any time. I personally have two people that I help support in this manner, pledging five bucks a month. https://www.patreon.com

EDIT: My Patreon page is now set up! https://www.patreon.com/trevorhcooley

If I chose to start my own Patreon account I could offer rewards for Patreon supporters such as the opportunity to become Alpha readers and read a new chapter of my upcoming book each week. Or signed copies of paperback versions of my books upon release. Skype calls, Or even a mentorship where I will help you with the editing process on your own book. Let me know if you would be interested in something like that.  Let me know what you think.

No matter how this goes, I want to thank all of you for your support since I started this adventure five years ago.

Trevor

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Get Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective Today on Kindle!

It’s time! It’s here! I have published  Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective on Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0761LR6FG

 

Tallow final Ebook

Everyone, I am really excited to share this book with you. It has been 6 years in the making. I actually wrote the first 8 chapters in 2011 and the plot has been marinating in my brain ever since. Finally, two weeks after finishing the Jharro Grove Saga I took it up again.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0761LR6FG

Here is the back cover blurb:

When Detective Douglas Jones’ son goes missing under strange circumstances everyone assumes he ran away. The first break in the case comes when a long lost relative shows up with a new name and a strange tattoo on the palm of his left hand. His name is Tallow Jones. He is a private detective . . . and a wizard.

A wizard is needed too, because in Atlanta strange abductions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Thank you everyone for your support. Please let me know when you get your copy. I’ll update this article with a link as soon as I have it.

It’s been a long and hard road this past year. Amazon has changed the way they do things and sales have been slow, so I’m asking you to give this book a shot. If you have liked my previous work I promise you you’ll like it too!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0761LR6FG

Trevor H. Cooley

 

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Tallow Jones Chapter Preview #3

Howdy, folks!

I am writing the last couple chapters of Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective. We are just days away from the release and I wanted to give you all a little taste of what is to come.

I posted the first two chapters of the book several weeks back. You can read those here:

Chapters 1 & 2 https://trevorhcooley.com/a-two-chapter-preview-of-tallow-jones-wizard-detective/

Now, without further ado, Chapter 3

Tallow a big

Chapter 3: Uncle Tallow

 

“I’m telling you! Asher did not run away!” Douglas said. On the surface, he looked clean cut and professional. His suit was neatly pressed. His face, clean shaven. But his eyes were bloodshot and weary. His skin had a pale, unhealthy pallor. One didn’t need years of detective experience to know that he wasn’t eating or sleeping right.

Sitting behind her large desk covered in stacks of papers, the chief stared at him with weary eyes. There was no sympathy in that gaze. “Detective Jones, yelling isn’t going to change my mind.”

When Douglas had first come to the Atlanta Police Department ten years ago, he had liked the chief. Susan Johnson was new in office then. A lithe and energetic woman, she had been driven to make real positive changes in the department. She was always fair and cared about her junior officers.

Since then a change of mayor and the resulting tide of bureaucracy had stifled her enthusiasm. The years of losing political battles and long hours at the desk had taken their toll. Chief Johnson had become a squat brick of a woman. She was now as stubborn and as immovable as the bureaucracy she so often railed against.

The one remnant of her former glory was the fact that she kept their one group of detectives and forensics under her direct supervision instead of passing them off to other department heads. She had named it the FIU, or Frontline Investigative Unit. They were located next to her office on the eighth floor of the Atlanta Metropolitan Police Headquarters and they took care of cases hand-picked by the chief.

“Chief, I just need time to find more evidence,” Douglas said.

“He has been missing for a month,” she said for perhaps the fifth time in this meeting. “No ransom demands. No leads. I’m sorry, but we have to be realistic here. Your son is seventeen. Either he ran away, or . . . Well you know what the odds are.”

Douglas did know. With a month gone by, the most likely result would be that they would find a dead body. He had seen it too many times before with other teens. Asher was too old to be preyed upon by a pedophile, but just the right age to be a victim of gangs or other violent crime. Still, he refused to accept it.

“But Asher was too smart to get mixed up with-.”

“Enough, Jones.” A frown had appeared on her wide brow. “We have a heavy caseload. I cannot continue to allocate department resources to this case. The FBI will have to take it from here. I need you working on other cases.”

“Susan, please,” he pleaded. He locked onto her gaze with reddened eyes and swallowed back tears. “He is my son. I can’t just let this go.”

She sighed and looked down for a moment. She tapped a pencil a few times on a sheet of paper in front of her. When she looked up at him again there was a slight softening in her visage. He felt a stirring of hope.

“Okay, Doug. Listen, I need you here and focused on our current case load,” she said. “But, I will not keep you from pursuing this on the side. Just make sure it doesn’t detract from your other cases. Unless you find new evidence, I don’t want to hear about this again.”

“Thank you, Susan,” Douglas said with sincere gratitude.

“You can go now. Your new cases have been placed on your desk,” she said. He got up to leave, but as he reached the door, she spoke again, “Oh, and Detective Jones.”

“Yes, Chief?”

“When we are in the office, you are always to call me Chief Johnson. Is that clear?” The previous softness in her tone was gone.

“Yes, Chief,” he said.

He shut the door behind him and headed towards his desk. He made it only a few steps before Detective Ross was at his side.

“So how did your talk with Johnson the Hutt go?” the big man asked.

“One of these days she’s going to hear you. You know that, right?” Douglas said.

“She’d have to leave her office to do that wouldn’t she?” Detective Ross replied, a smirk on his face. “Seriously though, what did she say?”

“She has declared Asher’s disappearance to be a standard runaway case. Department resources are to be shifted to more urgent cases.” Douglas reached his desk and plopped down into the chair. He gestured at the stack of case files with a frown. “She wants me to focus on these.”

“That’s what I thought she’d say.” Ross spat. “The heartless witch.”

Ross was part of a growing contingent of senior officers that belittled the chief behind her back. They were all pretty open about it and no one was sure how much the chief knew about the problem. In Douglas’ opinion, there were enough brown-nosers among the junior officers that she had to know everything. Either she just didn’t care or one day soon she was going to come down hard on all of them.

“Actually it went better than I expected,” Douglas said. “She has given me permission to pursue Asher’s disappearance on my own time.”

Ross smirked. “Like she could have stopped you anyway?”

“No, but if she had forbid me to work the case, I would have been risking my job by doing it,” Douglas said. “Now I can continue on the case without worrying.”

“As long as no one complains to her about it,” Ross added.

“If anyone does, I’ll kick their a-.” Douglas sighed and leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes. “Butts. I’ll kick their butts.”

“You know it sounds ridiculous when you do that,” Ross said. “When are you going to give this up? She’s not gonna know if you curse now and then.”

“No, Bob. A promise is a promise.” Douglas grabbed the top file on the stack and opened it up. “Besides, Aggie asks me about it every night. I can’t just lie to her.”

Ross laughed. “C’mon, Doug. You’re a dad. Lying to the kids is part of your job.”

He shook his head. “I don’t have that luxury. Not with Aggie. I’m all she’s got now. She needs to be able to depend on me.” He began to read the case file over.

Detective Ross gave up the argument and settled into his desk opposite Doug’s. They had been partners for four years. Though they weren’t too much alike, they had become good friends. Bob had been his biggest supporter since Asher had gone missing.

“Hey Bob,” Doug leaned forward, his eyes widening in disbelief at the file in his hands. He grinned as he handed it over to his partner. “Maybe you should cut the chief some slack. Look at the first case she gave us. It’s about the travel agency.”

Ross opened the file and slowly shook his head. He looked back up at Douglas and grinned. “Well I’ll be . . . darned.”

Douglas snorted at his joke and picked up the next file. Things were looking up.

 

 

The month since Asher’s disappearance had been the most stressful of Douglas’ life. During that first night waiting for his son to come home, he had been filled with rage. The anger had soon turned to anxiety and fear as the search for Asher was in full stride. Then the remaining days as hope faded had been as dismal as the weeks following his wife’s death.

On the ride home from work this day, Douglas felt more optimistic than he had in weeks. He wasn’t fooling himself. The likelihood that he would find his son was still slim. But he could at least keep looking.

As Douglas approached his driveway, he saw a beat-up 80’s Oldsmobile parked in front of his house. There was a man sitting on his porch steps. He felt a stab of anger. It was probably a reporter. He had been chasing them off of the lawn with regularity for a while now.

At first the local media had been a welcome tool in the search. They had led with the story of Asher’s disappearance just two days after he had gone missing. The tone of the reports had been sincere and supportive for the first few days. Then as the case had dragged on, they found different angles to report on.

Evidently a neighbor had overheard Douglas’ occasional arguments with his son and reporters had filled in the gaps with eager pens. The fact that Douglas was a respected law officer made for a juicy story and the reports soon lapsed into insinuations of parental abuse. Now on top of dealing with the loss of his son, Douglas had to bear the suspicious looks of those who had once respected him.

Douglas got out of the car and slammed the door behind him. The stranger stood as he approached. Douglas readied himself for a confrontation. He let his instincts honed from years of experience take over as he strode towards the man.

The man looked to be in his late forties. He was tall and slender and had brown hair streaked with gray that was slightly curly. Despite the raging heat, he had on a brown corduroy jacket. Under the jacket, he wore a blue and white striped button-up shirt with wide lapels that was open at the collar and left untucked over his weathered jeans.

The man stared at Douglas, his mouth agape in a wide grin. Douglas opened his mouth, ready for a quick “no comment”. But before Douglas could say anything, the stranger rushed in. He barely had time to raise his arms in protest before the stranger caught him up in a fierce embrace.

“It’s you! It’s really you!” the stranger said.

“What? Hey!” Douglas quickly gathered himself and pushed the man away. It wasn’t easy, the stranger had quite a grip.

“Oh gosh! Wow, it’s good to see you!” The man had tears in his eyes. The grin was still plastered on his face.

“Am I supposed to know you?” Doug asked.

“Oh!” The man slapped the side of his head with his palm and laughed. “I can understand why you wouldn’t remember me, Douglas! It’s been such a long time. It’s-it’s me, your Uncle Tallow!”

Douglas took another step back. He grabbed his holster to make sure the man hadn’t palmed his gun. “I don’t have an Uncle Tallow.”

“Right!” He shook his head. “You would know me as your Uncle Errand. I’m your dad’s younger brother. I had my name changed to Tallow a few months back,” the man explained, the grin never leaving his face. He kept looking Douglas up and down as if drinking him in. “Wow! Last time I saw you, you had to be . . .”

“Six years old,” Douglas finished, his memory kicking in. “The year my father left us.”

“Ohhh. That’s probably right,” the man said, his smile faltering for the first time.

Douglas’ father had run off with a woman that year and other than a single letter on his sixteenth birthday, Douglas hadn’t heard from him since. His father’s side of the family hadn’t contacted them much after that. Douglas had always resented them for that.

“Look . . . Douglas, about that. I wanted to visit,” the man said earnestly. “Several times I tried, but your mother wouldn’t let me-.”

“So. Uncle Errand,” Douglas interrupted.

“Tallow,” his uncle said, the smile returning to his face.

“Tallow, then,” Doug said. “What brings you here now, thirty-four years after our last visit?”

“Well.” Tallow swallowed. “Douglas, I am here to offer my services.”

“Services?” What was this? A sales pitch? “Is this one of those multi-level marketing things?”

“No-no.” Tallow laughed. He reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out a card, and handed it to Douglas. “You see, I am a private detective.”

The statement was so unexpected Douglas didn’t know what to think. He examined the card. On the left corner was the seal of the state of Idaho and on the right was a photo of Tallow giving a wink and a thumbs up.

“Tallow Jones, Private Detective?” Douglas read.

“I’m here about Asher,” Tallow said. “I believe I can help you find him.”

“I see.” Douglas felt a surge of irritation. He handed back the detective’s license. ”I appreciate you coming all the way out here, but I won’t be needing your help. I am a real detective. I have an entire police department at my disposal.”

“Yes I know. I keep track of my family.” He cleared his throat. “Douglas Jones, working for the Atlanta PD ten years now, recently promoted to detective. Son, Asher Watson Jones, age seventeen, missing for the last month. Daughter Agatha Anne Jones, age eight, and . . . mean.”

Tallow gestured towards the front porch. “I met her when I knocked at the door. You know she threatened to knit me to death? I have been sitting on the porch for the last hour, trying to figure out how such a gruesome feat could be attempted.” Tallow paused for a breath and his expression changed to a more serious tone. “And Douglas, I am truly sorry about your wife. If I had known at the time, I . . .”

“Uncle Tallow.” Douglas stared at the ground, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. As he spoke, he raised his piercing gaze to meet the eyes of his uncle. “The last thing I want right now is the help of a private detective. Especially when it is offered by the long absent brother of my deadbeat dad.”

Tallow met his glare unflinching. “I understand your feelings. And I deserve your anger. I know it. Please let me at least partially atone for the past by helping you find your son. I know more about his disappearance than you think. You see, before he disappeared, Asher and I had been in contact for some time.”

“You what?” Douglas’ anger evaporated instantly. “How?”

Tallow shrugged. “He looked me up online.”

Douglas’ eyebrows rose. Why would Asher seek out a distant relative like that, especially an estranged one? He took a notepad out of his pocket. “When was this?”

“That is what I am here to discuss. But can we continue the discussion inside?” Tallow wiped his brow, though he really didn’t seem to be sweating at all. “It is hot as blazes out here and I am wearing a jacket.”

“Right. Sure. Just a minute.” Douglas was still wearing his suit coat and realized that sweat was pouring down his face. He stepped past Tallow and walked across the porch. He unlocked the door and took a step inside. “Aggie!”

“Hey, Daddy!” She walked into the hallway from the kitchen smiling, her cheek stained with chocolate from a cookie she had been eating. Her black curls were frizzed out on either side of her face and she was wearing a short green dress over black leggings. Her hands were busy knitting away on some strange tangled pink pattern.

She ran up and kissed him on the cheek, then gave him an accusatory look. “Did you do any swearing today?”

“No. I was good,” he promised.

Her eyes moved to the man behind him and her nose crinkled. She gestured at the man with her chin. “Who’s that guy? He knocked on the door earlier.”

Douglas turned to Tallow who was smiling at Aggie with the same wide grin he had given Douglas earlier. “Uncle Tallow, this is my daughter Agatha. Aggie, this is my Uncle Tallow.”

“You have an uncle, Daddy?” she said suspiciously, her eyes narrowed. “He looks too young to be your uncle.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Tallow said, taking a step towards her.

“Hey! He looks like he wants to hug me.” Agatha frowned and held out her needles menacingly. “You better not hug me.”

Tallow held up his hands, his smile disarming. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

“What’s that on your hand?” Agatha asked.

Douglas noticed it for the first time. A large square tattoo covered the palm of Tallow’s left hand. It was filled with multicolored symbols. The one in the center looked somewhat like a lit candle.

“This is called a naming rune.” Tallow stuck out his hand so that she could see it better. The square patch of skin with the tattoo on it looked thicker than the skin on the rest of his palm. “It says my name in an ancient language.”

“Why do you need a tattoo like that?” Agatha asked, a shrewd look in her eye. “So you don’t forget your name?”

“See, Douglas? She’s mean.” Tallow chuckled. “If you must know, Aggie, I burned my hand badly many years ago and this tattoo covers the scar.”

“Agatha?” Douglas said. “Why aren’t you at Jenny’s? How long have you been here by yourself?”

Agatha shrugged. “About an hour. Jenny had to go to swim lessons and I wanted to make cookies.”

With Asher gone and school out, Douglas had arranged for someone to be with Agatha during the day. On odd days, she stayed at her friend Jenny’s house. On even days she stayed at the Rutnicks, the neighbors across the street. They were a nice old couple, though there wasn’t much for Agatha to do over there.

“Why didn’t you go with her to her lessons?” Douglas pressed. “You know you aren’t to be left alone.”

“Yeah, I know. Sorry.” Agatha still had her eyes on Tallow, her eyes narrowed in distrust. “How come I don’t know your uncle?”

Douglas glanced at Tallow, not sure he liked how comfortable the smiling man looked in his home. “Well, he’s from my father’s side. We haven’t really kept in touch.”

“And I plan to remedy that,” added Tallow. “I am here to help find your brother.”

Her look of distrust softened a bit. “Oh.”

“Shall we sit down?” Douglas asked. “Why don’t you come into the living room and we can discuss it further?”

Tallow followed Douglas and Agatha into the living room and sat down on the couch. He looked all around the room as if absorbing every detail, the smile still plastered to his face. Douglas and Aggie sat down in the love seat opposite him. Douglas pulled the pad of paper and a pen back out from the jacket of his suitcoat.

“Now when did Asher first contact you?”

“About a year ago,” Tallow replied. “Hey, what’re you knitting there, Aggie?”

“A squid,” she remarked.

“A woolen cephalopod,” Tallow said with an impressed nod. “That’s a rare creature.”

She frowned. “It’s acrylic, not wool. I hate the way it squeaks on the needles, but I ran out of fingering weight wool yarn in pink and Daddy won’t take me to the yarn store.”

“It’s too expensive and you have plenty of other yarn to work with,” Douglas reminded her. “Now, let’s get back on track here. Tallow, you said Asher contacted you a year ago?”

“Yes,” said Tallow. “I believe it was shortly after your wife passed away.

Douglas swallowed and jotted down notes, wondering if Anne’s death had anything to do with Asher reaching out to a stranger like that. “What caused him to seek you out?”

“I wasn’t quite sure at first and to tell you the truth I’m still not certain what started it,” Tallow replied. “I received an email out of the blue one day asking if I was the same Errand that was the brother of Bernie Jones. I said yes, and he introduced himself as my great nephew. I was quite surprised.”

Douglas cocked his head. “And how did he find your email?”

Tallow leaned back and crossed his narrow legs. “I suppose that he found my website. You see, I run my detective agency online and my site lists all my services. It was the contact email on the site that he used.”

Douglas paused his writing for a moment. “I don’t get it. What did he ask you about? Did he want to know more about my side of the family?”

“It came up eventually, but Asher didn’t start off asking questions like that. He told me he wanted to become a detective,” Tallow replied, interlacing his fingers and placing them over his knee. “It’s all he talked about. He wanted to know techniques, rules and regulations, everything.”

“Dang it!” said Agatha. She looked up from her knitting and noticed that Tallow and Douglas were looking at her. “Sorry. Dropped a stitch.”

“But why did he come to you, a relative he didn’t even know? Why not just ask me?” Douglas wondered.

“I asked him the same question,” Tallow agreed. “He said that you wouldn’t tell him the things he wanted to know. He also thought you would be upset that he only wanted to be a private detective.”

“Yeah, Daddy wouldn’t like that,” Agatha said, then noticed her father’s glare and looked back at her knitting.

“No offense, Tallow. I don’t really like P.I.s,” Douglas explained.

Tallow smiled. “None taken. I don’t like many of them myself. By and large it can be a rather sordid profession. Especially if you don’t have a reputation for the right kinds of jobs.”

“So . . .” Douglas tapped his pen on the notepad digesting what Tallow had said. He had known that Asher was interested in mysteries. He read mystery novels obsessively and watched those horrible forensics shows on TV. But becoming a P.I.? “How often did he email you?”

“We spoke regularly, nearly every day over the last year,” Tallow said. Douglas’ eyebrows rose and Tallow raised a pre-emptive hand. “It sounds like quite a lot, I understand. I talked to him several times about telling you we were conversing, but he wanted to keep our messages quiet. He talked mainly about little mysteries he was pursuing. Asking my opinions on things.”

The thought of a year of daily emails made Douglas’ blood run cold. Looking for investigative advice was one thing, but to have that an online relationship that personal with someone who was a relative stranger? His detective instincts told him that this made Tallow a suspect in Asher’s disappearance.

Nevertheless, he couldn’t bring himself to distrust his uncle. He couldn’t explain it, but there was something about the man . . . Perhaps it was Tallow’s easygoing personality that was so disarming.

Douglas made himself focus on the facts. “Did you ever speak on the phone? Instant message?”

“No. He didn’t even text. Said he wasn’t allowed a cell phone,” Tallow said. “It was all just emails.”

Douglas frowned. It had occurred to him more than once that if he had allowed Asher a cell phone, things might have ended up different. “But we searched his computer. Our tech guys combed that thing over looking for any clue to his disappearance.”

“Kids these days are smart,” Tallow said. He leaned back in the chair, putting his hands behind his head “Especially when they know their parents are watching. Did you monitor his computer usage?”

“Every once in a while,” Douglas admitted. “Asher was a good kid for the most part. But seeing what I see every day on the job makes me paranoid.”

Tallow nodded. “Asher was smarter than most kids, Douglas. He knew how to hide things. He used a proxy and all his emails to me came from a remote site that offered email service. The address he used was ashface4@edetectiveeasy.com. All he had to do was delete his browser history. There are free programs out there that you can download to erase your history from even the most proficient computer search.”

Douglas jotted down notes furiously. He wished that he was more surprised by this information, but it explained a lot. “Did he talk to you about anything that can help us know where he went?”

“Perhaps,” said Tallow. “I kept all of his emails to me. They are on my laptop in my car. But the most telling email may be the last one he sent.”

“When was this?”

“May sixteenth,” Tallow replied.

Douglas underlined the date. “The day before he went missing.”

“He said he was working on a case,” Tallow said. “He asked if he could call me and talk about it on the phone. I was quite surprised.”

Douglas’ heart beat faster. This was the first time in a great while that he felt he was getting closer to discovering the reason for Asher’s disappearance. “So what did you say?”

Tallow scratched his head and gave him an embarrassed look. “I was busy with work and put off responding for a few days. Quite honestly, I did not know whether talking on the phone was a good idea,” he admitted with a sigh. “Finally, I sent him my phone number. He didn’t send a reply and after a while without contact I began to worry. It was a couple weeks after that before I found out he had gone missing.”

“Why didn’t you call us?” Agatha asked. It was the first time since they had sat down that she had stopped knitting.

“I . . . it’s hard to explain.” Tallow sighed again. “I didn’t feel comfortable just calling you out of the blue. So many awkward questions and it seemed so . . . impersonal. So I just packed up my things and came out here.”

Something about that explanation didn’t sit right with Douglas, but he held onto that thought for later. “Okay, so Asher said he had a case.” He shook his head. “I can’t believe I didn’t even know my son wanted to be a detective.”

“I knew!” Agatha said. “It’s all he talked about.”

“Not to me,” Douglas said. “Tallow, do you have any idea what he was working on?”

“I never got the details, but perhaps he kept them in his detective journal. It was one of the first things I told him to do when we started talking. A good journal gives a detective a way to go back and learn from his mistakes. Also, sometimes your first impressions on a case are the most correct ones. It’s easy to forget those early thoughts later on once you’re mired in the details.” Tallow said. He cocked his head at Douglas’ bewildered look. “You did find it, didn’t you?”

“I . . . didn’t know he had one,” Douglas said, the frown on his face deepening.

“I did!” said Agatha. “He got mad at me for drawing in it once.”

“Great! So it’s likely still here.” Tallow smiled and stood up, rubbing his hands together. “If we find the book, we may just find a new starting place for our investigation. How about we start by searching his room?”

END CHAPTER  3 PREVIEW

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Tallow Jones Cover Reveal

Howdy, folks!

We are just weeks away from the release of my new book. I just received the cover from Andrew Tell, the narrator of my audiobooks and the the cover art designer for the Kindle edition of Noose Jumpers. He has done fantastic work here. It’s not the complete finalized version. He has a few more tweaks to do, but he gave me permission to post it here.

Tallow final EbookNow for those of you who have not been following along, Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective is the first book in a new series.

I wrote about the process behind the book as well as answering a few questions about it in an earlier post last month, but I’ll re-post that info with updates below.

I originally started writing Tallow Jones back in the summer of 2011. This was before I published “Eye of the Moonrat”. I was halfway through writing “Hunt of the Bandham” and felt the need for a change of pace. I had this idea burning in my mind of a wizard who used magic to solve crimes.

I started outlining a novel about a wizard from the world of the Bowl of Souls who ends up in our world. I didn’t know where I was going with it at first, but then an idea came to me and it was a big one that tied together many of the concepts that I had been growing in the Bowl of Souls world already. I grew really excited about it and began to write. I got about eight chapters in before I began to hit a bit of a wall with the narrative. That was also when I first heard about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.

I was really ticked at first. I thought my wizard detective idea was a new one and wondered if the concept had already been done. So I hesitantly picked up some of the Dresden books and started to read. To my relief, they had very little in common other than that the main character was a wizard in a modern day world. I did end up enjoying the Dresden books by the way.

Nevertheless, I put the story to the side. I turned my attention to the Moonrat Saga and hoped that one day I would get back to Tallow’s story. Well, now, after the completion of the Jharro Grove Saga and before starting the Dark Prophet Saga, I thought, “Why not? The story is already partially written.” So here it comes and it’s coming quickly.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the story of Tallow Jones deals with a named wizard who uses the same magic from the Bowl of Souls world. He is trying to help family members solve a missing persons case while tracking magic that is being brought into our world from the world of the Bowl of Souls.

Some of you may recognize the name Tallow from the Bowl of Souls books and that is because I mentioned him a few times to lay the groundwork for this series. I’ll let those of you who are interested look it up. (Hint:In Troll King) At any rate, let me tell you a few things to built up anticipation and perhaps assuage the fears that some of you may have.

  1. The events in Tallow Jones will not directly affect or change the Bowl of Souls characters and the world that you already know. Justan and Company will not show up in this book and weird modern things are not going to begin leaking into the Bowl of Souls world. (There is a reason behind that which will be explained.)
  2. It will have an all new cast of characters but it will very much have the flavor of humor and characterization you have come to expect from the Bowl of Souls novels, just with a more modern flair.
  3. This book deals in part with how the magic from the Bowl of Souls series could affect our world.
  4. This book will be canon and part of the wider Bowl of Souls universe.
  5. The Tallow Jones series will help to answer questions about the world of the Bowl of Souls and where it is in relation to our world.
  6.  The expected arrival date for the Kindle version is by the end of September. I am getting close to finishing it and will keep you informed.
  7. Andrew Tell will be doing the narration for the Audio edition. He has already read the first half of the book.

Thank you very much! I hope you are excited about this story. I am excited to share it with you! Don’t hesitate to post questions in the comments. I will answer anything I can without giving away spoilers!

I did two character previews on Facebook over the last week and I’ll repost them here. There are more to come.

Tallow Jones character preview #1: Reginald Rockingham III.

Reginald is a sentient earth elemental bound to what appears to be a regular river rock. The palm-sized rock he abides in is painted with a crude face that changes expression depending on his moods. His powers are great and mysterious. How Tallow came to possess him is unknown . . .

Tallow Jones character preview #2: Agatha Ann Jones

Agatha’s parents named her after famous mystery novelist, Agatha Christie. She is eight-years-old and fiercely smart. She has curly black hair and a mean knitting addiction. She has an acerbic wit and doesn’t trust people easily.

Agatha’s mother died when she was seven. She lives with her father, Detective Douglas Jones, and her 17-year-old brother, Asher Jones, who has gone missing.

You can read the first two chapters here: https://trevorhcooley.com/a-two-chapter-preview-of-tallow-jones-wizard-detective/ 

Please give it a chance. I think you’re going to love it.

Trevor H. Cooley

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Behemoth is Now Available on Audible!!

Audible pulled through!

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It’s finally here, folks! All 17 Hrs and 23 Mins of it. Andrew Tell did an amazing job with the narration, bringing the characters to life. Find out how the Jharro Grove Saga ends!

Get your copy here: https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Behemoth-Audiobook/B075F6XXPQ

Please post in comments when you get it and tell me what you think! You can use the contact form at the top of the page or just email me at brotheredge @ gmail.com!

Trevor

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Behemoth Audiobook is Complete!

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That’s right, folks! I know it has taken a bit longer than expected. But the narration for Behemoth has been finished. We have submitted the finished audiobook to Audible and Itunes and now we just wait for it to be available.

They say it can take 10-14 business days, but let me know the moment you see it. I am excited to get this book into your ears! Andrew did a fantastic job portraying the climax of the Jharro Grove Saga.

The finished audiobook is 17 hrs 21 min long and concludes the Jharro Grove Saga.

This is not the end of the Bowl of Souls series, though. Coming up next will be The Dark Prophet Saga, set sixteen years after the events of the Jharro Grove.

Book one will be called Sir Edge.

But before I begin that new saga, I am making a slight sidestep. My next book will also be set in the same universe as the Bowl of Souls but it could be categorized as a contemporary or urban fantasy. It is called Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective.

It takes place in modern day Atlanta and you can read more about it HERE.

Thank you and happy listening!

Trevor H. Cooley

 

 

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A Two-Chapter Preview of Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective

Howdy, folks!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoyed Behemoth. I am finishing up chapter 15 of my next book, Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective, tonight. My hope is to get this book finished and available on Amazon some time in September. I figured that since I am heading towards the final stretch of this book, I would give you a preview of it.

If you want to read more about Tallow Jones and my plans for this new series you can check out my post about it here: https://trevorhcooley.com/new-book-announcement-a-contemporary-fantasy-novel-related-to-the-bowl-of-souls-series/

It is fun writing about the magic system of the Bowl of Souls series set loose in our modern world. Tallow and his friends are great characters that I’m excited for you to get to know, so I am going to post the first two chapters of the book here to give you all a taste. I may post a third chapter as we get closer to the release date.

The book begins with two of our protagonists, Detective Douglas Jones and his partner Detective Bob Ross on stakeout. Thanks and please let me know what you think!

 

 

Chapter 1: A Toothy Grin

 

“That’s my son!” said Douglas Jones, nearly dropping his binoculars.

“Huh? What?” Detective Bob Ross mumbled from under the newspaper that he had placed over his face as he napped in the passenger seat. Sleeping while on stakeout was frowned upon, but everyone did it from time to time.

“It’s Asher!” Douglas leaned far over the steering wheel, his chest pressed against it and very nearly honking the horn. “Crap! He just walked in the building.”

“He walked into the travel agency?” Detective Ross sat up, fully alert for the first time in the last hour. He was a big burly black man. Not obese, but substantive. He looked like the type of person that would emerge the last man standing from a bar brawl and he could wear that persona when the situation merited.

The two plainclothes officers were parked on the second floor of a parking garage just up the street from the building they were watching. The parking garage was mostly empty and their position gave them a perfect view of the place. It had the added benefit of keeping them in the shadows and out of the oppressive Atlanta sun.

Ross took the binoculars from his partner’s hands and raised them to his eyes. “Isn’t this a school day?”

“What do you think? It’s Thursday.” Douglas’ hands were now gripping the curly brown hair on either side of his head, his face reddening with anger. “Their lunch time was over an hour ago. Sh- . . . Crap! Crap! Crap!”

Detective Ross had a half grin on his face. “You sure it was him? I don’t see anything.”

Douglas’ eight-year-old daughter had called him out about his language a few days prior and Douglas had promised her he would stop swearing. As she had pointed out, if the kids couldn’t do it he shouldn’t be able to do it either.

The guys at the precinct had a bet going on about how long it would be before Douglas broke his promise. So far he had stuck to it, but if anything was going to break his composure, it would be his son skipping school and heading into a dangerous part of the city.

“I’m dam-.” He gritted his teeth. “Darn sure it’s him. I told him not to wear that stupid shirt before I left this morning.”

Asher had a yellow novelty shirt that read, “Doctor Who Am I?”. It pictured Jackie Chan jump-kicking his way out of the open door of the trademark blue police box, trailing a long striped scarf behind him. Asher had ordered it online and was endlessly amused by the looks of bewilderment on the faces of people that were not fans of both obscure Jackie Chan films and Doctor Who. He insisted on wearing it once or twice a week, much to his father’s irritation.

Ross snorted. “Okay, but what would Asher be doing in this part of town? And at a place like this?”

Douglas tore the binoculars back from his partner and peered back at the building. Every city had its bad parts of town and Atlanta, Georgia had more than most. Gang violence and theft had plagued this particular area for years. It wasn’t so dangerous during the day, but it wasn’t a place you would walk alone at night.

The establishment they were staking out was a low-end travel agency. It was the only open business in two blocks, but what made it suspicious wasn’t just how out of place it seemed. The building it occupied was overly large for their needs. It had once been an office park and there were room for ten or more businesses, but this travel agency leased the whole place.

“I don’t know why he’s there. Drugs?” Douglas said with a wince.

The police had received tips about heavy van traffic pulling up to the loading docks at the fenced-in rear lot of the property at all times of the day and night. Douglas was certain it was a drug front, but they needed more evidence before they could do anything about it.

“Asher? Naw, he’s a good kid.” said Ross.

Douglas shot a worried glance at his partner. They had both been cops far too long to rely on that. “They’re all good kids. Isn’t that what every parent says?”

Asher was seventeen, a high school senior. This was a prime time for him to be making stupid mistakes and Douglas knew that he wasn’t around enough to catch all the signs. He was already starting to envision a double life for the kid. Weed hidden in the vents in his room. Maybe ecstasy or meth . . .

“Just don’t jump to conclusions,” Ross cautioned. “Find out what’s going on first.”

Douglas let out a slow breath. “Right. Asher is a good kid. Grades are good. No anger issues. It’s probably just a . . .” He gave his partner a helpless look. “Seriously, what else could it be?”

“You know, if you let the kid have a cell phone you could just call him,” Ross reminded him.

“Well, that’s not an option,” he said.

Douglas had refused to let Asher have a cell for many reasons. One was that it seemed crazy to him that teenagers should have their own cell phones. His generation got along fine without them and these new smart phones were basically just pocket video game devices in his opinion. He also didn’t like the fact that it would double his phone bill.

Detective Ross gave him a sympathetic grimace. “So what are you going to do?”

Douglas pushed his door open. “What can I do? I’ve got to go in.”

“You want me to come with you?” Ross offered.

Douglas shook his head. “No. It’s bad enough that I’m going. If both of us go it could blow our cover. I’ll be fine on my own and since I’m not about to flash my badge no one will think cop. While I’m there all anyone’s going to see is a pissed off dad. Believe me, there will be no acting involved.”

“Alright,” said Ross. “But if you don’t come out soon, I’m calling back-up.”

“Don’t worry, Bob. I’ll be back in a few minutes, even if I have to drag Asher by his ears,” Douglas promised.

He trotted down the stairwell to the bottom floor of the parking garage. By the time he moved onto the street sweat was already dripping down Douglas’ back. It was only mid-May and already ninety degrees. He had lived in Atlanta for ten years and still was not used to the combination of heat and humidity. It would be hovering in the mid 60’s back in Idaho right now. The thought didn’t help his attitude.

There were only three cars in the fenced-in rear lot and a single car parked in the lot outside the building. It struck Douglas once again how odd it was that a place like this could stay in business. The only thing he had been able to think of was that they relied on internet sales.

Above the front door was a bulbous plastic sign that said in faded brown and orange letters, “S&C Travel”. The silhouette of an airplane flew under the outdated logo. He rethought his earlier hypothesis. This was not the logo of a company that used the internet.

Douglas pulled the front door open and was greeted by a rush of air conditioning followed by the scent of cheap industrial cleaner. He stepped into a short hallway bracketed by wood paneling and a worn orange carpet leftover from the early eighties. This place had probably been considered fairly posh when it was built. Now it sat as a sad example of age and bad taste. The hallway opened into a small lobby area with a reception desk in the corner.

There was Asher, standing at the desk talking at a vacant-eyed receptionist. Douglas’ anger rose just looking at him.

Asher and his father couldn’t look more different. Where Douglas was of medium height and had a thick muscular build, Asher was tall and lanky. While Douglas had a wide face and curly dark brown hair, Asher had a long narrow face with the dirty blond mop of straight hair that came from his mother’s side of the family. The only things Asher had received from his father’s side were his wide nose and prominent Adam’s apple.

Asher wore the familiar yellow shirt with its obscure geek culture reference, faded blue jeans, and one of those old men’s hats that had come in vogue again lately. Asher called it a trilby. He had an easy smile on his face. That was because he hadn’t seen his father yet.

Douglas got a good look at the receptionist for the first time. The woman wasn’t speaking, but was flashing Asher a wide smile. She was mildly attractive, but her mouth was filled with overly large white teeth and there was a hungry look in her eyes that made Douglas’ stomach turn.

Douglas pushed the feeling away, turning his attention back to his truant son. He watched Asher laugh and flirt with this woman that was at least twenty years his senior and his anger rose another notch.

He walked up to his son and placed a heavy hand on his shoulder. “Are you planning a trip I should know about?”

Asher froze and his face went white for a moment at the sound of his father’s voice. He gulped and turned, his smile withering on his lips. “Uh hey, Dad! I uh . . .”

“You what?” Douglas said. “Thought you should skip fifth period English?”

Asher cleared his throat. “Um actually, Dad, fifth period is math, not English, and I’m acing that class, so-.”

“So?” Asher’s tendency to correct his father grated on Douglas at the best of times, but right now it inflamed him even further. “So you thought it would be a good idea to head downtown and do what? Look up rates for Caribbean cruises?”

Asher let out a nervous laugh. “Good one, Dad. Uh, actually I just came in to use the bathroom.”

“Don’t lie to me, Asher,” Douglas warned. “Not now.”

Behind Asher the receptionist had stood from her chair and loomed over the desk, her arms hanging limply at her sides. She was taller than she had seemed at first glance, probably six feet tall. The woman’s wide grin was unchanging and her eyes darted between the two of them.

Asher glanced back at her. “All right, all right. Sheesh. Look, can we talk about this somewhere else?”

“You know what? I don’t care what your excuse is right now!” Douglas barked. “There is no excuse, just no excuse for you to be where you are standing right now. You are grounded from computers, videogames, and TV for the foreseeable future.”

Asher winced. This was the only punishment that held any weight in his world. He didn’t have friends that he hung out with that weren’t online and other than being an avid reader, he didn’t participate in activities that didn’t require a television or monitor.

“Uh, that’s kind of a vague time frame, Dad.”

Douglas’ face was now purple with rage. “That’s because right now I cannot conceive of a time when you won’t be grounded!”

“Fine. Whatever.” Asher rolled his eyes and with a sigh, walked toward the door.

Douglas paused a moment, his hands clenched at his sides. He had never struck his son in anger. Hadn’t even spanked him since he was six and yet he knew that if he reached out now he would strangle the teenager. Asher really knew how to push his buttons.

The receptionist had stood quietly during the exchange without changing expression. Douglas turned to apologize to her before he left. She cocked her head and her hideous smile grew larger still. Instead of an apology, Douglas gave her a polite nod and followed his son out the door. He could feel her eyes burning into his back as he walked.

The blazing heat outside shook all thoughts of the receptionist from his mind. “I can’t believe you would do something this stupid, Son.”

“How did you know I was in there?” Asher wondered. He lowered his voice. “You watching the place?”

Douglas shot him a silencing glare and motioned for Asher to follow as he stomped across the street. Asher shuffled along behind him, a scowl etched into his narrow face. They headed up to the second floor of the parking garage. Detective Ross was standing next to the car smoking a cigarette when they arrived.

The detective let out a laugh when he saw the look on Asher’s face. “Whoo kid, are you in trouble! Your dad almost swore twice when he saw you go in that building.”

“Really?” Asher’s expression perked up. “What are the current odds down at the station?”

“Ten to one he doesn’t make it through the week.” Ross said with a grin. “He didn’t lose it inside did he?”

“Shut up, both of you,” Douglas snapped. “Bob, can you call in and get a replacement for me? I need to get Asher back to school.” Department guidelines dictated that there were to be two officers on a stake out at all times.

“Dad, come on,” said Asher. “By the time we get there school will be almost over.”

“I said shut up!” Douglas barked. Asher sighed again and looked away.

Ross chuckled. “I already called Jacobs while you were in there. He should be here soon.”

“What are you guys watching the place for?” Asher asked, suddenly interested. “You think it’s a drug front?”

“You tell me,” Douglas said, his glare steely.

Asher’s eyes narrowed. “No way! You know I’m not into that stuff!” He reached up and pulled several hairs from his head and held them out. “Go ahead. Test my hair. Have me piss in a cup if you want. I’m no druggie.”

Douglas glanced over at his partner. Shaking his head, Ross took a small brown envelope from his jacket pocket and took the hairs from Asher’s hand. He put them in the envelope and tucked it back into his jacket. “You realize that being clean doesn’t mean you don’t sell.”

The teenager’s face drooped and his voice was empty as he said, “You think so little of me?” He pulled out his wallet and opened it to show them. “All I have is five bucks on me. Not drug deal money. Search my stuff all you want. I would never sell that stuff to anyone.”

“Hey I believe you, kid,” Ross said.

“Drugs or no, you’re not getting out of this easy,” said Douglas, sending his partner a sharp look. Ross shrugged and got back into the car.

The next few minutes were spent in awkward silence while Asher stared at the ground muttering to himself and Douglas stood wrapped in a haze of rage. Detective Ross waited with an eye on the travel agency until Jacobs showed up in an unmarked car to take Douglas’ place.

Douglas and Asher got into the car Jacobs had brought and headed towards the school. They drove in silence for a solid minute before either of them spoke.

“Look Dad, I know you’re mad and I know why you’re grounding me,” Asher said finally. “But I need the computer at least for homework.”

Douglas scoffed. “So now you care about school again? The thing I am wondering right now is how many times has this happened in the past that I haven’t heard about? Am I going to get a big surprise when your final report card comes? You are going to graduate aren’t you?”

“Come on, Dad! Of course I am,” said Asher earnestly. “I had all my credits done except for one as of last semester. I could fail all my classes but English and still graduate! I just took them for fun. I wouldn’t have missed math if it mattered. Sheesh, there’s only a couple weeks left of school. It’s all review right now anyway.”

He was right. Asher had tested out at genius level. School was a cakewalk for him and the only reason he hadn’t graduated early was because he hadn’t wanted to. What really worried his father was Asher’s lack of concern for his future. All the kid seemed to care about was following what ever interested him at the moment.

Douglas grunted. “Look, Asher. I know how smart you are. But ever since your mom died, you have changed. You used to-.”

“This has nothing to do with mom!” Asher shouted. “And she would have heard me out before grounding me forever.”

“She would have been just as mad as I am,” Douglas said, but his son’s point had stung. His temper had been quite short lately, he knew that. His wife Mary had died early in the previous year. The pressures of being dad and mother along with adapting to his recent promotion to detective had taken their toll on his relationship with his children. “Look, you’ll just have to wait until I have calmed down to talk to me about this. When I get home from work tonight you will tell me everything. Then I’ll decide whether anything changes.”

Asher sighed again and stared out the window. “Yeah, you’ll decide whatever you want to decide.”

Douglas didn’t bother to answer this time.

 

 

Chapter 2: Mist and Light

 

Asher paced back and forth in front of the kitchen phone, twisting the long cord in his fingers. Every other family he knew had cordless phones or didn’t have a home line at all. His cheapskate dad’s philosophy was, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t spend money to replace it.’

“Come on, Aarin!” he said. “You can just drop me off a block away from the place like before. I won’t be long. If you get nervous, just circle the block for a while.”

“Did you get in a fight with dad again?” asked Asher’s younger sister Agatha.

Asher glanced back to see her standing behind him in the doorway to the kitchen. He frowned at her and raised a finger to his lips. “Aarin, come on. I need your help here. I told you, my dad has the car. Aarin, please? Aarin? Aarin? Crap!”

Asher slammed the phone down into the cradle and leaned back against the wall. He crossed his arms, a scowl on his narrow face. He had a driver’s license but no car. His dad had sold their mom’s car to help pay for the funeral costs and Asher hadn’t been able to scrape up enough cash to buy a junker to drive around in. He couldn’t even get a job because he had to watch his sister. “Now what do I do?”

“I knew it,” Agatha said, then shook her head and let out an exaggerated sigh. “I was right. You fought didn’t you?”

Agatha was as unlike her brother as her father was. At eight years old, she was one of the shortest kids in her class. She had a cute round face topped with a mass of black curls. However she was every bit as smart as her brother, a fact that she seemed determined to prove at every possible moment. “Dad isn’t hard to handle. You just needle him too much.”

“Yeah-yeah. Easy for you to say. You’re Daddy’s little girl.” Asher closed his eyes, thinking hard. He glanced over at her again for a moment and his scowl faded.

Agatha’s current obsession was knitting. Their mother had been a casual knitter and Agatha had taken it up soon after her death. It seemed everywhere she went, the eight-year-old had a set of needles in hand. She wasn’t very good yet, but she was prolific. Asher already had three scarves and two pairs of mittens. Their dad had several hats and a set of knitted gun holsters that Asher was sure would never leave his top drawer.

“Aggie, what on earth are you making?” The current mass of yarn that hung from her needles looked like some sort of deflated octopus.

“Oh, it’s an octopus,” Agatha pronounced with a proud smile. Her fingers never stopped moving as she spoke, the needles clacking together as yarn spooled from a bag tied at her waist. “When I’m done, I’m gonna stuff it and sew some buttons on for eyes. I’m gonna give it to Jenny’s sister for her birthday next week. She loves cephalopods.”

“Yeah, uh, good luck with that, Aggie,” Asher said and edged past her before heading up the stairs towards his room. “Cephalopods,” he muttered to himself as he shut the door behind him. He had to have the weirdest little sister in the world.

He came back down the stairs a few minutes later having changed his clothes. He now wore a gray shirt and a black hoodie and his pockets were filled with the items he might need. He entered the kitchen and opened the drawer next to the fridge where he emptied a narrow black box. There were three twenties inside. He kept an ear out for the door in case his father came home.

Douglas usually came home late, especially on nights when there was a lot of paperwork involved. The children were used to it. Their father had been a police officer all their lives. But if he was going to be too late he always called. He hadn’t called yet that night.

Douglas filled the narrow box with money every month in case the kids ever needed to call for delivery when he was working late. They used it as needed and he never asked questions. Until this evening they had never given him reason not to trust them.

“Hey, why are you taking the pizza money?” Agatha complained from behind him. She had started loading the dishwasher. The tentacled mass of her knitting sat on the counter next to her. “Dad will be ti-icked.”

“Don’t tell him then,” Asher said, and shoved the bills in his pocket. Hopefully it was enough money for a cab there and back.

“But I have to tell,” she said, her brows raised with sincere indignation.

Just then the phone rang. Agatha ran to answer it.

“Don’t tell!” Asher said.

She stuck her tongue out in response. She raised the receiver to her ear with a flourish.

“It’s the Joneses. Whaddya want?” Agatha said in her best impression of the receptionist from Ghostbusters. She always answered the phone that way. Douglas thought it was cute. Asher found it annoying.

“Hey, Daddy . . . Uh huh . . . yeah. Right, I’ll tell him.” She raised her voice and looked at her brother as she shouted, “Asher! Dad says for me to make sure you don’t play video games or the computer!” She ignored Asher’s rolled eyes and lowered her voice again.

“I told him. Right . . . Okay, bye. Love you too.” She hung up the phone and gave Asher a sour look.

“How long is he going to be?” Asher asked.

“Two hours or so.” She folded her arms. “Hey, what did you do to get in that much trouble?”

Asher bit his lip. “Two hours. That should give me just enough time if I hurry.”

Now her hands went to her hips. She stuck her chin out at him. “Asher, what did you do?”

“You’ll find out soon enough.” He ruffled her hair as he walked past her towards the front door. “Listen, Aggie. Keep the door locked behind me and don’t answer the door until I get back. If dad gets home before me, tell him I will be right back.”

“Ooh, you are going to be in so much more trouble!” she promised.

Asher sighed. “Yeah, I’ll deal with that when I get back. Hopefully he’ll understand when I explain.”

“Wait! You aren’t supposed to leave me home alone, you know.” Her voice was sounding worried now. “I’m only eight.”

“I’m not worried about you, Aggie.” They lived in a good neighborhood and everyone knew a cop lived there. No one was messing with their house. “If someone tries to rob the place, you’ll just poke his eyes out with your knitting needles.”

“I’m too short! I couldn’t reach his eyes,” she insisted.

Asher grinned at her. “You don’t fool me. I know what you are really doing with those things all day; practicing your yarn-fu. You’d knit any burglar into an octopus before they could draw a gun.”

She looked at her knitting needles on the counter. Asher saw a slight grin appear on her face as he shut the door.

 

 

The cab driver wasn’t about to wait for him in this part of town. Asher shut the door of the cab and watched it speed away, a sense of foreboding settling in his stomach.

The sun was nearly set. With its departure, a cool breeze blew along the street dispersing the heat that had pounded down earlier in the day. The breeze should have been refreshing. Instead, Asher shivered and pulled up the hood of his hoodie.

After he was finished he would have to walk back several blocks to a busier street to get a cab for the ride home. Of course that would mean spending the rest of the pizza money he had stolen. Maybe he would just find a pay phone and call his dad to pick him up and take his lumps early.

The street was empty but for drifting pieces of litter. Long shadows leaned from every building along the street. To Asher’s fertile mind, the possibility of danger lurked in each shadow. It was something he hated about living in the city. He could walk three blocks to the north or south and be on safer streets. But a few steps away from where he stood, anything could happen. If he yelled out no one would come. He was truly alone.

“Come on!” Asher clenched his hands into fists, grit his teeth, and fought the fear down. He had prepared for this moment. He had a plan in place.

His hoodie and shirt were neutral colors. No gang member would have reason to threaten him. He was tall now, a senior in high school. From a distance, he looked like an adult. He did not look like prey. No, he could very well be the predator. The long shadows were his friends. He needed to use the darkness to pass along the streets unnoticed.

He strode across the street and walked down a dark alleyway, going over his plans in his mind. First he needed to see if the police were still watching the travel agency. The far side of the alleyway opened up across the street from the parking garage that his father and his partner had been parked in earlier that day.

Asher paused at the alley’s exit and peeked up to the second floor of the garage. The stakeout car was still there. He could just see the hood of it protruding up from behind the concrete barrier. Asher headed back down the alley and crossed the street again, away from the view of the police.

From that point of view they could see the entrance to the rear lot, but not the loading dock itself. He doubted that there was another team watching the rear of the agency. His father had made it sound like they were the only ones on watch. He was pretty sure that it was still early in the department’s investigation. There wouldn’t be a command center holed up in a nearby building for surveillance yet.

Still, he was careful to keep an eye out for other possible cars being used as watch points. He took the long way around, darting down alleyways and making sure that he was never in view of the car in the parking garage.

He wasn’t harassed by anyone. In fact, he didn’t see a living soul. Asher was feeling pretty confident by the time he made it to the fence at the back of the travel agency. The sun had set and it was mostly dark now, the sky faded to dark blue. It was nearly 8:00. The street lights hadn’t started to tick on yet. A perfect time for his venture. Now he just needed to get inside.

There was a coil of razor wire atop the fence all the way around, so he wasn’t climbing over it, but that was okay. He walked to the point where the fence touched the side of the brick building and crouched in the shadows.

On the other side of the fence he could see a short gravel driveway in the back of the property that led from the employee parking to two loading docks that were bracketed with a dumpster on one side and a metal door on the other. His goal was the doorway that was bathed in yellow light from a dimly lit bulb above.

He hadn’t seen any security cameras on his approach earlier that day, something which seemed a bizarre choice for a building in this part of town. On second inspection that still seemed to be correct.

He pulled his Leatherman out of the pocket of his hoodie. It was a useful all-in-one tool with pliers, a knife and scissors. His dad had given it to him for his sixteenth birthday. He would be furious to find out what he was planning to use it for now.

Asher opened the tool and found that the wire cutting part at the base of the pliers was barely wide enough for the thick chain-link fencing. It didn’t want to cut through. Asher squeezed the short handles of the tool with all his might and finally clipped through one piece of wire.

“Ow,” he grunted and shook his hand which now had an impression of the handle running across the palm.

A car came down the street. He huddled in the shadow by the building as it passed, rethinking his plan. Cutting his way through the fence would be a painful process. Besides, it was going to take too long.

He lifted at the bottom of the fence and was surprised to see that it was fairly loose. He could lift it a few inches off of the ground. Maybe he wouldn’t need to cut very many wires at all.

The street lights came on as he finished clipping the fifth wire up from the bottom. A pool of light came down from above, compromising his hiding place. Thankfully, there was now just enough of a gap at the bottom of the fence for him to slide his way under. For once he was grateful for his wiry build.

He grunted as he shoved his way under the fence on his belly, feeling the cut wires snagging on his hoodie as he pushed through. He made it to the other side, scratched and covered with dirt, but undiscovered as far as he could tell. Encouraged, he pressed himself up against the side of the building and ran to the dumpster at the side of the loading dock.

He crouched behind the dumpster, his nose wrinkling at the horrid stench that came out of it. Flies buzzed all around it, active even in the night. The metal was rusted through at the bottom corner and a brownish fluid had leaked out. The light from the doorway at the other side of the dock illuminated the area just enough that Asher could make out the squirming of maggots in the fluid.

There was more than just office supplies in there. And not just discarded lunches either. Asher had been part of a service project once during his failed attempt at boy scouts a few years earlier. They had helped clean up dead animal carcasses off the side of the highway. That’s what this smelled like.

Asher gagged at the thought of what might be in there. He considered lifting the lid and peering inside with the LED flashlight in his pocket, but Asher couldn’t summon the courage to even touch the lid. He shook his head and focused on the doorway. He would definitely tell his dad about this when he got home, though.

Asher placed his back up against the loading dock and slid towards the rear door of the building, staying in the limited shadows left by the foam pads that surrounded the dock doors. Then, as quickly as he could, he stretched his arm out into the pool of light and grasped the handle of the door. A gentle twist told him that it was locked.

He withdrew his hand and cursed silently. The possibility that the owners of the building would have forgotten to lock the door was a long shot, but he had let hope creep in. Now he had to try the set of lock picks that he had in his back pocket.

Douglas would be pissed if he knew he had them. Picking locks had become an obsession for Asher. He had researched the subject for weeks online before purchasing the set he had. He had practiced on multiple doors at home and at school until he felt that he was pretty good.

He was confident that given enough time, he could open this door. It was a simple single handle with a lock. There was no deadbolt. No security card scanner. Another oddity about this place that made his skin crawl.

His main concern now was the light above the door. It would leave him too vulnerable while he worked. He was tempted to chance it, but decided against it. He would have to break the light. The small flashlight he carried would discreetly provide all the light he needed to work on the lock. The question was what to break it with?

Asher looked around for a rock or something bigger than the fine gravel on the driveway, but didn’t see any nearby. He headed back to the dumpster. As much as the thought of looking inside terrified him, perhaps there was something in there that he could use.

As he reached the dumpster, a set of headlight beams shown across the employee parking lot. Someone was at the gate. He heard a door open and the blaring sound of Spanish music as someone worked the chain.

Asher darted behind the dumpster and peered around the edge to see a white van pass through the parking lot and turn into the short loading dock driveway. He leaned back against the rusted metal, his heart pounding in his chest. If he had tried to pick the lock in the light, he would have been seen.

He heard the van turn around and back up to the dock. The headlights went out but the engine kept idling. He heard the van doors open and the sound of several sets of footsteps hit the pavement. There were low voices speaking what sounded like Spanish.

Asher couldn’t make out what they were saying. He wished he had done as his father recommended and taken more than just the first year of Spanish. A louder gruff voice joined the others and Asher heard the rattle of the lock on the door next to the dock. It creaked open and soon the clatter of the dock bay door rolling upwards echoed into the night.

He scooted to the far side of the dumpster, knelt down and peered around the edge again, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going down. Through the dim yellow light he could see two men handing packages of some sort from the open door of the van to waiting hands at the dock. Next, he heard muffled noises coming from within the van. The two men wrestled a struggling form up to the dock.

Asher’s eyes widened. Whatever the men had pulled out was wrapped in cloth. Was it a person? From the muffled noises coming from the cloth it could be someone that was gagged. He gulped and leaned back. It was time to get out of there and tell his dad. He turned to run back to the rear fence.

Something latched onto the back of Asher’s hoodie and yanked him backwards. A large hand clamped down over Asher’s mouth. He let out a muffled yelp and tried to stand, but a powerfully muscled arm wrapped around him. He was held tight against a wide chest, his arms pinned to his sides. He struggled but could not budge his arms.

Asher’s heart hammered, adrenaline rushed through his veins as he strained against his captor. Yet a calm analytical corner of his mind was caught up with one strange concern. He remained crouched close to the ground. So why was it that the person behind him didn’t seem to be hunched over at all? Was his attacker kneeling down behind him?

“A peeper!” shouted out a rough voice from directly behind Asher’s left ear. “Hey boys! We got ourselves a dag-gum peeper!”

Asher slammed his head backwards into the place he imagined his attacker’s face to be. Their heads connected, but he might as well have slammed his head into a brick wall. His attacker let out an amused grunt and his grip tightened. Lights swam in his vision. Asher couldn’t breathe.

Two men arrived and pulled Asher from the heavy grip of his captor. They dragged him towards the van. He turned, but wasn’t able to catch a glimpse of the man in the darkness behind the dumpster. He shouted for help and tried to pull away. These men were not as strong as his previous attacker and he was having some success until the man in the darkness pointed something at him.

There was a popping sound. Asher was unable to move, his limbs frozen in place. Numbly he realized that one of the men that had been dragging him had gone stiff as well. Angry voices argued in Spanish and he took some comfort in that as the remaining man dragged his paralyzed form to the rear of the van.

He was lifted and tossed into the van. No one bothered to tie him up, but it didn’t matter. Asher couldn’t move, couldn’t blink his eyes. All he could do was breathe. What had that been? A taser of some kind? Was there one that worked this way?

The men finished unloading the van around him, taking out more boxes and burlap sacks. He even thought he saw someone carrying a cage with strange shapes inside, but he wasn’t able to focus his eyes enough to see for sure.

The arguments in Spanish continued, then the doors shut and Asher was left in darkness. He heard the voice of the man that had captured him. It was muffled through the door, but he could make out what was being said. The rough voice had an odd accent that reminded Asher of an irascible old prospector in a western.

“Take that peeper to the doorway and get rid of him! We don’t need any more blasted trouble. And hey! Be back here in a half hour. If any of you gall-durn lazy corn-jiggers slack off, I’ll be cuttin’ off fingers!”

After a few moments, several men climbed back into the van. Two of them sat crosslegged on the floor in the darkness next to him. Asher felt the vehicle shift into gear and they pulled away. The radio was turned back on and Spanish music blared again.

None of the men around him spoke. They rode along simply bobbing their heads with the music. Asher tried to block out the music and focus on the feel of the road and the sound of it passing beneath him. Perhaps he would be able to piece together some idea as to how far they had traveled and where they were going. If he could somehow escape, this knowledge would give him an edge.

He was able to keep focused for a short time, memorizing each stop and turn. Then they turned onto a long straightaway. The rhythmic sway of the van along with the repetitive nature of the music was hypnotic. He soon grew disoriented and as his concentration left him it was replaced by a deep sense of dread.

That musclebound old prospector had told them to get rid of him. Asher had seen enough crime movies to know what that meant. It was very possible that they were going to kill him.

The van slowed down some time later and lurched as it turned onto a dirt road. The van floor bumped and jumped. Asher, still unable to move, was battered about. His face smashed into the knee of one of the men sitting next to him. Blood flowed from his nose and mouth as they came to a lurching stop.

The door opened and the sound of cicadas and tree frogs flooded the van. Men grabbed Asher’s arms and legs and he was carried down a pathway. He saw grass and dirt pass by and then a set of wooden steps. A door was pulled open. He passed over a threshold and across dirty moth-eaten carpet. Another door opened and he was carried down a set of stairs into a damp and moldy-smelling basement.

A blue glow permeated the basement, emanating from a point somewhere in front of him. He couldn’t move his head to see what it was. One of the men hit something that sounded like a gong.

There was a rush of air and a thick mist flowed across the floor toward him. The mist was cool and damp. It smelled oddly of cinnamon. The blue light intensified. The mist grew thicker.

The four men began to swing him back and forth. He knew that they were going to throw him into the mist and light. Whatever it was he was sure he did not want to go there. Asher struggled with all his might, but his limbs would not obey.

He was helpless as they released him. His stomach lurched and he passed through some sort of opening. The world grew cold around him.

END OF TWO CHAPTER PREVIEW

Read Chapter 3 here: https://trevorhcooley.com/tallow-jones-chapter-preview-3/

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New Book Announcement: A Contemporary Fantasy Novel Related to the Bowl of Souls Series

Howdy, Folks!

It’s time to announce my next book. It is a contemporary fantasy novel set in modern day Atlanta, Georgia. It it called,

 Tallow Jones: Wizard Detective.

I started writing this project back in the summer of 2011. This was before I published “Eye of the Moonrat”. I was half way through writing “Hunt of the Bandham” and felt the need for a change of pace. I had this idea burning in my mind of a wizard who used magic to solve crimes.

I started outlining a novel about a wizard from the world of the Bowl of Souls who ends up in our world. I didn’t know where I was going with it at first, but then an idea came to me and it was a big one that tied together many of the concepts that I had been growing in the world already. I grew really excited about it and began to write. I got about eight chapters in before I began to hit a bit of a wall with the narrative. That was also when I first heard about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.

I was really ticked at first. I wondered if my idea had already been done. So I hesitantly picked up some of the Dresden books and started to read. To my relief, they had very little in common other than that the main character was a wizard in a modern day world. I did end up enjoying the Dresden books by the way.

Nevertheless, I put the story to the side. I turned my attention to the Moonrat Saga and hoped that one day I would get back to it. Well, now, after the completion of the Jharro Grove Saga and before starting the Dark Prophet Saga, I thought, “Why not? The story is already partially written.” So here it comes.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the story of Tallow Jones deals with a wizard who uses the same magic from the Bowl of Souls world. He is trying to help family members solve a missing persons case while tracking magic that is being brought into our world.

Some of you may recognize the name Tallow from the Bowl of Souls books and that is because I mentioned him a few times to lay the groundwork for this series. I’ll let those of you who are interested look it up. At any rate, let me tell you a few things to built up anticipation and perhaps assuage the fears that some of you may have.

  1. The events in Tallow Jones will not directly affect or change the Bowl of Souls characters and the world that you already know. Justan and Company will not show up in this book and weird modern things are not going to begin leaking into the Bowl of Souls world.
  2. It will have an all new cast of characters and it will very much have the flavor of humor and characterization you have come to expect from the Bowl of Souls novels, just with a more modern flair.
  3. This book deals in part with how the magic from the Bowl of Souls series could affect our world.
  4. This book will be canon and part of the wider Bowl of Souls universe.
  5. The Tallow Jones series will help to answer questions about the world of the Bowl of Souls and where it is in relation to our world.
  6.  The expected arrival date is this fall, perhaps as soon as September. I have been writing on it and will keep you informed.

Thank you very much! I hope you are excited about this story. I am excited to share it with you! Don’t hesitate to post questions in the comments. I will answer anything I can without giving away spoilers!

Trevor

 

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Behemoth is Here!

That’s right, folks!

I just uploaded BEHEMOTH to Amazon. It will be available in Kindle format within the next 6-12 Hrs.

EDIT: It is available! https://www.amazon.com/Behemoth-Jharro-Grove-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B073MW9T6X

Please post in comments when you get yours!!

behemoth-ebook

Some Stats:

147k words

32 chapters

1 friendship song (Multiple reprises)

Biggest finale in Bowl of Souls history

 

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Trevor H. Cooley Class on Novel Writing and Publishing

Howdy folks!

A few weeks back I did a talk on creative writing for a local group. It was organized by the Parks and Recreation department and open for the public to come.

It was a little over an hour long and I focused on how I became a self-published writer and some of the hurdles out there to finishing a novel and finding a traditional publisher. The whole thing was filmed by local television and the station was nice enough to give me permission to put it up on YouTube.

Last night, I uploaded it to the seldom-used BowlofSouls YouTube channel.

Now before you watch, I would like to point out that public speaking is not my comfort zone. I stammer a bit and do my best to stick to my outline. However, I think that there is good information here for any of you that are interested in writing a novel yourself. Many of the things I say are answers to questions I get from readers all the time.

I speak about the following topics:

  1. Writing a novel
  2. Developing audiobooks
  3. Seeking a major publisher
  4. Finding an agent
  5. Easy mistakes to make when going alone
  6. The benefits of self-publishing
  7. Cover art

This is one of those things like my earlier post about my 19-year-old early draft of Sir Edge. I like being the mysterious writer behind the stories and am not completely comfortable letting people see behind the scenes. Sometimes seeing an author’s quirks and weaknesses can make the books seem less immersive.

Nevertheless, here it is. I hope you enjoy it and if not, please try to forget how awkward I am as you read the conclusion of the Jharro Grove Saga in a few weeks.

Thanks for your support,

Trevor H. Cooley

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Join the Bowl of Souls Discord Server.

Howdy Folks!

I have some fun news and a short update for you.

We now have a Bowl of Souls Discord server!

What is a Discord server? I had that same question. I have heard of it before from a few fandoms I have, but never looked too deep into it. Luckily, I have a daughter who is up to date on all the newest apps and when she told me she wanted to make a Discord for Bowl of Souls she was really enthusiastic.

Discord is a chatting app where you can get together with like-minded fans and talk about the things you like. The only way to join a particular server is if you’re invited, so this keeps out the creepers and weirdos. My daughter is moderating the server and I will be popping in from time-to-time to interact with fans.

To join the Bowl of Souls Discord server and talk about the characters and series with other fans, simply click on the invitation link below:

(Updated) https://discord.gg/tSDtCJg

This should be a fun new way to talk to each other and keep up to date on the latest fan theories and such.

In other news, I will be announcing the title to Book Eleven in the Bowl of Souls this weekend. I am hard at work writing on it and hope to be finished before the end of April (Fingers Crossed).

Also, just a reminder, I will be signing and selling books at the Coffee County Middle School tonight 3/17/17 from 5-7 P.M. if any of you are in the area and can make it.

Coffee County Middle School

3063 Woodbury Highway, Manchester, TN 37355

Thank you!

Trevor

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Priestess of War Audiobook Available Now!!

It’s here, folks!

powaudiobook

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Priestess-of-War-Audiobook/B06X9LJ99Y

Narrated beautifully by Andrew Tell, the audiobook is 14 Hrs 10 Min long and includes a preview of the Noose Jumpers audiobook.

The Priestess of War is the 10th book of the Bowl of Souls Series and book 5 of the Jharro Grove saga. It is the penultimate book of the Jharro Grove saga and focuses heavily on Fist and the Black Lake.

Here is the back cover blurb:

Born of war and kept young only by the darkest of magic, the Dark Prophet’s most powerful priestess has returned to the Trafalgan Mountains to take control of the Black Lake’s mindless evil.

Now, with a growing army of the infested and dead under her power, she turns her gaze on Dremaldria.

Fist’s chances of helping his former tribe destroy the Black Lake are bleak at best. The combined help of the Academy and the Mage School may not be enough to help him defeat the Priestess of War.

I’m so excited to share this with you. Get your copy today and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Trevor H. Cooley

 

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My Interview With AXE COP Creator Ethan Nicolle! And free stuff!

Howdy folks! Exciting stuff happening! I recently did a creator interview with Axe Cop creator Ethan Nicolle and if you know much about my sense of humor and the kind of things I like, you know this was a big thrill for me. I had a long time love of comic books while in my teens and comic stories greatly influenced the way I write today.

Ethan Nicolle, Creator of Axe Cop and Bearmageddon, amazing artist and dreamer of dreams.

I have been a fan of Ethan Nicolle since 2011 when I first heard about Axe Cop, a character Ethan created with his five-year-old little brother. Ethan was already a fantastic comic book artist, having been nominated for an Eisner Award for his comic: Chumble Spuzz. When he spent a few days playing make believe with his five-year-old brother Malachai, he had the idea to make a comic of their imaginary adventures. He posted the resulting pages online and it blew up, spawning a long-running web comic, three Dark Horse comic series, and a Fox animated show.

Episode 1

He has since also worked on a separate comic series titled, Bearmageddon, which is another hilarious satirical series that I like to think of as a zombie apocalypse story, but with bears instead of zombies. Ethan has also gotten into writing, spending several years writing episodes of Veggie Tales for Dreamworks.

Recently, we started a bit of a conversation on Twitter and became Facebook friends. Ethan is readying himself to make the plunge into novel writing and wanted to pick my brain about self publishing and strategize his approach. That conversation turned into a sort of co-interview, where we asked each other questions about our work and how we go about things like overarching story and character development. Ethan posted this interview on his site today, which you can view here:

http://www.ethannicolle.com/single-post/2017/01/10/A-Conversation-With-Fantasy-Author-Trevor-H-Cooley

Free Stuff!

As part of this interview, Ethan has kindly offered my readers a free digital copy of Bearmageddon Volume one. It is awesome and well worth your time. To get your copy, simply go to the link here: https://the-axe-and-bear-store.myshopify.com/products/bearmageddon-volume-1-digital and enter the code SQUIRRELFIST.

The version of Bearmageddon he is offering my readers is the full, high resolution version with bonus material. There is a free version you can get when you subscribe to his email, but this is the version that usually costs 3.99

Now there are 30 copies available and it is first come, first served, so get in quickly!

More about Ethan:

Ethan Nicolle first broke into comics when he created Chumble Spuzz for SLG Publishing in 2007 which was nominated for an Eisner Award for humor in 2009. He went on to create a web comic called Axe Cop with his little brother that became a viral sensation and went on to become an animated series on FOX and FXX. He has had multiple pitches optioned at Cartoon Network and spent three years as staff writer and story editor on VeggieTales in the House at Dreamworks Animation. He also did the book illustrations for Nick Offerman’s books Gumption and Good Clean Fun.

Read his comics and more at the links below:

 AxeCop.com, EthanNicolle.com Bearmageddon.com and BearmageddonNews.com

Bearmageddon News is a really fun bear-oriented satirical site. Give it a look.

Thanks!

Trevor

 

 

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Today is the day for Priestess of War

That’s right folks, it should be here any time today. I’ll put up links as soon as I got ’em.

Here it is!! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MS0TLEU

Here are some stats:

Today!! Here are some stats.
25 chapters
120k words
1 Squirrel
2 Raptoids
A whole mess of Ogres

Maggots by the gallon

An Army of dead things.

One roast leg of Mammoth

A swearing contest

pow-ebook

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Priestess of War Mini Previews Compilation

Howdy folks!

For those of you that haven’t been following my Facebook page, I have been posting short mini previews of the book over the last month. There are six of them so far and I will be posting a few more up to the Christmas release date.

Think of these mini previews as the kinds of flashes of a scene you get when watching a film trailer. Each one is just a few paragraphs long, enough to tease a few scenes and character interactions.

Any spoilers are minor. I don’t give away any major plot points, though if you haven’t read up to The Troll King, you may find some of the character’s interactions confusing.

Here we go.

Mini Preview #1

— Deathclaw darted forward, keeping his body low to avoid a sweeping attack. His senses were heightened, his mind in complete focus, slowing the world down around him as he found a narrow opening for his blade. He thrust Star out in a fierce stab.
“Whoop!” cried Cletus, jumping backwards and sucking in his narrow gut to avoid being skewered. “Almost!”–

Mini Preview #2

— A rumble reached his ears and the warmth of the sun was diminished by a cool breeze thick with the smell of rain. A storm was coming. Fist groaned. It was happening again. He tried to ignore it.
“Let the dream stay nice,” he pleaded.
A sudden weight settled on his lower body, pushing him deeper into the cloud. A thin hand smacked his face and an insistent female voice said, “Hey! What are you groaning about, Big Guy?”
Fist cracked an eye open and saw Maryanne’s amused eyes looking down at him. She was leaning over him, the tips of her hair dangling down to tickle the sides of his face. The sun behind the gnome’s head lit her auburn hair, turning it the color of fire. Fist smiled up at her, his cheeks flushing as he realized she was straddling his hips.
“What?” she asked, sitting up. Her skin-tight leather armor creaked as she folded her arms. “Don’t just lay there grinning stupidly. We’ve got things to do.”
“No we don’t,” he said and reached up one arm to grasp the back of her neck. He pulled her back towards him. Her eyes narrowed in playful protest but she allowed him to bring her in for a deep kiss.
It lasted only a few moments before she pulled out of his embrace and sat up again. “I mean it, Fist,” she said and pointed off to the right. “That storm’s coming on quick and it ain’t made of clouds.”–

Mini Preview #3

–“Naughty Jack, pullin’ Momma’s hair,” Lenui said reproachfully.
Bettie bent down and Lenui reached up to help extract his son’s pudgy fingers from his momma’s curls. It wasn’t exactly easy. His little fists were clenched hard and his fingers were sticky. He also seemed to think this game of tug of war was funny. He giggled as his daddy pried and when Lenui finally pulled the baby’s hand free, he pulled several hairs out with it.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Darlin’,” Lenui said.
“Darlin’?” she asked suspiciously. “You butterin’ me up or somethin’?”
“I can say that. Yer my dag-gum wife, ain’t you?” he said, then changed the subject, planting a big smooch on the boy’s face. “Our Jack here’s got strong hands, just like his daddy. Don’t you, bo- ack!”
One of those strong hands had just grasped a fistful of Lenui’s mustache. It wasn’t in a nice spot, either, but just at the base of the nose where it was most sensitive. Half ‘stache hair and half nose hair. Jack laughed at his daddy’s pained expression.
“That’s right. You get him,” Bettie said approvingly, then attempted to assist Lenui. —

Mini Preview #4

–Sarine sped up, her needles clicking again. “Wait just a moment, Dear. I still haven’t mentioned the reason I wanted to speak with you in the first place.”
“No?” Darlan said. “Then what did you wish to speak to me about?”
“To be blunt, Dear, I was wondering why you haven’t been named yet,” Sarine replied.
Darlan’s foot caught on a step and she nearly stumbled forward. After a brief pause, she continued on as if nothing had happened. “That is a strange question. The Bowl names whom it will.”
“Don’t be disingenuous, Dear,” Sarine chastised, her needles clicking away. “The Bowl can’t name those who don’t approach it. I’ve seen the way you avoid going up to the Hall of Majesty. You don’t attend when students you know are being raised. From what I hear, you had Fist raised to apprentice without even taking him to the Bowl.”–

Mini Preview #5

–“Squirrel problems?” asked Maryanne with a yawn. She frowned sleepily and reached into her bedroll to pull out a handful of tiny seeds. “Blast it! Got seeds down my smallclothes.”
“At least that means he likes you. Otherwise it’d be poop,” Fist said. He sighed and rubbed his face with his hands. “I’m worried about him. He constantly thinks about fighting.”
Maryanne pushed her blankets aside and sat up, shivering in the morning air. Fist tried not to notice the way her undershirt gaped open at the neck. She leaned against his arm. “Don’t worry too hard, Big Guy. He’s a resourceful critter.”
“I know, but . . . I liked it better when he preferred to hide in the trees.” Fist said.
“I get it. But people grow. They change. Especially ones that started out without much smarts. I should know.” She rolled to her knees and leaned in to kiss him. “Don’t worry too hard. Also don’t think I didn’t notice you look down my shirt.”
Fist blushed. “I didn- . . . I tried not to.”
“I know you did,” she said with a chuckle. The gnome warrior turned away and started pulling on her leather armor. “That’s one of the things that makes you so cute.”
Rufus’ voice sounded loudly through the bond. Attack coming!–

Mini Preview #6

I’m proud of the chapter this scene is in. When you get there, you’ll know why. Be prepared for an epic curse fight!

–“I never said I was no great leader,” Lenui harrumphed. “And don’t act all high and mighty to me, dag-blast it! Yer supposed to be a dwarf. Cursin’ is a proud part of our heritage!”
“I’m not saying that cursing doesn’t have its place in our tradition,” the old dwarf allowed. “But only during holidays! And the cursing competition was done as a joke! Your generation is the one that started bringing that muddy language into every day speech!”
“That’s blasted bunk! My grandpappy used to curse me to sleep at night!” Lenui declared.
Old Bill rolled his eyes. “That’s right. You’re from Corntown where coarseness is second nature. But the rest of us weren’t ever that way. It’s your generation that spread it around to the rest of the dwarves. Now it’s become so common place nobody can speak the common language proper anymore!” He pointed his pipe at Lenui. “It’s one of the great travesties of our age. Two hundred years of young dwarfs so empty headed, they can’t spit out a coherent sentence!”
“That’s tiddle-pucky!” Lenui snapped. “Yer just against it ’cause you ain’t quick witted enough to keep up with me.”
“I’ll have you know that back in my younger days I was the champeen curser of my town!” Bill claimed. “I just knew the proper time and place for it.”
Lenui let out a belly rumbling guffaw. “Bull-apples!”
Old Bill’s face twisted into a deep scowl. “You challenging me, boy?”
“I been challengin’ you since we left the dag-blamed Academy,” Lenui growled.–

I hope you have enjoyed them. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Feel free to speculate!

Trevor H. Cooley

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Updated Noose Jumpers Cover!

Howdy Folks!

I have a pretty neat announcement to make. I am updating the cover for the Kindle and Audiobook versions of Noose Jumpers.

While I really do love the original cover art, I have received feedback from readers and passionate relatives that the cover wasn’t as immediately eye catching as it should be. Especially in thumbnail form. It is the kind of cover that is more interesting after having read the book, but may not pull folks in from the beginning. So, with a mixture of excitement and sadness for the cover that was, here is the reveal:

kindle-cover-2

audiobook-cover-2

I think it screams action and calls back to the old posters of the Spaghetti Western era.

This new artwork was done by the narrator for my audiobooks, Mr. Andrew Tell. As you can see, he is not just a vocal talent, but is also a brilliant cover artist.

For the time being, the Paperback edition will keep the original cover.

What do you folks think?

Trevor H. Cooley

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Priestess of War Cover Reveal!!

Howdy, Folks!

I am very excited to reveal the cover for the next book in the Bowl of Souls, PRIESTESS OF WAR.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

Renu did a fantastic job with the artwork, as usual. Special thanks to Soers D’ Armes for the beautiful leather armor work. They are the same designers that produced the armor for the Tarah Woodblade cover. You can see more of their work here: http://www.lagueuse.com/

Priestess of War is just weeks away. I am writing like the wind, (If the wind had a mind addled by stress and a mix of Diet Sundrop and Mountain Dew.) I’ll keep you updated here with more details as we get closer. I will be posting preview chapters as well.

For now, I’ll give you the back cover blurb. SPOILERS AHEAD for those who have not finished the TROLL KING yet.

“While Malaroo reels from the Troll Mother’s attack, Justan discovers untapped potential in his magic. Now that he has finally gained the trust of Jhonate’s father, he finds himself opposing the Protector.

Born of war and kept young only by the darkest of magic, the Dark Prophet’s most powerful priestess has returned to the Trafalgan Mountains to take control of the Black Lake’s mindless evil. Now, with a growing army of the infested and dead under her power, she turns her gaze on Dremaldria.

Fist’s chances of helping his former tribe destroy the Black Lake are bleak at best. The combined help of the Academy and the Mage School may not be enough to help him defeat The Priestess of War.”

Thank you so much and if you haven’t already, please give Noose Jumpers a chance. I need to pay some bills!!

Trevor H. Cooley

 

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Get a Free Bowl of Souls Audiobook

Howdy Folks!

I mentioned this in the last post, but I thought I would make it more official. To celebrate the release of the Troll King on audible, I am giving away free codes for Bowl of Souls audiobooks on Audible. Here’s why.

I think audiobooks are an underappreciated medium for storytelling. It’s a growing medium for sure, but one most people pass by. A good narrator can open up the world of a book in a new way that you may have missed reading on your own. Andrew Tell does such an amazing job with these books I know that it has added enjoyment of the story for my family.  In my mind it’s akin to seeing a film version or stage play of a novel you like. Only, it sticks to the script.

I have a growing group of audiobook fans, but since this is a new thing to most of my readership, I want to get you started. If you like it, maybe you’ll want to buy the rest. Who knows?

Here are the restrictions.

  1. It must be a Bowl of Souls audiobook and it must be books 1-7 or Hilt’s Pride. (That means not Ogre Apprentice or Troll King)
  2. One free copy per family.
  3. Quantities are limited, so it’s first come first serve.

If you are interested, there are three ways to get your free copy. 1. Contact me with the contact page on this site. 2. Leave a comment on this article (I’ll see your email address). 3.Message me on Facebook. I’ll email you with instructions and your audiobook code.

That’s it. I hope you contact me and get started. It’s a lot of fun.

Trevor

 

P.S. If you are an audiobook listener and already have all the books and feel a little left out, contact me and I’ll see if I can’t get you a free Kindle copy.

P.S.S. I just found out that the codes can’t be used on Audible UK or Audible DE. Sorry!

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Noose Jumpers is Now Available!

After eight long months, it’s finally here! Noose Jumpers is live on Amazon.

It’s a Western and a Fantasy with overtones of the old Greek Odysseys. Here is the back cover blurb:
The Noose Jumper Era – A chaotic time of lawlessness in the Old West when a growing tide of outlaws engaged in a race to become famous.
Three young men emerge from a small town in the territory of New Mexico. They are bound by a pact and guided by mysterious powerful beings that no one else can see. Together they must face off against the Sheriff of Puerta de la Muerte, a wicked man who cannot be struck by bullets.
Are they destined to become legends, or are they just mere Noose Jumpers?


Get your copy now! Please give it a read and let me know what you think! I put my heart and soul into this. My wife/editor says it’s her favorite book yet.

Link here: https://www.amazon.com/Noose-Jumpers-Mythological-Trevor-Cooley-ebook/dp/B01IK3O8SI

Noose Jumpers ebook cover 5 gig

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Noose Jumpers Short Film and Book Trailer Premiere!

Noose Jumpers ebook cover 5 gig

Howdy folks!

It’s strange how every book and comes about in a different way. For Eye of the Moonrat, it came about from childhood fantasies; literally years of dreaming up a complex world full of characters that caught my imagination. Tarah Woodblade came by way of a different process; my cousin and I brainstorming character ideas to use in a Bowl of Souls role playing game.

Noose jumpers started as a concept for an article I wrote back in 2008 on my old blog (which was basically a humor blog filled with fictitious posts. The blog still remains HERE if you are curious, though I can’t promise the writing quality you have come to expect from me.) The idea was that Noose Jumping was a predecessor to Bungie Jumping. The ultimate rush, an Old West sport where the goal was to try to get yourself hung by committing as many crimes as possible.

That germ of an idea stuck with me for several years, evolving in complexity until it was no longer a joke concept but evolved into an idea that could become the basis for a series of books and new type of magic system. The idea turned into  a point of time in the Old West where a new wave of outlaws rose from the dust and wreaked havoc, guided by mysterious powers and competing to become legends of the west. It was called the Noose Jumper Era because many of them ended their lives hanging on the loop of a noose.

When my brother, who is an independent filmmaker, spoke to me about writing something with him it came back to mind. We started talking about the possibility of putting together a pilot for a television show. We both love old westerns and the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns in particular and I brought up Noose Jumpers because I felt that it was a concept perfect for television. Together we developed it, expanding on my basic ideas. I wrote up a short film script that showcased the concept and he started putting funding together. I then started writing a script for a full pilot episode and enjoyed the ideas and characters so much that I knew I wanted to start a new series of novels based on it.

My brother put together a great group of actors and key film personnel and shot the short film back in June of 2015. Post production took months but is finally complete and the finished product is ready for your eyes and ears. Now the scene in the film you are about to watch does NOT occur in the book, so there are no spoilers. It does nicely set up the ideas that are showcased in the series, though and we hope that it could someday lead to a television or film opportunity. Please enjoy.

In addition, if you want to get an idea of how the book is going to flow, check out the preview chapter I posted a while back. The book starts with a series of bangs. https://trevorhcooley.com/noose-jumpers-preview-chapter-the-death-of-bobby-estrella/

 

 

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Noose Jumpers Sale This Weekend!

Howdy folks!

From now through end of day August 28th, get Noose Jumpers on Kindle for just .99!

This title has gone underappreciated. Most of my readers have chosen not to try it. Yes, it is not Bowl of Souls related, but if you have come to trust my writing through my other books please give it a chance. Even if you wouldn’t normally read a western.

This is no normal western. I have heard it described as American Gods in the Old West. It is about three young men with mysterious spectral backers, each one with their own unique power. Please give it a try!

https://www.amazon.com/Noose-Jumpers-Mythological-Trevor-Cooley-ebook/dp/B01IK3O8SI

If you want an audiobook version, I have codes available.

kindle-cover-2

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