Author: Stephen Zimmer

Stories on the Rise | An interview in 3 parts: two actors & the film-maker behind “Rayden Valkyrie: TV Pilot” by Seventh Star Studios

Posted Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 3 Comments

Stories on the Rise Banner created by Jorie in Canva

The Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot began as a crowd-funding project via Kickstarter. Once funded production began and the pilot grew into a project which is now finding position within the current television market to gain traction to be built into a full production of a serial. This interview goes behind the scenes – where two of the pilot’s actors share their takeaways with being a part of the pilot and where the film-maker behind creating ‘Rayden Valkyrie’ (the character based on his novels) shares a few secrets with his readers, his future audience and those of us who have followed his publishing endeavours (via Seventh Star Press and their authorly collective) in the book blogosphere.

Seventh Star Press is one of the first publishers I started to host for during the Autumn of 2013 shortly after I launched Jorie Loves A Story. This interview was conceived to shine a light on the pilot which is the secondary focus of this lovely blog tour which illuminates the series which launched the pilot.

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Read Stephen Zimmer’s blog post about why he wanted to produce the pilot

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I can well imagine what you might be thinking – why is Jorie showcasing a Sword & Sorcery story-line involving Heroic Bloodshed and steeped in Viking History? Not quite her typical cuppa is what is most likely coming to your mind, eh? And, in this regard – you would be right! It’s a series of stories penned by an author I appreciated finding when I first read Chronicles of Ave (in 2013) entitled the Dark Sun Trilogy. Except for the Vikings – as I first had an introduction into Anglo-Saxon early histories & the presence of the Vikings through my readings of Avelynn (of which I will be re-exploring this Autumn as I read the sequel!). Add to the random things which become introduced to you as you explore Literature and Ancestral passageways, I recently started seeing the Vikings threading into my own ancestral past – something I’ll touch on as I read Edge of Faith!

You might remember seeing Seventh Star Press titles pop up now and again on Jorie Loves A Story, as this is one of the first Indie Publishers I started to host for as a book blogger whilst finding myself readily engaging with their eclectic offerings across Science Fiction, Cosy Horror (smirks) and Fantasy – including Urban Fantasy (where I found out I love cheeky fey humour); anthologies of the Fantastical and Horrific (this side of Cosy, of course!), Altered Historical time-lines, a dash of Superhero Fiction and a pinch of Space Opera! However, if was the DRAGONS and Murkens (shifters) who stole my heart the most!

When this tv pilot originated on Kickstarter, I took stock and interest of it’s journey towards production – not only because I have been following the career of the writer behind the pilot – but also due to my personal passion for film-making (with an eye on Indies) which led me to cheer from afar for this little project would not only find traction with a (potential) audience but it would gain the backing it needed to go into production. Kentucky is one of those states which is known for film-making but hasn’t quite captured awareness of being one of the better states to conduct film business inside; a bit of a surprise to myself, as the film world isn’t as big as one would perceive – there are certain regions where film-making has legs to grow and develop in a viable economy prime to allow for said growth to reshape the active market. Kentucky thus stands on the fringes of being more of a forerunner rather than a secondary option! This is another reason why I wanted to highlight this pilot – as it allows others to start to take notice of how film and television are continuously shifting how they are being utilised in our backyards.

I continued to oversee the journey when videos popped up on YouTube – both for promotion of the pilot being filmed and for the process of taking it into production. There isn’t a lot I missed between the conception of the idea and the birth of the pilot – all of which, I have happily cheered on Mr Zimmer and his lovely cast and crew – seeing how they were shaping his vision for this story to take flight and to be brought to a visual audience who likes well-written stories with fierce historical roots and a well produced production to boot!

Finding out a bit more about Kentucky in the process – from location shoots to how the natural elements were broached into the background of the pilot itself was quite enjoyable, too! I love how you can find elements of our world set within the otherworlds of Fantasy – as it not only helps root you into the story but it offers a beautiful gap between the fantastical fictional realms and our living realities. Getting a chance to converse with two of the actors attached to this pilot was heartwarming as I truly loved how they approached my questions – they gave me answers which I feel helped bring a rounded introduction of the pilot to my readers and to those visitors on the blog tour itself – as it’s a step outside what might have been expected to be found! I love surprising my readers – it is a joy unlike all others! Also, I wanted to anchour their replies to Mr Zimmer’s – giving the presence of three different perspectives on the same subject – thereby, giving you an up close and personal definition of who Rayden Valkyrie is and why the pilot is such an important project.

So you see – sometimes I might surprise you – some stories interest me even if perhaps on the surface you might think it wouldn’t be something I’d be akin to liking! Besides – of all the cross-related tv series Mr Zimmer mentioned as being ‘one’ of a similar feather to Rayden Valkyrie – there is one from my own past which I admit, I did enjoy watching: Xena: Warrior Princess! Come now – who didn’t like watching Xena? Lucy Lawless played her to perfection!

Grab your favourite cuppa and sit back for a conversation in 3-parts!

Read More

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Posted Wednesday, 23 August, 2017 by jorielov in Action & Adventure Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Heroic Bloodshed, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Saxon | Viking History, Serial TV | Film, Seventh Star Press, Stories on the Rise, TV Serials & Motion Pictures

+SSP Week+ Author Guest Post “On writing Ave within the Fires of Eden series” by Stephen Zimmer

Posted Monday, 10 February, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , 4 Comments

Guest Post by ParajunkeeProposed Topic for Stephen Zimmer How did you create the world of Ave initially and did you foresee Ave being shaped into a full-on series? What is the back-story of the research you discovered as you went along &/or what were your methods of deciding the texture of the world? Was there a key moment which left the impression of which direction Ave was heading? How did everything evolve forward past conception of the idea?

The Chronicles of Ave
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

As you might recognise, I asked Mr. Zimmer to return to Jorie Loves A Story by featuring an Author Guest Post to discover the early days of conceiving the idea for “Ave” the world in which the “Fires of Eden” series resides. I previously reviewed the “Chronicles of Ave: Volume 1” (the first anthology of the series) which served as my unorthodox introduction to the series! As you will see from that particular post, I was most intrigued by what I found inside! So much so, that it has led me to reading “Crown of Vengeance” of which will be brought to life in a review going live on Wednesday! Be sure to drop back to see my recollections! I also had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Zimmer whilst participating in the Chronicles of Ave blog tour! Blessedly for those of you who are already wrapped up inside this world, there are many more stories yet to be revealed! Let us now yield to Zimmer who will provide the ‘genesis’ of how Ave was first created.

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The Genesis of Ave

Ave is in my heart and has been from the beginning of the road of its genesis that began in the early 1990’s. The origin of this story and how it has grown comes from one of my own personal fantasies. I’ve always imagined and dreamed of what it would be like to go through the wardrobe, to use a Narnia reference, and enter a fantastical world such as the one found in my books.

The entire story involving Ave really did begin on that simple, singular premise, and the idea of an ensemble of characters, all with different backgrounds and circumstances, going into a new world moved it forward as far as a concept for an epic fantasy series. The question of why they are pulled into that world, and what their part is within it, led me to what became the core plot of the series. Before I started writing the first page, I knew the ultimate destination of the series.

I’ve always been drawn to the medieval period, especially the earlier period, including the so-called Dark Ages (I say this as there were a lot of places that continued on a course of progress, from the Byzantines to China, to name a couple). As such, Ave takes on a medieval texture, with a modest presence of magic, as I didn’t want magical or supernatural elements to be too overwhelming in this series (though both play a significant part).

Ave grew into my own personal playground, as far as having everything I would love to see in a fantasy world. It has a full range of cultures , lands, and geographies, with many inspired by historical periods in our own world, and some that are entirely inventive.

One of the challenges of writing this series has been making sure the organic realism of the fully original cultures like the Trogens and Unguhur resonate just as strongly as the ones reflecting a historical inspiration, like the Saxans, Midragard, Avanor, and others. They all need to have the same kind of depth and comprehensive portrayal.

With the historically inspired cultures, I wanted to be sure that there was a strong presence of societies and cultures not commonly reflected in epic fantasy. Readers will see that right from Book One, Crown of Vengeance, when they discover the Five Realms and the five tribes that comprise it. Based upon the Iroquois, the Five Realms and the story of the tribal people within it are a major part of the series.

To bring cultures like the Five Realms to life, research has become a very important aspect of this series. Interestingly enough, in the late 1990’s, when I had the first version of what would become Crown of Vengeance done, one of the biggest reasons I did not try to get an editor or publisher at that time was that I realized that I had not done enough in the area of research to give the books the kind of depth and organic realism that they deserved. It led to several years of immersion into research and rewrites, but at the end of that road I ended up with a book that I was confident in taking onward.

The extended research also honed my thinking and perspective when it came to developing an original culture like the Trogens. Subtle touches about their culture, beliefs, and history added a full dimension to my depiction of them, where before they were coming off as more fantastical than real. In ultimate effect, engaging in serious levels of research developed my thinking process, in a way that truly strengthened this series.

Writing a large-scale series such as this, one that has the kind of depth where I can do short story collections right alongside it, does require some structure, but at the same time I leave myself open to new ideas and adventures that can crop up during the writing of a new title. Having an idea of the core plot of the series, and its ultimate destination, keeps it on a track so that it does not drift or derail into a problematic situation.

Yet at the same time, Ave is truly a playground, and all manner of new creatures, lands, characters, and sub plots can emerge at any given time, and I do want to take advantage of those opportunities. The last thing I wanted to do was box myself in without any flexibility during the process.

I think this is what has led me to using a multi-threaded character-focused style for the Fires in Eden Series. Having multiple story threads does add some complexity to the series, but I also feel it adds a lot of texture and added dimension too. There are layers, there are all sorts of seeds being planted for future payoffs, and for the reader I give a trove of material to enjoy and savor with this kind of depth.

Granted, not all readers may enjoy this approach, and want something more simplistic and linear, but to use a rock band metaphor, there are those who like a more complex and layered musical act like Rush, and those who like a simpler and more straightforward act like ACDC, and there are those who like both. As a reader (and as a rock fan!) I happen to like both complex and straightforward approaches, being in the mood for one or the other at given times. Hopefully, the readers that like the kind of scope I offer will find their way to the world of Ave.

For those that do enjoy this, I have an entire world to explore, one that is being unveiled gradually in the series and in the short stories of the Chronicles of Ave collection. There is so much more ahead and I invite readers along for the grand adventure!

You can follow Stephen Zimmer’s continuous journey with Ave and other stories at: Stephen Zimmer’s website & blog.

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Honestly, I knew a lot of thought had gone into Ave, from the moment I first stepped inside its dimension of space and time, it felt as though every inch of Ave had been thought about with care! You have a way of bringing the reader into Ave unaware of its origins and its history, by making the world itself accessible and visually stimulating! As those are what staid with me after I put down the Chronicles! I was quite curious what your method of process would be for creating the multi-layered universe in which Ave resides, and in this lovely Guest Post you have given myself and my readers alike something hearty to ponder! I knew too, there would be hidden depths to the reasonings behind why you elected to create certain classes of people in Ave as much as why there were certain names being used to express who they were. I love how you were studying ancient civilisations in order to have Ave thrive in the past way possible! And, the inclusion of using the Middle Ages as a staging arena for the world itself I think was a classic move on your part to give your world a rooting in our own timeline of reflection. It was especially a time where the world saw the most growth, change, and enlightenment coming out of a period of unrest, uncertainty, and ignorance.

As a writer of whom appreciates writing serial fiction herself, I can understand why you wanted to create a world in which would be limitless in regards to where to expand the threads of Ave’s tapestry and as far as how far you could take your audience! It’s always a lovely gesture to become so well acquainted with your own created world that you can see extensions of the original plot passages igniting new ones down the road! I must confess, although I see my own writings in full view of where I want them to go, I have not yet formulated the fullness of the worlds therein. As in reference of seeing the final destinations of where the characters and the story itself will be ultimately going towards. I give you credit for being able to focus on Ave in a way that befits the benefit of having such a clarity of mind in its creation! I, perhaps, might yield to the fact that my writings have been percolating for the better part of twenty years and have been writ at different intervals of time therein. One of these days I’d love to see everything fall together in a way that will honour my own story.

Your essay here on how Ave knitted together, I think will give all writers (regardless of genre preference) a lot of hope in what they will achieve in their own goals once the bones of what they want to write is out in the open. I can understand what you meant about the difference preferences of readers, where some might prefer the depth vs the low-key approach of subtle nudging, but I for one, tend to choose the complexities of a well-plotted story when I want to soak into epic sagas because it’s the layers in which I get caught up inside which bring me the most joy! They also provide endless hours of reading bliss in order to see how all the connections of lead and supporting cast make off in the installments that follow suit! I always get a kick out of remembering the wholeness of whom is residing in these wicked fantasy stories, because sometimes its nice when the layout is not limited to a cluster of a few but held together with the fullness of an army!

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This Seventh Star Press focus week was brought together with the help of Tomorrow Comes Media, of which I am a blog tour hostess and book reviewer. To keep up to speed with which authors and books I will be featuring on Jorie Loves A Story in the near future via Tomorrow Comes Media, please check out my Bookish Events! Similar to blog tours, when I feature a showcase for an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog.

This marks my fifth post in contribution of:

2014 SciFi Experience
(“Strength and Honor” by Stephan Martiniere, used with the artist’s permission)

You can follow along on the official Sci-Fi Experience site!

Cross-listed on: Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays via On Starships & Dragonwings

{SOURCES: The 2014 Sci-Fi Experience was granted permission to use the artwork by Stephen Martiniere in their official badge for all participants to show their solidarity during the event! The Chronicles of Ave: Volume One cover art provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and used with permission. I requested an Author Guest Post on the topic of writing the back-story of Ave’s creation and received the essay direct from the author Stephen Zimmer. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog News badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Monday, 10 February, 2014 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Seventh Star Press, Seventh Star Press Week, Sword & Scorcery, The Sci-Fi Experience, The Writers Life

*Blog Book Tour* : Chronicles of Ave: Vol. I by Stephen Zimmer

Posted Saturday, 5 October, 2013 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Chronicles of Ave: Vol I | Tomorrow Comes Media

Chronicles of Ave: Volume I by Stephen Zimmer

[continuing the saga started within the Fires of Eden series]

[Book One: Crown of Vengeance]
[Book Two: Dream of Legends]
[Book Three: Spirit of Fire]

Published By: Seventh Star Press, 3 September 2013
Official Author Websites: Zimmer on Facebook; Zimmer on Twitter; Personal Site; Blog
Author Page: @ Seventh Star Press
Artist Page: Matthew Perry @ Seventh Star Press; Portfolio

Available Formats: Softcover and E-Book
Page Count: 330

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Chronicles of Ave: Vol. I” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media. I received a complimentary copy of “Chronicles of Ave: Vol. I”  in exchange for an honest review by the publisher Seventh Star Press. The book released on 3 September 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. This marks my first stop as a Tour Host for Tomorrow Comes Media!

It should be known: Although, I do not know Mr. Zimmer personally, I have come to appreciate his conversations on science fiction and fantasy, as I uncover exactly where my allegiances lie in each genre! There was a period of time, not so far away from today, whereupon I knew exactly the thematic of story I could sink myself into, but time and memory have waylaid my knowledge of those specifics! Through working with Mr. Zimmer to set up book tours through Tomorrow Comes Media, I am finding a new niche of this side of my reading life, and I am thankful to have found such a kind-hearted and genuine voice at the other end of my inquisitive missives! I was thankful too, that he agreed to partake in an author submitted interview by someone such as I, who had not yet read a book of his, but was curious to know a bit more about him, and of his writings!

Stephen ZimmerAuthor Biography

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author of speculative fiction, whose works include the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Rising Dawn Saga (epic-scale Urban Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon tales (Steampunk), the Hellscapes tales (Horror), and the Rayden Valkyrie tales (Sword and Sorcery).

He is also a writer-director in movie-making, with feature and short film credits such as Shadows Light, The Sirens, and Swordbearer. His Steampunk stories are available through Dark Oak Press.


The Chronicles of Ave
Artwork Credit: Matthew Perry

Synopsis of The Chronicles of Ave: Volume I:

Escape into the wonders of Ave in this first collection of short stories featuring the fantastical world from the Fires in Eden Series by Stephen Zimmer.

Into Glory Ride” tells the story of a young Trogen Warrior who is called to go up against insurmountable odds when an Elven raid strikes his homeland. The Trogens have only begun training winged steeds for combat, but time is of the essence and a momentous choice has to be made by the young warrior.

In “A Touch of Serenity” a conscript laborer working on a massive wall constructed under the orders of the Divine Emperor begins to hear ghostly voices asking for help. His response leads him on a journey that will test his courage, wisdom, and compassion.

In “Moonlight’s Grace” a young man goes to help his people when a Midragardan raid strikes Gael. He seeks to prove his worth to the chieftain whose daughter he loves with all his heart.

The novella-length “Winter’s Embrace” follows a warrior-monk into the depths of dangerous woodlands in the heart of winter. There he will find his faith tested in ways he never anticipated, when he must help a forest witch against an enigmatic, immortal being known as the Undying.

Lion Heart” introduces the heroic Sigananda of the Amazu people, who must confront things that transcend the laws of the physical world when powerful Wizards threaten his homeland.

In “Land of Shadow” a knight who is part of a band of Avanoran mercenaries discovers how perilous the mysterious Shadowlands are when they undertake a journey to locate a site to build a fortress.

A world of wonder beckons to be explored and fantasy enthusiasts are invited along for the journey in these half-dozen stories from the world of Ave!

Also be sure to take further adventures in Ave in the Fires in Eden Series, beginning with Crown of Vengeance, Book One!

On how to pronounce the title:

“Ave” is pronounced like “Ave Maria”. It’s a salutation in Latin, closest to the word “Hail”. He wanted a way to announce the creation of the world, and the world itself is a proclamation of its existence as much as the beginning of the stories of the world itself.

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In the Authors Own Words:

Ave is meant to be a salutation to life and existence itself, in
the purest sense, as the antithesis to oblivion and death. Ave is, in
some senses, a salute to life and the world at its origin, and hopefully
its eventual, transcendent state where death has no place.

Therefore, Ave is filled with the glory of welcoming, an enthusiastic
“Hail” to life, and you can embody the idea of that in the love of a
mother for a son, and the gift of a mother, as resonates in that song
“Ave Maria”.

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| “Into Glory Ride” |

I was not quite prepared for the warrior’s song that I uncovered whilst reading this short story, as I was drenched into the heart of the Trogen’s fiery spirit, as Marragesh sets the pace for a heart-wrenching battle to reclaim his clan’s right to live outside the borders of their greatest enemy, the Elves! Taken a bit aback at the dedicated war hunger of the Elves, I was esteemed to find Marragesh and his clansmen built of such sturdy fortitude and bravery, realise that they could effectively change their race’s future; if they could only resolve how to make an imprint of a theshold on their enemy’s next advance! What bolted me to enraptured emotion in the ending pages of this story, is the dexterity of skill, the Trogen’s exercised in the sky!

I haven’t read fantasy novels in quite a long while (at least of this magnitude!), enso, my point-of-references are all but obscured and obstructed! Yet within the layers Zimmer used to build this battle, he’s able to capture with the keenest sense of story-telling precision, the etches of other battles from other fantastical realms. In the thick of the battle flight, where sword is pitted against sword, creature fighting against creature to retain their alighted heroes, I saw echoes of the Jedi attempting to make enroads against the Sith in their surge against the Death Star, as much as I saw a murmuring echo of the battle sequences in Avatar, when Jake took the courage to stand with his fellow Na’vi, who became his adopted brotherhood!

The sweeping arc of the setting grabs you from the moment you recognise the gravity of the scene unfolding for young Marragesh and his steed, Banca as they practically tip-toe amongst the cliffs he’s meant to keep watch over to guard over his clan’s safety. Waves crashing against the bolstered cliff wall took me to far away lands I have only dreamt of visiting and hope to see with my own eyes one day. There is always a draw for me to be on a land of such magnitude of power as the sea evokes to its native shores. A resolute strength against the tides! And, in regards to Banca’s sure footedness any person who has a fondness for cats, can assert that some animals are naturally graced with a sturdy gait and a footfall that defies logic! Especially since, this reader has a feisty little tux that can scale a rail and run its length without even a whisper of her presence known! Fur flying behind her bloomers and all!

The entitlement provoked a certain resonance for foreshadow that I was observant of, yet being an optimistic soul, I had hoped for an alternative outcome, when logically there could only have been the one transcripted! I think we always want to hold onto what we are never ready to part with, as a part of our human condition and inability to always yield to accepting the circumstances that bring about the most change in our lives. Even as a reader, we long for characters that we travel along with as they ride into their destiny to take a piece of our hope with them, that our strength can somehow infect them with a bit of a balm of extra strength, and somehow we take away with us a part of theirs in return. Their strength etches into our consciousness, as we lament about their life’s song of purpose, forever grateful to have crossed their path. Zimmer has a gentle hand in navigating what a heart yearns to see and what destiny has already provoked to being necessary!

I had hoped that Mr. Perry might have included sketch references of the Elven Lavion and of the Trogen Harrak, as although I could just make out each of their differences and strengths, I think a sketch might have helped shaped the sky battle a bit better for me! I was most impressed by the docility of Marragesh’s Harrak, as it reminded me of how fond a warrior Native was attached to their horse! I think there are certain bonds between animals and the ones deemed to fight alongside them.

An end that came too soon: I was swept into the Trogen’s encampment, to the brink of being thirsty for more of their stories! I can see why in the footnotes of this collection it is said that Zimmer’s readership crave the stories featuring the Trogen’s! How could they naught!? They’re bold warriors who have a sense of fighting skills and courage that even the Vikings would consider honourable! They are a mighty gruff race of war-hardened men, who endear you to them by the way in which they fight for their freedom and way of living! They commit you to their cause without having to overstate their purpose! I appreciated how Zimmer transcends the potential gore of war into a metaphoric rumination on life, peace, and the hope of what may yet come. He humanizes his characters, grounding them with a full conscience of integrity, and allows them to champion our heroic endurance to seek a way for them to succeed! I will look forward to digging into the “Fires of Eden” series as I am able too! I daresay, I want to know more! This is a brilliant introduction as it is a window into one specific time period of Trogen life, yet its the full gist of their threaded core of courage and heart!

As an aside, each time I read “Marragesh” I inadvertedly thought musefully of “Marrakesh”!

| “A Touch of Serenity” |

Epic in the scope that a sense of place is easily recognisable as an alternative sub-sphere of time which stitches close to the construction of the Great Wall of China. On the crescent sliver of engaging into this new history of Ave, I vaguely remembered the brutal horror of a warlord like Ghanghis Khan, (although not Ghanghis Khan!) of whom was notorious for entombing his foot soldiers into the pillar statues of an army tenfold in size! Of course, I am not sure if this has been reputed and disregarded as mere ‘myth’ rather than definitive proof of existing, as this stems back into my childhood! And, such stories always stand out to be rather fantastical and scary! This was a different story from how the Terracotta Warriors came into being! I remember well how I longed to learn more about his reign (here I am referring directly to Ghanghis Khan!), and those of the Mongolians! I am not as sure as why I have always been drawn into histories of war, but war played a large part of my interests in history throughout the centuries. Perhaps because it is in our nature to go to war with such a frequency that is harrowingly shocking! Therefore, this opening sequence of events was not met with aghast horror but with a fascination of just how far a ruler would go to ‘cleanse’ his servants’ existence in the pursuit of a maddening project of vanity and power!

I trudged forward into this story, because I knew at the heart of this one could lie self-sacrifice of another lens by which Zimmer chose to key in on and give his readers another hearty segment of museful solace! He’s definitely a story-teller who wants his words not only to soak into your mind whilst reading, but to leave a definite impression to be re-examined and turned over once the story is not as readily visible! This is one of his strengths, as he lays bear his impressions and lamentations of what he wants to depart upon the benefit of his characters’ giving voice to his own thoughts on these subjects!

Being a student of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, I took an interest in his lead character’s name in this short, as it drew me back to why I appreciate the serenity that can be found whilst practicing the Four Winds as much as the Long Form! I miss the reverent days of my studies in T’ai Chi Ch’uan, but when ones’ instructor ups and leaves without notice, its oft difficult to find a replacement whose calm teaching yields the ability for internal solitude of thought intermeshed with seeking the hidden benefits of slowing down one’s mind, in order to capture a tenth of the chi lost in the chaos of everyday life! Zimmer’s Ch’uan evoked a sense of longing to restore the peace I used to cherish in securing each morning I would practice!

It was here, at the introduction of Chang Tao Ling, that I realised that the insight of Mr. Zimmer in knowing where my heart lay with fantasy was of the utmost of truths! I could not eat the words fast enough, nor could I drink in the heart-pounding joy of being a breath away from a tiger! I am truly a girl bent on reading epic fantasy! What a joyous discovery to have made, because I was curious if I leant more towards this side of fantasy rather than another! I do appreciate the scope and depth to these kinds of stories, which is why I think the most obvious of things to note are generally the ones that are within plain sight! I should also disclose that I have always held a candle for learning more about Chinese history, folklore, and mythology! I am drawn into stories that touch on these subjects, as much as I appreciate a motion picture that explores a certain level of mythical proportions! One of my favourites, of course, is “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, which I believe I mentioned on my blog recently (although I could be mistaken and bespoke of it on another blog completely!), as it lends itself to that particular style of story-telling that I adore so much! There are other films that fit into this particular niche, as much as they shift out of it a bit: “House of Flying Daggers”, “Hero”, “Curse of the Golden Flower”, “Life of Pi”, and “The Forbidden Kingdom”, by which I would like to see one day! And, of course I appreciated “Bulletproof Monk”, even if I wished the CGI sequences could have been matted a bit better against the live action!

Remnants of readings of the Magi were subtly contained within the wizard counsel where we’re introduced to: Fu Shen, Tsai Shen, Kuan-Ti, and Shou Lao! I also detected a bit of Incan and Aztec histories inside this story, as I know more of their sacrifices than of other cultures, as I have visited Mayan ruins, where of the three distinct cultures, the Mayan’s infused a temperament not seen in the other two! With a dashing nod to the Egyptians as well! This story has a bit more intense battle playing out inside itself, but as foresaid, Zimmer has a way of dampening the level of bloodshed to impart the greater message that the tale is being writ to give!

I was not a bit surprised at the gravity of the evil encased into this storyline, as it begs to reason that with great power can bequeath either great good or great evil! There is always a ying-yang balance, which directly applies here as the roots of this story lie in the mythologies of the East. I think none of us truly are aware of what our earthen gift is until we reach the day where we instinctively feel that we have arrived at the moment by which our true path has emerged into view. Each of us can do far more than we think is possible, and each of us can give back so very much to others in ways that we may not even be readily aware of. The key to life and of living is to remain steadfastly open to the possibilities that are beckoning just beyond the light of what we understand!

An enlightened man’s eyes become fully awake, filled with light, and are perpetually open rather than closed. His sight is not blinded to what he didn’t understand previously, but rather, is cast anew by the insight he has been given!

| “Moonlight’s Grace” |

This is the one short I didn’t finish reading, because the turn of bloodshed evoked more of a visage of horror then I was willing to shake off as ‘part of the overall story’! I do have my limitations, and for me, this one was just a bit too brutal for me to recover from or go through! I think if the beheading had been cheeky as in Harry Potter’s introduction to “Nearly Headless Nick” for instance, I might have been able to sustain it, but this is, wells, let’s just say, it’s a proper beheading! I am sure Louis VIII would find it faire of choice! I did not get to the ‘grace of the moonlight’, so I do not know if Finnian & Brigit were able to secure their affirmative love for each other, or if they were ill-fated to unite! Honestly, I had an easier time with the previous two shorts, because the stitchings of the story were not co-dependent on the battlefield gore in the foreground, but rather an internal course of fate!

I did read the note on this short in the back of the book, as I nearly had forgotten that Mr. Zimmer was including notes on each story,… I think I will ask him which page to ‘skip over too’ in order to bypass the battle, jump into the romance that is evolving between these two characters, and tap into the reason he has selected this as one of his favourites thus far to have written! I wish I had a stronger stomach, but I just couldn’t shift past that particular gruesome scene, sorry! Having read his spin on this short, I see its of true importance to the story of the people of Gael!

| “Winter’s Embrace” |

A simple respite from a glowering fire-filled ire of humid insanity, I started to allow my mind to entertain the full brunt of Winter, to off-set my uncomfortablity in enduring a Southern Autumn! This short brings such blissful notions to mind as stomping through high packed snow, whistling winds, and a bone-chill of cold to greet your body as you step outside into the elements! What heavenly bliss to partake in, whilst your succumbing to high 90+ degrees when a few states to your North are already seeing the temperatures bank downward into the mid-60s or in some fortunate spots, droplets of snow have begun to fall! A story of Winter! I am already enjoying it!

Ah, Zimmer returns to the style I appreciate when it comes to fierce battles of woe! Skirting the grisly details, being near euphoric in hope, and confirming that the battle is intense, but there is a greater purpose about to be lit upon! I guess you could say I like war to be a bit glossy and rosy! I really do not need to bear witness to the exactness of what a soldier or warrior needs to experience, because I have enough empathy inside me to last many moons over many lifetimes of battle scarred warriors! Of course, I spoke too soon! I made it through the battle, but ugh, the next bit reminded me too much of what I didn’t like in the ending chapters of “The Boxcar Baby”! I will give the next short a go!

| “Lion Heart” |

I appreciated that the central focus on the opening of this story wasn’t about the kill that takes place (here I refer to a wild animal, not a person), but rather, what led to the killing to happen, which struck a chord, as I oft wondered if this could occur in our world as well, if hunters and those with them might not see the warning signs on the trail they are walking and could befall a situation that had tragic consequences. The wild environs deserve our greatest respect, because the animals who live in the wild play by a different mindset and group of rules than those of man. Instinct reigns supreme as does the fight for survival at all costs. I like how he included the Native American beliefs that I grew up listening too by a Cherokee I befriended at an art gallery who stressed that his tribe and others, do not believe in killing what cannot be used nor what is not readily needed. He said that an animal that gives their life has to be honoured and respected in return, and ever since that day, I have noticed how many indigenous cultures feel the same and keep the same traditions. I, too, believe this, and I am not sure if this was inspired by the stories I overheard OR if I had had this view prior to knowing. I lean towards my views being spilt in the middle of origin!

Actually, in a unique twist of wording, I was impressed that Zimmer lessened the severity of the scene by using a clever ‘visual metaphor’ of describing one of the crucial bits to it! My mind adverted off the scene directly and juxaposition his clever foreshadow of the action being described rather than to consume myself with the totality of what was really happening! Highly appreciated!

Sigananda is given a foreshadowing of his destiny by Mawa, who is the village’s seer that I think many would have not only balked against as possible but would have contemplated why they were singled out before accepting her words as truth. I did miss a bit in not having read Ave, as to understand the key structure of his people, such as the differentiating regiments of warriors that can be called to battle; however, I tried not to worry about what I didn’t fully understand and focused instead on who the impetus for entitling this “Lion Heart” would be revealed as to being! I like stories that give a particular character a ‘quest to undertake that is both grave and mortally wounding’ as they are generally the mark of transition of character, growth, and the full realisation of that person’s pre-destined path. I appreciate these stories because they seek to encompass the larger truths that are not always explored.

I even like the exploration of Sigananda’s back-story, as in regarding to his unwavering courage in times of intense adversity! He is a strong character who does not understand the true depths of his worth, nor of his abilities, but he has the honour of a warrior who knows that despite any doubts he might foresee, he must march in the direction of where he is ordered to deliver a resolution that everyone can accept. I liked how he is flawed in one sense, as he distrusts his own abilities, but knowing of the task he was given, I am sure most would have felt the same! And, yet he is strong in another, as how he is able to think quickly on his feet to secure his safety and the safety of others in harm’s way. He’s an interesting character for sure! And, I sensed that like Marragesh, his path is not lighted with an easy load by which to carry!

This short ends on the precipice of a larger evolving story, by which, I would think expands in the part of Ave that it originally was inspired to be drawn out of. In that way, I am curious if the boy and girl effectively hold a larger piece of where Sigananda’s future path takes him!?

| “Land of Shadow” |

The second thing I found amiss in the collection came to me whilst I read this short, (as the first I had said was the lack of illustrative plates by Mr. Perry to help encase our heads around the inhabitants of Ave), was the lack of a topographical map! I had forgotten how helpful I find maps to be inside fantasy novels, because they help align your bearings as you walk through different realms within the same world! They help you get a navigational sense of place, and therefore, can best ascertain the vastness of distance that worlds such as Ave contain! My favourites always included the different tribes, as well as specific landmarks known or not yet known within the timescape of the story itself! I think I have missed having that at the ready! I would presume it is enclosed with the first installment of Ave!?

The Shadowlands being presented here in this short, is not for the weak of heart as to having to thwart or contend with creatures that put the hairs on your necks on auto-pilot detection! I’m not a fan of spiders, so just knowing this part of Ave has a mutant variety of them at the ready to pounce on you was just as devastating to realise that there are water-based creatures who can fell a man simply out of boredom! What a curiously hostile part of Ave! Reminiscent of documentaries I have viewed on tv that depict such harsh and dangerous areas in our own part of the universe, I can attest that this is one girl who would not traipse through this territory but opt instead to hang out with the Trogens!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comA note on Zimmer’s style of story-telling:

He is one of the writers that I would genuinely be delighted to seek out (if it had not been for Tomorrow Comes Media!), as he parlays his fervent passion for research by interspersing what he uncovers into the tapestry by which Ave is threaded against! It’s a world that encompasses as many distinctively unique cultures, traditions, spirituality’s, and languages as our own living counterpart, and yet, it has something to give back to us as well!

It’s quite apparent at first reading that Ave is a world that you can gently enter into but its a world that draws a breath of dedication with each glance! The further you walk inside Ave, the more you want to know, the more you want to experience, and the more your drawn to wonder about the extensive scope of the stories that prompted this collection of shorts, which marks a transition through a lesser notation of them in the serial installments already known! Bits and bobbles of undercurrent histories stitched into the under threads, that give a larger impression of the story on a whole! OR, at least this is what I imagine to be true!

You get the firm sense that Zimmer is a voracious reader who dips into a bit of everything that yields to his personal curiosity and allows his mind to wander through the gate of his imagination to deposit into a reader’s hands a wholly encased world whose dimensions are ever expanding into larger scales of tales yet to be told! Except for the few shorts, where I think he opted instead for traditional heroic bloodshed story-telling! This might draw a close eye towards the fact he appreciates the horror genre, and bits of that seep into this side of his fantasy worlds. It’s his passion for research that I applaud first and foremost, as not every writer goes to the length as he does and I always celebrate a writer I find who carries out research on this level! Secondly, he endeavours you to amplify his words into motion by the words he uses to provoke a visual response, in which backs up something he said in an interview I heard of his (whilst researching which questions I wanted to ask him in my own interview!) where he acclaimed his novels are set to embody a motion picture medium rather than the printed world of the book! This is a claim he rightly deserves to make!

The care he takes to diminish the force of the violence inside by counter-balancing it with a life lesson is absolute genius, because your not as apt to focus on the brief encounters of evil, but rather, on the benefits of what each short attempts to draw out of the character he’s chosen to hone in on instead! These characters, I perceive to be secondary ones in the larger stories (novels), yet, they have a specific life-path in Ave that cross-sects with the intervening entities or events that bring about the most metamorphose of growth! You can use me as a barometer in knowing that if I can handle these stories, you can as well! I have an intolerance for violence, but I cherish the soulful stories such as these that grant the reader a ruminative conclusion of what they’ve read!

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A pause to highlight some of his character’s name selections:

Marragesh – My first instinct was that this name was not wantonly unknown to me, but I couldn’t place its direct origin, except to query a curious eye as towards it was a surname rather than a first name! I, tend to do this myself, whilst I am creating characters that I want to draw a firmer breath of strength into and to set them apart from their fore-bearers or familial contingents! My earlier mentioning of having this ‘hint me towards Marrakesh’ was my way of expressing that I create ‘endearing’ names for characters I struggle with to pronounce! In this way, I find characters transcend their original intentions left behind by the writer’s whose hand drew life into them! I am not sure of his method of creating names, which is why this will remain elusive to me!

Jarun – I did not know there is a lake in Croatia of this same name! I remembered “Jaran” or “Jaren”, and I wasn’t sure if he was hinting that this was an alternative to either of those or a new name completely! It doesn’t surprise me that he named the Trogens with bold and strong names, that can inflict their personality into their warrior spirits! Afterall, a warrior isn’t akin to a name that doesn’t sound like it could weaken in battle! No! They want a name that can be declared with a bit of power behind the letters!

Ch’uan – Is a bit easier to place, as its a name originating from Thai, yet is a Chinese name! The direct meaning of the name is to transmit a message or to convey a message, which is interesting, as this is what I was speaking about how ‘names can clue us into a character’ in a way that is singularly unique outside the scope of the narrative! It is also in different reference to T’ai Chi Ch’uan, in which it is known as boxing with fist, which is clever as this Ch’uan in the story is a pacifist!

Chang Tao Ling – This wizard’s first name can be representative of the attributions of “constant or often” which I think speaks directly to his ethics of how he approaches his duties as a wizard. Tao is a way of ushering in a path by which to take or of an understanding of a particular route. This is recognised readily when Ch’uan and Ling first meet in the forest! Ling can even be referred to as monasterial in Tibet, but I think what is being called upon here is that he is a reverent sage! Historically, “Chang Tao-Ling” founded the “Way of the Celestial Masters” as part of Chinese Religious Beliefs!

Fu Shen – The more interesting sounding names, I oft discover have a rather ordinary meaning behind them! As would you think that “Fu” means simply to be pretty!? Shen on the other hand can go the gambit as being part of Chinese spirituality or can be a testament towards accepting that not every dragon you cross paths with is going to be the good natured kind! Being a wizard I would presume its part compliment to his countenance and part a glimpse into his spirit. Wizards, of course, were always known to be enlightened past the brink of commoners, such as monks generally are known as well! In Chinese mythology, “Fu Shen” was a God of Happiness!

Tsai Shen – How interesting! This name could mean: spiritually gifted chai! As in Cantonese this “Tsai” translates to chai, by which is one of my favourite drinks!! Especially if its in latte form, silky smooth, and a cuppa of comfort of luxury! Clever! Except to say, that “Tsai Shen” was a powerful God of Wealth and Prosperity!

Kuan-Ti – One thing that I have known, is that writers who are passionate about research, which parlays into the spiritual realms, have the tendency to leave behind little ‘grains of seeds and sand’ that a reader can seek out and gain further insight into the creating side of the stories they read! As the wizards who were presented in the short, something struck me as being extraordinary about not only how they were being introduced but the names in which they held! Clearly, despite my absence of reading fantasy, I have not lost all my instincts in the genre, as this article will expand on the history of “Kuan-Ti”.

Shou Lao – If you seek, so you shall find! Look at what I found about the origin behind “Shou Lao”!! Whose full meaning will illuminate in your mind after you read Ch’uan’s story in full! Ironically or naught, I knew there was a bit more to that final sequence than my mind was attaching itself towards! I just ‘knew’ I was missing something!! Humph! I sorted it! Wicked!

Brigit – The name made me think of “Bridget”, though I knew better than to suspect commoner origins for her, as she has a story of great urgency and importance to share, which made me smile whilst I uncovered the “Celtic Brigid“!

Finnian – I love unearthing potential histories of characters I encounter in stories, as I may stumble across a writer’s inspiration behind their character names, but even if I hit a bit into left field, the joy in simply understanding a plausible next level of insight into a story, is enough for me to feel content! “Finnian of Clonard” has an interesting life’s tale to share!

I personally love character names that make you pensive about the origins of where they were generated as much as the motivation of the author to use them! They give a sense of place that you cannot always slide into the narrative as easily as a ‘name’, as our names are as distinctive as our ancestral backgrounds! They are like fingerprints of origin and hint at a history just outside our scope of knowing!
Rock on, Mr. Zimmer!

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The short that told a tale larger than its size:

A toss-up between “Into Glory Ride” and “A Touch of Serenity”, although of the two, I think I lean more towards “Into Glory Ride” because it was the one that choked me with emotion the most! Despite my affection for Ch’uan, of whom I hope is developed further into the annals of Ave, it was the sheer bravery and choices made by young sky riding Trogen males that endeared me to their race and to their triumph over the Elves! There is something naturally spiritual about the story that takes us into Marragesh and Jarun’s world ever-so-briefly. A parable of a dying breed of men who choose to rise above their own desires in order to see the clan by which they belong endure longer than their oppressor hopes to extinguish! I find great courage in this story, as well as such a strength of Hope that weaves through their courageous hearts! I am not sure if they mirror how I perceive the soldiers’ I give back too through Soldiers’ Angels, banning together and being strong for each other at the times that count the most or not, but this story was larger than its size!

 Ave, Middle Earth, and Pandora, places I can only long to visit:

I can easily assimilate myself into worlds whose expanse of depth encircles a sphere as big as our own Earth! Challenging and shifting histories, cultural clashes, religious misunderstandings, and the everyday strife for people to survive is etched into any world that is written into the hearts of the readers who find their stories! I am not certain if Pandora was necessarily available in story format prior to the motion picture of “Avatar” being released, but the reason I included that particular world is due to the majestic arc of its natural environment! I was literally swept out of this reality and placed wholly into another one — by the time the film ended on its climax, I was hungry for the next installment! The Na’vi are an indigenous race who endear themselves to you as soon as you meet them! How could you not want to live amongst them, even despite the obstacles towards that end!? I can still see the forest if I close my eyes, and listen ever so closely to the sounds that you would hear if you walking at nightfall…

When I was first introduced to “Middle Earth“, it was an unexpected late afternoon / early evening showing as I went during opening weekend of “The Fellowship of the Ring“! I would later aspire to attend a midnight showing, but I am not remembering if I had; I do know I saw a midnight showing of the last prequel of “Star Wars“! From that very first glimpse into Middle Earth, I knew I had ‘gone home’, as there was such a curious attraction of recognition from what my eyes took in from the screen! I couldn’t get over this feeling as though “I have been there”, and yet, after learning that the director Peter David had filmed in New Zealand, that loomed to be a rather large improbability! Yet. I never shook the feeling, and to this day, I hold a special place in my heart for Middle Earth! My favourites are book-ended, as its the middle ‘Middle Earth’ film that I didn’t appreciate as much! (“The Two Towers“) Which strangely is my same affirmation for “The Chronicles of Narnia“!

Although, this serves as my first introduction to the world of Ave, I very much hope that its not my last sojourn into its core of history! I am hopeful that despite the battle savvy warriors of the Trogens, and the dedication of the warriors of Gael, that perhaps there will be more of the life of Ch’uan and of the descendents of Marragesh’s clan! I’d love to see what happened to the evolving arc away from Elven rule, to where the Trogens could declare liberty and live more freely! I would very much like to see Ave in peace-time as much as I have seen her in war-time! There must be lands of enchanting visual beauty as well, as Ave appears to me to be a world where the natural world is as divinely inspiring as the one that lives outside our own doors!

What staid with me after I closed the final pages on this collection of Ave:

I learnt that its okay not to thoroughly become engaged with each short inside a collection of shorts, if I can detect an appreciation for the world at large, in which this case is Ave! I think this is why I was always a bit hesitant to read short story collections, because I oft wondered, what happens if I cannot find my footing!? What if I cannot sink into the stories, but find rather, I like bits and bobbles in each of them, but overall, I cannot get my head to wrap around the whole!? I learnt through this tour, that with collections such as these, it’s better to go in seeking a path towards understanding the world of the “Fires of Eden” series verse attempting to put heart-to-mind in a resolve to engage in each short as it was intended to be read! Afterall, what appeals to me through “Into Glory Ride” and “A Touch of Serenity” might not appeal to the next reader at all and vice versa!

I also learnt that I am drawn into epic fantasy realms where the scope of the story is told out through many installments, and where each of the layers that you unravel only serve to give you a further glimpse into a partial history of the combined story! I love the mystery and suspense that that evokes, as you never know who or whom you will encounter, or how each piece of the puzzle will fall into place, until you reach each new chapter or tome of story! Such bliss, right!?

There are creatures who have a dedicated heart that match their companions, and there are unsightly evils that seek to destroy the remaining good that has Ave wrapped in Light. I like how the stories each strive to serve one main purpose of showing the dividing lines between good vs. evil in a few new ways than might first be expected to be revealed. These are the stories that everyone can relate to the most, and the ones I think will always have weight to be consumed!

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“Crown of Vengeance” (Book One of the Fires of Eden series) by Stephen Zimmer

by Seventh Star Press

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Be sure to catch the second half of this showcase on JLAS:
Jorie interviews Stephen Zimmer!

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“Shrewsbury & Zimmer” Virtual Book Tour Roadmap:

  1. 30 September: Contest @ Library Girl Reads & Reviews
  2. 30 September: Interview with Stephen Zimmer @ Ian’s Realm
  3. 30 September: Review @ Book in the Bag
  4. 1 October: Review of “Blood & Steel: Legends of Gaul”
    by Steven Shrewsbury @ Azure Dwarf
  5. 1 October: Reader Interview Stephen Zimmer @ Bee’s Knees Reviews
  6. 1 October: Guest Post by Steven Shrewsbury @ Armand Rosamilia, Author
  7. 1 October: Review of “Chronicles of Ave: Volume One” @ Lost Inside the Covers
  8. 2 October: Character Post: Gorias La Gaul @ Beauty in Ruins
  9. 2 October: Guest Post: Steven Zimmer @ Come Selahway with Me
  10. 2 October: Guest Post: Steven Shrewsbury @ Sheila Deeth
  11. 3 October: Promo Spotlight @ Deal Sharing Aunt
  12. 4 October: Promo Spotlight @ Sapphyria’s Book Reviews
  13. 5 October: Promo Spotlight @ Spellbindings
  14. 5 October: Review of “Chronicles of Ave: Volume One”
    + Reader Interview Stephen Zimmer @ Jorie Loves A Story
  15. 5 October: Review @ Jess Resides Here
  16. 5 October: Guest Post: Stephen Zimmer @ SpecMusicMuse
  17. 6 October: Promo Spotlight @ The Flipside of Julianne
  18. 6 October: Review @ L. Andrew Cooper’s Horrific Scribblings

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBe sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:
Tomorrow Comes Media Tour Hoston my Bookish Events Featured on JLAS!

Please take note of the Related Articles as they were hand selected due to being of cross-reference importance in relation to this book review. This applies to each post on my blog where you see Related Articles underneath the post. Be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the further readings which are offered.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Chronicles of Ave: Volume One” by Matthew Perry; Stephen Zimmer’s photograph and biography, and the blog tour badge were all provided by Tomorrow Comes Media and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. The book trailer by Seventh Star Press had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013

Related Articles:

Stephen Zimmer – (gingernutsofhorror.com)

Author Stephen Zimmer Talks about Word Counts – (breathoflifebookreviews.blogspot.com)

Azure Dwarf Horde: Interview with Stephen Zimmer, June 23, 2012 (YouTube) – (youtube.com/user/SeventhStarPress)

Chinese Terracota Warriors – (pinterest.com/pattirabbit)

Worlds of Wonder Author Hop Day 4: Welcome to Ave, a World Like No Other – (stephenzimmer.blogspot.com)

Guest Post by Stephen Zimmer – Challenges of Writing Short Stories That Tie Into Fantasy Series – (smsand.wordpress.com)

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Posted Saturday, 5 October, 2013 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Heroic Bloodshed, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Supernatural Fiction, Sword & Scorcery, Tomorrow Comes Media

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