Josh VogtI’m happy to have Josh Vogt here at my blog again, in honor of the release of his second novel, The Maids of Wrath, the follow-up to last year’s Enter the Janitor. Josh has also written a number of tie-in novels for Pathfinder, which you can find more about at his site or by following his his YouTube channel.


What do you do when you accomplish a dream you’ve had for over a decade? I can remember the specific moment when my love of reading and writing coalesced into a true vision to become an author (a career author, no less) and get a book published. I remember the specific book I was reading, my sophomore year dorm room, and time of day. I remember the thought flashing through my head of: “I could write as well as this, or better.” And then replying to myself, “Well, why not prove it?”

Things quickly became more complicated once I started researching writing craft and the publishing industry, attending conferences, conventions, and critique groups—but the initial dream remained intact. I dedicated countless hours to this new passion, trying to refine my technique, trying to complete stories and submit them, and then trying to not let near-constant rejection discourage me from continuing on this path.

Years went by. I worked for a publisher, writing sales copy. I worked as an editor for an online newspaper. I eventually transitioned into full-time freelance writing, expanding from corporate copywriting to writing for roleplaying games and other fun projects. I also got an agent, only to amicably part with him a year later after things didn’t quite work out.

Maids of Wrath - Copy - 2And then, back right at the beginning of 2014…I got an offer for not one but two books. On one side, I got a contract to write a novel in the Pathfinder Tales tie-in line, set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. On the other, WordFire Press acquired Enter the Janitor, the first in my humorous urban fantasy series, The Cleaners. Both came out in May 2015, and now The Cleaner #2: The Maids of Wrath is out April 2016, with #3 well under way.

It’s a strange feeling when you’ve worked so long and hard to reach a particular goal, to achieve a specific dream…and then it happens. You make it. You’re there.

There’s a celebration, to be sure. Launch parties and signings and conventions and those wonderful first reviews (while quickly learning to ignore reviews in general, for sanity’s sake). You get to meet readers and fans and maybe even earn some royalties! Inevitably, though, within all the hubbub, the mind looks ahead and wonders, “What’s next?” What happens when you’ve seen a dream literally come true?

At first, I half-feared my passion for writing might fade. That, because I’d done what I’d set out to do, I might lose the drive to keep going.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. In fact, I only became all the more eager to leap onto the next book, to tell my next tale, and see it get published as well! I quickly realized that initial dream I had was just a single facet of a much bigger vision of pursuing a lifetime of creativity and constant growth as an author. I’d hit a milestone, yes, but it was only the first of many.

Enter the Janitor - CoverThat thrills me. I now know the only limits on what I dream to achieve are the ones I set on myself. Sure, there will be dreams I have that I’ll never see come to fruition—but that doesn’t mean I won’t chase them. Sure, there will be failure—but I can learn from it and move on. And throughout it all, I can be confident that there will always be new challenges to overcome, new milestones to celebrate, and new dreams to reach for.

What more could I ask for?

Click here for the English version of the story. Cu mare place va prezint un nou scriitor de primul rang, Sebastian Bangs, cu varsta de 5 ani. Aceasta poveste a fost scrisa de el in ultimele zile, cu redactare usoara de mine.

Doua balene au venit la copilul care s-a nascut in ocean. Baiatul a urcat pe balene si s-a dus la un loc secret in ocean balenelelor. L-au dus la un loc unde erau monede de aur.

Balenele i-au spus, “La revedere!” copilului care s-a nascut in ocean! Copilul a revenit la tarm. Copilul a fost invitat acasa la balene si era foarte speriat pentru ca credea ca balenele vor sa-l manance, dar nu erau asa de rele. Familia balenelor a crezut ca acest copil arata ca el e e prietenul nostru care s-a nascut in ocean.

Baiatul care s-a nascut in ocean avea o prietena pe care o cauta. Baiatul care s-a nascut in ocean a gasit-o pe prietena lui. Era pe partea cealalta a oceanului si doua balene care erau prietenele baiatului au spus ca s-a facut o noua casa pentru baiatul care s-a nascut in ocean. Si a stat acolo cu prietena pe care o cauta.

Niste serpi au vrut sa-l manance. Serpii au vrut sa-l puna in inchisoare. Si inchisoarea era un cuptor. Si serpii l-au pacalit pe baiat care s-a nascut in ocean. El credea ca cuptorul era perna lui unde se culca, dar era cuptorul. Serpii au facut foc in cuptor. Si l-a lovit foarte tare pe baiat care s-a nascut in ocean.

Cele doua balene au venit sa-l salveze. Si l-au salvat pe baiat care s-a nascut in ocean. Si l-au adus unde era prietena lui pe marginea oceanului. Si a jucat cu prietena lui.

Dupa aia cerul s-a schimbat in nori si erau multi serpi care erau facuti din curent electric. Serpii au vrut s-o manance pe prietena baiatului care s-a nascut in ocean. Si au venit balene de foc si serpii si balenele au vrut sa se distruge unii pe altii. Baiatul care s-a nascut in ocean a fugit cu prietena lui.

Dupa aia au vazut serpii din curent electric si balenele de foc si balenele cele doua. Balenele au batut pe serpi. Universul oceanului era salvat.

Dar mai erau niste serpi care au spus balenelor de foc, “Nu puteti strica planurile noastre!”

Si cele doua balene si balenele de foc si prietena si baiatul care s-a nascut in ocean au mers acasa.

Dati click aici pentru versiunea in limba romana.

I’m delighted here to present the first work by a budding novelist of the first rank, Sebastian Bangs, age 5. The original story was composed in Romanian; it has been lightly edited and translated by myself.

Two whales came to the boy who was born in the ocean. The boy climbed onto the whales and went to a secret place in the whales’ ocean. They took him to a place where there were gold coins.

Then the whales said, “Goodbye!” to the boy who was born in the ocean. The boy returned to the shore. Then he was invited to the whales’ home, and he was very frightened because he thought the whales were going to eat him, but they weren’t so bad. The family of whales thought that this boy would be their friend because he had been born in the ocean.

The boy who was born in the ocean had a girl friend that he was looking for. The boy who was born in the ocean found his friend. She was on the other side of the ocean, and the two whales who were the boy’s friends told them that they had made a new house for the boy who was born in the ocean. And he stayed there with the friend that he had been looking for.

There were some snakes who wanted to eat him. The snakes wanted to put him in jail, but the jail was actually an oven. And the snakes tricked the boy who was born in the ocean. He thought that the over was his pillow where he slept, but it was actually an oven. The snakes made a fire in the oven, and they hurt the boy who was born in the ocean.

But the two whales came to save him. They saved the boy who was born in the ocean, and they brought him to where his friend was on the edge of the ocean. And he played with his friend.

Then the sky was filled with clouds and there were very many snakes made of electricity. The snakes wanted to eat the friend of the boy who was born in the ocean. Then whales of fire came, and the whales and the snakes wanted to destroy each other. The boy who was born in the ocean ran away with his friend.

Then the snakes of electricity and the whales of fire and the two whales came, and the whales defeated the snakes. The world of the ocean was saved!

But there were a few more snakes who warned them, “You cannot stop our plan!”

But the two whales, and the whales of fire, and the boy’s friend, and the boy who was born in the ocean all went home.

This past week, my wife and I went to Budapest with our youngest son. Here are some things we learned:

  1. The Romanian mountains have some of the most picturesque villages you’ll ever see, especially in the autumn.
  2. There’s no need to pay to go into Matthias Church (one of the two major churches that tourists will want to see). Instead, wait until the evening Mass. Then you’ll get to see the interior of the church and enjoy the lovely organ.
  3. The subway has incredibly long escalators going down. It’s also extremely fast, and if you’re trying to visit multiple sites in one day, certainly worth a day pass.
  4. Our hotel, the Buda Castle Fashion Hotel, was an excellent deal, situated right in the heart of Buda Castle Hill, within a few blocks of major tourist sites, and had great staff. Also, we got a free upgrade to a 2-bedroom suite after being selected as the “Guest of the Day”. Highly recommended if you’re thinking of going.
  5. Hungarian spelling is really weird.

Enjoy our pics below!

I’m very excited to announce that The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is going on sale on Nov 18, including my story The Last Free Bear.

I’ve seen the proofs for this book, and let me tell you it looks gorgeous, with fantastic cover art (that you can see above), as well as a collection of stupendous stories for anyone who likes epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and heroic fantasy. It’s well worth your time.

The Interpreter's Tale: A Word With Too Many Meanings
The Interpreter’s Tale: A Word With Too Many Meanings by E.M. Epps
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was a little skeptical about a book called “The Interpreter’s Tale”. I was extremely skeptical about the dedication to “linguistic nerds” on the first pages—not because I wasn’t sure that I would like it, but because I wasn’t sure that anybody else would.

Well. I shouldn’t have been worried.

This is a charming, breezily-written story about an interpreter named Eliadmaru, a bookish, curious young man who has made a habit of studying obscure languages. He is picked up from his obscure post at a border station by a relative of the Emperor, called “the Autransi”, for a diplomatic mission to a neighboring country. His job, ostensibly, is merely to facilitate the Autransi’s attempt to heal the neighboring king’s sickly daughter with magic, and then help the Autransi woo the princess and secure a favorable trade agreement. Their mission becomes more complicated than it looks, as you might expect. There are enemies in the foreign court and members of their own mission who have ulterior motives. Eliadmaru develops a relationship with the imperial sorceress, a woman named Folso, and he finds himself with divided loyalties as his duties as a translator, his oaths to the Autransi, and his fondness for Folso all come into conflict.

This book is not a page-turner: the pacing is gentle, and the tone is measured and pleasant even when the stakes in the Autransi’s mission turn lethal. That’s not to say that the book is boring; on the contrary, after reading a series of arduously brutal fantasies Eliadmaru’s the calm confidence was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. And I was preparing to give the book a solid four stars, right into the last fifth of the book, where—

I don’t want to reveal anything about the last bits of the plot. However, the light-hearted nature of the story takes a sudden turn towards the end, and the store ends with a psychological and moral quandary of surprising depth. Characters I thought that I understood turned out to have more complexity than previously suspected, and the protagonist is forced into hard choices with no good options. And I am ambivalent about the ending, which has had me wondering for several days whether Eliadmaru actually did the right thing.

And as for the promise of the title and dedication: there are plenty of allusions to linguistic trivia and the mental and physical act of interpreting, but these discussions don’t overwhelm the story, and there’s plenty to recommend the book even to someone who isn’t terribly interested in linguistics. I’d recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good political fantasy.

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