The Wounded King – FREE

Yep, you read that right.  The Wounded King, Book One in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction based on my award-winning debut novel Martuk … the Holy, will be FREE for one day and one day only, March 27th.

Curious?  Here’s an excerpt:

 

“I eat,” Mother suddenly said.

“The flesh –”

She interrupted me with a nod.

“It’s hungry,” she said, her voice low, the words almost a whisper. “Its stomach desperate for the meat, the muscle, the skin. If I don’t feed It, there’s pain.”

Her hand on her stomach, she continued.

“I am powerless, my son. I don’t want to. I don’t want this. It’s disgusting, it sickens me, it’s something I cannot stop, and it’s destroyed me. The taste, the feel of it in my mouth, the smell on my hands, my fingers –”

She stopped, this brief moment of lucidity gone as quickly as it began.

Closing her eyes, she cocked her head, distracted by something only she could hear. The morning had grown dark, the sun shadowed by a rare cloud.

I looked up to see a clear blue sky.

The shadows grew.

“A God is being born,” she finally said. “The pain, the anguish I endure, is this body dying so that this God, this Dark God, can be born. And I, as that God, will rule.”

The dark grew darker.

I moved closer to her.

“Mother …” I began, “the shadows, they’re moving.”

“Yes, It moves and It is only one shadow.”

It quickened, the dark, as it slid along the ground, vaporous fingers reaching out to my Mother as she spoke.

“It needed the flesh, you see. An eternity caressing all those bodies as they slept, lifetimes licking the skin, the flesh on its tongue only a taste, ephemeral, quickly gone.

“It needed to eat. Finally. Needed more. It needed to feel the life in Its mouth. It needed to tear the skin and rip the muscle and gnaw the bone. Experience being alive, experience living, all those deaths feeding It.

“And now It will live through me, with me, as me.”

The shadow grew, an immense cloud around us, the dust lifting from the ground to churn in the black, the warmth of day now the moist, steamy heat of something uncontrollable, unknowable, and wrong.

“Mother, It will eat you.”

She no longer heard me, the silent song of these shadows obsessing her.

I grabbed her hand.

“Please …” I began as the Darkness lifted me.

churning and turning and whipping

An excerpt from The Wounded King, the first book in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by Martuk … the Holy:

 

I ran.

The shadows followed.

It had dropped me, the Darkness, Its strength not yet great enough to hold me.

But I had climbed to my feet, the dark unbelievably dark, my ankles stained by the moist heat as I tripped and then stumbled and, tumbling down the hill, ran.

She was on the ground, Mother, oblivious, the dirt against her cheek, her hands buried in the earth, the shadow rolling and twisting around her as It ate her whispers, her sighs, her tears.

And now I sprinted toward the city under the glare of a bright sun as It chased me, churning and turning and whipping in the dust.

My heart pounded in my ears as the rocks cut my feet, the Darkness’s desire for me inflamed by the blood staining the ground.

The city drew near, the thick walls and heavy gates in sight.

In the quiet calm of morning she had urged me to leave the city with her.  Had insisted on passing through the gate to climb the small hill so we could speak away from those who would see, our secrets unknown to those who would hear.

She had lied, my Mother.

I stumbled and fell.

The heat was on me, the moist fingers wrapped around my ankle, my calf burning in the heat, the flesh raw under Its touch.

I kicked It free as I crawled, my hands pawing at the dirt as I climbed to my feet to run again.

It reared back, the shadow lunging forward like a snake before It followed, the Dark rolling on the ground like a wave.

I was close, so close, to the city.  To safety.

What if the Darkness followed me beyond the gates?, I suddenly thought as my heart beat in my ears.  What’s to stop It were it to slip into the city and torment me there?  Is there anything to keep It from swallowing me while I sleep?

What if this monstrosity were inescapable?

The guards recognized me, the brawny men in a rush to open the gates for the Almost King.

I darted through.

The Darkness followed.

I felt It on my heels, my calves, the back of my thighs, my back, my neck, the fingers around my skull as I ran and ran, the pain a constant sting, the burn excruciating as the Darkness took hold of me.

I had lost.

 

The Wounded King Final - cover

It begins with a whisper …

From the blood drenched depravity of The Wounded King and the ancient curses of The Elder, we now follow a young man in his journey to the coveted red and gold robes of a Priest in Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn’s ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by his award-winning novel Martuk … the Holy.

It begins with a whisper.

The words a warning, silently spoken to the heart of this innocent kneeling in the mighty Temple of Uruk one thousand years before the birth of Christ. A young one who dreams of being wrapped in the red and gold robes of a priest.

But this warning whispered by a mysterious Magi leads to doubt. And then to fear. This stranger who wields magic from the anonymity of shadow forcing this initiate to look beyond the power of the Temple into the frightening black hearts of those who rule.

Haunted by the cries of those Bones in the Stones, his kindness stumbling under the weight of a young boy he leads to slaughter, all while trapped in this life he’s chosen and now can never escape, this is the story of how horrible truths and bloody betrayals destroy the dreams of innocent hearts.

This is … Red and Gold.

– available now –

the air thick with secrets

Doing a final polish on Red and Gold, the latest installment in The Martuk Series, and should have it Live on Amazon, etc. in a day or two.  :)

Until then, here’s the cover.

Red & Gold Final-cover

 

Tip of a grateful cap to my cover artist, Timothy Burch.  He’s kinda awesome.  :)

And, yeah, why the hell not?  Here’s a brief excerpt:

 

Listen well …

The voice, the whisper, came again.

I listened.

The Elder was passing me.  He moved by, calm and quick.  I did not exist to him.  I was no one.  A stranger to ignore.  An initiate who had yet to earn the priesthood, my thick hair damning me to ignominy on sight.

Ah, but this stranger, the one with the cloak ringed with the dull white of bone, he was not one to ignore.  I could sense fear in the old man, The Elder.  I could feel the air thick with secrets and shame and an utter sense of powerlessness.

The Elder stopped.

I glanced at his bare feet.

They were covered in blood.  And bits of flesh?   Yes, that’s what it looked like, his long toes smeared in discarded shards of torn flesh.  And the hem of his red and gold robe, it, too, was covered in blood.  It was dripping, small drops of blood staining the stone beneath his feet.

Dripping.

The blood was fresh.

And they, the two of them, The Elder and this stranger who could whisper to the darkest depths of my soul, both smelled of smoke and raging fire and torn flesh.

But The Elder had stopped.  Could he hear my thoughts?  Could he read my soul?  Did he know I had linked his name, his greatness, with words like shame and powerlessness?

If so, I would incur his wrath.

No …

The stranger grew close.  Looked at me.  He, too, was covered in blood.  His robe dripping fresh blood.  His feet stained red.  More so than The Elder’s.  As if this stranger, whose toes almost squished with fresh blood, had waded through an ocean of red to stand before me.

Yes …

I raised my eyes, slowly, so, so slowly.

His chest was bare.  It was covered in blood.

His head was shaved smooth.  It was covered in blood.

His eyes, peering from beneath a layer of red, were looking at mine.

A small smile grew on his thin lips.

Young priest …

came the whisper.

Listen well and I will give you the world.

 

 

new look for The Elder

In the run-up to the release of Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, I’m sharing the NEW cover to The Elder.

The Elder Final-cover

 

Once again, cover artist Timothy Burch knocks it outta the park.  Don’t you agree?  :)

 

a new Wounded King

Sorry, kids, but there ain’t nothing better than getting a brand spanking new cover for one of your books.

And that’s what’s happening with The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by my award-winning full-length novel Martuk … the Holy.

First up for the face lift was The Wounded King, next will be The Elder, and then Red and Gold, the third in the series, will be making its debut.

But I don’t want to jump the gun and upload the new TWK cover until the one for The Elder is finished, so … here’s a teeny, tiny sneakity peek.

 

The-Wounded-King-Aug13-crop

 

And that’s just a glimpse of the awesomeness to come.  :)

 

warriors and Queens

The great thing about writing sequels — my creative mind currently ensconced in Red and Gold — is revisiting earlier work and, pushing all that useless false modesty aside, remembering just how damn good you are.

Ergo, an excerpt from the most recent in The Martuk Series, The Elder:

 

The Child had stopped, her body still, her blood-drenched toes far from the ground, her face stained red as she watched me with bleeding eyes.

The Seer had stopped, the bent body now still, waiting.

The wolves were quiet, their bodies hidden in the dark, waiting.

She spoke, The Child, her words silently on The Seer’s lips.

“Made of ash, of stone, burning from the bones, warriors and Queens, a woman trapped in time, a rival drawing near, hatred, love, pain, hatred, love, pain, hatred … “

The bones crunched and snapped as her head circled, the neck rolling chin to chest and then back, her jaw snapping open and shut.

Then she paused.

Breathed.

And spoke again.

“He will come, the one you seek, with the death, the life, stepping through the light, walking on the bones.”

She then closed her eyes as she bent back, back, back, her bones snapping with a crack as she broke her back, the golden locks of her silken hair touching the delicate heels of her tiny feet.

The body dropped to the ground.

From the shadows, the wolves pounced.

The Seer breathed deep, heavy, thick.

I stretched out and rested my head, the Whispers drowning me as the world spun and throbbed and tilted.

Fiend …

Evil …

She waits …

Who? I asked, my eyes closing.

She comes …

The wolves dragged the broken Child away, jaws around her skull, her arm, even the delicate heel, hungry to rip and shred the succulent flesh and gnaw the tender bones.

Who? I asked again, the cool soil against my face, my forehead.

I opened my eyes, the air too hot, the rank taste of bile on my tongue, and the thick scent of age and rancid sweat and death in my nostrils.  And from the shadows the wet sound of the girl being devoured as the wolves ripped and shredded and tore in my ears while the world heaved and lurched.

The sound of wings.  Great wings.  From behind me they came, the unexpected whoosh, whoosh, whoosh coming closer.

But I was too tired.  Too tired and too sick.  Too sick and too weak and too confused, the ground buckling and spinning too much for me to keep my eyes open, to turn, to see what had wings.  Wings too large and too great.

She comes …

From the mountains? I asked with a sigh as I exhaled and ended the fight, allowing darkness to take me.

From the ash …

Is there a Why to your What?

I have a nasty habit of not listening to people.

Let me explain …

I love collaboration.  Nothing excites me more as a writer than getting notes, reading other’s thoughts and suggestions, seeing my work through someone else’s eye and discovering how much more it can be.  The rewrite process is much better when you have people to bounce your ideas off of.  So, when it comes to working with others, I play nice.

It’s only when someone tells me what I CAN’T do that I tend to tune them out.

For example, when I wrote my first screenplay in 2004, well-meaning friends familiar with the Business of Show told me that’s what I’d be for the rest of my career:  a screenwriter.  So imagine their surprise when I decided to write a play!  Well, they said, you can write features and maybe a play or two, but that’s really your limit.  That’s all you’re supposed to do.  Features, plays, that’s it.  Be happy with that, okay?  Okay.

Then I wrote my full-length novel, Martuk … the Holy.  And The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction based on Martuk … the Holy (currently being adapted into graphic novels)after that.

By now, these well-meaning friends — who really are sincerely lovely people I truly adore — weren’t quite sure what box to place me in.  Was I a screenwriter, a playwright, an author of Literary Horror?  Some Frankenstein-like amalgamation of all of them?  Which was it, really, because all this hopscotching across literary borders was getting annoying.

Well, I asked, why can’t I be EVERYTHING all rolled into ONE?

It was a reality they had to accept.  And with the industry changing so rapidly over the last several years, my dog-eared passport to the Land of Many Genres is nothing new, my journeys now more often than not spent standing shoulder -to-shoulder with a veritable mob of Writers as we move between features, edgy cable series, plays, fiction, non-fiction, more features, and advertiser-friendly Network sitcoms.

Which brings me to my next stop:  a sitcom.

Something I truly thought I’d never do, to be honest, most of my work testing the limits of human experience, my characters often hitting rock bottom before tunneling even further into the dark.  But there it is!  A happy, funny, sweet, sincere sitcom any Network would be lucky to get its hands on.

(Hey, Relentless Optimism, it’s good to see you!)

So if you write, write.  Don’t let form or convention or anyone with a half-assed opinion hinder how you decide to express yourself.  You may have to shift gears quickly — I’ll spend the morning writing and rewriting snappy sitcom dialogue only to take a quick lunch break before seeing the afternoon disappear in a prose-heavy recreation of 5th century views of religion in Constantinople for the bloody, violent sequel to Martuk.

But hey, unless you can give me a Why to the Whats you decide I can and can’t do, I’ll continue translating the insanity my imagination insists on throwing at me.

Demons, Darkness, and a dying King

(blogger note:  this Post is being driven by three espressos gulped down in five minutes flat. Yee-haw!!!!!)

Truth be told, I kinda suck at pitching my work.  Great with ideas, very strong on character, fantastic at writing it all down. But pitching? Meh.
I mean, let’s face it, brevity has never been my strong suit.  But it’s a must and I’d feel better kinda sorta maybe figuring out how to do it now instead of waiting until the storm hits.
So, for those wondering “what’s this book about?”, I’ve gone ahead and boiled it down to a single, simple sentence.

Martuk … The Holy

Tormented by demons, an immortal man confronts his violent past.

And The Martuk Series, the ongoing collection of Short Fiction (currently being adapted into graphic novels) inspired by Martuk … the Holy:

The Wounded King: The Martuk Series 

Surrounded by a dying King, power-hungry Priests, and a Queen sliding into madness, an Almost King battles an ancient Darkness.

The Elder: The Martuk Series 

Driven to rule and afraid to die, a powerful Priest sacrifices all in pursuit of “an end that never ends” from a Darkness older than Time.

Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche , the sequel to Martuk …, is scheduled for a late-2013/early-2014 release with the third in the series Martuk … the Holy:  Shayateen due in early 2016.   And I’m working my butt off to get Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, ready for a September 2013 release.
After that, I’m strongly considering perhaps as many as three full-length spin-off series based on a few of the ancillary characters which have captured my imagination.

What can I say?  I’m a glutton for punishment and, evidently, love being chained to my keyboard.  Feeling the need for a fourth espresso in five, four, three, two … (^~^)