I’m offering 5 signed paperback copies to members of Goodreads. All you need to do is click the link above and log into your Goodreads account! It’s that easy. This giveaway will run through January 8th, 2018.
Join the Mailing List, Get A Free book!
Join my new mailing list and get updates on new releases, giveaways, merchandise, etc., and GET A FREE eBook just for signing up.
That’s it for now! Keep on the lookout for more giveaways as the year rolls on!
As always, Share your light and “stay gold, Ponyboy!”
This is it; my first sci-fi novel goes on sale in just a few days, and I couldn’t be more excited. While this book has been a complete work since 2014, and I’ve actually used in my curriculum when teaching comparative literature with the 1,001 Arabian Nights stories, It feels like a whole new chapter in my art because it breaks from Immortal Light, a series I’m extremely proud of, but very ready to put on the shelf.
In 2012, I first began teaching from the Arabian Nights stories in my 7th grade Language Arts and Social Studies classes. Prior to that year, the only time I’d heard of the Arabian Nights was from that song in Aladdin, and, oddly enough, from jr. high band class when we played Scheherazade by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov who was inspired by the tales of the Arabian Nights. So, I guess Nikolay and I have something in common. It’s a good thing, too, because I was beginning to think that my lack of appreciation for Russian authors was making me hate Russians in general. Thankfully I have a great appreciation for Russian composers.
Anyway, after reading a few of the Arabian Nights stories, including “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, I was enthralled by them. I loved the mystery, and, of course, the horrific death that appealed to the little boy inside me, but I didn’t know how to requite that appreciation until I read another book that had nothing to do with the Arabian Nights.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I first heard of Cinder by Marissa Meyer the same year I first read the Arabian Nights. It was sitting on a table at the entrance of Barnes and Noble. I saw it, picked it up, read the blurb, read the first chapter, and told my myself to come back for it sometime in the future.
Well, I never went back for it, not right away, anyway. I ended up checking out the audiobook from the local library system. For the next few days, I would listen to it while at the gym (this was winter of 2013 and I probably did more listening than actual working out). I had a lot of thoughts about that book that I won’t share in this post, but suffice it to say I had mixed feelings, mostly good. However, the prevailing thought that I had (and I love the Cinderella story … A LOT) was that I could do this, I could take a classic story like this one and make it accessible to a modern sci-fi audience. I really believed I could do it.
So I started … and I failed … sort of.
I know that right now it seems that Aladdin was the obvious choice to start a project like this; it’s the most popular Arabian Nights story–and it’s not even close. But It wasn’t my first choice. It wasn’t even my second choice. I originally wanted to start with the story of Scheherazade, the frame of the entire Arabian Nights universe. It’s a great story. It’s still my favorite part of the Arabian Nights, but when talking with a few friends and my wife, it became abundantly clear that Scheherazade was not the right way to begin.
It was a bit of a blow, but I wasn’t completely discouraged that I couldn’t use Scheherazade’s story. I still had Ali Baba, my next favorite because there was daring, and danger, and gruesome death; it was perfect. But, what my friend and colleague Matt pointed out was that it still isn’t the most popular of the tales. It isn’t the Cinderella of the Arabian Nights. And, bless his heart, he didn’t want to say it, he didn’t want to fill in the obvious blank, and I think a part of him didn’t want to even say the word because Disney had already appropriated it, and made it into something so Disney that it was almost untouchable. But Aladdin was the only right place to start. There never really was another starting point.
And so, LAMP was born.
Star Trek + Asimov = Technology over Magic
Having made up my mind to start with Aladdin, I needed a hook, a gimmick, if you will. I needed something that set my iteration of Aladdin apart from others, but kept if familiar enough that the reader didn’t feel completely detached from the original story.
Although I love the original story, it incorporates magic, and when it comes to magic … I’m not a fan. I like things being explained in realistic terms, at least in terms that seem to make sense. Two of the best examples of this are my favorite sci-fi franchise, Star Trek, and one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Isaac Asimov. Both deal heavily in AI and space flight/exploration, and both were my keys to making “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” into LAMP.
The Lamp Had To Be Software
Once I settled on a universe, there were the story elements I needed to address, the elements that make up the Aladdin story. When you consider all the popular versions of the story, they really only have four things in common. Aladdin, was obviously at the center of the story, a young boy who comes into a life-changing circumstance that forms him into the hero he becomes. Then there is the lamp, the mystical object that presents a genie who grants its master wishes (in the traditional story there was a ring with a genie before the lamp, but Disney so effectively obliterated the traditional story, that it doesn’t even matter; and let’s be honest, no two genies could even touch Robin Williams’ portrayal). Then there’s the princess, the object of Aladdin’s desire and efforts; she drives the plot, is the reason for Aladdin to make the choices he makes. And, Finally, there’s the evil wizard, sorcerer, magician. This is simply the dude who sets the whole story in motion by presenting Aladdin with power he never should have had.
That’s it, those are the four horsemen of the Alladin story, the indispensable things that all stories of Aladdin have in common. If I made sure to have all four of them, I would be okay.
That being said, I wanted this Aladdin universe to be similar to Star Trek, to I, Robot, and to Cinder, not a reboot of an ancient tale set in a distant past. I wanted it set in a distant future, because that’s the kind of fiction that speaks to me. Hence, magic wasn’t really an option … thank goodness. It had to be technology based, and the inexplicable nature of the LAMP had to be technology that was advanced and not magical. Therefore, the Link Access Manipulation Program came to pass (and I am very proud of my uncreative self for that little acronym … but still not as proud as I am for the Rapid Ultralight Glider … RUG).
Laddin Shahera, Zadè, Kimber, and Malik
In this day, when people say there are only “this many stories” or “that many stories”, that stories simply repeat themselves, it becomes necessary to drive a story with characters.
Who you calling scruffy looking?
My Aladdin character had to be someone that people liked, related to, and wanted to see succeed, but imperfect in all the right ways. He had to be an antihero that everyone rooted for despite his poor decision-making skills. So, Laddin Shahera was born. Laddin is an antihero that I seem to have inadvertently modeled after my own son. He’s a scruffy boy with more ambition and intelligence than any two college graduates; he’s scrappy, and smart, and self-centered in a darwinian sort of way, but he’s also as skittish as an alley cat in uncomfortable circumstances. He’s the kind of kid who would never let you take care of him despite the fact that that’s exactly what he needs.
I think the sidekick is essential in storytelling. It’s rare that you see a story where there isn’t a good sidekick who is there to balance out the heroes heroics with a personality that’s more relatable. This is the half of the duo that speaks to the every-man in each of us. It’s usually a character with a more true-north moral compass (think Spock, Pepper Potts, and Alfred). This is Zadè. Named after the hero of the Arabian Nights frame story, she is Laddin’s only friend, a true companion who believes in him. She has a perfect moral compass, she is loyal, compassionate, and beautiful. She is perfect in almost every way because that’s how she was built; Zadè is a mecha, an android, a robot, AI, whatever you want to call her, and she is everything her namesake suggests she should be. Just as Scheherazade had an uncommon perfection about her with regard not only to beauty, but to wisdom and cunning, so does Zadè. She is bold and daring, and learns as she experiences things in her robot way.
A princess … a flipping princess! She had to be a princess in every story. She had be an aspiration too high to obtain. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want a princess. You can imagine me, having four daughters, what my perception of a princess was, and how I wanted to avoid that image like a plague. So, I made her a flight attendant. Yeah, a flight attendant that was perfectly matched and suited to Laddin’s personality, and she wasn’t a … well, she wasn’t supposed to be a princess … until she became one. Don’t ask me how it happened, but it did. I couldn’t not make her a princess. It’s like the storybook fairies were sprinkling some wicked amounts of dust on me in those days (stupid magic). Kimber (who started out being called Tinder until, well … stupid Tinder! But I like the name Kimber. I stole it from some wonderful family friends), is not what she seems, but in the name of spoilers, I’m not going to go too much into Kimber except to say, be careful what you wish for.
Then there’s the bad guy, the baddy, the antagonist. Somebody had to put Laddin up to stealing the most powerful software in the galaxy, probably the universe. Malik is the last king on Earth, and he only has that position because of events that took place with his family centuries before he was born. Being a member of the last privileged family on the planet. I didn’t originally have a vision of Malik when I created him, but old Stephen Seagal with a ponytail really seems to fit.
The Galactic Adventures Continue … I Hope
My Goal is to create a series of adventure stories with Laddin and Zadè that will take readers through other classic tales including King Arthur and Pinocchio. I want to sweep across geographical areas and time periods of historical storytelling, and not stick only to the Arabian Nights, although I haven’t ruled out Ali Baba just yet.
I am currently working on a King Arthur story with a twist. A young foster girl named Artura is the only one who can wield the mysterious “X”, but no one knows what the X is or where it actually resides, at least not until Zadè arrives as a wizard on Artura’s planet and helps Artura’s foster brother Kay and the other Knights of The Lot solve the mysteries of a virtual world their previous king designed in order to protect The X. I’ve barely begun writing, but I’m certain it will be at least as adventurous as LAMP. And so far, it’s a Zadè book, no Laddin … yet.
Please check out LAMP on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, as well as many other outlets for eBooks and paperbacks!
It’s been three years sine my last post, so I’d say I’m due.
First, I want to thank you all who follow me on any platform! You are AWESOME and I love you all!
Now for the nitty and the gritty:
IMMORTAL LIGHT: THROUGH THE FIRE
IL: THROUGH THE FIRE was finally finished and published late last year. Again, I published via Create Space publishing, and I did all the design myself with a wonderful cover model and the absolute best team of editors!
ILTTF represents the final installment of the Immortal Light series, and while I am so in love with those characters, and I feel like those fictional people have somehow improved my life, I am glad to be finished and moving on. My experience with Immortal Light was a long one, but it was definitely one that was worth the journey. I feel that writing those books has made me a better writer and storyteller.
Lately, I have been working on getting LAMP published through the traditional routes. While this has been a trying experience, I feel confident that there is an agent out there who will feel about the story the way I do. It is a fun and spectacular trip through futuristic Earth that encompasses the mystery and excitement of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” and tips it on its head. At 100,000 words, I hope it’s not too long to catch the eye of the right agent.
In the midst of writing and teaching, I’ve also found time to revamp my website. It’s sleeker, simpler, and easier to navigate than the old version. Please check it out at www.johndsperry.com or click the link to the left.
As always, I would greatly appreciate your reviews for any of my books. For help on how to write a great online review, please read my post from a few years ago by clicking HERE.
Below you will find links to my book pages on Goodreads and Amazon. Feel free to write a review and paste it into one or both sites. Reviews really help me out with visibility and getting folks to read.
The writing is still happening and a lot of it! I’ve been so busy this summer that I’ve completely neglected to write my blog … is that irony? It sounds ironic. Maybe not. ANYWAY … Here’s what I’ve been up to in no particular order:
In February I started a new book completely unrelated to the Immortal Light series that I call LAMP. I finished it in April and it has gone through three intense edits and is planned for at least two more. LAMP is a young adult sci-fi book that takes place in the future and is a retelling of a very classic story. I’ll leave it at that. I’ve begun querying this book to agents, so please, please, please keep your fingers crossed that one of them likes it.
Sarah and I have been reading a ton this summer. I’ve already red and reviewed six books and Sarah had read a few as well. We’re looking to start a new book review blog. I’m going to invite my mom (who reads more than anyone in the world) and a few other close friends to participate, as well. So stay tuned for “The Haven Room Book Review Blog” or something to that effect.
Immortal Light: Through the Fire (Book 3)
I know a lot of you have been waiting patiently for this one. In fact, I think I’ve even received a few veiled threats if I don’t get it out soon, but I can’t be sure. The good news is that it’s well in the works. I’m a little less than 30,000 words in ( about 120 pages) and it’s going very well. The bad news is that I still have to finish it. The other good news is that I know exactly where it’s going. And hey, there’s even more good news. You can follow the word count by visiting my website and periodically checking the ticker on the top right. I try to update it after every writing session. My goal is 1,000 words for each session. When it’s up in the 120,000 range, you’ll know we’re close to the end.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. I can’t express to you just how much you all mean to me.
Happy New Year, everybody! A lot has been happening in the life of The Immortal light series, so buckle up for a great update.
Among the excitement, I’ve launched a new website that rocks, I’ve had great reviews from readers of IL: Into Shadow and confirmation of at least one professional review coming out of England; I’ve had improving sales; and progress has been made on book III, IL: Through the Fire. I’m so excited for today’s news, so I hope it excites you, too.
The New Website
The All-New johndsperry.com has a whole set of new features not found on previous versions. The most exciting new element is my Haven Room Bookshop. In the store you can purchase eBooks and paperbacks directly from me or from any of the online merchants currently selling my books.
Other great features include my a page where you can read reviews of my books, listen to songs that inspired parts of Immortal light, donate to my promotional fund, and more.
Please visit the site and explore its pages.
Reviews of IL: Into Shadow
The reviews are beginning to trickle in. So far I’ve had some outstanding reviews on Amazon. People are liking the book. The biggest news on the review front is that Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Romance author Denna Holm has read and reviewed the book and gave it a whopping five of five stars! If you’d like to read the review, please click HERE.
In other review news, I just heard back this morning from a review blog, Fangs for Fantasy, that they would love to review my books. This is a big step for me in getting my name and my books out there. Fingers crossed that they like it enough to give me high praise. Click HERE to check out their site.
If you would like to review my books, please feel free to write a review and post it to Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble. If you’re not sure how to write a book review, you’ve come to the right place; click HERE for my tutorial on how to right a book review.
So That’s It For Now
So that’s the news for now. It’s a new year, so I’m going to go get crackin’ on my resolutions!
Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you all have a great year!!!
P.S. Look for book reviews here from both my wife, Sarah, and me!
The second installment of the Immortal Light Series is finally for sale in eBook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play Store. (Google Play and Apple iBook coming soon).
Unfortunately, the print paperback version will not be for sale until Tuesday, Dec. 11, 201 (Wednesday at the latest).
To purchase, click on the links below:
The paperback version will also be available from these merchants by Tuesday!
As for the giveaways, I’ll be extending the wallpaper giveaway through December 31st so download the wallpaper and post a picture or screenshot of it! Let’s get a free book! Here’s the wallpaper again for your convenience:
Only a few more days until our official release of Immortal Light Book II, Into Shadow!!! Are you excited yet? I am. I know it’s been a long wait, and I apologize, but I wanted to get it just right.
I want to tell you a little bit about the process this book has gone through and the wonderful people who have helped me through it, and I also want to give you all a gift.
My Gift To You
First, the gift. I wanted to get everyone excited about Into Shadow, so I created a 16×9 desktop wallpaper for you to download and put on all your screens. There are two ways too get it: You can click the picture below and save it to your computer or click the Dropbox download link below the picture.
Down at the bottom of this post you will see a Facebook giveaway task related to the wallpaper, but you have to read about the four hardest workers on my team first.
The People Who Lighten the Shadow
As you can imagine, writing is a difficult task, but editing, well, that’s where the real work takes place. I have a powerful team of editors who have helped me out along the way. I honestly couldn’t have done any of this without them. They check my books for continuity, mechanics, formatting, and overall quality. They fix all of the problems I build into my stories, and for that, I will forever be indebted to all of them.
First is Sarah, my wonderful wife. Sarah has a Masters Degree in education and a doctorate in putting up with me. She reads my books more than I do before they’re published, and she is a master at locating incongruencies in the plot, formatting, dependent clauses, and making sure the story doesn’t just plain suck. Sarah is my first line of defense against my next editor.
After the book passes Sarah’s initial approval, I send it to Patti, my mother. This is another woman with a Masters Degree in education and an advanced degree in tolerating horrific writing (she teaches high school). Patti takes the book and does a few unique things with it. First, she reads it like a reader, not like an editor. She lets me know up front if it’s a good read and what I need to change to make it better. Then she takes her red pen to it. Some pages look like a homicide of literature, so much red, but it takes the book up that next level. Without Patti, my books wouldn’t get past the rough draft.
Then there’s Wendy. Wendy is new to the team with IL: Into Shadow. Wendy takes my polished draft and spit shines it. She has a unique eye for detail. All those things that my brain adjusts while reading–things like backward apostrophes and hanging sentence fragments–she finds them. Wendy is my secret weapon, my Search and Destroy team, my clean up hitter, my … okay, you get the idea. She’s awesome and takes a huge load off of the rest of us.
Then there’s Patrick. This Dude is my sidekick. Like me, he’s an author who wants to get better at the craft. He reads my work and I value his input. In fact, you can all blame him for the delayed release. He suggested some rewriting that I just couldn’t ignore. Patrick is the guy who keeps me grounded yet keeps me going when I want to give up.
As you can see, I have a lot of people for whom to be grateful. In the end, If there are errors in the book, they are not because of these fine people who have done so much for me and humble me with their love, loyalty, and friendship. Team Immortal Light Rules!
Here’s my second giveaway for IL:Into Shadow. Are you ready?
All you have to do is load my wallpaper (the one way up at the top of this post) onto your computer, tablet, eReader, smartphone, or whatever; take a picture or screen shot of it (preferably with you in it); and then post it to my Facebook Page. That’s it. You do that, and You’re entered into a drawing for a signed paperback edition of the novel.Pretty sweet, eh?
So there you have it. Only a few days to go. Let’s get ready to read, everybody!
You guys are awesome! Stay gold and share your Light!
I have emerged from the Den of Editing to bring you the latest and the greatest for book 2 of the Immortal Light series, and I have some good news and … some bad news. It’s hard for me to say this, so I’m just going to break it to you straight out:
I’m sorry, but I have to move the release date of book 2 to December 9th, 2013.
Whew! There, I said it. Now let me explain.
The editing process of Into Shadow has been tedious, to say the least. Because of the sheer volume of pages, it has taken me and my editors twice as long as book 1 to get through the whole thing to my satisfaction. As it stands, we’re still ALMOST done, so please bear with me.
As a consolation and for the good news of this entry … no, the GREAT NEWS!!!! I finally have a book cover.
This has been a stressful process. I’ve had beautiful and wonderful models sit for me in the photo studio. I’ve had the talented Scott Rainey working to flesh out his ideas in graphic design, and in the end, Scott suggested I simply use my talents as a photographer to create a cover.
So, here it is, the cover of Immortal Light: Into Shadow. I have to credit the beautiful Kayla L. for offering her perfect rendering of Kat. Absolutely Perfect!I hope this piques all of your interests.
Please forgive my silence over the past few months. You guys are awesome!
You’re probably all wondering what the heck is going on with book 2. Well, the good news is that we’re still on schedule, but that could easily change depending on what the editors say and how Scott–my awesome graphic designer–is coming with designs for both books. So please DON’T BE SURPRISED if the date gets pushed out a little bit.
We’re still shooting for December 2nd. I want you all to have
an opportunity to get your hands on it before gift-giving season.
I will be doing a few giveaways in the early days after the release. I haven’t decided quite how that’s going to work, but I haven’t forgotten those of you who shared the first release date banner on Facebook; your drawing hasn’t been forgotten.
Keep checking back. As we move closer to the release, I’ll be posting more news, pics, info, etc.
Thanks for all of your support as my team and I race toward the finish line. You guys rock!!!
P.S. I’m working on a little something for the middle grade audience. It’s four boys being boys, traveling to other worlds, fighting bad guys, rescuing a friend, and hoping to get back in time for dinner. And then there’s a girl who makes sure they don’t screw it all up. Stay tuned after the new year for that one.