Casting Call for The Shadow’s Servant

Casting Call for The Shadow’s Servant

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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In preparation for the launch of The Shadow’s Servant, I thought it would be fun to do a “casting call” for some of the characters in the series. What’s a “casting call?” It’s when the author shares his vision of the characters in his book as portrayed by actors. So, here is my casting call for The Shadow’s Servant, book 2 of the Shadow Magic Series. It’s due to launch this spring. You can bookmark it here on Goodreads.

I actually collect pictures as part of my writing process. I think more and more writers are doing this. For me, great pictures help inspire my writing, or, at a minimum help me articulate a feeling I have about a character or a place. Here’s the link to my The Shadow’s Servant Pinterest Board if you want to check them out.

Marcus Fith

I’ve always envisioned a younger Freddie Highmore as Marcus Fith, the main character of this series. Marcus impetuous, and curious, but more than anything, very brave. He makes a lot of mistakes because it’s the only thing he can see doing to save the day. Sometimes he’s blinded by his need to take action.

Ellie Fith

A young Dakota or Elle Fanning would fit the role of Ellie just fine. Ellie was actually named after my daughter (I’ve told my children that I will include one of their names in each book that I write.) Ellie’s character is very smart, quirky, and a bit of a know it all. There is more to her than meets the eye. She has a good heart, and where she doesn’t play as present a role (on camera) in The Shadow’s Servant, she’s sorely missed.

Winston Fith

Winston Fith is Marcus and Ellie’s grandfather. He’s old, eccentric, and quite powerful. I’d envision Sir Ian Mckellen, perhaps my favorite actor ever, to play this iconic role. Sir Ian McKellen has a way of bringing out little details in the parts he plays. It would be fun to see what he would do with Winston.

Charlotte Fith

Charlotte, Marcus and Ellie’s grandmother, is very strong willed, yet loving—in her own way. She’s the backbone of the Fith family. There is more than meets the eye with her.  I would love to see Julie Walters play this part.

Caleb Fith

Uncle to Marcus and Ellie, and husband to Anabell, Caleb Fith was almost destroyed by Sol at one point. He went through quite a transformation in The Magic Shop. He’s gallant, and chivalrous, and will do anything for his family. Richard Madden would make a fine actor for this role, I think. He has a quiet, but strong vibe about him.

Anabell Fith

Aunt to Marcus and Ellie, and wife to Caleb, Anabell Fith has sacrificed much for her family. She’s deceivingly and uniquely beautiful, but sort of ordinary and simple in her way, at the same time. Like the rest of the Fiths, she’s strong, and, when it comes to things that matter, she’s a little impetuous, like Marcus. She takes action. Uma Thurman would portray Anabell’s quirky style, and unique beauty well.

Elba

Elba is one of my favorite characters of the series. My favorite thing about her is that you never quite know who’s side she’s on. She plays a critical role in the events in The Magic Shop. Lucy Liu would be so fantastic in this role as she would bring out Elba’s mysterious side, without overpowering her shrewd or capable sides. She can be beautiful, and yet haunting at the same time.

Sol

Sol is a critical character throughout the Shadow Magic Series. I don’t want to give away any plot points, but a younger Anthony Hopkins would be masterful at portraying this complicated character. Sol has many priorities competing for his attention, and some of them are noble, and others are maniacal. Anthony Hopkins could bring these complexities into line, and make this character accessible to the reader.

Mirella

Mirella is yet another complicated character, and I believe that Catherine Zeta Jones could do her justice. Like Sol, Mirella finds herself caught between injustices shown her regarding that which is rightfully hers, and a larger plot to which she is a critical element. In her way, she’s loving and caring, and in another way, the author of many evil deeds. 

Gunnar

Gunnar is a relative that comes to visit Marcus under unfortunate circumstances. After getting to know each other a bit, and overcoming a strange start, they learn to get along, and eventually help each other— seemingly, anyway. Gunnar is a bit of a teenage rogue, and I think Kit Harington could do a bang up job of portraying this bad boy.

Exum Payne

Exum is a sort of pirate, or transporter for hire. I guess you could call him a smuggler. He’s Marcus’s way into the new world in The Shadow’s Servant. Idris Elba, another one of my favorite actors, would do a great job portraying this chracter

Erasmus

Erasmus is, well, Exum’s pet, or, as he would prefer you to say, his partner. He’s more than just a monkey—he can speak after all. I can’ think of any famous monkies I’d have play his part, but I’m sure there are many of them out there.

 

dividing line

There are plenty of other characters I could mention here, but I figured that this post was getting a bit long. Perhaps I’ll do a part 2 at some point. For now, this hopefully serves as a fun way to bring to life some of the characters from The Shadow Magic series.

Throne of Glass Book Review

Throne of Glass Book Review

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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Throne of Glass

by Sarah J. Maas

I’d give this book 4 out of 5 daggers.

Ihad been wanting to get to this book for a while. The positive reviews raving about the world that Sarah J. Maas had created; about the royals, and the nobles, and the intrigue that ensued in the book got my attention. What I had heard about the world building alone would likely have been enough to get my attention, but throw on top of it all that there was supposed to be some elements of magic, and I was sold. It probably didn’t hurt, either, that when I picked this up I was feelng like mixing up my reading a bit, and going for a book with a strong female protagonist for a change.

So, what was the book about?

The beautiful Celaena Sardothien,  a former assassin left to rot in the salt mines of Endovier, had quite the reputation. Enough to warrant a visit from Prince Dorian himself, and the Captain of his guard to attempt to strike a deal with her. What could she possibly want from them? As it turns out, her freedom in exchange for her unique skills. The offer: If she successfully fought on the King’s behalf in as his “Champion” in the upcoming competition, she would be granted a pardon, and her freedom after four years of service as said Champion. While Celaena loathed the king, the offer was too good to turn down.

As she travels with the Prince and the Captain, some of Celaena’s backstory is revealed: her familiarity with the forest, hints of magic history, and other little clues that come to her memory.  Once at the castle, Celaena is given some of the niceties of court life that show another side of her. Dresses, jewelry, and attention from the other ladies that are vying for the Prince’s affections. These things seem all too familiar to the cold, hard, killer, and juxtaposed to her personality, make the reader wonder about who she was in a former—pre-assassin life.

The story gets interesting when the author begins to leave behind all the training and court life that Celaena has concerned herself with for a mysterious evil that begins to influence the competition. One by one, Celaena’s competitors are gruesomely murdered by what would seem to be some kind of beast. Celaena gets involved in the investigation, despite being warned not to, and tries to help solve the mysteries that would lead her to the killer, before the killer finds its way to her. 

Ultimately, this is a good book. Let’s start with the positives. I liked the bit of magic it contained, although I was hoping for more, to be honest. I liked the fights, and the warriors, and even the politics. It was the romantic part that I struggled with, in a way. It almost felt that it was just there to be there…to check a box that says “I’m a YA paranormal romance novel.”  I don’t mean that in a way that takes away from the writing—it was very good. It was just the literary device, I guess. In other words, this didn’t bother me from a genre perspective, because that’s not why I picked up the book, but for those that thought this was a paranormal romance, I could see it bothering them. I assume one of the reasons the author did this, from her perspective, was to round off Celaena’s character. 

The book’s worth a read. Check it out! 4/5 stars.

 

Writer “Easter Eggs”

Writer “Easter Eggs”

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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Easter Eggs are awesome, right? I’m not talking about the holiday, the chocolate bunnies, or even those gross peeps that some people like to eat (seriously, what are they made of, gooey styrofoam laced with sugar crystals?) No, I’m referring to the mysterious “Easter Eggs” that artists of all types hide in their work. 

While I believe artists have always done this, I think this practice really blew up with video game programmers. Game developers would hide entire secret levels, crazy pictures, tokens or items in their software for gamers to find. It’s kind of a game of hide and seek. Sometimes these items were intended to pay tribute to some pioneer in the developer’s field, or to pay homage to someone or something they respected. Disney artists have done this in their movies for years.

If you like popular fiction, you might have already read, or at least be familiar with the novel, Ready Player One. It’s a great book, and it almost entirely revolves around this theme.

Those of you who follow me might know that I’m a Utah Jazz fan (NBA Basketball team.) Back in 2011, my wife and I were at the game after which the team’s legendary coach of 20 plus years, Coach Sloan, decided to retire after a scuffle with one of the players. We could tell something was wrong as we listened to the radio post cast. In our experience, Coach Sloan had never waited so long to meet with the media after the game. Once I digested the crummy news, I decided I wanted to honor him in some way, so I applied his name to one of the characters in a story I was writing at the time for The Crimson Pact Anthology. Since then, I’ve been slipping the names of Jazz players in my stories. It’s become a fun “Easter Egg” for me as an author. 

How do other authors you read do this? Share in the comments below.

Ready Player One Book Review

Ready Player One Book Review

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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Ready Player One Book Review

by Author Ernest Cline

I’m giving this book 4.5 easter eggs out of 5.

One of the ways I judge a book is by its gravity, so to speak. Do I feel pulled toward it? In other words, when I was away from the book, did I feel like I needed to get back to it. If a day went by without reading it, did it bother me? I listened to the audiobook version of Ready Player One, and let me tell you, it pushed all my buttons (ha!) When my wife asked me if I’d be willing to go pick my daughter up from dance, or to go to the store or (fill in the blank) I quickly said, “yes,” thinking that it was another opportunity for me to flip the audiobook on and keep plugging away at it or a few more minutes. Set in the future, Ready Player One is, in so many ways, a homage to 80’s culture. Movies, music, styles, and especially video games all play a critical role in the plot. When a former video game developer, and rich business mogul learns that he only has a short time to live, he constructs an elaborate contest that he has placed inside the Oasis (online MMORPG type world). There are three phases (gates/keys) to the contest, and the first one to get through them all, wins “the egg,” or his ultimate prize—all his wealth and assets—billions. The story revolves around a less fortunate, yet brilliant, young guy named Wade that spends all his time on the Oasis. Like many others, he is devouring anything he about the 80’s in an attempt to figure out how to progress in the contest. James Halliday, the billionaire that created the contest that would take over just about everyone’s heart and mind,  loved the 80’s, and was rumored to have based the whole contest on 80’s pop culture. So, everyone studied up in order to be able to play the game, including Wade. This was Halliday’s way of resurrecting the 80’s, maybe buying it an extra life, as it were—deposit your quarter, right here, thank you very much. The author does a fabulous job world building not only interesting things about the 80’s, but the futuristic world that would obsess about a dead man’s fortune, and stop at nothing to get it. He’s included the folks that dedicate themselves to hunting down the egg, the commerce system inside the Oasis, a military group established by an evil corporation with ulterior motives, epic battles,   PVP vs non-PVP worlds, and even the naming and description of artifacts and epic weapons in the game…and so much more. This book was a wild ride down memory lane. I’m proud to say that I got most of the book’s references. I did have to look a few up, however, especially the Pac-Man trick (cool!) Ready Player One is well-written, and the plot was good fun.  It has murder, mystery, tons of 80’s backstory, and even romance. The ending was even enjoyable 🙂 If you like gaming, good writing, and the 80’s, and you haven’t read this book yet, once you have, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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Giveaway Winners

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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Congrats to Megan G. of California and Chris F. of Mississippi for winning the Goodreads Magic Shop signed/print copy giveaway. I got your books in the mail this afternoon, and hopefully you’ll have them by next week.

Thanks for playing! I hope you enjoy the book, and the new cover with the series badge.

 

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean Book Review

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean Book Review

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Justin Swapp

Justin was born with an active imagination on a U.S. naval base in Spain, but has spent most of his life in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains of Utah. He is bilingual, and has lived all over the world. He has four children; two boys, and two girls, and an enduring wife. He doesn't have any pets that he's aware of, but his children have been known to hide things under his bed.

In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com

Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.
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Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean Book Review

by Justin Somper

I’d give this book 4 donors out of 5.

 

Vampirates…the concept… the title… its one of those things that I wished I had come up with. It’s a great concept.  I must say, though, that I feel bad for the author. As I gathered my thoughts for this review I took a look at other reviews of the book, and some of them are just cruel. The book was a good book, in my opinion, even though it had a few quirks.

This book has a ton of covers. Perhaps that a function of being originally published in 2005, and refreshing the book cover is a way to make it new again (marketing) and drive sales. Either way, the book has several fantastic covers, and as you know, I love a good cover.

The story follows Connor and Grace Tempest, a couple of humble children that live with their father, who man’s the lighthouse. One of their bonding traditions is for him to sing them a shanty as they go to bed. The thing is, its a little bit creepy, as its about Vampirates. Here it is:

Vampirates Shanty

I’ll tell you a tale of Vampirates,
A tale as old as true.

Yea, I’ll sing you a song of an ancient ship,
And its mighty fearsome crew.

Yea, I’ll sing you a song of an ancient ship,
That sails the oceans blue…
That haunts the oceans blue.

The Vampirate ship has tattered sails,
That flap like wings in flight.

They say the captain, he wears a veil
So as to curtail your fright.

At his death pale skin
And his lifeless eyes
And his teeth as sharp as night.

Oh, they say the captain, he wears a viel
And his eyes never see the light

You’d better be good, child- good as gold,
As good as good can be.

Eles I’ll turn you in to the Vampirates
And wave you out to sea.

Yes, you’d better be good child- good as gold,
Because- look! Can you see?

There’s a dark ship in the harbor tonight
And there’s room in the hold for thee!
(Plenty of room for thee)

Well, if pirates are bad,
And vampires are worse

Then I pray that as long as I be
That though I sing of Vampirates
I never one shall see.

Yea, if pirates are danger
And vampires are death

I’ll extend my prayer for thee-
That thine eyes never see a Vampirate…
…and they never lay a hand on thee.

The children’s father abruptly passes away one night and, unfortunately, he has left them with nothing. The children, after listening to the local banker offer to take the children in, or to be forced into the orphanage, decide that their only chance is to steal their father’s ship (it no longer belongs to him) and to test their luck on the open seas.

They do this for some time, and get some distance out into the ocean, until a great storm brews and dashes their boat into pieces. The twins are separated,  each scooped up by a different pirate ship. One crew consists of normal pirates, and the other, you guessed it, the Vampirates.

The rest of the tale explores each of the twin’s experiences on their respective ships, and their efforts to not give up hope of finding each other again.

I felt the quality of the writing was very good, and so was the storytelling, even though the plot seemed to have some holes that could be addressed. The characters were fun, and distinct, even though some of the more critical reviews underscored the characters as something they wanted more from.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but the one thing that I found strange was the ending. The climax built up to what felt like might be an awesome pirate brawl, but it ended up getting resolved by simply correcting a character’s identity, and then all was well. It was a little anti-climactic. Overall, though, it was a good read. I’ll probably continue on with the next book at some point. Happy reading!

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