Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Of Gods and Madness Blog Tour! (+$10 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Of Gods and Madness 
Author: Justin D. Herd 
Series: N/A
Pages: 357
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Justin D. Herd
Format: Kindle
Genre: Thriller
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
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The right hand of the dominant mob family, Raine Morgan is tasked with hunting down two miscreants messing with the bottom line. He finds them on the docks, but, in the confusion of the fight, accidentally kills their victim and lets them escape. Horrified at what he's done, Raine seeks redemption as well as revenge.

Things spiral out of control when a greedy middleman overthrows Raine's mob organization. It's only with the help of a friend inside the crumbling mob as well as a streetwise artist that Raine remains undetected as he searches for the men who started this all. Raine doesn’t realize, however, he has caught the attention of a disparate conclave of gods in the process.

As the pantheon returns to the city they'd abandoned, old conflicts re-emerge, causing divine civil war. Both sides try to pull Raine to their side, expecting to find a naive god for them to manipulate. Instead, they find a man stripped of everything, intent on playing both sides as they learn an awful reality - even gods can die.
How Much to Reveal to the Reader ?
Worldbuilding is such a touchy subject and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of people who disagree with me, but I absolutely abhor being preached to when it comes to reading stories. I am a firm believer that I should be able to read into what you present and get a logical, consistent look on the world. Yes, there is room for interpretation, as with all things, but I need to be given that ability.

The biggest issue I had with Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful was an architectural feature called Oki’s Veins. Simply put, they’re glass channels built into the streets, the walls, and run through every building. They are backlit with blue light and douse everything in that color. For most, they’re just another thing to draw tourists in, but they do have a significance to the gods that has been forgotten. Here’s how I introduce them in the story on the first page:
He shifted position, regretted it when the glow from one of Oki’s Veins in the wall beside him blinded his night vision. Pain thrummed under his right eye. He planted his arm to cover the thick pane of glass, obscuring the bright blue light.
Then, stretching onto page two:
Oki’s Veins stretched into the room, resembling the branches of a dying tree, leaving everyone looking a bit blue. Water coursed inside the veins, glass-covered canals that swept down streets, across alleys, along walls. No building was left untouched by the veins of the long dead water goddess. Their intricate designs served as a reminder that she was always there. To most though, their purpose had faded with time. Their backlit reach had become a mere aesthetic choice, another thing to draw tourists to the port of Sandhyanen. No one knew what the veins represented anymore.
Except for Keir Cuilthinn and those that followed him.

With this one-two punch of feature then description, you allow the reader to puzzle over what the veins are and why they’re named for about half a page, then let them know what they mean to the story. The same can be done with the character introductions, letting the way the character interacts with the world tell you about them. For instance, if a character has to duck when going through a doorway, you can reasonably assume they’re tall, unless each character has to, then you might infer that it’s a really small doorway.

The wonderful thing about fantasy as a genre is that it allows you to experience a different time, a different place, or even an entirely different set of rules, but it doesn’t require you to be bogged down in detail after detail by the author. The best example of this I can give is Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. He has a magic system that is essentially the Laws of Thermodynamics. But, rather than present it to you that way, he spends a healthy amount of time introducing the main character, and you the reader, to these laws so that, when he’s in an action scene, he is able to just have the character act without analyzing everything, allowing you the reader to connect the dots and fill in the exposition yourself. It’s an amazing feat and I had to re-read each action scene to see how he did it.

Fantasy writing doesn’t have to be a slog. Instead, it can be a revelatory experience. I hope that you agree with me and won’t settle for less when it comes to your consumption of fiction.
~Try an Excerpt!~
Turrell planted his hand on the table as he leaned in, allowing Raine to fully inspect every flaw in his wretched face. His features had been rearranged multiple times and looked all the better for it. His ragged beard helped hide this from a distance. He smiled, a grin of shattered teeth, and let out a deep breath, wafting over Raine like broth bubbling from a cauldron. “Take a big whiff.”

Raine made a big production of inhaling deeply. Not bad actually, a familiar mixture of hard liquor and tobacco. His breath probably smelled similar at this point in the night. “You should really go see a doctor, Turrell.”

“Why's that?”

Raine drove the glass into Turrell's hand, twisted.

The room fell silent as his scream hit the air.

Raine pivoted back, planting his foot on Turrell's chest and shoving with all his might. Turrell's hand shredded as the glass ripped through the flesh. He hit the floor.

Jaiden swung with his left; Raine raised his arm, deflected the blow. He pressed forward as Jaiden attacked again. Raine ducked under, throwing his whole weight into Jaiden's body. Jaiden slipped past as Raine toppled over Turrell. A whimper accompanied the contact as Turrell cradled his hand.

Raine hit the ground, scrambled to his feet, rebounded off a table. He spun on his heel, avoided Jaiden's fist, returned with one of his own. It connected with his jaw. Jaiden crumpled.
~Meet Justin!~ 
Justin D. Herd is a Fantasy Noir author, who has been writing novels for ten years. He absolutely loves dark, twisted stories that take readers into unexpected places. Horror movies are his passion and he often takes stories to task for not logically thinking out their concepts. His home has been invaded by three eccentric cats, one of which is obssesed with all things digital. He is married with two children. 
Justin will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


  1. The world building would be interesting. I like your approach.

  2. Wow! What an impactful excerpt! Thank you for the post and the giveaway!

  3. I really enjoyed the excerpt! Thank you for sharing!

  4. "... His home has been invaded by three eccentric cats, one of which is obssesed [sic] with all things digital...." I like that description (eccentric ... obsessed ... and all things digital???). Okaaaay....

  5. Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?

  6. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. What kinds of books did you read when you were a child, and when did you realize that you wanted to be an author?

  8. Mai T. - Honestly, the biggest impact was when I featured it on a forum I'd been lurking on for years but only had a handful of posts. I guess it helped that the leads of the site thought my name was an elaborate pun or something. But I probably double my sold number simply by posting it on there.

    Anne - Goosebumps is what got me into reading. Then I tried to get into Stephen King, but my parents intervened and, instead, gave me Dean Koontz, who they didn't realize was just as bad. So I grew up reading horror mostly, but at some point decided to write Fantasy with Horror elements.

    And I'm not sure exactly when I decided I wanted to become a writer, but it might have been a part of the MUD/MUSH culture in the late 90's, where you had to describe all the rooms and all your actions since it was all a text parser, used through Telnet. I found I absolutely loved interacting in that medium, as well as describing everything down to the way the door sounded when you went through it.

    I even got away with writing reports about what I was doing in those MUSHes instead of my weekly reading assignments in Junior High.