Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse: Interview with Stephen Zimmer

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoToday, for the Rayden Valkyrie Blog Tour, I interview Stephen Zimmer and ask him questions about the editor/author relationship. Enjoy!


What would you like to tell readers about your Rayden Valkyrie novels?

The Rayden Valkyrie novels have loads of action, and all kinds of characters, creatures and other elements that fantasy and sword and sorcery fans love. But above all, these novels center around a very special character, one that I have found to be inspirational to me in my own life.

HeartofALion_CoverThough she travels another world in a setting that we would find ancient, she is a character that in my eyes is needed in the world of today. In a world that is shrouded in uncertainty, she serves as a beacon of resolve, self-determination, and self-confidence.

How important is having a good editor?

It is critically important, as a good editor saves you from yourself in many instances. When you are a creative individual, and at the center of a project like writing a novel, there are simply things that you may not see. A good editor helps in catching those potential pitfalls. They are your literary guardian angel.

ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800What are vital parts to the author/editor relationship?

It centers around the ability to trust and communicate. The author must see that the editor has their best interests at heart and wants the final manuscript to be in the best form possible. The author needs to be confident that the editor is not working to change their voice, but instead bolster it.

An author and editor have to have the kind of relationship where both feel comfortable discussing things that come up in the editing phase, without worry of anyone getting upset or offended. Authors should not be “thin-skinned” about the things that an editor might point out. In some cases, an element initially seen as problematic may just be a matter of the author explaining what is being set up for later in the case of a series.

Trust and a good environment for communication are essential for navigating the editing phase.

How many revisions do you go through before you feel a novel you write is ready to be sent to the editor?

I don’t have a strict number of revisions, but I do go back through a manuscript several times before turning it over to an editor. I aim to get my copy as clean as possible, and also work hard to try to find any problematic elements possible, and address them, before turning it over. Writers can easily find themselves revising things forever, but once I find that the manuscript is going smoothly and I’m not finding anything problematic on my end, I turn it over.

If your editor could be described as a song, what song would that be?

That’s a great question! I can think of many options to consider, but I’ll take the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help from My Friends” (I like his vocals!), because an editor certainly is your friend and they stick by you to help you get by, with more than a little help too!

Where can readers find your novels?

My novels are available in both print and eBook format, and can be found at, Barnes and Noble, and all other retailers (and if you cannot find the print version on the shelf, the novels are available in the Ingram distribution catalog that most every library and bookstore orders through).

RaydenValkyrie_SolGeirsdottir_PhotoCreditSilvioWolfBuschRagnarStormbringer_BrockOHurn_PhotoCredit_SilvioWolfBuschSay, isn’t there also a trailer to a TV series pilot somehwere…?

Yes there is, the first teaser trailer to Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart! And you can find it right here:

August 21, 2017 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Silverblade Prophecy, Free on Kindle Until the 9th!

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse—Review of The Bone Sword by Walter Rhein

Walter Rhein’s The Bone Sword mixes the grittiness of sword & sorcery with the miraculous wonder common in heroic fantasy, and he does so in a smooth way. While the main protagonist is clearly a good guy, he’s still rough around the edges and willing to do what it takes to win, both in sword fighting and in strategy.

Jasmine, however, ends up stealing the show and actually is the character whose shoulders the fate of an entire kingdom resides on. Her character growth, more than any other character’s, was what kept me reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same about her brother, Noah. He felt more “tacked on,” and I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy for him, even during the torture scene. I felt he needed a little bit more personality to him.

The villains, with the exception of one, were primarily archetypes; however, I still found them interesting. I’ve never had problems with authors using archetypes, especially when said archetypes work within the context of the story being told. And Rhein uses the archetypes well in his attempt to display the problems inherent in a feudalistic civilization, where a small handful of people often have far too much power over the rest.

Overall, The Bone Sword is a fun, compelling read with just the right kind of pace for such a tale.


Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to Excalibur along with a few instrumentals by Epica.

January 17, 2015 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | 1 Comment

SpecMusicMuse Review—Philistine by Steven Shrewsbury

PhilistineCoverSteven Shrewsbury breathes life into an iconic Biblical character in his new sword & sorcery novel, Philistine. Shrews paints Goliath as something more than the two dimensional villain as he’s portrayed by the Israelites. To the Philistines, he was their champion, their hero. And something more.

From Goliath’s Nephilum heritage to the macabre portrayal of the Mesopotamian magic systems and cults, it’s clear that Shrews has done his homework in his quest to show the giant as a product of his culture and time period. He bathes the ancient world in blood in ways that only a supernatural sociopath can, yet at the same time proves to have a soft side when it comes to children. While caught up in the political intrigue of kings, cultists, and magicians, he proves time and again that he’s more than just a big final-chamber-webstack of muscles as he outwits his foes as often as he caves in their skulls.

Despite Goliath’s crass brutality, I actually found myself wanting to like him. More antihero than hero, I cheered him on as he battled monstrous beasts and villains so vile they’d make Hannibal Lector seem like a harmless kitten in comparison. This was a Sword & Sorcery tale that would’ve made Robert E. Howard proud.

This is not a novel for weak stomachs, but if you’re a fan of sword & sorcery then this is one novel you’ll want to have clutched in your cold dead hands.

Best to read while listening to: Slayer, Helloween, Iron Maiden, the heavier the better.

March 3, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , | Leave a comment

Faeries & Animals & Anthos! Oh My!

Today’s the day!

For the ebook release of the three anthologies we’ve all been waiting for!

And now for some press release copypasta! Yum!


Fey, Faeries, and Animals!  3 New Anthologies Out Today!

Seventh Star Press is pleased to announce that three brand new anthologies are now available in eBook format!

Links for the Kindle and Nook versions are live and can be found as follows.  Kobo, iBookstore, and others will be live at any time.
Hero’s Best Friend Kindle:
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court Kindle:
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court Kindle:

Synopsis are below:
Hero’s Best Friend Synopsis: How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!
Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice—from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.
Whether you’re a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!
So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero’s Best Friend.
Synopsis of A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court: The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the first volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Seelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the “good” faeries. But “good” and “evil” are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us.
Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Seelie Court, from authors both established and new, including George S. Walker, Eric Garrison, and Alexandra Christian.
But be warned: these faeries are nothing like Tinker Bell.
Synopsis of A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court: The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the second volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Unseelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the “evil” faeries. But “good” and “evil” are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us.
Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Unseelie Court, from authors both established and new, including Michael Shimek, Deedee Davies, and Nick Bryan.
But don’t be surprised if these faeries decide to play with their food.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Review—Thunder on the Battlefield, Volume Two: Sorcery, Edited by James R. Tuck

Sword & Sorcery is hard to get right, for it is a subgenre defined more by what it isn’t than what it is. While it shares some similarities to its cousins, Epic Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy, the scale is usually nowhere near as epic and the heroes are nowhere near as heroic. In fact, it’s the protagonists that make it so hard to write, for traditionally they tend to be very flawed but not so flawed as to be unlikeable. That’s a precarious balance to keep—a balance that every writer in Thunder on the Battlefield, Volume Two: Sorcery, the second volume in a two-volume anthology, nails with masterful skill.

While the trials and ordeals are well-plotted and challenging, and the settings are grim and gritty, it’s the characters, more than anything, that stand out. You’ll fall in love with the reckless determination of Hunter Mann, in Selah Janel’s “The Ruins of St. Louis.” Fans of D. A. Adams’s Brotherhood of Dwarves series will follow a beloved character’s struggle to escape slavery in “Across the Wilds.” “Black Ice” by S.H. Roddey introduces a warrior woman you’d want to keep on your good side and a Halfling who puts the hero into “sidekick.” And fans of Gorias La Gaul will love Steven L. Shrewsbury’s “The Whore of Jericho.”

But by far the most interesting character is the crusader, Valgard, in “The Two Fires” by Steven S. Long. Rarely in S&S do you encounter a protagonist who wields magic, and an incorrupt priest at that! Few S&S writers can break the classic tropes and get away with it, but Long manages to make it work with ease.

If the first volume is even half as good as this one, and I have no doubt that it is since both volumes share the same editor, then Thunder on the Battlefield is an addition to the subgenre that would make Robert E. Howard’s spirit proud.

Best to read while listening to: soundtracks to Conan the Barbarian and Heavy Metal. Also toss in a little Iron Maiden while you’re at it.

October 6, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Overkill Blog Tour

For Immediate Release

April 5, 2012


25 Date Overkill Blog Tour and Cover Art Unveiled for Steven Shrewsbury’s Latest Gorias La Gaul Adventure!



Seventh Star Press is proud to unveil the cover art and illustrations created by award-winning artist Matthew Perry for Steven Shrewsbury’s newest Gorias La Gaul novel, Overkill, as well as announce the dates and sites for the Overkill Blog Tour.  A pre-order window for a limited edition hardcover is also being opened in advance of the book’s official release.

(Illustrations by Matthew Perry from the first edition of Overkill)
The Overkill Tour is being hosted by Babs Book Bistro, and will feature 25 blog sites over 25 days, beginning April 20th and running through May 14th .  The tour will feature a number of activities, from interviews, to reveiws, guest blog posts, and contests/giveaways.


Overkill is the second novel featuring the iconic sword and scorcery figure Gorias La Gaul, following the debut of the character in the novel Thrall, released in late 2010 from Seventh Star Press.  Gorias La Gaul is also featured in two short stories, Author and Finisher of Our Flesh, and Insurmountable, both available in eBook format in the Blood and Steel: Legends of La Gaul collection in the Seventh Star Singles catalog.


The story told in Overkill takes place in an ancient time, before a great flood wiped clean the earth, destroying everything upon it.  Before the deluge, in a time now forgotten, the world was a place of warriors and witches, conflicts between kingdoms, and, until their extermination, dragons.  In this world, men may live centuries, fallen angels have begotten terrifying spawn, and sometimes, the best hope can be found in a brothel.


In the land of Transalpina, a new religion spreads, and important men are dying mysteriously, slain by what can only be the fire of dragon breath.  Summoned by the Queen Garnet, the legendary warrior Gorias La Gaul

returns to the place where he once saved the queen’s young granddaughter from treachery and enslavement. The Princess Nykia is gone, and soon others may try to claim the throne.  The queen has little choice but to turn to the only man who ever told her no.


With the aid of one of the queen’s elite guard, the battle maiden Alena, and the young palace servant Orsen, the old mercenary will face pirates and traitors, monsters and foul magic in the quest to find the missing heir and learn the truth behind the disconcerting murders.


Overkill will be released in softcover and Kindle versions during the third week of April.  The novel is now available for pre-order in a beautiful hardcover edition that is strictly limited to 75 copies.


The limited hardcover edition will be signed and numbered by Steven Shrewsbury and includes a bonus illustration from Matthew Perry not included in other editions.  It will be accompanied by an assortment of collectibles, including a set of glossy art cards, bookmarks, and magnets.  The limited edition hardcovers will also be bundled with the eBook version (provided as a direct ePub file for users with Nooks, iPads, or Sony eReaders, and gifted as a Kindle file for Kindle users).  Those interested in securing one of the 75 limited hardcovers can place a pre-order at:


The Overkill Blog Tour Dates and Participants Are As Follows:



April 20  Watch Play Read

April 21   SpecMusicMuse

April 22  Splash of Our Worlds

April 23   Edi’s Book Lighthouse

April 24   Sci-Fi Guys Book Review

April 25   Jess Resides Here

April 26   Book Den

April 27   That Book Place Blog

April 28   Urban Fantasy Reviews

April 29   Evie Bookish

April 30   Eva’s Sanctuary

May 1     Azure Dwarf Horde of Sci-Fi & Fantasy

May 2     Darlene’s Book Nook

May 3     Ginger Nuts of Horror

May 4     Ali’s Bookshelf

May 5     The Magick Pen

May 6    Book and Movie Dimension Blog

May 7    The Cabin Goddess

May 8     Bee’s Knees Reviews

May 9     I Smell Sheep

May 10   Once Upon A Time

May 11   Ritesh Kala’s Book Review

May 12   Goatfairy Review Blog

May 13   Fantasy Book Review

May 14   Babs Book Bistro

Contact: C.C. James

Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky

April 7, 2012 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | 1 Comment

SpecMusicMuse Review: Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury

It’s the antediluvian age, and Gorias la Gaul is a legend among legends—even if he is over seven hundred years old and with a bad back. But when a cult of necromancers tries to resurrect a sadistic bard with the knowledge that can destroy the world, can even Gorias save the day—especially when one of the villains is his son?

With Thrall, Shrewsbury delivers a grim and gritty Sword & Sorcery tale, one that is more than just a straightforward hack n’ slash. Not that there’s no hacking and slashing, there’s actually plenty. But you’ll also find deep characterization and moral quandaries. This is no happy campy “good vs. evil” story, more like badass vs. badass vs. undead badass vs. even more evil badass while vs. each other. If you’re a fan of Conan, Red Sonja, or Fafhrd then will love Gorias.


Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian. Duh! Also, Slayer.


October 29, 2011 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Nighttime Business Arrangement Now at Silver Blade

Issue #4 of Silver Blade is now up, with my flash fiction tale, “A Nighttime Business Arrangement.” Remember the “deal” with the nobles that Yavar talked about arranging in Episode 10 of The Silverblade Prophecy? Now you’ll get to know how she arranged it. 😉

September 5, 2009 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment