Guest Post : Jesse Teller #BardsAndScribes tour – The Gunslinger

Today I’m really pleased to be hosting a stop on the #BardsAndScribes tour with Jesse Teller providing a guest post entitled ‘The Gunslinger”.

Here’s a link to Fantasy Faction’s guest post : The Druid.  Also a link for the Grimmedian’s Panda. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts from @FanBooRev@TheFantasyHive@booknest_eu, @EsmeWeatherwax8, and @FantasyBookCrit

Firstly, a little bit of information about Jesse and also what this post is really about (with further info links provided at the bottom of the post):

JesseJesse Teller is mentally disabled. He suffers from PTSD from an abusive childhood. He is bipolar, suffers from daily to hourly hallucinations, and has DID (multiple personality disorder).

He has been a member of the self-published fantasy community for four and a half years now, has published fourteen books, with plans to publish countless more.

Jesse Teller is not a sane man. He has been declared mentally unfit and is a certified madman. This blog series is a glimpse into the way he sees a small handful of his peers and a look into his own mind. 

I confess that this piece really moved me and so I hope you enjoy it too.  


The Gunslinger

 The Gunslinger has a mind of maybes. He can walk the world of man with confidence and poise. Can talk to anyone with his down-to-earth personality and his swagger. He is impressive without trying to be and you can’t help but have a fun time when he is around. But as much of an everyman as he might seem, he is also a fellow traveler in the wild and the mystic.

His mind is open to theories and myths that others would dismiss. He sees the possible beast man lurking in the woods. Looks to the heavens for crafts and strange moving lights, and he opens his mind to plots and schemes some might think insane.

The Gunslinger walks alongside Artist stride for stride. But he is a terrible mind to wrestle with, both unbreakable ally and skeptic at once. A role that not many could play. Let’s look at how I found him and the glimpse I saw into his madness. Let’s see what he became to me and how, without him, my rise would have faltered.

I entered a very intense contest created by Mark Lawrence called SPFBO. Okay, that is what we call it. We even try to pronounce it and use it in a sentence. This is not a real word, but indie authors around the world work it into conversation. What this contest is actually called is Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. It was designed by Mark to display talented writers to the world of the traditionally published and the world at large.


300 novels are submitted every year. Ten review blogs are chosen to judge and the books are divided up to them randomly. Every review blog gets 30 books and they are told to narrow that number down however they see fit. This replicates the submission process to agents and publishers, and puts us all in ten slush piles. Only one book can rise from each chosen 30 and only those ten are read by every blog. Three champions rise and the publicity they receive from standing above in Mark’s contest can make a career. So many great writers have come to this contest, a few have gained traditionally published contracts. Even more have been tossed into obscurity.

The system is not flawed but the judges can use any criteria they wish to choose their finalist. As far as I know, no judge has written the names on the wall and thrown a dart, but if they did, it would not be against the rules. They use the same techniques in their selection as any agent or publisher. So if a book comes to them that they are not in the mood to read, they can just toss it. If they choose to read ten percent of every book, then they can do that, too. However they want to rate the book, or shuffle the book, is viable. So a great book always rises, but many great books fall away.

The Gunslinger and I entered one year. The contest is a great way to network with other writers. We all talk, and friendships are kindled. This is the group I found The Alchemist in when I opened interviews to it. This is where I found The Cannibal and The Judge. This land of plenty and none is the place where The Panda and I first met, as he was a big supporter and boon to SPFBO. All my great writer friends have found me through this gate.

I woke deep into the afternoon, shook off my haze, and found a few messages in my box from The Gunslinger. See, he was right up the road from me in a small town in Missouri. He had dropped his book into the pot and, when the socializing began, he found my Facebook page. He saw my Harley Davidson. He saw a few pics of me with a beer and he decided I might be a guy he wanted to know.

We vowed to meet up and I decided to read his book so we might have something to talk about. I picked up Halcyon’s Wake: Faith by The Gunslinger. I read it in one night and wrote a review for it. This is what I wrote:

I have never had this much fun with a book before. Halcyon’s Wake is insane. FaithOK so have you ever been drinking and things get out of hand? You’re telling a story and some guy across from you starts telling a story that one ups yours. So you tell another, even crazier story. Then the same jerk hits you again with a better one. I’m pretty sure that The Gunslinger was having both of those conversations with himself.

Halcyon starts almost reasonable. Asteroid comes screaming toward Earth. Our planet can’t just dodge it, so there is a modest evacuation, and we are on our way. He has a technically sound knowledge of how modern space shuttles work, so you settle into a comfortable stride and you are moving along just fine. Then he hits you.

“Are you going to let me get away with this?” The Gunslinger asks his reader. He gives you a curve ball that has you slowly nodding your head. “Sure,” you say, “Let’s keep going.” A few chapters later he introduces a new idea. It gives you pause. You stop, look around to see if the room is with you or not, because this idea is kind of out there. It takes a leap to follow, but you nod and keep reading.

“Are you gonna let me get away with this?”

Now you are moving downhill. You are at a pretty hefty trot and things are starting to get a little treacherous. You are in unsafe land now. Running too fast. A bit out of breath. You are in this far, so why go back now?

“Double Dog Dare you to follow me here,” he says.

At this point the idea is so intense, so mind blowing that you can’t not go along. You can only nod and keep running. One dare after the next he gives us. “What do you think of this? This OK, are you still comfortable?” The Gunslinger asks.

No, you are not comfortable, things are moving fast now. Ideas are coming that are out of your control. You are moving so fast that you can’t catch your breath. You get more and more concepts thrown at you, more and more outright brilliant, outright crazy ideas. You are starting to realize now that your author might not be all there. You are starting to see that he has no filter. He will take you places that you are not ready for, give you visions that you could never prepare yourself to see. The book is hot now, running out of control and all you can do is hold on with white knuckle, the wind screaming in your ears, your cheeks flapping as he drags you along into the wildest read you have ever had.

There are things in this book that you will not be ready for. Every now and then, you will look at it wondering if the writer is seriously taking you there, wondering if you can suspend disbelief long enough to finish the book.

Do it. Don’t let this one get away. Halcyon is not an experience that you want to go without.

When you are done, go out and buy a bag of Peanut M&M’s. You have earned them.


(Keen to know more about The Gunslinger – check out his author page here).

The Gunslinger read that review and went nuts. I am pretty sure that to this day it is the greatest way anyone has ever captured his work. Because when you read Halcyon’s Wake, you realize this guy is just left of center.

He also happens to have one of the most powerful grasps I have ever seen on the written language. He knows story. Knows what works and what doesn’t. And he is an editor. He had edited The Sloth’s book, and The Sloth gave him high praise and used him for the rest of the trilogy.

I stick to a very strict release schedule of every April 15th and October 5th. April 15th to honor the short story Mr. Olsen gave me in fifth grade. And October 5th in honor of Mrs. Hegg’s assignment my freshman year of high school. So when the editor who was working on The Manhunters series went in for heart surgery and had to set my book down, I reached out to The Gunslinger and he scooped up the third book in the series to whittle at it a bit.

He read the first two and delivered a powerful product I was very happy with. I sent it to my second editor, who gave it glowing praise for its cleanliness, then I roped The Gunslinger in for the lot.

He liked my style. Asked why I was not big yet and he agreed to work with me into a future we could not see the end of.

LegendsMy next release was Legends of the Exiles and here we hit a bit of a bump. Well, he had moved to Arizona and was looking at Exiles through the glass of The Manhunters. He said it didn’t fit and he was cutting it pretty deep. Said the dialogue was juvenile and the world did not seem that well-developed. He told me he had worked on it for X number of hours and he was only 23 pages in. He had been into his canteen and found not water there but whiskey, and he is prone to exaggeration when that happens.

My wife flew into action when I got off the phone with him. She emailed and messaged The Gunslinger and breathed fire for a while, and the next day he woke up to his desk smoldering and patted out the flames. He had been told by my wife the dialogue was juvenile because those talking were children. He had been told the world was in fact very detailed and she had told him that if he was not going to blah blah that she would blah blah. She growled at him quite a bit and he stepped into the book with greater respect and a healthy fear of my wife.

He texted me asking me to call him a few days later. He had been working on the book and needed to speak to me. I called and when he answered the phone, he sighed. He did not say hello, howdy or hey ya. But he spoke with a soft, reverent voice and said:

“She did not dance to their rules. Music was not for prancing around in circles with hands up and smiling. It was not about bowing and presenting intention. Dancing was about sweat and exertion. It was about freedom and power. It was a thing for gods and goddesses. The closest men or women ever got to divinity. While all of the others danced in their circles, she spun and slid through the groupings. She flipped her hair and moved her hips. She let the sway of her body and the waving of her arms speak of her power and she loosed her war cry every time the music lifted her to heights unimaginable.”

This is a scene from the book. This is young Rachel Beastscowl on the floor of a hall where her people are set for a feast. In his voice I heard his love of the young girl. In his voice I heard a true believer.

“What do you think?” I said.

“You have me for life. I will edit every book you write from this day forth. I want in. I want it all. I want Perilisc, I want the Mountain. I want to be a part of what you are making. Don’t cut me out. Money, deadlines, we can work all that out. I can be flexible, I am a hard worker. I’m with you. This is mine, too.”

And ever since, he has been.

I have The Gunslinger beside me fighting back all my doubts, fighting back all my flaws as he shoots from the hip and screams wild to the air. With a canteen of whiskey and a love of my world, The Gunslinger fights for my team. He is my editor. He is my scribe.

He is also my friend.

* Ends *

My thanks to Jesse for the opportunity to take part in the Bards and Scribes blog tour.

For more information about Jesse Teller:

Author Bio:

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to understanding the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.

Facebook Author Page:
Facebook Profile:
Newsletter sign up:


Self Published Spotlight

Today’s post is all about spreading the love for self published fantasy books. I have some fantastic books just waiting to be read and so I thought I’d share them with you. Take a look at these beauties:

Firstly, two books from author Phil Williams. I read Under Ordshaw as part of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition. Under Ordshaw is such a fresh take on urban fantasy. Here is a city that looks, on the face of it, like any other and yet below the streets is a warren of tunnels just crawling with supernatural creatures. The world building is just great but, without doubt, the characters steal the show.

Now, I confess that I’ve been a little tardy keeping up with the series but I can say that this is not a reflection of my enjoyment, more a simple fact that time is sometimes in short supply and I can be a little over enthusiastic (aka as book greedy) when it comes to the number of books that I think I can read during the course of any given month. But, in the next few weeks I’m hoping to continue with the second book in the Under Ordshaw series – Blue Angel and I’m also really excited to have an advanced copy of Phil’s latest book Kept From Cages.

Kept From Cages is the first part in a new story arc in the Ordshaw world (with all new characters), and is more of a fast-paced supernatural action-thriller. It follows a gang of criminal jazz musicians who stumble upon a red-eyed child tied to a chair. While they’re thrown into a madcap chase across the Deep South, an international agent investigating the massacre of an Arctic fishing village follows a trail into the heart of the Congo, with an erratic female assassin in tow. The parallel stories converge amid corporate conspiracy, mutant animals and a cult of sword-wielding murderers. Seriously – doesn’t this sound pretty amazing? I think so.


Secondly a book that I promised myself I’d read much sooner (*headdesk*) but – well, you know what ‘they’ say about the best laid plans (a phrase that might have been coined with me in mind). Legends of the Exiles (Perilisc) by Jesse Teller. Legends of the Exiles is a book with four intertwining novellas – here’s a taster of the description over on Goodreads:

The isolated barbarians of Neather have deep ancestry and strict traditions. Four resilient women defy tribal customs as they fight to overcome their own tragedies. Abuse. Addiction. Assault. Grief. What struggles can they endure to defend their hopes and their hearts?

And here is the gorgeous cover:


Yes, I’m hoping to pick this one up soon.


My third choice is the second in a series known as the Woern Saga. A Wizard’s Sacrifice by A.M. Justice. I would point out that although this is the second in a series it can also be read without having read A Wizard’s Forge.

‘A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

And, another stunning cover:



So my next book is literally staring me in the face in the most guilt inducing fashion possible. This is an author that I really like. And I actually went out of my way to request a copy of this book – and yet I still haven’t read it. Sometimes I just can’t believe myself. *hangs head dejectedly*. I can only try and do better. Enough about my guilt. This book sounds like something I will just love. I’m expecting it to be dark and a bit brutal.

No one escapes the Pit.

At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.’

Also, just check out this absolutely drop dead gorgeous cover – no, I’m not fickle. Seriously I think Rob J Hayes has been blessed by the God of Great Covers.



The final book I’m highlighting today is one that I’m very excited about. Again, yes, I’m late to pick this one up – but a very good author once said to me that author’s want book reviews all year round, not just on publication day – and I confess that that little eye opener does allow me to feel slightly less guilty than I might otherwise feel. This book is the final instalment in the Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton – War of Gods. And oh my giddy aunt but this book is receiving some of the most glowing reviews ever. If I don’t manage to carve out some time for this very soon I may literally explode, and nobody wants that. Check out the description and believe me when I say if you love fantasy, then you need this series in your life.

From Africa to Asgard, to an invisible island in the Pacific and the Bone Road of a forgotten world, Fi and Zeke must come to grips with not only their newfound abilities but also who they are – and accept what they are becoming: wielders of ancient and dangerous powers, warriors, and maybe even heroes. But the end of worlds is coming, and time is short.

Titans will clash. Gods will battle. Monsters will swarm.

Can Peter and the Deva possibly defeat their age-old enemy in the face of overwhelming odds against them? There’s only one way to find out.

And, dare I say it – another incredibly winning and dramatic cover:


That’s all for me for the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be reviewing some of these in the very near future.

#SPFBO 6 – Cover love (6)

Artboard 1

300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  This year I’m aiming to shine a little bit of focus on some of the books either through posting excerpts to act as teasers for potential readers or through posting some of the covers and highlighting the book that way (not just for my own books but other entries).  The invitation is open to all authors from the competition – if you’d like to post an excerpt then give me a shout in the comments (also, if you’ve contacted me recently and I’ve not responded please give me a shout, I’ve noticed recently that a lot of my comments have gone straight to Spam or Pending so I may have overlooked something.

As part of the competition there is a cover contest.  The details can be found here.

So, this week’s chosen SPFBO covers – and, call me fickle, but I must say I would be immediately drawn to all of these – do you have a favourite?