The Sincerest Form of Flattery!

A fan of mine contacted me a few days ago to let me know that an author had a series of books that seemed a little too similar to mine to be a coincidence. I fully expected to go check them out and discover that they were just the standard hero’s journey fantasy tale, a situation where someone else followed the same tropes as me just as a thousand had before. I’m not a big enough author for someone to plagiarize my stuff. But I was curious, so I went to check it out.

And… I mean… Well, you be the judge.

Here’s The Book of Deacon (Book 1):

Myranda Celeste’s world has been built on a legacy of bloodshed. For more than a century, her homeland the Northern Alliance has fought the Kingdom of Tressor in what has come to be known as the Perpetual War. While her people look upon the conflict with reverence, Myranda’s hate for the war has made her an outcast.

When she finds a precious sword among the equipment of a fallen warrior, she believes her luck may have changed. Little does she imagine that the treasure will draw her into an adventure of wizards and warriors, soldiers and rebels, and beasts both noble and monstrous. The journey will teach her much about her potential, about the origins of the war, and about the threat her world truly faces.

Will Myranda unlock the secret of bringing peace once and for all, or will the world be lost to the Perpetual War?

Let’s compare that to The Eternal War (Fate Chronicles Book 1)

The world is blanketed in snow and death…

The Eternal War continues to ravage the land while mighty forces clash in a never-ending struggle for dominancy.

Laura Stillwater, a young woman who wants nothing to do with the war, is ensnared its wake. She becomes an integral part of its outcome after discovering a magical staff hidden beneath the snow. The staff is sought by many dangerous foes, forcing Laura into a deadly hunt. Along her journey, she meets powerful allies who show her the ways of elemental magic.

Follow Laura’s adventure as she struggles to defeat powerful enemies and change the world.

Now, I mean… That’s pretty similar, but I wasn’t exactly breaking ground with the plot of my book. And the name and weapon are different. Let’s just take a peek inside.

Take a look at the side by side of the first few paragraphs (you’ll want to open in a new tab for all of the literary goodness). That’s mine on the left.

I mean… you know… It could be a coincidence. Maybe the other book covers will differentiate his series.

Clearly an original story! His anthropomorphic character appears to be a badger, not a fox. What about the next one.

Oh, hey! There’s something in his books called “The Drakaran.” Not the D’Karon, like in mine. Though the cover seems to depict a battle against the raised dead like in The Battle of Verril. Moving on…

Whoa! He seems to have some sort of a fire elemental in his, too! And book four has Deadly Diplomacy, does it? The Chosen take the roles of Diplomats in mine, too. I bet Book Five is just as good!

… Now wait a minute. My book five is called “The Crescents” and this one’s called “Mystery at Crescent Islands”? And there’s a red dragon and a green dragon hanging out. And the green one is in armor.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little hurt that they didn’t rip off book 6. I was rooting for “The Doubloons of Karnved” or something.

I guess I’m going to have to do something about this, but it’s just so bizarrely entertaining to me.

UPDATE: I have been in contact with the person responsible. The books have been taken down and I’ve adjusted the post to remove explicit mention of their name, so that this doesn’t follow them around unnecessarily.

One Way To Handle Lore

Hey folks! Because a fan asked, and I’d mentioned it on the podcast I co-host not so long ago, here’s a quick piece on how I do a story bible for my books when I need something reasonably complex yet easy to navigate. I use something called Zim Desktop Wiki. Here’s how I use it.

1. Install

I grabbed the portable app from here. Double Click it, pick a place for the install, and you’re done. For the purposes of this little test, I tossed it on my desktop. When you see this screen, you’re ready. Go ahead and leave “run” highlighted.

Alternately, you can open up the place you installed it and double click the executable.

2. Get Started

First, name your notebook. We’ll call this one Big Sigma.

You’ll end up with the “Home” page open. I like to start laying it out like this.

Just type the headings you like, and while your cursor is on the heading, go to Format->Heading 2 or just press Ctrl+2.

Once you’ve got your headings, start filling them out. You can leave these non-headings.

3. Fill in Details

Pick a section you want to fill out and highlight it. You can either pick “Link” from the top bar or press Ctrl+L.

You’ll get this window. The top box is the name of the file/article. The bottom is the actual text of the link. If you have a red box, it means you put something that can’t be in a file name, like quotation marks. Just remove them and everything should be fine.

The name should now be a hyperlink. Click it.

You’ll get a fresh file that’s blank.

Lay it out however you like. I like to fill out some headings and do the Ctrl+2 formatting thing, then start typing.

Hey! We mentioned Squee and Ma! Let’s highlight them and Ctrl+L to make articles for them too.

Note that every file you start filling out shows up in that Left Pane there. Now let’s click “Home” to get back there.

Now that you’ve written articles for Ma and Squee, you can link them here too. Highlight “Ma” in the character section and Ctrl+L.

If you type the same name as what shows up in the Left Pane, or if you click Browse and pick the “Ma” file, it’ll link to the one you already wrote. Note that the TEXT can be whatever you want. Only the “Link to” has to match the previous name. In this way, everywhere a character or name shows up, you can link to their file. I often find as I write a Bio, I’ll realize characters I think need to be added, and just highlight the text and write the article from there, then add them to Home later.

4. Get Fancy

You can do other stuff like insert images and do fancier formatting. I usually don’t, but go nuts!

Revving Up

Hi, folks!

I’ll be honest. Things have been a little rough these last few months. It’s “nice” to have a very good excuse, in the form of the pandemic and protests. But in truth, those things haven’t changed my life much. When I walk, I wear a mask, and I’ve donated some money and amplified some voices, but all things considered things are as they’ve always been in my little slice of the world. The problem has been me.

My focus has been in the dumps. I’ve been dragging my feet on projects and promotions. And as anyone who’s been in the self publishing game as long as I have will tell you, that’s bound to take its toll on both schedule and income. I’m not in any danger, but it’s well past time that I started taking things seriously again.

Starting today, I’m going to try to ramp up on all levels. My posts here and on social media will become more regular. I’ll start beefing up my reader perk offerings. Daily word counts will get back up where they need to be. I’ll start putting out newsletters more often. I’ll be a proper, grownup indie author again.


But there’s no time like the present to start making good on those plans than RIGHT NOW!

Free-Wrench 6 Update

Free-Wrench 6 is done, unless something goes wrong with the edit. I’ve even got the cover mostly made, though I can’t share it yet since it hasn’t been paid for. But one of the many things I was procrastinating was picking a title.

I think I’m comfortable picking Contaminant Six as the title! It’s very likely that my next announcement regarding Free-Wrench will be the cover reveal and the pre-order announcement. If you’re a Free-Wrench fan, keep your eyes peeled for that! We’re probably looking at a late August, early September release date.

Halfax Interview

I tried to set up a Character Interview a few weeks ago, but because of the aforementioned inactivity I’ve made an enemy of the algorithms and slipped from the mind of some longtime fans. Thus, I wasn’t able to collect very many questions.

We’re going to try again, by loading up my full social media cannon and blasting it out.

SO! What questions have you got for the big green guy?

If you’re not familiar, Hal is the sworn protector and Adopted Papa of Jade Rinton, an important figure in the Age of Ignorance, a time long after the main Book of Deacon series. He’s one of Myn’s children, along with Roka, Thorn, and Winsor. Once I get a healthy assortment of questions I’ll write the interview and share it! Here are the questions we’ve got so far!

From Shirley: Did Jade find a way to fix your wings so you could fly again? It always has bothered me that a creature meant to soar above the clouds was grounded.

From: Siberia-gravity: Halfax have you seen any Malthropes in your life or should say during the Age of Ignorance?

From Kindleworm: Hey, Halfax, what happened to all the other dragons?

Free-Wrench 6 Update

Hey, folks! I’m trying to get better about doing regular updates here on my blog. (In the inevitable event of failure, you’ll find me most active on twitter, and moderately active on Facebook.)

Yesterday I finished the first revision of Free-Wrench 6. I’m still brainstorming a name and cover, but it’s good enough now that Beta Readers can take a look. The story is about 100,000 words, probably with a few thousand more once the epilogue gets added. the edit is due in July, so possibly an August launch?

What am I working on now? Well, while the Beta Readers do their beta reading, I’ll see if I can refill the hopper on short stories and such for Patrons. As it is, the pipeline is empty. I’ll either release a secret sneak peek of a pending project or else I’ll release as a standalone something that was previously tucked away in one of my old collections. Unless I’m REALLY on the ball, and then I’ll get a fresh short out. It’ll be fun to find out!

On the personal front, so far COVID-19 has been relatively kind. My dad lost a friend, but my family has been healthy. I hope everyone stays safe, washes their hands, and gets through this. I’ll do my best to keep the distractions coming!

The End of a Sale, the beginning of a pre-launch

Hey, folks!

We’ll get this part over with quickly. The Book of Deacon Main Series (the whole thing) has been discounted for quite a while. First it was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first book and to prepare folks for Book 6. Then it was because we’re all locked up and maybe you’d like some cheap stuff to read. But all good things must come to an end. The Book of Deacon Main Series Sale ends Monday.

So, what comes next?

Free-Wrench 6, of course! Once I hit “post” on this very article, I’ll be popping open Free-Wrench 6 to start the revision. It’ll be going to the editor in… July, I think? But I mean to have it buttoned up long before then. Like The Coin of Kenvard, Free-Wrench 6 (still haven’t picked a name) will be potentially the end of its era. Also like The Coin of Kenvard, I’ll be discounting the main series to help people prepare for the release of book 6. It’ll be a while yet, but I’ll definitely let you know when it comes along.

The Coin of Kenvard Release

I’ll start with the short version. The Coin of Kenvard is available now! Pick it up wherever ebooks are sold. Here’s the cover.

Frequently these posts begin with me addressing something that long-time fans of mine will already know. Considering this is book six of my very first series, something tells me the only people reading this are those who have been following me for a long time.

I have history of dopey book releases. Some of them were incredibly avoidable, like my now famous decision to release The Other Eight — a book with an absurd premise completely unlike any of my other stories– on April Fools Day. Others were less foreseeable, like releasing a book on Election Day 2016, which turned out to be a rather distracting day.

Well, I’m releasing Book of Deacon 6 in the depths of a global pandemic. Fun! I hope everyone is staying safe. Social distancing, washing hands, the whole nine yards. So far so good in the Lallo-sphere. But no matter how well things are going, there are some things we can’t ignore. Most of us are hurting for money. Most of us have far more important things to worry about than keeping tabs on a fantasy series.

We’re all doing our best, and I’m trying to do my part. In a recent post, I listed the books I have that are currently free, including some new stuff. I’ll repeat it below, for convenience, and add to it the full-series sale I’m doing for the main Book of Deacon ebooks in most stores.

Free Books:

Discounted Books (until the end of April):

The Coin of Kenvard is, for now at least, planned to be the final book in this “era” of the series. I have more stories to tell, for sure. The Jade/Halfax Era is likely to get more stories, for example, and there’s already a book set in the years afterward written that I’ve been holding back until Myranda and her crew had their story told.

It’s been a long ride, folks. Lots of ups and downs. We’re all in a pretty solid down at the moment, some more so than others. I hope this story will take you away from that for a while, and I hope that together we can find our way through to the other side stronger and wiser than before.

Thanks for reading!

Social Distancing List

Hey, folks! Right about now we’re all supposed to hunker down and keep infection risk from the COVID-19 to a minimum. For us author types, that’s par for the course. But some of you may be hard up for cash and going a little stir crazy. Thus, I decided it might be worth giving folks something nice to read.

This is a collection of short stories that have appeared either in Patreon or in the Collected Editions of my three main series. Here’s what you get:

  • Squee’s Day Out – Squee goes on an adventure on her own. (Big Sigma)
  • Building the Perfect Pet – The story of how and why Karter created funks. (Big Sigma)
  • Meeting of the Mas – Ma has a conversation with Coal and Ziva about Lex’s state of mind. (Big Sigma)
  • The New Inspector – The story of how Wink became a member of the Wind Breaker crew. (Free-Wrench)
  • Lil and Coop – The story of how Lil and Coop joined the Wind Breaker crew. (Free-Wrench)
  • The Beast of the Cave – The story of what Mott got up to after The D’Karon Apprentice (Book of Deacon)

This will be the new Newsletter Perk starting in a few weeks, but I thought it would be nice to not require folks who might just be hungry for a story to get it free and clear.

You can still sign up on for my newsletter now and get the previous newsletter perk. And if you’re new to my stuff, I’ve got three other books that are absolutely free:

The Book of Deacon
Bypass Gemini

The Coin of Kenvard Pre-Order

A nice quick update for you folks! The Coin of Kenvard, the sixth Main Series book in the Book of Deacon Saga, is available for pre-order now. Wide release is on April 16th, and “Novel Supporters” of my Patreon get it on April 1st.

Cover by Nick Deligaris

In the wake of the Perpetual War, the world cannot afford for history to repeat itself.

Myranda and Deacon have helped to guide their world out of the clutches of the D’Karon. But victory has come at a price. Deacon’s mysterious affliction is becoming more than he can handle. Will he be forced to choose between his own life and finding the source of the anomalies that threaten his home?

The Coin of Kenvard is the sixth full-length novel in the Book of Deacon Saga, and marks the end of the Perpetual War Era for the series.

Paradoxes, Dragons, and Audio

Hey folks! Got some exciting news for you. If you’re a fan, but you haven’t had the money or the notion to support my Patreon, you’ve been missing out on at least one short story (and as much as a full novella) every month. I promised, way back when I started the Patreon, I wouldn’t lock anything behind the paywall forever. Well, today’s the day I make good on that promise!

A book cover with the text "Joseph R. Lallo, Paradoxes and Dragons, A Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology" The image depicts a stylized dragon curled around a pocket watch, with a purple-stained and grimy circuit board as the backdrop.
Cover art by Chandra Free

Paradoxes and Dragons is a collection of ten short stories and novellas, representing roughly one full year of Patreon stories. Here’s what you get!

  • Wasteland
    • A story of a man trying to survive the dehydrated remains of his world when he finds companionship in an unlikely form.
  • Bella’s Journey
    • The fabled “Fat Unicorn” story I talked about in the past. Bella is a zaftig cryptid shy about how different she appears from her sisters, but that won’t stop her from leaping to their rescue when they need her.
  • It Does Not Follow
    • Afraid that AI may be too smart for its own good? You might be right…
  • Note to Self
    • One of the stories that fulfills the “Paradoxes” requirement of the title, Note to Self is about a guy who future people keep sending on errands.
  • Blot’s Arrival
    • The short story that spawned the Shards of Shadow series, this is the tale of an imp trying her darnedest to take over our pesky little planet.
  • The Back Way
    • Another time travel short, this follows a woman who gets a suspiciously well-paid job at an antique shop and learns that the clientele might not be as contemporary as she thinks.
  • Part-Time Heroes
    • A short continuation of The Other Eight, this story shows what a government funded superhero team does when there’s no evil doers to vanquish.
  • A Big Day for Blodgette
    • Because (contrary to my sales history) some people just can’t get enough Pizza Dragon! We follow the events after my novel Structophis to learn what becomes of Blodgette and the crew.
  • Something Precious
    • A second dragon story to keep the promise of the title, Something Precious is about a little girl hoping to get adopted who doesn’t care how “monstrous” her would be caretaker is perceived to be.
  • The Rills
    • The most substantial story in the book, The Rills continues the story that began in Between, this time focusing on the three-headed water dragon who is beginning to wonder what it would be like to be someone else.

Patreon supporters have had access to these stories for as much as a full year, but there are some bonuses even for them. This is the first time they’ve been available in a single book, and several of them have had fully illustrated covers added that weren’t available at release. This ALSO marks the first book with illustrations scattered throughout, as I have included the “story cover” of each short.

I hope you enjoy it!

Urban Fantasy Audio

If you’ve been holding off on picking up the books of Shards of Shadow because you don’t have time to read, the audio books are steadily releasing. Books in Motion has got two books finished, and a third on the way!

Read an Ebook Week

If you’re reading this shortly after I posted it, then we are in the midst of Read an Ebook Week. Smashwords has got loads of books on sale, including nearly all of my books for free or half price. Check it out!

Book of Deacon announcement to come…

Book of Deacon Six has a name, and a cover. I’ll reveal them both soon…