Brand New Year, Brand New Cover

The Alchemist's Stone by Kevin WohlerI’ve been hard at work the past couple of months, trying to polish my latest novel. With luck, The Alchemist’s Stone will be coming your way soon. Because I’m confident it won’t be much longer, I’ve decided to share the cover art for it!

Picking up only a few months after the end of book one, The Alchemist’s Stone continues Malcolm’s quest to create a philosopher’s stone, the great work every alchemist must achieve to become a master of his craft. He also needs to deal with new responsibilities in his life, including his apprentice, Danny, a young man with the power to transform metals with a touch.

Here’s the back cover copy:

After more than half a century, alchemist Malcolm Ward has yet to complete his magnum opus, the philosopher’s stone. Then a young man arrives on his doorstep with the power of the stone—the ability to transmute elements with a simple touch.

Taking Danny as his apprentice, Malcolm promises to teach the boy control of this newfound power. But others are interested in Danny’s ability, too. As shadowy government agents appear, allies in the metaphysical community warn Malcolm that magic users are being abducted.

On the run, Malcolm and Danny come face to face with an ancient darkness—one drawn to children with magical power. And Danny may be next on its list.

To stay ahead of their abductors and bind the darkness, Malcolm might need to learn a trick or two from his apprentice. Is it alchemy…or something else? In Salt City, there are no easy answers.

I love this new cover. It was designed by Clarissa Yeo at Yocla Designs. She did the cover for The Alchemist’s Notebook, too, and I think this is a wonderful complement to the original.

The Alchemist’s Stone is the second book in The Village Alchemist series. It is scheduled for an early 2017 release, and it will be available exclusive to Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It will also be available in paperback.

Until then, if you haven’t picked up The Alchemist’s Notebook, please do so! It is available exclusively at Amazon for the Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and as a trade paperback.

The Perils of Advanced Seating for Disabled Movie-goers

ADA poster

Historical Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) poster on movie theater accessibility.

Since I was a child, I’ve loved going to the movies. Because of my disability, the big screen has allowed me to escape reality and indulge in adventures I might not otherwise have. I’ve thrilled to each new innovation — from THX sound to IMAX screens to 4K digital projection. So it fills me with misgivings that the latest modernization to the movie-going experience has made it worse for me and others who use a wheelchair.

A Brief History of My Experiences in Movie Theaters

I’ve always been independent. For most of my youth, I enjoyed doing things like going to movies and malls on my own. It gave me a sense of autonomy. At theaters, I always transferred out of my wheelchair to take advantage of the theater seating. While not as plush as today’s luxury seating standards, it was still better than sitting in a wheelchair — especially when the theater’s center aisle was a steep ramp.

Over the years, I’ve fought my share of battles at the movie theater. For several years in the late 1980s and early ’90s, one local cinema chain repeatedly demanded that they take my wheelchair from me during the show for fear that it was blocking the aisle. That ended abruptly when I told the manager he could take my wheelchair if he left his legs as collateral. After all, what would I do if I had to leave to go to the bathroom or if there was an emergency? I couldn’t very well rely on someone making minimum wage to bring me my chair during a fire.

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Season of Adventure

Books by Annie Spratt via UnsplashFor the last couple of months, Kansas has been hot. Unbearably hot. But some rain late last week brought with it cooler temperatures, and with it a sense that summer might be close to finished for now.

To this change in weather add in the ubiquitous students returning to classrooms as school starts up again. It’s a magical time. A time of new beginnings and new adventures.

This weekend, my wife and I broke our lazy Saturday morning routine to attend the third annual Local Writers Workshop hosted by the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. This educational event was just what I needed to inspire my writing and give me some new tools for my professional toolbox.

Growing up, I would get excited at the end of summer because school allowed me a chance to learn new things and meet new people. Buying school supplies gave me a weird tingle that still strikes me to this day. Take me to an office supply store or even the school supplies aisle at the local department store and I get a rush. Even now, I want new pens, new notebooks, and a Trapper Keeper® to store all my stuff in.

That’s why this weekend’s event was so special. Going to the Local Writers Workshop was a bit like that first day of classes. There were old friends to see and new friends to meet. I learned a lot, talked a lot, and I even had a new headshot taken (just like picture day at school!).

The lectures were a mix of professional training (book pitches, intellectual property rights) and an exploration of poetry. We also had some wonderful speakers who shared their inspiring stories.

I’ll be back to the T&SCPL in December when it hosts its annual Great Writers, Right Here author fair. I’ll be there with the first two books in The Village Alchemist series, sharing a table with Rachel (R.L. Naquin). It should be a great time! More to come as the event gets closer.

Although autumn won’t arrive for a few more weeks, a new season has already begun. It is a season filled with stories to write, books to read, and wisdom to share. This is the season of new beginnings and new friendships. It’s the start of something big.

I Hear Voices

Book with earbuds

Until an audiobook version is available, my imagination will have to do.

When sharing the cut scene from The Alchemist’s Notebook, I mentioned the character of Clyde had been written with Larry Finkelstein from television’s Dharma & Greg in mind, though Clyde only had a passing resemblance to the character. It was Alan Rachins’ voice, more than anything, that I heard while writing Clyde’s dialogue.

I do this. A lot. I do it when I’m reading, and I do it when I’m writing. I start to hear celebrities (mostly actors and actresses, but not always) speaking the dialogue. So, I thought I’d share which other celebrities popped up when I was writing.

Unlike the game of dream-casting actors in roles for future (but inevitable!) film versions of a novel, I’m not actually suggesting any of these people are right for the roles they play in my head. For one thing, they might not look the part at all. For another, sometimes (as you’ll see) their ages are vastly different from the characters’.

To start, Malcolm Ward, as the narrator, is the most important voice in the novel. Some would say it’s my voice, but I’ve heard from those who have read my book that they don’t hear me in it at all (although my voice is heard a bit in his more sarcastic remarks).

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Free for the 4th: A Cut Scene from The Alchemist’s Notebook

Alan Rachins, Larry from televisions Dharma and Greg

When I first wrote Clyde, I pictured Larry Finkelstein (Alan Rachins) from television’s Dharma & Greg.

It’s been awhile since I posted anything on my blog, so I thought I’d take a moment before the holiday weekend to give everyone a small “thank you” for being so awesome.

In honor of Independence Day (the day when Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum defeated the aliens and drove them from our planet), I’m giving you a little something for free: a cut scene from The Alchemist’s Notebook.

If you’ve read my novel, you might recognize the name Clyde. He was Malcolm’s dear friend and mentor, mentioned in passing as the original owner of Mal’s beat-up old van. That’s the only reference to him now. But in the beginning, he was a crucial part of Malcolm’s backstory.

When I first wrote The Alchemist’s Notebook, I included a series of flashbacks to 2005, when Malcolm first left the Ardennes Forest and returned to America. He was in Savannah for a while, and met Miss Shaniqua, a psychic who told him to “follow the lines.” That led Malcolm to meet Clyde, and the start of their adventure together.

I loved writing him. Clyde was an optimistic old man who saw the good in everyone. He wanted nothing more than to help others, and took it upon himself to help Mal transition to life in the modern world.

Unfortunately, sometimes a good scene, even a good character, has to be cut from a book if it will help the story. My editor, Sara, was reluctant to recommend that I cut all the flashbacks, but we both agreed the novel worked better without them.

I have hopes of one day revisiting Clyde, but it will have to be with a new story. I hope you enjoy this never-before-seen excerpt from The Alchemist’s Notebook.

Exotic Destinations

Miss Shaniqua directed me to a place on the other side of town called Exotic Destinations. I expected a small office, filled with ringing phones and overenthusiastic travel agents. Instead, I walked past the glass door through a smoky cloud of incense. The alchemist in me assumed it was a cleansing ritual, but the cynic in me wondered if it was there to mask other smells that might interest the local sheriff.

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