Monday, August 7, 2017

Desperate Knight by Keith W. Willis

Today is release day!!!
Book 2 in the Knights of Kilbourne series by award-winning fantasy/romance author Keith W. Willis
Published by Champagne Books.

The’ “Knights of Kilbourne” fantasy/romance series, set in the mythical Renaissance-era kingdom of Kilbourne, features dashing knights and irrepressible damsels, courtiers and clergyman, and spies and rogues, with wizards, Dwarves and a hiccupping dragon for good measure. The tales combine action, intrigue, and fantasy served up with a dollop of romance and a dash of wit.  

No time… No plan… No options…
No one said saving the world would be easy.

Morgan McRobbie and Lady Marissa duBerry swing back into swashbuckling action, facing old enemies, new threats, and a diabolical conspiracy. Not to mention a more personal battle, one with hearts and pride at stake.

As the pair escorts Prince Robert to the dwarf king’s court, a fiendish scheme is unfolding, intended to hurl men and dwarves into a devastating war. Morgan ends up sidetracked by a kidnapped dwarf and a centuries-old feud, while a mysterious wizard’s revelations shake Marissa to her core, throwing into question everything she thought she knew about her past and future. And the advent of a rival for Marissa’s affections threatens any hope of a happy ending—if they survive.

Once again the desperate knight and indomitable damsel must hazard everything on a single throw of the dice, gambling on untested allies and unimagined weapons to save their world.

And the odds have never been worse.  


You can enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card by entering the Rafflecopter contest.

Leave a comment on the blog, tweet or post on Facebook about the contest, buy a copy of Desperate Knight (extra credit for that one), or leave a review (lots of extra credit for this one too). All details can be found by clicking the link above.

The contest runs through August 14th. Don’t miss out on your chance to win!


The rapier slid from its sheath with a soft susurration that presaged swift and violent death.
Morgan McRobbie ignored his opponent’s blade. Instead he scanned the man’s eyes for the telltale flicker that signaled an attack. All around them men lunged and dodged and whirled. Cries of anguish and triumph rang out over the clash of steel on steel. But for Morgan no one else existed at this moment.
His attacker approached, his movements tentative. From caution, perhaps, leavened with a bit of trepidation. He was, after all, facing the renowned Knight-Commander of the King’s Legion. The Dark Knight of Kilbourne. Morgan scowled fiercely at this sobriquet and his opponent danced a hasty step back.
Then, gathering himself, the man lunged forward with a wild yell. His sword sliced the air in a hissing arc. Morgan stepped neatly back out its trajectory, and air was all it sliced.
Morgan acknowledged the strike with a brief nod. Maintaining his defensive posture, he watched the other man’s eyes for his next move. He knew the fellow to be a decent swordsman. He was also well aware his opponent didn’t possess Morgan’s level of proficiency. His reaction and recovery times were definitely slower. Offsetting this lack of expertise was an attitude of grim determination.
His opponent launched a furious flurry of thrusts and slashes, but Morgan parried the attack with studied ease. He refrained from going on the offensive himself quite yet. He had plenty of time. If he finished off this fellow too soon, there’d be plenty more ready to take his place.
The attacker lunged again, his blade darting like a swallow in an attempt to find an opening in Morgan’s defenses. The man was breathing a bit harder now, further evidence of his lack of practice. Morgan flashed him an evil grin.
“Not slowing down already, are you?” he taunted. “I would have expected better from you.”
His opponent didn’t answer. He just gasped a little. In all likelihood saving his wind for the fight. He lunged again. This time he was careless, leaving his left side wide open,
It was like being handed a gift. Seizing his opportunity, Morgan went on the offensive at last. His sword sliced the air with an angry hiss as he stalked inexorably towards his foe. The man fell back into a determined defensive posture, managing to parry the first few thrusts. Then Morgan feinted, his blade slashing low. As his opponent reacted, Morgan shifted his stance in the blink of an eye, his rapier darting in high to find its mark.
Gently he touched the point to the spot over his opponent’s heart. “You’re dead, Your Majesty,” Morgan said.

Praise for TRAITOR KNIGHT (Book 1 of Knights of Kilbourne)

“…well-told story with a witty heroine, a noble-yet-flawed hero, and a colorful set of secondary characters. And a dragon! Let's not forget the dragon!” –Tegan Wren, author of Inconceivable

“…a witty and action-packed page-turner that takes the classic fantasy land and adds depth, character, romance and political intrigue to brilliant effect.”  -- SFF World

“…medieval England meets fairy-tale. I soon felt at home there. All of the characters in this book had flesh on them - their individuality shone through. There was plenty of action, romance, suspense, a murder or two, a chase across the roof tops and a dragon - did I mention a dragon?”  – Mary Anne Yarde, author of The DuLac Chronicles, in Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

“I recommend Traitor Knight to anyone looking for a good fantasy with just a dash of romance.” – Long & Short Reviews



Keith W. Willis graduated with a B.A. in English Lit from Berry College (which has the distinction of being the world's largest college campus). He migrated to the Hudson Valley/Adirondack region of NY with his wife Patty. Keith is certain those rumbling noises attributed to Henry Hudson's crew are really just the dragons grumbling. Keith's interests include reading classic mysteries, fantasy and sci-fi; camping and canoeing; and cutthroat games of Scrabble. He began writing seriously in 2008, when the voices in his head got too annoying to ignore. When he's not making up stories he manages a group of database content editors at a global information technology firm. Keith is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, the Latham-Albany-Schenectady-Troy SFF Association, the Adirondack Center for Writing, and the Mythopoeic Society.
Digital copies of Desperate Knight can be purchased through Champagne Books for $3.99.
Paperback copies will be available in September 2017.
Traitor Knight is available through Champagne Books and most other book retailers (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc). 

Find and connect with Keith W. Willis at:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sidekicks, The Buddy System for Sleuths

Not necessary, but supplying your sleuth with a sidekick can have benefits. Many famous detectives had sidekicks with some duos being nearly inseparable.  Mention Sherlock Holmes and John Watson comes to mind. Sgt. Joe Friday always had Office Bill Gannon at his side. Adrian Monk kept his assistant near.

Does your sleuth need a buddy? Contemplate this.

Everybody needs a sounding board. Somebody to talk to.  A confidant. Ultimately your detective will want somebody to talk to and try out ideas.  The sidekick is this guy.

  • Alternate view point.  Your sleuth spouts his latest theory of the killer’s method, and the sidekick chimes, “Yes, but what if…” The sleuth says black, and sidekick says could be white.  Up or down?  High or low?  Opposite view points keep the possibilities open.
  • Ever need your brain picked?  A good sidekick will ask questions.  Need further explanations. Push for exemplification. It keeps the story going, but the real effect is to keep your readers informed.
  • Scenes can flow better with two people.  Yes, a scene can be a single character, just the sleuth, but toss in another character, the sidekick, and things go smoothly.  They can talk and argue and discuss the clues.  He can watch your sleuth’s back. Do some grunt work. And just be there for support.
  • Off camera details. The sidekick loves errands (maybe) and can take care of detail too mundane for the detective and uninteresting for the reader.  Time passes and the sidekick returns with the information, missing evidence, a sudden revelation to keep the plot moving. Don’t even have to go into great detail how he did it.

What do you need for a great sleuth-sidekick combo? Chemistry.  Detective soulmates.  Your duo needs to complement each other. Balancing out the sleuth’s personality. If he is cold and calculating, the sidekick is warm and candid. A moody, stuffy sleuth needs a steady, laid-back sidekick. Genius thinker vs everyday guy.  Rude, arrogant needs polite, humble. Opposites can attract. Balance, balance, balance. This should not be a formula but return to the idea of soulmates in solving crimes.

Other features to consider about the sidekick

  • Loyal to the sleuth.
  • Supporting the cause of solving the crime.
  • When things get tough, the sidekick hangs in there.
  • The sleuth’s number one cheerleader.

Some Famous Detective Teams
Sherlock Holmes — John Watson
Hercule Poirot —  Arthur Hastings
Martin Beck — Gunvald Larsson
Master Li — Number Ten Ox
Sister Fidelma — Brother Eadulf
Hildegarde Withers — Inspector Oscar Pipe
Spenser — Hawk
Perry Mason — Della Street, Paul Drake
Sgt. Joe Friday — Officer Bill Gannon
Green Hornet — Kato (Crimefighter)
Batman — Robin (Detective Comics)
Lord Peter Wimsey — Mervyn Bunter
Albert Campion — Magersfontein Lugg
Precious Ramotswe — Grace Makutsi
Adrian Monk — Sharona Fleming, later Natalie Teeger
Charlie Chan — Number One Son
Nero Wolfe — Archie Goodwin
Inspector Darko Dawson — Philip Chikata
Inspector Morse — Sergeant Lewis
Inspector Thomas Lynley — Sergeant Barbara Havers
Dave Robicheaux — Clete Purcel
DI Jimmy Perez — DS Alison McIntosh

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Motive, the Glue that Holds Together the Murder Mystery

US law typically requires Motive, Means, and Opportunity to be demonstrated to a jury in a criminal trial.  As mystery writers, our job is to show these three things when finding the killer in our who-dun-its. Motive is a critical key to the story.

“The devil made me do it!” won’t hold up. The killer needs a good reason to snuff out the life of another character. Secrets drive motive; motive drives lies.

Sit back, watch your favorite murder mystery. Important to the story is collecting evidence—important here is the suspects’ stories.  The sleuth interviews, snoops, and investigates the murder to find one important element. The big WHY.

Motive becomes part of the backstory, the connection between the victim and killer. Other suspects secrets and lies matter too.  The motive is the glue that holds together the murder mystery storyline.

Without further ado, the Master List of Motives.

Hidden secret/Discovery
Righting a wrong
Class Conflict
Other Felony
Protect Someone
Crime of Passion
Psychosis/Mental Disorder
International Intrigue/Spy