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The epic conclusion to the Ronin Trilogy. Demons, magic swords, samurai, ninja, intrigue and Mongol hordes. Banzai!
The epic conclusion to the Ronin Trilogy. Demons, magic swords, samurai, ninja, intrigue and Mongol hordes. Banzai!
123 backers pledged $5,781 to help bring this project to life.

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$5,781

123

STRETCH GOALS!

We have successfully funded!!!!!!! Woohoo! And now, let's see just how awesome we can make this book.

UNLOCKED!!!! $5,500 -- A set of interior illustrations by cover artist Alan M. Clark.

$6,000 -- A new supplemental short story. Spearmen, Archers, and Archer Duos will receive the story as a e-book. Ronin contributors and above will receive a chapbook.

More to follow!

ADD-ONS!!!

Some of you have asked me to include a variety of add-ons, so backers can customize their rewards packages. To add-on any of these, simply add the cost of what you want to your reward level. Any additional postage fees are factored into the cost of the add-on. When the campaign concludes, I will query you about which add-ons you would like. (For international backers, there may be an additional postage charge, depending on your reward level.)

  • Chapbook, "The Ronin and the Green Maiden." -- $6.00 USD. Call this Volume 2.5. This is a supplemental story that takes place on the way to Book 3.
  • Heart of the Ronin, Trade Paperback -- $20.00 USD
  • Sword of the Ronin, Trade Paperback -- $20.00 USD
  • Spirit of the Ronin, Trade Paperback -- $20.00 USD
  • Spirit of the Ronin, Hardcover -- $45.00 USD
  • Art print of either illustration -- $35.00 USD

The Goal

Spirit of the Ronin is the climactic volume of the Ronin Trilogy, a historical fantasy series set in 13th Century Japan.

The goal of this project is simple: secure funding to produce high-quality e-book, paperback, and hardcover editions.

The story blends meticulous research, a historical setting, zen fables, and the strange creatures of Japanese folklore. The people of 13th Century Japan certainly believed that demons, spirits, kappa and all manner of bizarre beasties were real, and they believed foxes and tanuki could change form. What if all that were as real as the neighbors' noisy tomcat?

The Story

The book tells the story of Ken’ishi, a young masterless samurai, an orphan, whose only significant possession is the sword left to him by the father he never knew. The sword, Silver Crane, possesses the power to shape the course of events in tiny increments that can have world-shattering significance. But to fuel its power, the sword feeds on the blood of those it slays, a burden that lays heavy on Ken'ishi's soul.

The Mongols, their first invasion stymied, are threatening to invade again. The love of his life is married to his lord. His best friend is a mischievous tanuki. The underworld crime boss known as Green Tiger wants either Ken’ishi’s service or his head. Silver Crane hints of Ken'ishi's past and the truth of his parents' murder.

The Background

Spirit of the Ronin is the final volume in my Ronin Trilogy, but you don’t need to have read the first two books to enjoy the story.

The first volume Heart of the Ronin was published by the Five Star imprint of Gale-Cengage Learning in 2009. Heart of the Ronin is still available as e-book and trade paperback from Open Road Media. 

The link to that book on the publisher’s website is here.

Here’s the original book trailer for Heart of the Ronin.

Sword of the Ronin was indie-published in 2013 after an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign.

Just for fun, here's a little animated promo video I did for the Sword of the Ronin project in 2013.

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The Game Plan

The Sword of the Ronin project in 2013 was incredibly rewarding (we hit 150% of our Kickstarter goal!). We produced a book of which I'm immensely proud. To continue that success, I have brought the same team back for the final volume.

Spirit of the Ronin will continue that same commitment to quality. I believe strongly that books should be works of art, from text to illustration to design.

The Team

The Author: Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, editor, poker player, poet, biker, I am a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the author of the Ronin Trilogy, The Wild Boys, and Rogues of the Black Fury, plus short fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines such as Alembical, Fiction River, and Cemetery Dance. As a freelance writer, I have produced a metric ton of role-playing game work both in print and online, including the Firefly Roleplaying Game, Legend of Five Rings, d20 System, and the MMORPG, EVE Online.

The Editor: John Helfers is an author and editor currently living in Green Bay, Wisconsin. During his sixteen years working at Tekno Books (the largest commercial book packager in the nation), he co-edited more than twenty short story anthologies, as well as overseeing many others for publishers in all genres. He has worked with many well-known authors and co-editors, including Lawrence Block, Larry Bond, Elizabeth George, Dale Brown, Stephen Coonts, Nelson DeMille, Charlaine Harris, John Jakes, Anne Perry, Jeffery Deaver, Michael Connelly, Walter J. Boyne, Harold W. Coyle, Mercedes Lackey, Margaret Weis, Kevin J. Anderson, Ice-T, Richard Belzer, and Max Allan Collins. He has also edited more than one hundred novels including Heart of the Ronin and Sword of the Ronin, and published more than fifty short stories in anthologies, game books, and novels for the Dragonlance®, Transformers®, BattleTech® and Shadowrun® universes. He has written both fiction and nonfiction, including the third novel in the first authorized trilogy based on The Twilight Zone™ television series, the YA novel Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers: Cloak and Dagger, and a history of the United States Navy.

Cover Illustrator #1: Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His illustrations have appeared in books of fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, young adult fiction and children’s books. Awards for his illustration work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. His short fiction has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and three collections. Six of his novels have been published. Lazy Fascist Press released his latest novel, A Parliament of Crows, in the Fall of 2012. Mr. Clark's publishing company, IFD Publishing, has released six traditional books and seventeen e-books. He and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. His website is: www.alanmclark.com.

Cover Illustrator #2: Drew Baker is an award winning artist and illustrator who has done work for some of the most demanding and best known brands in the world, including Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: the Gathering. His work on Legend of the Five Rings – a CCG and roleplaying game set in a fantasy version of Japan – has garnered fans worldwide, and practically groomed him for this project. You can check out his work here: http://www.drewbaker.com/

Designer: jim pinto is an artist, writer, game designer, award-winning screenwriter, and Renaissance man. He recently completed a motorcycle trek across the entirety of Vietnam, and has collaborated with yours truly on numerous gaming projects, screenplays, and now fiction. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the author of the Longest Roleplaying Game Book (840 pages).

So with these eminently qualified gentlemen on board, you can be assured this is a project you’ll be proud to be part of.

What Will Be Produced?

The money from this campaign will be used to produce:

  • Trade Paperbacks 
  • E-books (electronically signed and personalized for the recipient)
  • Limited Edition Signed and Numbered Hardcovers 
  • Limited Edition Signed and Numbered Prints of the Cover Art - Archival Quality, 8.5 x 11", matted to 11 x 14"
  • Thank-you Postcards

Project Costs

  • Editing and copyediting
  • Cover illustrations and design
  • Interior book design
  • E-book formatting
  • Printing costs of the physical books and postcards
  • Registering Copyright
  • Permissions to use copyrighted quotations as epigraphs
  • Securing ISBN numbers
  • Setup fees at printer and e-book distributors
  • Postage and shipping supplies

Schedule

  • February 24, 2015 – Campaign completes.
  • March 31, 2015 – Completed draft and art.
  • April 15, 2015 – Developmental editing complete.
  • May 1, 2015 – Copyediting, book design and cover design complete. E-books and postcards sent to contributors.
  • May 15, 2015 – Final quality checks complete, files submitted to printers.
  • June 15, 2015 – Ship out rewards to contributors.

Qualifications

So what makes a guy from the American Midwest think he can write authentically about samurai and 13th Century Japan?

When I was writing the story that became Heart of the Ronin, I reached a point where I realized that no matter how many samurai movies I watched or books I read, I still had no idea how the culture worked. Japanese culture is so different from Western culture. However, culture is embedded in language, so I enrolled in a Japanese Conversation course at the local university, and this experience set my heart and mind afire with possibilities.

I ultimately quit my job and moved to Japan as part of the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program, where I spent the next three years living in Fukuoka prefecture, in northern Kyushu. By fate or pure serendipity, Fukuoka prefecture happened to be the exact location where the Ronin Trilogy takes place. I was able to do tons of first-hand research, traveling to historical sites, absorbing Japanese culture like a sponge; I even had the great fortune to study iaido (the art of cutting with the draw) under one of Japan’s foremost living sword masters. I have also studied kendo off and on since I was a college student. A couple of my Japanese colleagues told me once over sake, “You’re more Japanese than many Japanese people.”

So, suffice to say, I know a thing or two now about Japanese culture, history, and martial arts.

But what about writing?

I’m a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, which is, along with the Clarion Workshops, among the premier six-week residency writing programs in the U.S., specifically designed for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. One of my stories won 2nd Runner Up in the Baen Fantasy Award at GenCon 2014. My complete bibliography is below.

Spirit of the Ronin will be my sixth published novel.

Reviews of Heart of the Ronin

"Full of sword battles, intrigue, romance and fantastic elements blending well with historical ones, Heart of the Ronin is a very impressive opening in the Ronin Trilogy. It’s also a page turner that you can’t put down and will leave you begging for more."-- FantasyBookCritic.com

"A fusion of historical fiction and adventure fantasy, the first volume of Heermann's Ronin Trilogy is a page-turning folkloric narrative of epic proportions." -- Publishers Weekly

"Heart of a Ronin is a solid, likeable adventure story, sure to please fans of Japanese culture and fantasy readers alike." -- Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing

Reviews of Sword of the Ronin

"From the first sentence, Travis Heermann weaves a tale that sucked this reader into a rich Japanese tapestry full of ronin, samurai and magic. It was hard to put this book down to sleep." – Patrick Hester, Hugo-Award Winning SFSignal.com and the Functional Nerds Podcast

"Travis Heermann takes everything I loved about Heart of the Ronin (adventure, intrigue, sympathetic characters), puts it in a pressure cooker and serves it with a side of Awesome. Sword of the Ronin is his best novel yet and won't disappoint." – Shaun Farrell, Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing

"Sword of the Ronin is a raw and energetic adventure that explores deep and eternal themes such as honor, love, and betrayal while maintaining an engaging, humorous, living world. It also has an awesome ronin hero who hacks lots of bad people to bits, if you’re into that sort of thing. Which you definitely should be." – Rich Wulf, former lead writer for Legend of the Five Rings and author of The Heirs of Ash Trilogy.

"A rich, engaging, morally complex historical fantasy, deeply embedded in Japanese culture.... Sword of the Ronin balances action with more intimate drama as both reader and hero question the way forward, and move through a landscape of war and legends to just the right moment of balance before the third volume. I, for one, will be looking forward to it." - E.C. Ambrose, author of Elisha Barber, The Dark Apostle series

"Those interested in Japan’s culture and history, including ancient mythology will find this book an extraordinary read. It is certainly not a story for the fainthearted, but it touches you with its truth-drawing and starkly poignant meaning. As a work of fantasy I enjoyed it very much, although at times it did cause shivers to run down my spine and turned my blood cold." - Goodreads Reviewer

Bibliography

Novels

  • Sword of the Ronin -- Trade Paperback and E-book -- Bear Paw Publishing, 2013
  • The Wild Boys -- Trade Paperback and E-book -- Damnation Books, 2012
  • Rogues of the Black Fury -- Trade Paperback and E-book -- Open Road Media, 2014
  • Heart of the Ronin -- Trade Paperback and E-book -- Open Road Media, 2014
  • Heart of the Ronin -- Library-Edition Hardcover -- Gale-Cengage/Five Star, 2009
  • The Ivory Star -- Commonwealth, 1997

Anthologies (as Editor)

  • Cthulhu Passant -- Trade Paperback and E-book -- Bear Paw Publishing, 2014

Short Fiction

  • "Where the Devil Resides" – Alembical, 2015
  • "Branches of Infinity" -- Weird and Wondrous Work, World Weaver Press, 2015
  • "The Girl With No Name" – Second Runner Up, Baen Fantasy Award, 2014
  • "Patterns of Threat" – Cthulhu Passant, Bear Paw Publishing, June 2014
  • "Shadows of the Deep" – New Myths magazine, June 2014
  • "Shadows of the Deep" – Protecting Project Pulp Podcast, March 2014
  • "Deux Ex Machina" – How to Save the World, Fiction River, June 2013
  • "Legs" – Bear Paw Publishing, March, 2013
  • "That Long Black Train" - Shivers Vol. VII, Cemetery Dance, 2013
  • "Snakes" - Damnation Books, June, 2011
  • "An Idol for Emiko" - Historical Lovecraft, Innsmouth Free Press, 2011
  • "The Song" - Runner-up British Fantasy Society Short Story Contest, 2010
  • "Punishment" - Malicious Deviance, Library of Horror Press, April 2011
  • "An Incident in a Small Town" - Pulp Empire, Volume III, Pulp Empire, September 2010
  • "The Hammer" -OG's Speculative Fiction, May, 2010
  • "Fragile" - On the Premises, 2008
  • "Zombies on a Plane" - The Harrow, 2008
  • "Forever Dead" - The Harrow, 2007
  • "Uncle Frank" - Redbridge Review, 2006

Creative Nonfiction

  • "A Haiku Pilgrimage"- Healing Waves, Sky Warrior Books, 2011

Screenplays

  • Death Wind (in collaboration with Jim Pinto, unproduced) - Screenwriting Contest 1st Place - Cinequest Film Festival, 2012

Stage Plays

  • The Nightshade Tapes (in collaboration with C.B. Davis, Katie F-S, Shayne Kennedy, Timothy Schaffert, and Scott Working) - The Witching Hour, Blue Barn Theater, June 7-July 10, 2010

Risks and challenges

I have worked with all these collaborators before, so I don't anticipate any problems. If problems do arise, there is no doubt we can overcome those in a timely manner to keep the project on-track.

The Sword of the Ronin project experienced a few significant bumps at both printers, resulting in about a month of total delay, but we were able to overcome those in a reasonable time-frame. With that experience under my belt, I don't anticipate having those kinds of problems again.

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    SPEAR CARRIER - A heartfelt thank you from the author.

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    SPEARMAN - Glossy postcard with cover art and a personal thank you from the author. Your name will go in the book on the Contributors page under your rank. You'll also get an advance look at the first few chapters of the book.

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    ARCHER - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS a signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book in the format of your choice.

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    ARCHER DUO - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed E-books of Sword of the Ronin (Book 2) AND Spirit of the Ronin, in the format of your choice.

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    RONIN - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin trade paperback.

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    BUSHI - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed E-book and signed Spirit of the Ronin trade paperback .

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    RONIN DUO - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters of the book, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin trade paperback, PLUS trade paperback of either Heart of the Ronin (Book 1) or Sword of the Ronin (Book 2).

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    BUSHI DUO - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book and trade paperback, PLUS a signed trade paperback of either Heart of the Ronin (Book 1) or Sword of the Ronin (Book 2).

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    BANDIT CHIEFTAIN - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS the whole trilogy in trade paperback, PLUS the Chapbook "The Ronin and the Green Maiden."

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    SAMURAI - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book AND a signed and numbered limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors.

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    INFANTRY SERGEANT - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS trade paperbacks of Heart of the Ronin (Book 1) AND Sword of the Ronin (Book 2) PLUS the Chapbook "The Ronin and the Green Maiden."

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    CAVALRY SERGEANT - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS 8.5x11" archival quality print of either cover painting, matted, signed and numbered by the artist (you can choose which after you see both).

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    SAMURAI DUO - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS signed and numbered Sword of the Ronin (Book 2) limited edition hardcover, PLUS the Chapbook "The Ronin and the Green Maiden."

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    CAVALRY CAPTAIN - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS 8.5x11" archival quality prints of BOTH cover paintings, matted, signed and numbered by the artist.

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    SAMURAI BAND - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS signed and numbered limited edition hardcover of Sword of the Ronin (Book 2) PLUS signed trade paperback of Heart of the Ronin (Book 1) PLUS the Chapbook "The Ronin and the Green Maiden."

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    SAMURAI VANGUARD - All three books in hardcover! Includes thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS signed and numbered limited edition hardcover of Sword of the Ronin (Book 2) PLUS signed Library Edition hardcover (Five Star edition) of Heart of the Ronin (Book 1) PLUS the Chapbook "The Ronin and the Green Maiden."

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    SENSEI - (Writers Only) Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book, PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS I will do a professional critique of your short story or novel excerpt (up to 8000 words).

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    LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS signed and numbered limited edition hardcover of Sword of the Ronin (Book 2) PLUS signed trade paperback of Heart of the Ronin (Book 1) PLUS the Chapbook "The Ronin and the Green Maiden." PLUS Limited Edition, matted, signed and numbered archival quality prints of BOTH cover illustrations.

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    CHAMBERLAIN - (Writers Only) Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS, I will do a comprehensive, professional critique of your novel (up to 100,000 words).

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    GENERAL - Thank-you postcard, your name in the book, advance look at the first few chapters, PLUS signed Spirit of the Ronin E-book PLUS a signed and numbered Spirit of the Ronin limited edition hardcover, available only to campaign contributors, PLUS I'll work with you to create a minor character, based on you or your imagination, (perhaps to kill off spectacularly) in Spirit of the Ronin.

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    SHOGUN - General-level benefits PLUS I'll fly to an agreed-upon location in North America with 25 hardcover copies of the novel for a reading and a signing with you and your friends — or at a school, library, or convention of your choice.

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    EMPEROR - General-level benefits PLUS I'll fly to an agreed-upon location anywhere in the world with 25 hardcover copies of the novel for a reading and a signing with you and your friends — or at a school, library, or convention of your choice.

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Funding period

- (33 days)