When I think back to the time I started on The Wizard’s Sword – actually Nine Worlds of Mirrortac in its initial incarnation – I was literally writing the story with a pen and paper. I had a portable typewriter back then so once I had written a draft, it was typed up. Then I bought a wordprocessor, which is like a cross between a typewriter and a computer. It was electric and could type/print onto paper as well as store a limited amount of material. It also had a small screen that displayed the words a small amount at a time. You could scroll through it and get it to print it out.
My first computer was an Apple 2c, which had no hard drive but what was termed a boot disk drive. You had to ‘boot’ it with a program disk and store the documents on another disk. These floppy disks were about the size of a CD but were encased in a paper square. You could only use one at a time, so it was a process of putting in a disk, taking it out, putting in another disk … and so on. The screen background was black while the print was green. And my wordprocessing program was in a package called Appleworks. I produced a lot of material on that Apple before finally acquiring my first PC – a 40MB hard drive with 1MB RAM running on basic DOS. That meant typing onto a black screen again to access programs.
Things were looking up. I now used a dot-matrix printer with the computer, and 3.5in floppy disks. I think there was also a large floppy drive as well. Windows 95 came along and the whole process stepped up several degrees. PCs gradually needed more capacity, and what earlier took a whole room at a newspaper to store 600MB, now needed only a rectangular hard drive within a PC. The Wizard’s Sword had gone through a number of rewrites and tweaks by this stage, as well as having to rewrite from hard copy after losing access to old floppy disk documents. The book also had been published in various forms: initially as an ebook in a PDF format on a 3.5in disk to being in print in Australia, then America, and finally as an ebook on Smashwords and Amazon. CDs and DVDs have replaced the more fragile floppies.
I graduated to a laptop for ease of travel, which was a little like going back to a typewriter but one with a big screen instead of a tiny one, and using a separate printer connected by cord to the laptop. The age of internet was in full swing by this stage, and it was a relief finally to go from dial-up using the telephone line, to ADSL broadband, still using the phone line but on a splitter and using a WiFi modem, thus eliminating the need for a cord connection. Book 2 of what is collectively called The Nine Worlds of Mirrortac series – Three Stones of Destiny – was written mostly on a collection of laptops, and each stage stored both on my PC, a back-up Terabyte drive, and on the internet – the Cloud as they called it now.
It’s been an incredible journey through technology from a mere pen and paper to computers. With my last laptop threatening to crash on me forever, I made one more graduation back to a PC, but an All-in-One. The rather large screen suits my work from home as a sub-editor for a newspaper group, as well as serving the purpose of continuing my journey into book 3 – The Gold Sarcophagus. I’ve had to back off from the constant sitting in front of a computer and late nights distracted by PC games to trying to balance my life more, but ultimately my energies will return to work on this last of the Nine Worlds series. I own an iPod that I use to ‘write’ notes for my book (among other things), and an ereader as well as ereader programs to read on screen. Who knows what will be next …
Irish artist Michael Lenehan has surprised me with a gratis re-interpretation of the image for The Wizard’s Sword originally done by Mackay artist Heidi Counsel. His take is very different to Heidi’s and will be on his deviantart site as well as the cover image for Three Stones of Destiny. I’ll reproduce it here for your appraisal. If you like Michael’s work, then you can check more of his art at http://mick2006.deviantart.com/ and his blog at micklenehanart.blogspot.com/
I am offering my colleagues in fantasy and blog followers THE WIZARD’S SWORD for free for a limited time only, until January 1, 2013. Just go to my Smashwords book page at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66762 and enter the coupon code RJ34F when purchasing. This is in anticipation of Book 2 THREE STONES OF DESTINY which is now available as a preorder for print or Amazon Kindle ebook at this link http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/threestones.htm
Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions.
We'll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let's have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers).
Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999.
SOUNDS like a grammar mistake, doesn’t it. But it isn’t. I’m talking about my second novel in the Nine Worlds series entitled Three Stones of Destiny. Maybe, I should have put some quote marks around ‘Stones’ but I left it to tease you, or perhaps irk. Anyway, enough of that. I have engaged talented UK graphic cover designer Michael Lenehan to work on the cover for ‘Stones’. And I may even let him have at redesigning the cover of book 1, which was the work of a local and also talented graphic designer, Heidi Counsel. Heidi’s work is excellent but I am now looking for a different ‘look’ that I hope will appeal to fantasy readers.
If I had to sum up this second book (which I will for promotions), it continues the journey of main character Mirrortac who is sent on a second mission of equal importance to his first. This time his own people are being misled by a demi-god man who poses as their god and wants to use three stones of power to enslave the peoples of three planets. It is such a difficult task that Mirrortac’s own children, the triplets Ezof, Treetam and Mitac, are engaged to help him after he loses all his memory after being sent to through a portal to another planet governed by vicious warriors and rent by volcanoes and earthquakes.
Once the cover art is ready, and I’m satisfied with the draft, it will be published with Create Space as an ebook and print book. If you haven’t already read book one, The Wizard’s Sword, grab it now at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66762 . I hope Three Stones of Destiny will be out before Christmas.
Mitac retched when he saw the headless and badly mauled body of a man behind a clump of wild grasses. He was dark skinned and almost naked except for a skirt of leather covering his midriff. There was a huge hole in his chest corresponding to the gash in the mail shirt. His heart had been removed and it seemed that his head had been taken as a trophy of war. Worms and maggots now infested the open flesh where wild animals had taken their fill.
Treetam covered her nose and mouth, muttering. ‘They do not entomb their dead. They are left for the creatures to eat.’
Ezof grabbed the end of a spear and prodded the body. ‘The softness is gone … dead maybe a half moon. That be if they have any moons here.’ He sneered at the body then threw the spear end away.
Mitac retreated from the scene. ‘Let us be away from this before these beings add our bodies to the pile.’
The other two acquiesced, leaving the body to whatever scavengers inhabited the area.
However, the march ahead was strewn with more bodies, broken armour and weapons. Some of the bodies were nearly black, contrasting with the lighter shades of brown skinned warriors. Clearly, there had been a great battle with much loss of life on both sides. They began to encounter squabbling flocks of ugly birds that feasted on the carcasses, and other larger creatures with jaws armed with flesh-tearing teeth and greedy yellow eyes.
Wa-ku watched the vision of his brother dissolve from the greenstone crystal bowl. He swiveled in his hoverchair and pressed a button on the side that made it float across the room to an array of instruments on the other side. His paralysed legs dangled over the side of the chair that contained a
crystalline base with anti-gravity boosters to allow the chair to hover and be propelled anywhere he wished it to go. He winced with pain as his hand muscles struggled to manipulate the instrument controls.
He frowned deeply at his handicap. It had not always been this way, and had he been fully able, he would have stopped Yidu himself, but his brother now scared him. He was more capable of overpowering this cripple.
The accident had occurred after he had created Petrosium, which was also the source of the greenstones and the other useful gem crystals used in the operation of the cosmo-ship. The Petrosium mine was the richest source of power crystals in this sector of the universe, but before he could mine it, he had initially to gain the trust of the inhabitants there, the Petros, who had a rather dangerous means of disabling any creature, or man, with their sub-sonic horns. Actually, gaining their trust was far easier than he had at first expected. The Petros were dazzled by him; they saw him as a god, so it was just a matter of instilling in them a ritual system of worship, and constructing a device that allowed him to transmit his vision to them. The cosmo-ship worked on universal time, which like Yidu’s Skye world, allowed a thousand cycles of Mareos to pass while only a few cycles passed in universal time. Transmissions, of course, had to be equalised to local time. It was all quite amusing for a time … Wa-ku joined in the Great Game in his enslavement of the Petros, but certain cosmic events made him realise his error. He was truly not a god, which was only made too painfully clear by the accident. It was ironic that the evil underworld creature Beeble-Zub was no more corrupt than himself. Mirrortac had not only destroyed Beeble-Zub, but the god-hood of Wa-ku in one fell swoop. Now, what remained of the Petros, were again free to pursue their own ways, though some will continue to practise their useless rituals.
Wa-ku recalled the scenario that led up to the accident. The cosmo-ship was descending for a routine mining expedition at Petrosium when there was a failure in the crystal instrument array, causing the ship to descend too quickly and crash into the ground. The landing restraints broke, sending him careering into the ceiling with a painful thud. The next thing he remembered was waking up in a ward at the healing station. He had lost all feeling below his waist and his arms were also partly numb. The medical attendants had done all they could but it was to no avail. The ship too, was badly damaged, and had been retrieved from the Wastes of Nug to undergo repair.
The time eventually arrived when they felt the ship slow down, and the former streaks of light in the crystal screens resolved into stars, while one object was observed to be suspended like a giant ball, with curious shapes and colours—blues, greens, browns and striking reds that shone. The triplets were curious that this planet called Thenigmas could sustain any life as surely the ones on the bottom and sides would fall off. When Wa-ku assured them that they also lived on such a giant ball, they all thought it rather funny until they realised he was serious.
Thenigmas rapidly took up the whole view in the screen until its spherical shape was less obvious, and they noted there was a zone of blue-green embracing the planet in an aura of light. Dark clouds could be seen rising up, and beneath them mountains and snake-like valleys, hills and plains. There were greenish patches and a blue-green expanse wrapping around a huge land mass with a few islands and two white caps at the top and bottom. The southern cap soon disappeared as the ship homed in on the northern area of land.
‘The portal ends near the mouth of Grorl,’ Wa-ku said, and pointing at the screen, ‘The mountain of fire in the north of Thenigmas.’
The triplets now saw the smoke issuing from out of the volcano along with a searing seam of molten material leaking down one side.
‘What be this portal? Another device of magic?’ Mitac frowned.
‘It is like a doorway, a gate joining one world with another. It is how my brother sent your father to this forsaken place.’
‘Then it be some kind of magic?’ Treetam mused.
‘To your mind, yes,’ Wa-ku said.
He adjusted the crystals, causing the ship to veer in towards the volcano. The mouth of Grorl gaped up at them, and beyond it loomed a small mountain range and a forest. Tiny dots like insects could be barely discerned moving across the land. Soon all they could see was Grorl and an area of plain around it. Then they could see vegetation, like shrubs and plants unknown to them. The ground was stony, cluttered with the litter of volcanic ash. The ship homed in on a patch of flat ground covered in withering grasses, then with a slight thud, they felt the ship make contact with the land.