It all begins in a small valley called Eol which is at the base of three mountains – the highest and most revered being Mateote (Mountain at the end of the Earth). Its snow-capped peak is a misty place where the the predatory gakar birds command the sky, but in a dark time forces flocks of them to swoop down into Eol and attack the erfin villagers. The only deterrent Mirrortac can devise is to resort to the drastic measure of setting fire to the huts and escaping Eol. The Werd Stream flows out of a cave system and makes its way from the western edge of Mateote to the lake of the Waters of Three which is inhabited by blood-thirsty lorcs; slimy black creatures that will make a meal of any erfin or creature that ventures into the water. The erfins are essentially imprisoned in their valley, because of the mountain, the lake, and finally the woods where the ferocious nite-wolves dwell. The cat-like and furry erfins are further trapped by their superstition. They believe that the mountain is the end of the Earth, and that anyone who tries to go beyond it, will fall into the Netherworld, which is akin to Hell and Hades.
However, it is Mirrortac’s discovery of a mysterious sword in the woods that leads him to a meeting with an otherworldly stranger and a mission to go on a quest to find the source of the evil spreading across worlds. Like cultures elsewhere, the erfins worship their mountain god of Mateote, and have built a temple to serve that purpose. They are descendant from warriors who drove another tribe, the Madin, over the mountain, casting them over the cliffs into the Netherworld beyond. The sword arouses the ancient warrior rage in Mirrortac, reawakening an innate ability to wield weapons, and fight to survive.
The staple food of erfins comprises a poultry animal called fote, a herbal nifgrass and various small birds and creatures inhabiting the Eol wilds.
Of course, Mirrortac does take his people out of Eol and beyond the mountain to quite a different “world” to the fir forests and nifgrass flats of Eol. And that is the subject of my next post.
I have used some of my now extra spare time to work on The Gold Sarcophagus, and must admit it is quite a challenge. As the final in the Nine Worlds of Mirrortac series, TGS must up the ante on the previous two books, so it means some solid intense writing. I have completed the second chapter at this point, with more than 20,000 words all up down and backed up to the Cloud. There is no shortage of ideas but I have had to diverge from my favourite erfin characters to build up the drama and suspense involving the super race of people called the Uranians. I am again borrowing from mythologies; this time injecting some ancient Egyptian and Atlantis quasi-history around the rise of an ancient god who is actually a Uranian who was thought dead. The erfins’ mission to stop him is thwarted at every turn, and he succeeds in mesmerising much of the earth’s population. The Uranians also are thwarted in trying to stop him when a group of zealots sabotages their efforts to come to the rescue. Things get rather complex, and therefore I will be drawing on some of the masters of fantasy to assist me in my writing. Raymond Feist in his Magician and Empire series is experienced in dealing with the politics of alien races, himself most likely drawing on the politics of ancient societies in our history.
Now that I have joined the unemployment line (due to restructure in newspaper company), I am taking a little time to return to the writing of book three in the Nine Worlds series, The Gold Sarcophagus. This is also a chance for me to give you, the followers of my blog, some value for your investment in deciding to follow me. You will notice that I just posted a blog about the trailer Michael Lenehan has created for me. It is amazing that I, in Australia, can liaise with someone on the other side of the world, in Ireland, for our mutual benefit.
So, where is book three going? I am quite excited about this one, as it is the grand finale for the entire series, and I have a lot of ideas for producing what I hope will be a blockbuster story, with a lot of drama, twists, suspense and a few things for people to think about. Book 2 was much more racier than the highly descriptive first volume, while the third book I intend to fall somewhere between the two. The storyline in Gold Sarcophagus will take on a wider dimension as I involve the alien master race only hinted in The Wizard’s Sword, and brought into focus in Three Stones of Destiny. You will meet more of the alien master race, and finally get to meet the inhabitants of the last planet in the triad – the Nerthulians, who will suddenly become very familiar to you. The mission that set the erfin Mirrortac after the Three Stones of Destiny will continue as the odds are stacked even more against this unlikely hero, and his triplet children and partner who join him in Nerthule. The mission goes beyond Mirrortac to involve the alien master race, the Uranians, and the traitor who was assumed long dead but rises up to embrace more power than he ever held before.
I am just into Chapter 2 at this stage, or about 11,600 words. There is a long journey ahead yet … and reworking to do, but I will tease you from time to time with excerpts as I did with Three Stones.
Cheers for now. PS: I quickly designed the logo for the Uranians. What do you think?
My graphic artist Michael Lenehan has been busy the last month working on a trailer for my second book Three Stones of Destiny. It has been his first venture into creating a animated trailer, which he has created in a cartoon style rather than a more painstaking method. Overall, I am quite pleased with it, as it captures the drama of a key point in the book when my erfin character Mirrortac faces his antagonist Yidu for the first time. My YouTube link for the trailer is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i98tLcgUu4Q&feature=em-upload_owner
The links for Michael and the book are:
- You will find his art at Deviant Art on http://mick2006.deviantart.com
- POD publisher Equilibrium Books’ link to my book for print and ebook is http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/threestones.htm
- The direct Amazon order page is http://www.amazon.com/Three-Stones-of-Destiny-ebook/dp/B00B57ULHO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361069942&sr=8-1&keywords=Paul+Vander+loos
Emerging Writers Guest Post #55 - Derek Thompson - Covenant, a mystical fantasy – the same, but different
Derek Thompson writes fiction, non-fiction and comedy. His fiction includes fantasy, thrillers and comedy drama. Non-fiction includes human interest, green living and business. His comedy is for print, the web, and live performance. Over to you Derek!
When writers start new books, they don’t always know where the plot and characters will take them. It can be a revelation to the author – especially when the protagonist suggests a different story to the one the author was expecting to tell.
Book Editing. Book Covers, and Research
So many writers keep asking me how to self-publish books that I wanted to share Four Steps that will helping new writers out there. I had interest in my book from a great literary agent. I decided to self-publish when I thought about the things I could on my own since I had a background in marketing.
These are the Four Detailed Steps I did, including the costs, to self-publish my book:
Step 1 Hire a Book Editor
After writing my book the first thing I spent money on was hiring a professional book editor. Ann Kempner Fisher was my editor. She is absolutely the best! She’s located in the U.S. It cost $1,300 and was well worth the money. Most good and experienced editors charge $4.00- $6.00 per page. If you’re located in the U.K. join a well-known writers group and get referrals from writers in the group. Spending money on editing is a necessity and not an option. Some self-published writers havn’t done this and say publicly that paying for a book editor is too expensive. They post on blogs that they wanted to publish books quickly on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Then I read complaints on Amazon reader forums and Good Reads forums, readers having to struggle to read books with bad grammar, misspellings, etc. You only have one time to impress readers and won’t get another chance. Stephen King, James Patterson, and other professional writers always use editors. Self-published writers have to do the same thing to compete.
Step 2 Format Book for Publication
I formatted my book for Kindle. This was difficult to do myself so I went on Fiverr.com to find someone to format my book per KDP requirements: set up the margins, table of contents, etc. This cost around $25. The people that do book formatting charge by the number of pages. Fiverr is a wonderful marketplace to find all sorts of inexpensive services for your book project including: website updates, social media marketing, book promotions, logo/ad design, graphics, etc. Just look for the highest rated vendor in the appropriate category and place your order via Paypal.
Step 3 Design Book Cover
I used 99 Designs to get a distinctive and low cost book cover illustration and design (for $299). This was a very good price since good illustration can cost around $500-$1,000. I heard about 99 designs from fellow writer Tim Ferriss. He’s written several best sellers: The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, The Four Hour Chef. He really knows how to market books! 99 Designs is a crowd sourced marketplace where several designers and illustrators submit work based on your specifications. You set the price and choose the winner.
A book cover is an important tool in attracting and selling your book to readers, especially for my genre which is paranormal mystery. I have seen some outstanding book cover artwork for established paranormal writers. Then I have seen some poorly designed book covers in the market place from self-published authors. If you want to compete with mainstream published authors you can’t look like an amateur!
Please note: Illustration is different than design. (My cover is an illustration).I have many artists friends and know a lot about different mediums of art. Without getting too technical, an illustrator typically does art by hand. A designer typically assembles pre-existing graphics, photos, vectors, etc. An illustrator can design, but not all designers can illustrate. For new writers, you probably should illustrate your book if it is: children’s, horror, paranormal, fantasy, or sci-fi.
Step 4 Research the Book Marketplace
I researched my genre to see what types of books were in the market place. I checked Amazon bestsellers lists, Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists, and went to Barnes and Noble bookstore. This helped me prepare my market campaign for when I started promoting my book. I will discuss this in another post about book marketing. Questions to ask yourself are: How many books out there are like your book? Are you writing a niche topic?
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