After a voyage across the northern seas of Mareos, Mirrortac lands on a desolate and strange beach from where he is transported into another dimension through the work of an ominous mist. The name of this astral “world” is Hopocus, where deception is the norm. He first encounters the Enchanted Blue Forest — a fir forest at the edge of a coastline where trees are blue, casting orange shadows, and birds fly upside down. A misted landscape leads from this forest to Fog Peak and the Castle of Hopocus that is inhabited by a sorcerer and sorceress, and their many prisoners, among them a wizard and his assistant.
Lying between the castle and the depths of Raven’s Chasm is the Wood of Forgetfulness where the souls of the dead roam in their eternal circles, having lost their minds and any sense of direction. The wood’s other denizens — deva-hogs — are creatures to avoid. Mirrortac’s mission is to cross these woods to reach the Well of Lost Memories, but how can he succeed if soon after entering the woods, he loses all memory of his purpose? How can he survive being attacked by the deva-hogs? Or joining the souls of the dead in their march of despair?
The flaming fires of Vulcan’s Moat further prevents any escape to a higher astral plane where things are a lot better for souls and those still in body such as the erfin and his friends.
After a rather dramatic exit from Petrosium, Mirrortac finds himself on a boat (flut) on a vast ocean and in the company of a silent crew of sea-like people — one group belonging to a race of island dwelling people calling themselves the Meretees. The silent seafarers are a subgroup known at the Serenetees who communicate with gestures and mimicry. They explore the vast oceans from the equitorial realms to lands of ice. The islands of the Meretees are located north-east of Petrosium and enjoy balmy tropical conditions with plentiful fruits and fish in the surrounding waters. The main island of Plumer-Ra (God’s Land of the Sea) is blessed with the forest of the Divine Green and the long extinct crater of a volcano (Zu-laire). Coral reefs (rufs) surround the island group and a massive pyramid is built on the eastern side of Plumer-Ra.
Three further subgroups inhabit the island — the Children of the Divine Green, the Ra-Finelles and the Astellites. The Children of the Divine Green inhabit the forest from which they take their name. This colourful subgroup wear green robes with garlands and tresses of vines and flowers. They are quite similar to our own hippies of the 1960s, preferring to live a simple lifestyle, collecting the fruits of the forest, and clay, wood and wool. They have a close spiritual bond with the forest, to the extent that they are often seen singing and talking to the trees and animals, and adopting transcendental meditation practices. They are also peaceful people who abhor violent behaviour.
The Ra-finelles are a male priestly subgroup whose temple and home is the Pyramid of Ra-Los and its surrounds. The white-robed sect rarely venture far from the pyramid, which exhibits some strange characteristics such as a time anomaly and a link to the planet Nerthule and a mysterious race of space travellers who are given godly status.
Perhaps the most enigmatic and subtly disturbing subgroup are the Astellites (A-stell-ar-tees) who are entirely female and are nocturnal. They live inside the crater of Zu-laire, and spend the nights studying the cosmos, utilising smooth concave stone arenas that they manipulate to magnify the night sky, identifying planets and stars as they pass over the Pool Stone “screens”. They are the most sombre of all the subgroups, preferring their own company, and only entertaining visitors if there is some knowledge to gain or exchange.
Mirrortac’s stay on the island of Plumer-Ra begins pleasantly enough, although he finds their ways a little concerning at first. Developments during his stay eventually result in his hasty and unplanned departure, but you will need to read the book to ascertain just what happens.
Before Mirrortac and his friend Fillytac reach Petrosium, they must cross the desert Wastes of Nug, which comprise shifting sands and unrelenting heat and sand storms. There are few creatures that can survive in this harsh environment, but these include the six-legged Colglom. It has no tail but has an elongate head with three diamond-shaped eyes and thin ears protruding up from its head. The Colglom has the ability to generate a cooling effect in the heat of the desert, feeding on insects (Sooz) present in the sands. Men would regard Petrosium with greedy eyes as the sands of the desert give way to gemstones and aureum mountains near the ocean simply called The Wet. The Dome of Petros is an aureum monolith which is about 4000 erfin-lengths across. The nearby Dome of Shadow is smaller and composed of obsidian and black opal. The Spire of Wa-ku juts up like a finger, 3000 erfin-lengths in high and 1000 in width. This is the sacred home of the Petros who are the strange inhabitants of this place.
The Petros are not an attractive people. They exhibit two large blue eyes, a horn, and are about the size of an erfin with orange scaly skin with a single foot muscle which they use to pull themselves through their underground passages and the sand and gemstone ground outside. They are androgenous, mating by joining the flower-like protuberance on their navels to each other. Egg-like growths proceed from these navels and drop off to hatch a new Petros. Their horns exhibit the dangerous power of using sound frequencies to kill their prey, but the same horns can also create loving sound frequencies.
The main prey in Petrosium is the Bilk — a hairy beast with six legs and huge shovel-like tusks. It feeds on sooz and the Pok Pok that inhabit the sands of Petrosium. The Pok Pok is a furless creature with a long nose for digging and seeking out insects.
Stretching along the cliffs facing The Wet is the Plain of Many Spires. These are spires of stone shaped in the form of ancient trees. The Wet is the ocean or endless lake as Mirrortac describes it, which extends to the horizon, and acts as yet another transition zone to a group of islands further north.
Exiled in the Dome of Shadow are the misshapen, deformed and “inferior” Petros of the Shadow. And with them is the underworld monster known as Beeblezub. It has six heads, six horns and is decidedly nasty. It is the nemesis of Wa-ku who is the shining master of Petrosium, and who appears to them as a man with curling golden hair, blue eyes, and orange toned skin. He is essentially their god of the sun, and he summons them once a year to pass on his wisdom to them. He appears via a spectacular light show from the Deep of the Shining Wet, which is a deep pool under the Spire of Wa-ku which contains the likeness of Wa-ku at the bottom. Its eyes are emeralds, and the lips composed of rubies. When sunlight strikes the pool, it phosphoresces into the moving image of Wa-ku. Wa-ku instructs the Petros to talk incessantly, describing all they do and giving long introductions.
Stone crystal clusters throughout the network of underground passages form pools of fresh water when exposed to the exterior, and this drips down into pools where the Petros can drink.
What a surprise! The Mountain at the End of the Earth is not at the end of the Earth. Beyond is the Faug Forest, but to an erfin it could well be the Netherworld. The forest is gigantic compared to the woodlands of Eol. It’s damp, hot and inhabited by all kinds of annoying creatures and plants — some quite dangerous. First in the dangerous category is the giant leech known as the gorkle that lives in the Bludstream. It will not only suck an erfin dry in minutes, but any attempt at chopping it into pieces only produces more gorkles. But its terrible reputation pales against the size and range of the much larger serpent called the snerk. These are green above and blue below, and their rattling sound can be heard far in the forest where its immense body slithers over the boughs of many trees. It visits the tree-top communities of the people who call this forest home — the faugs — and can consume several faugs in one venture. It is the most terrifying of all the creatures to the faugs who rarely descend to the ground.
The faugs themselves are winged like that of bats, and have bodies like gibbon monkeys. They do not fly, but rather glide from tree to tree or catch updrafts above the forest to travel greater distances. They eat fruits of the forest and a yellowish rodent called the tarmut. The tarmut lives on the ground and in the lower reaches of the trees, foraging for insects and other small creatures. The faugs also enjoy the fruit of merma, which is highly valued among faug folk for its many restorative qualities. The red berries can be eaten at night to restore energy while the juice is made into an invigorating and intoxicating beverage called merma-mead. The oil of the plant is made into Essence of Merma for healing wounds and soothing tired muscles. Merma is also an ingredient to create Essence of Yu, which has magical qualities.
The faugs enjoy playing games, and often use their archery skills to pop the amusing buzz-blop creatures that look like an upside-down fish flying in the air. Buzz-blops suck in air into their lung-like bodies while chasing insects, and will explode if they encounter a flame beetle. And it is this that the faugs use in one of their archery games.
One forest creature that is not a threat, but rather looked upon as a good luck sign is the cooit bird. This pink bird lives in isolated pockets of the forest, feeding on berries including the merma berry, which enhances its rainbow phosphorescence in the male’s fan-like tail. Its call is sweet and melodious, and once heard is never forgotten.
While the trees of this tropical forest are high enough, one tree stands higher than the others; in fact it is so high and so large that it rises above the clouds that permanently blanket this land. It is here in Greenfaug that the royal community lives within and around the Sacred Tree of Yu. The tree is said to embody the spirit of Yu who the faugs worship as their guardian deity. Even the snerks cannot reach up this far … in normal circumstances. The trunk of the tree contains the Sacred Chamber of Yu where the Prince and Princess take their thrones. Fresco reliefs of faug history are carved into the walls, and flowering vines and orchids drift down from an opening high in the chamber.
The faugs possess one other weapon — a slish axe — which is a double-bladed axe of quartz bound with twine and attached to a handle of Yu-wood or a lesser wood. It is usually carved with the design of a snerk or other creature, or the Yu-tree itself. All the carvings are done by the Daughters of Yu who live within the Greenfaug community.
I will mention one last plant — the thock — which is actually a tree with some dangerous attributes. This soft-barked light coloured tree is capable of absorbing any animal that lies against or near it. Thocks living at the edge of the forest also have the ability to move through and under the sands of the desert.
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
Author brings up some good points on the hero’s journey.
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.
It’s been said that there are only seven plots, manifesting in a various guises, through fiction and throughout history. When I began my fantasy, Covenant, I specifically wanted to explore The Hero’s journey – one that every culture recognises.
Whether it’s King Arthur, Luke Skywalker, or Katniss Everdeen, there are certain key stages on this archetypal quest – examined in depth by the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell.
The three stages are usually defined as:
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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?