Fortune’s Thief Cover Reveal

 

I’ve been working on the final draft of my novel in the last few weeks, and have sent off a few more prospective queries to publishers today.  I’ll wait and see whether I get any interest, but if I don’t, I’m going to start preparing for the self-publishing route.

On the assumption that I will end up self-publishing, I’ve made myself a cover.  This is how I envisage Al Salazar, one of the principal characters in the book.

Fortune's Thief Cover

In other news, I have (I think) managed to condense 90,000 words into the following. If anyone has any thoughts or feedback on it, I’d be most grateful!

When Tal Sarokan deserts from a mercenary band to look for a better life, little does he know that his departure will bring an end to his friends’ supernatural good fortune.

Al Salazar, the charismatic leader of the mercenaries, has stolen a stone from the Well of Fate and is using it to control his destiny, and that of his band, the Sarandani. When the mercenaries start dying, Al Salazar must somehow find Tal and convince him to return – by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the Keeper of the Well has set plans in motion to force Al Salazar to return the fate-stone through the subtle manipulation of his enemies. In time, Al Salazar learns that controlling one’s own destiny comes at a price, and that every man’s luck runs out in the end.

And with that, I think it’s time for bed!

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Creating Fantasy Maps for Your Fantasy Novel

small map

This week, I’ve been getting closer to finishing the editing on my novel, and as a consequence got rather excited about the idea of publishing it.  So I naturally started thinking about layout, and the possibility of including a map.

If you’re anything like me, when you’re writing about fantasy places, you’ll find it’s really useful to draw out the key locations on paper.  Then come several hours of asking yourself questions that sound like maths homework from hell: e.g. ‘how long does it take for a man with one eye to ride three hundred miles over mountainous terrain?’; or’ how long does it take a coracle to navigate six miles of shark-infested coastline?’.

When you’ve put in the requisite time to work these things out, and drawn yourself several scribbly, hand-written maps, you might find -as I did – it’s time to create some real maps.  You can do this with Photoshop or another image editing programme if you have the time, skills and inclination.  However, there are a number of programmes out there built for making just these sorts of maps.

So this week, I got myself a copy of Campaign Cartographer by ProFantasy Software.

Having already played around with Autorealm (which is pretty damn cool for free software), I had an idea what to expect.  The interface is very CAD-based, but quite intuitive once you’ve run through the quick-start tutorials, and after about 4 false starts, I was on my way to making a map of my fantasy land.

It seems like a really decent programme for the price tag (£30); there are a ton of expansions, a thriving online community, and new content coming out all the time.

I played around with the basic black and white vector map, and then with the standard ‘filled’ map, and I thought I’d share my first few maps below.  These aren’t real.  That is to say, they’re not based on any story or place I’ve invented.  These are literally ‘throw things onto the map and add some made-up names’.  Click on the maps below for full view.

Morcan fantasy map

Black and white vector

deedeeland fantasy map

Filled, full colour

I have to say, I’ve had tons of fun playing with this programme today, and shall probably be making random maps for the foreseeable!

What’s your experience in creating maps for your work?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Jackie Gamber and H. David Blalock Round 2 Interview Questions

Today, I’m thrilled to be continuing the interview questions started over on The Rage Circus Vs the Soulless Void for TCM’s Trilogy Virtual Tour.  Jackie Gamber and H. David Blalock have kindly answered my questions on their writing habits and inspiration.

First, over to Jackie Gamber:

Sela by Jackie Gamber

DD. Which writers inspired – or continue to inspire you – to write?

JG: I’m a huge Ray Bradbury fan. I have a specific memory, while reading “Fahrenheit 451” of thinking, “I want to write like this. I want to do this.” It took me years to work up the courage to give it a try, but Bradbury’s influence definitely had a hand in it.

DD: Do you have a special time of day that you prefer to write?

JG: I love to write first thing in the morning. In fact, I’d say I’m driven to the laptop, most occasions, before I’m even fully awake. I often wake up already thinking and puzzling, and bursting to figure stuff out.

DD: Do you have any tips on overcoming writer’s block?

JG: I can share my personal experience with writers’ block as something very real. I know there is raging debate over whether or not it exists, because some writers never experience it; but to me, that’s like saying no broken bones exist because “I’ve never broken one.” I have experienced it more as a cork, as though words are all bottled up behind it, and I can’t seem to access them. I find it to be a symptom of something else, something amiss in my personal life, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental. I’ve learned to take it as a sign to something deeper. When I address that issue, the words flow again.

DD: Are you an e-book person, or do you prefer to own a hard copy?

JG: I’m totally both. I love e-books for the immediacy of it; when I’m in the mood for a new read, I can shop and have it in my hands in moments. That, my friends, is a miracle. But I have bookshelves full of hard copies, too. I like to run my hands over them, smell them. I can see them everyday, they become part of my environment, and I believe they feed my mind with possibilities, even when they are sitting still.

Author Links:
Jackie Gamber
Website: www.jackiegamber.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jackie-Gamber-Story-Artist/334783969938507
Twitter: @jackiegamber


 

Traitor Angel

DD: Which writers inspired – or continue to inspire you – to write?

HDB: I have always admired the work of the writers of the first part of the 20th century. People like Lovecraft, Howard, Bradbury, Norton, even Asimov. It was the psychological impact of their writings more than the plots that affected me. It’s been said there are really only a few story lines and all fiction is merely variations on those themes. How those writers took those common themes and presented them in a way that evoked a nearly visceral impact inspired me to want to join that company.

DD: Do you have a special time of day that you prefer to write?

HDB: I write as often and whenever I can. My favorite time, though, is while it rains. I like to sit on my porch and listen to the rain and wind. There’s a certain music to that which makes it easier to hear the muse. Not sure exactly why.

DD: Do you have any tips on overcoming writer’s block?

HDB: I find that working on more than one project at a time makes it easier to avoid writer’s block. When you’re writing several stories if you find yourself stuck you can always set that one aside for a bit and work on another. A little time away from the blocked story does wonders to cure the problem.

DD:. Are you an e-book person, or do you prefer to own a hard copy?

HDB: Personally, I prefer the feel of a real book. I understand the appeal and convenience of the e-book in a society addicted to its portable computers and smart phones. Nevertheless, the tactile satisfaction of the weight of the book, the smell of the page, the knowledge it won’t disappear with battery failure or break if dropped, all those things make me prefer hard copy.

H. David Blalock
Website: http://thrankeep.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Writer.HDavidBlalock
Twitter: @Hdavidblalock


 

Special Trilogy Virtual Tour
Authors:
Jackie Gamber and H. David Blalock
Featured Books:
Jackie Gamber’s Leland Dragon Series
H. David Blalock’s Angelkiller Triad

TrilogyTourBadge

JackieGamberBWAbout Jackie Gamber: As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud. She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart and Sela, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea Store.com, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion.

Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves. Jackie Gamber was co-founder and Executive Editor of Meadowhawk Press, a speculative fiction publisher based in Memphis. One of their novels, Terminal Mind by David Walton, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 2009. Jackie also edited the award winning benefit anthology, Touched By Wonder. She has been a guest lecturer at Memphis Options High Schools, and is a speaker at writers’ conferences from Michigan to Florida. Jackie is also the visionary behind the MidSouthCon Writers’ Conference, helping writers connect since 2008.

 

GamberBookOne_RedheartCoverJackie Gamber’s Redheart Book Synopsis: Enter the lands of Leland Province, where dragon and human societies have long dwelled side by side. Superstitions rise sharply, as a severe drought strips the land of its bounty, providing fertile ground for the darker ambitions of Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, who seeks to subdue humans or wipe them off the face of the land.
As the shadow of danger creeps across Leland Province, a young dragon named Kallon Redheart, who has turned his back on dragons and humans alike, comes into an unexpected friendship. Riza Diantus is a young woman whose dreams can no longer be contained by the narrow confines of her village, and when she finds herself in peril, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. Yet to do so means he must confront his past, and embrace a future he stopped believing in.
A tale of friendship, courage, and ultimate destiny, Redheart invites readers to a wondrous journey through the Leland Dragon Series.

 

HDavidBlalockBWAbout H. David Blalock: Born in San Antonio, Texas, David spent the majority of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 16, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where David finished school and entered employment with the Department of Defense as a Powerhouse Electrician.
Hiring into the FAA, he returned with his wife and two daughters to the States and settled briefly in Gulfport, MS. A few years later, he moved to Memphis, TN, as an Air Traffic Controller for the Memphis ARTCC. There he remained until his retirement.
David’s writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, webzines, and writer’s sites. His work continues to appear on a regular basis through multiple publishing houses.

 

BlalockBookOne_AngelkillerCoverH, David Blalock’s Angelkiller Book Synopsis: Why do bad things happen to good people? Simple. In the ancient war between the Angels of Light and Darkness, the Dark won. Now it is the job of an undercover force simply known as The Army to rectify that.

Using every tool available, The Army has worked to liberate our world from The Enemy for thousands of years, slowly and painfully lifting Mankind out of the dark. On the front of the great Conflict are the Angelkillers, veterans of the fight with centuries of experience.

Jonah Mason is an Angelkiller, and his cell is targeted as part of plot to unseat a very powerful Minion of The Enemy. Mason and his troop are drawn into a battle that stretches from real-time to virtual reality and back. The Conflict is about to expand into cyberspace, and if Mason is unable to stop it, The Enemy will have gained dominion over yet another realm

Tour Schedule and Activities

9/8 SpecMusicMuse Review
9/8 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void Multi-Blogger Interview Part 1
9/8 Horror Tree Guest Post (Blalock)
9/8 Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover & Creator of Worlds~  Guest Post (Gamber)
9/9 Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post (About Gamber)
9/9 I Smell Sheep Interactive Thread with Jackie and Dave
9/9 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post (Blalock)
9/10 The Southern Belle from Hell Art of the Angelkiller Triad (Blalock)
9/10 Bee’s Knees Review Guest Post (Gamber)
9/10 Blog of Sheila Deeth Guest Post (Gamber)
9/10 The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies Multi-Blogger Interview Part 2
9/10 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More Jackie Gamber Interviews H. David Blalock
9/11 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More H. David Blalock Interviews Jackie Gamber
9/11 Workaday Reads Guest Post (Gamber)
9/12 Vampires, Witches, & Me, Oh My! Guest Post (Gamber)
9/12 Trip Through My Mind Multi-Blogger Interview Part 3
9/12 Beauty In Ruins Guest Post (Blalock)
9/13 Jess Resides Here Review
9/14 Willow’s Author Love Guest Post (Blalock)
9/14 Fantastical Musings Multi-Blogger Interview Part 4
9/14 Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post (Gamber)

Amazon Links for Redheart, the First Book of Jackie Gamber’s Leland Dragon Series:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Redheart-Leland-Dragon-Jackie-Gamber-ebook/dp/B004VFNJIA
Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Redheart-Leland-Dragon-Jackie-Gamber/dp/0983108676

Amazon Links for Angelkiller, the First Book of H. David Blalock’s Angelkiller Triad:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Angelkiller-Triad-Book-1-ebook/dp/B006CR84AI
Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Angelkiller-H-David-Blalock/dp/0983740232

Fortune’s Thief Background and Plans

I’ve been working on a novel on and off over the last few years, which I’m currently refining prior to self-publishing.  ‘Fortune’s Thief’ is a low-fantasy action-adventure set in a world very similar to earth, or a place that could be earth thousands of years ago, before written records began.

I’ve never been a huge fan of high fantasy. If a story’s characters are elves and were-bears and they’re throwing magic missiles on page 2, I tend to quickly find another book.  However, the work of authors like Robert E Howard and Susan Cooper have always appealed to me.  I love the ambiguity that exists in the worlds of low fantasy, where a thin line is trod between what is magic and what is real.  I’ve always been inspired by the concept that the mysterious happenings that may be taken as supernatural by the characters – or readers – could actually be explained by rational means, but the reader is left to make the decision him- or herself.

While I’ve had a few stories published in the last couple of years, this is the first time I’ve actually completed something of this length (not counting a trilogy of fanfiction stories I penned in the dim and distant past).  I’ve learned in the last few years that here are many pitfalls when writing a full-length book, and I think I’ve fallen into just about all of them.

I had some really helpful feedback from two amazing friends who also write, and they helped me to see the issues that I’d managed to either overlook or convince myself didn’t exist.  I’m currently rewriting large chunks of text, which is both quite painful and endlessly rewarding, so thank you both!

My current challenges to get the book finished are:

  • Character consistency (my three key characters are currently a little bipolar)
  • Characterisation (reputation vs how they actually behave)
  • World-building (apparently I have some great hinted-at background and very little detail on the world and its setting)

So wish me luck!

If anyone out there has had similar issues with refining their novels, and has any tidbits of information on how they approached and overcame them, please do feel free to share!