Revisions, Revisions

Earlier this month I received the last of the feedback from my Beta Readers for Iron Fist of the Oroqs (the sequel to Wings of Twilight). The feedback I received was very valuable and pointed out several weaknesses with the manuscript. Unfortunately, when I finished compiling the feedback and compared it to my notes, my brain saw the amount of work I had to do and decided it was a good time to check out. It basically gave me the one-fingered salute and said “See ya!”

I have tracked it down and given it severe beatings until morale improved.

So, revisions for Iron Fist of the Oroqs are underway. I’m hoping to have them finished by the end of February, then send the manuscript to my editor. Meanwhile, hopefully the cover art (by Jason Rainville) can get underway. My goal is still to have it finished by the end of May.

The story was OK before, but it wasn’t really good. This is my first sequel and I believe these characters have another really good story in them. I just have to figure out how to coax it out of them. Depending on how the revisions go, I may have to push Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos into summer.

It’s OK to look back at something I wrote after publication and say “You know, that could’ve been better, but only now that I have more experience.” It’s not OK to release it and say “It could be better, but meh…it’s good enough for now and I’m tired of working on it.”

World of Calliome logo by Gwyneth Ravenscraft.

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World of Calliome First Look!

I received the maps for Wings of Twilight today. Pictured in this post’s map is a portion of the southern continent of Calliome, known as Andelosia. You can see the nations of Cardoba and Etrunia to the east of the Dragon Spine mountains. Caernoth, also known as the Celtan Forest is also visible, as well as many other features that don’t necessarily play an important part in Wings of Twilight, but will be featured in future stories. You could essentially take the middle third of this map, and that would be the scope of Wings of Twilight.

Northeast Andelosia

Northeast Andelosia

Cartography by Jonathan Roberts of Fantastic Maps
World of Calliome logo by Gwyneth Ravenscraft of G-Sharp Productions

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My Fantasy Fiction Line

All of my fantasy fiction (at least, for now) will take place in the same fantasy world. Since I don’t have a contract with a company that has a shared world for which I can write, I had to come up with my own world: the World of Calliome. I’ve been working on bits and pieces of this world for probably twenty years now, though a lot of it has changed since I started. Each novel set on the World of Calliome will reveal a little more about the world, particularly about the little corner in which each story is set. The good thing about having my world is that I don’t have to worry about someone else writing a world shattering event that totally screws up my plans.

I have a lot of notes. Hopefully, this will help give a sense of continuity to my stories and a sense that there’s a history and more going on in the world that just what you’re reading about at that moment. Not all the stories will be directly related to each other, but it is my hope that by throwing in nods and references here and there, it’ll help it all seem more real.

Logo by Gwyneth Ravenscraft. Her professional website isn’t active yet, but it will be within a month or so, I’m told. The logo went from rough concept to completion over the course of a weekend; she does quick work and I’m thrilled with the results. It’s like my mock-up, only, you know, GOOD.

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The Character Artwork

I must say, I have been continually impressed by Char Reed’s depictions of the characters in Wings of Twilight. You have to view the images at their full size to fully appreciate of the use of texture in the images. In particular, take a close look at Lorelei’s clothing or at Strom’s armor. I just noticed how detailed they were today, and I am just amazed.

Of course, I’m sure some people think it’s probably a waste of money to commission this artwork just so I can plug my book on my website, but I may try to include them in the electronic versions of the books. Kindle readers won’t get to see them in their full glory, unfortunately, but the greyscale renditions should be quite impressive, still. Unfortunately, at this point, it looks like I won’t be able to include these gorgeous images in the print version, at least, not in color. Since I cannot afford to print the book ahead of time in mass quantities, it is cost prohibitive to offer Wings of Twilight through CreateSpace and in color. I’d have to charge more than $35 a copy to break even, and it still would not have a hard cover.

But, at the very least, you will still be able to see the artwork here.

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Character Sneak Preview! Lord Strom Lightbringer

Lord Strom Lightbringer is man of humble origins who has taken on the mantle of crusader. He fights against injustice and wickedness where ever he encounters it, claiming it is the will of Tinian, King of the Gods, that he personally stamp out evil in the world. He believes he can only trust and rely on himself, eschewing even a horse to aid in his travels, he does maintain a small entourage of companions, though, they do not all share his zeal.

Artwork by Char Reed.

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Character Sneak Preview! Tasha Galperin

Tasha Galperin is a sorceress from a small town in Etrunia on the continent of Andelosia. In the world of Calliome, practitioners of the arcane arts require some sort of focus for their magic, be it a staff, talisman, wand, etc. Their magic manifests itself in colors related to their outlook, typically green, red or blue. Tasha is a practical woman, focused on her magic, but feels there is something missing in her life. She admires her friend Lorelei’s spirituality and hope to learn from her during their travels together. Read more of Tasha’s story in Wings of Twilight, coming this fall to e-readers and in print.

Artwork by Char Reed.

Categories: Calliome, Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Character Sneak Preview! Lorelei Aldanae

Lorelei AldanaeLorelei Aldranae is an elven mystic from Raven’s Forest. She, like most fae, feels a deep spiritual connection with the world, Calliome, and is a worshipper of Gaia, the Earth Mother. After leaving home, she has dedicated her life to learning about the connections between the mortal world of Calliome and the fae realm. Read more about her adventures in Wings of Twilight, coming to e-readers and print this fall!

Artwork by Char Reed.

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Character Sneak Preview! Marshal Sarvesh

What’s this guy’s story? Well, this is Marshal Sarvesh. Marshal is his title, by the way, not his name. There’s a place in the Dragon Spine Mountains, near the dwarven city of Ironkrag, called Twilight Dungeon. It’s a nasty place. No one knows the exact nature of the place because no one who goes there comes back. There aren’t any stories about it because of that. People know it exists, but that’s all they know about it. His story, well, you’ll have to read Wings of Twilight to get that; I’m certainly not going to spoil anything here.

Artwork by Char Reed. She’s great, check her out!

Categories: Calliome, Wings of Twilight | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The World of Calliome

Calliome is the world in which my fantasy fiction is set. It’s a polytheistic fantasy world with so many influences, I can’t list them all. My first novel, tentatively titled Wings of Twilight is set there. Wings of Twilight is scheduled to be released this fall, probably around November, in the Kindle Store, the Barnes & Noble Nook Store, and in print. But, more on the novel later; this post is about the world in which that story takes place. In some ways, Calliome is a typical fantasy world; there are elves and dwarves, but there are also draks, minotaurs, and gnomes. I’ll start with some of the species that are atypical of most heroic fantasy and work my way down to the species with which you’re probably already familiar. Don’t worry if you don’t have a frame of reference for some of the place names or deity names; those will be covered in future posts.

The world itself was once a virtual paradise, filled with magic and humans and fae freely mingling. Naturally, there are always exceptions to those who are content to live in peace, and a massive cataclysm, the Sundering, rocked the world, shattering it. It was only through the will and sacrifice of Gaia, the Earth Mother and her son Nethuns, god of the sea that kept the pieces of the world from flying apart. For nearly a millenia, the pieces of the world clung together, each piece separated yet bound by the Maelstrom. The faeries fled the world, leaving humans to their fate. The dwarves sealed themselves up in their homes underneath the mountains. To compensate for the diminished magic in the world, humans developed technology to survive, bolstered by what little magic they could muster. Dragons appeared, great fearsome beasts that terrorized the countryside. Eventually, the world was brought together again with the help of a Sky Pirate named Xanos. Wings of Twilight takes place over a thousand years after the Healing, when elves and other fae have started returning to the world. Stories of the Sundering will come at another time.

Draks are small, reptilian humanoids, averaging between 3’ and 4’ in height. Their scales range the color of the rainbow, bright at birth and dulling with age. Stripes are considered an omen by many clans. Both genders have horns. They are close to nature and spend a lot of time studying astronomical and meteorological phenomena. Many draks believe their people are descended from dragons.

Most draks hail from villages in the Dragon Spine Mountains, though there are a few scattered farming settlements in the Etrunian plains and in Vlorey. These draks, for the most part, get along well with their human neighbors, often helping each other in times of drought and famine.

Calliome’s mountains are also home not only to dwarves, but also to a large population of minotaurs. Unlike dwarven communities, though, minotaur communities are small, close-knit and labyrinthine. They are rarely friendly to outsiders and often at war with neighboring dwarves. They have started to make their way down out of the mountains in an attempt to open trade and improve relations with humans and elves, however, and most adventuring minotaurs have such things in mind when they leave their homes and families behind.

While they appreciate the accumulation of wealth and the luxury it can provide (many successful minotaurs will buy golden sheaths for their horns), most minotaurs are more concerned with the accumulation of personal honor and glory. It is not uncommon for them to carry a journal in which they will record their accomplishments.

Minotaurs average between 7’ and 7½’ tall. Covered in fur ranging from white to brown and black, the males sport large horns by the time they’re mature. Females have smaller horns and usually have a mane of hair they arrange in various styles. They walked with digitigrade locomotion on cloven hooves.

Gnomes are diminutive (compared with elves) fae associated with forests and rocks. They are rarely seen in human lands, though a few have made their way to Vlorey. Gnomes have a deeper connection with the world than even elves, and it is a rare gnome that doesn’t worship Gaia (though there are a few more agriculturally-bent gnomish communities that venerate Cybele). Their fae nature and closeness to the natural world gives them an affinity to animals of the forest and rivers. Nearly every forest, river, stream, and lake has at least one clan of gnomes that look after it, though many do so discreetly; their presence barely known to other nearby communities. Females are more likely to seek out adventure than the males, who take their duty to guard the environment around their burrows very seriously.

Gnomes are extremely curious and eager to experience new things and explore new places. Often thought to be related to dwarves, gnomes actually appear closer to shorter elves than dwarves. They’re slight of build and their skin tends to range in earth tones; their hair grows in as much variety as petals on flowers. They use twigs, vines, and flowers for decoration in their hair, with females adorning themselves more than males.

Renowned miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls, dwarves retreated to their underground cities when the world was sundered and did not emerge until several hundred years after the world was healed. Generations of humans lived their whole lives without ever seeing a dwarf, and by the time the world was healed, they were thought to be mythological misunderstandings of extremely short humans.

The truth, of course, is far different. Dwarves are indeed part of the world, and though adventurer dwarves are rarely seen outside of the Underworld, they are known to be tough fighters and stubborn opponents.

Most dwarves seen in Andelosia hail from the trade city of Ironkrag, in the Dragon Spine Mountains. Ironkrag has three major gates: the south gate opens to the trade road that leads to Celtangate, the north gate opens to the trade road that leads to the Western Wastes and Ligurian Desert, and the Underworld Gate that leads to the Deep Road.

The Deep Road winds under the Dragon Spine Mountains and is said can take travelers to other dwarven cities in the Underworld, though no human has made that journey and returned to talk about it; not because it’s dangerous, but because most humans don’t enjoy being underground for a long enough period of time to make the journey.

Dwarven ale is known for being horrible stuff; it’s difficult to brew good ale using only ingredients grown underground. When they can get their hands on surface grown hops, malts, and other grains, they produce beers and ales of unmatched quality. Unfortunately, because of their poor attitude towards humans and other surface-dwellers, they are only rarely able to acquire such ingredients.

The most widely-known and prominent of the fae races that returned to Calliome after the healing of the world, elves play an important part in the day-to-day shape of both Andelosia and Nihonsu. They are very spiritual and most pay homage to Gaia, if not outright worship the Earth Mother. They are very closely connected to the Fae Realm and can detect nexus where the Fae Realm touches the Mortal Realm, and can even pass between the realms at these nexus (only fae can do this).

Elves form friendships quickly and love deeply, though they tend to hold humans at arms’ length due to their shorter lifespan and humans’ prodigious ability to adapt and conquer. After about a thousand years in the mortal realm, they feel compelled to return to the fae realm for the rest of their lives, though how long that is can range from a few centuries to another millennia or more.

They tend to stand about the same height as humans, though of a more slender and delicate build. Elven skin color tends to range in the light blues, lavenders, and light greens; hair ranges from light blues and greens, to silver or white, and even black, but never blonde or brown. On Nihonsu, elves are known as Imperial Elves and have similar skin colors, but darker, and their hair is usually black or white in color.

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