Art by Tadas Sidlauskas
Here’s another character from my Zack Jackson series, Genevieve “Jenny” DuBois.
Jenny is a Junior Ranger and student at Cytherean Academy, one of the EACs more prestigious schools. Cytherean Academy is on the eponymous aerostat on Venus. (See, breathable air is a lifting gas on Venus. In theory, an aerostat filled with breathable air would float in Venus’s dense atmosphere around 50 km. up, which provides approx. 1 ATM of pressure and livable temperatures, though folks still need protection from the clouds of sulphuric acid.)
She was born and lives (when she’s not attending school) on Messier Habitat in orbit around Mars. Don’t mistake them for Martians, though. Messiers are proud of their French heritage and will let you know it.
She’s pictured with a cloud glider. She’s solo rated and spends downtime at the academy helping Coach Dagon instruct other students, but thus far has resisted joining the school team as she feels it would be too much like work at that point.
So, I’ve commissioned some more character art, this time from my Zack Jackson series.
Art by Tadas Sidlauskas
This is Mungus (more properly, Mungaborrarius, son of Goreborrarius Tonnarvassas, First Warrior of Clan Stonetalon), an Ersidian from my Zack Jackson series. He’s a Junior Ranger in the same troop as Zack, Jenny, and the Valtraxian, Ix. Unlike the others, he still lives on his homeworld; his temper has gotten him kicked out of all the local troops.
The large knife on his back was his grandsire’s. Ersidians once had a proud, honor-obsessed warrior culture to which they still pay lip service. Their braids are their badges of honor. The more story beads woven into their braids, the more honor an Ersidian has. Cutting a braid to give to a friend is a mark of great trust and honor and other Ersidians will leap to the aid of one who carries an Honor Braid. Forcibly cutting an Ersidian’s braids is a gross violation and is punishable by death on Ersid. The Earth-Alpha Centauri Alliance feels this punishment is too harsh for a haircut and won’t extradite criminals to Ersid.
Mungus is an interesting character to include because he doesn’t go to school with the others, so realistically, he only appears in books that take place on annual term-break Junior Ranger trips. In books that take place during the school year, he mostly shows up in long-distance correspondence.
Earlier this year I commissioned an original sculpture by David Lee Pancake of the Valtraxian, Ix. You may have see David’s work at Gen Con (he’s the guy who has those really awesome mounted dragon heads). He recently posted a time-lapse video showing Ix’s creation on YouTube.
For those of you who haven’t read any of my Zack Jackson series, yes, Valtraxians are based on Vrusk from Star Frontiers. While they’re physically similar, their society is quite different. I’ll have it display on my table at the various conventions I attend, the first of which is coming up over Memorial Day: ConQuesT. I’ll also have it at Gen Con.
Ix’s sculpture stands about 12″ tall. Click to valtraxinate.
Well, it’s not really a experiment that will be that long reaching, but what I’ve done is pull all the Zack Jackson novels from Smashwords, DriveThru Fiction, and Kobo. Since I released Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos back in 2012, I have had ZERO sales in from those three vendors on this line. So, effective immediately, they are Kindle exclusive and part of Kindle Unlimited. I intend to keep them there for the rest of the year, at least.
This will enable me to take advantage of their promotional tools and attempt to get some movement on these titles. They sell well enough at conventions and signings (as do all my titles), but I’ve heard YA is a very challenging market in ebooks. My experience is bearing that out.
There is another Zack Jackson novel on the horizon, but I’m committed to getting the Scars of the Sundering trilogy finish first. The first novel, Malediction is in the editing/revisions stage. Lament‘s first draft is finished. I still need to write Salvation. I figure Spring 2016 will see the fourth Zack Jackson novel, Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus.
I’ve added all the convention and signing appearances I have scheduled so far this summer to my calendar on my Facebook page. Stop by anytime and check them out (and maybe give the page a “Like” if you haven’t already; it helps get my posts there seen by more people).
I have finished the first draft of book three in the Zack Jackson series, Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra. Unfortunately, due to holiday madness, editing won’t start until after the holidays. Once I get a second draft, I’ll be looking for Beta Readers. There are a few heavy issues the characters have to deal with, and I want to make sure I deal with them in a serious, respectful fashion. I want to do it right.
While it lingers waiting for my editor’s time to free up, I am going to try to get a good start on the next World of Calliome novel. Scars of the Sundering petered out this year. I knew what I wanted to write, I knew where I wanted the story to go, but I just didn’t believe in certain characters’ motivations. As the year dragged on, I started to suspect the problem was the number of human characters in the story. I think part of the strength of my World of Calliome novels is the non-human characters (not to mention a certain lampshading of traditional fantasy novels with human protagonists). Wish me luck as I go back to the well, and start this next story back in Drak-Anor*.
*Having said that, any book that I might write will NOT be part of The Foundation of Drak-Anor series. It may follow the events of those novels, but will not be a direct sequel, per se. One will not need to have read Wings of Twilight or Iron First of the Oroqs to enjoy future novels in the World of Calliome.
Work has begun in earnest on the third book in the Zack Jackson series: Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra. I anticipate releasing this book in late Q1 or early Q2 2014. In this installment, Zack and his Junior Ranger troop take a trip to the Valtraxian homeworld, Valtra. While there, Zack will have to learn important lessons dealing with the up and downs of friendship and how important those ties are when things are at their worst. That description makes it sound like a “Very Special Episode,” doesn’t it? We’ll have to see how it turns out when I’m finished! 😀
Sadly, this means work on my next World of Calliome novel (Scars of the Sundering) has stopped. Frankly, I was having a difficult time with this novel. I just couldn’t get into the characters the way I needed to; I wasn’t believing in the story. I thought it was best to step away and work on something else. Hopefully I’ll find my muse for it again.
In the meantime, I will be having a book signing at the Half-Price Books Outlet in Bloomington, IN this Saturday (November 16). If you’re in the area, stop by and say “Hi!” I’ll have copies of all of my novels for sale.
I have finally finished the first draft of book 2 in the Zack Jackson series: Zack Jackson & The Cytherean Academy. Now it’s off to my wife for first-round proofing, alpha reading, and a preliminary edit. I hope to be able to send it off to a paid editor by the end of March.
The Zack Jackson series is a Middle-Grade/Young Adult sci-fi series (science-based fiction) taking place in the 43rd century. It follows book 1, Zack Jackson & The Cult of Athos.