A little teaser for a lazy Sunday night.

I’m beat and still digesting some the discussions from AFKCON this afternoon, so I figured I would share something from Bloodlust: The Blades of Khazak Khrim. This passage is from early in the book, and should be relatively spoiler free.

The two excruciators came at him slowly, locking shields in the slender tunnel, chanting under their breath.

Not wanting to lose track of the chest, Blue Hornet charged them. As he neared, channelling power and weaving a spell, the Excruciators tensed and attacked. He leapt, unleashing a wave of bitter frost that sapped the heat from them. He slammed a fist spike down through a helm and vaulted up and over the shields of his adversaries. The dwarves at the chest managed to swing their swords at him once before he kicked one into a stack of barrels, splintering wood and bone and then cut the throat of the other with a swift, arcing slash of his fist spike.

Impressively the Excruciator did not fall.

“Khazakrim!” he gurgled, barreling into the Chosen.

Once, such an attack might have knocked Blue Hornet from his feet. Instead, he shifted his weight to his rear leg and brought his armour elbow down on the Dwarf, sending him crashing to the ground.

Steps alerted him to the final excruciator coming up behind him. Even with three of his comrades so easily dispatched the man’s thoughts were on duty and not self-preservation. A foolish gesture in this case, serving as a reminder than the greatest strength of the fanatic was also his greatest weakness.

Blue Hornet caught the Excruciator’s blade with his left hand-buckler, swiped his shield aside with a chop, and then thrust his fist spike into the man’s belly. His hand blurred as the blade darted, puncturing the dwarf a half dozen times in the blink of an eye. The Excruciator’s eyes blinked and his mouth worked, as blood dribbled from him.

“Your prayers won’t save you now,” mocked Blue Hornet, tossing the twitching dwarf aside and turning back to the chest.

Supernatural reflexes and the enhanced mobility of airdance were all the saved him from being skewered. He skipped aside as a blade flashed through the air, followed closely by another. A Sword-Bearer, wielding two blades with liquid precision, was upon him. The man’s attacks were not as swift as Blue Hornet’s own, but his attacks seemed to anticipate the former Gladiator’s counters and Blue Hornet found himself giving ground, trying to avoid tripping over corpses and debris.

Here we see two characters from previous works encounter each other. Neither one of them are particularly heroic, although I expect most people would cheer for Blue Hornet over Twin-Swords. Part of the fun of getting more than half a million words into a series is having enough interesting characters that they are bound to encounter each other. leading to wonderful little “what if?” moments for me as I write 😀

Bloodlust: The Blades of Khazak Khrim should be out July 17th (not counting approval time from Amazon, which is usually same day, but who knows?”

Glorious Cover Teasers, fourth edition.

With the impending release of Bloodlust: Red Glory, it is time for a cover preview. This time I am organized enough to walk you through the process with a series of draft mockups, courtesy of Daniel Barclay.

Red_Glory_1

Red_Glory_2

I often like to represent the characters as icons on the covers. With Red Glory, having a larger cast of characters made that impossible (or rather, busy and ugly). On the other hand one way of looking at the book is that the central character is the Grand Championships. Following that line of thought the cover is made up of white sand, representing the fighting grounds and Golden Laurels, representing the coveted prize of the tournament.

I like the weight of the first option better. The Grand Championships dominate the lives of the people of the Domains and a heavier set of laurels conveys that better.

Dan thought the background was too bland, so we decided to work on that next.

Red_Glory_3

I really liked this one. The laurels streaming blood and staining the pristine sands. Quite an image, and highly appropriate for such a brutal event. We decided on a bit more texture on the laurel and thinner blood streams. I asked for the blue binding to be changed to royal purple.

Red_Glory_4

This is very close, but not quite there. Notice that Dan changed the Domains of the Chosen Tagline on the bottom to yellow so you can actually see it. Also of note are the filler bars on either side of –Red Glory–, which he added to kill whitespace.We decided to add a drop of blood and Dan added some special magic:

Red_Glory_5_Final

I like it. It is gloriously overstated: grand, vicious, and bloody, much like the Great Games themselves. Once again, my thanks go out to the talented Mr Barclay, who can take a simple concept and really make it stand out. Certainly beats trying to stand out with another cover of a dude in a cloak.

Nearly finished the first draft of Bloodlust: Red Glory!

I am on the final stretch for my next book. En lieu of a more complex post, here is a teaser:

Goldfin felt the pulse of excitement flow through her as the crowds flowed through the streets toward the Grand Arena. While she regretted becoming involved in such dangerous business, she could not help but feel a surge of pure adrenal joy as her plans came to fruition. The shiver of pleasure at the thought was wonderful, reminding her of that moment when she’d loosed the crossbow bolt that ended her father. This was a moment worth savouring, even if was one that she had been too impulsive in seeking.

In payment for her services, Goldfin had demanded a number of items from Chosen Ylith, mostly expensive looking jewelry, gems, and small valuable items. One of them was a bejewelled ring that acted as a key to one of her father’s hidden places. She was worried that Chosen Ylith would connect her to her past life, but then again she suspected that the Chosen would betray her on principle.

Note that this is in draft form and will be re-written. I enjoy the second pass and tend to add a lot before editing begins.

Goldfin is an alias used by a character from Bloodlust: The Shield Maiden. She is both familiar and unfamiliar in this book, having undergone a transformation of sorts. Like everyone in Krass she has been caught up in the Grand Championships called to find a replacement for Chosen Brightloch. In Goldfin’s case she cannot help but try to meddle, which lands her in an interesting position.

Bloodlust: Red Glory follows a handful of Gladiators and a handful of fans, citizens, and profiteers over the course of a single tournament. Everyone tries to get something from the tournament and the events surrounding them, and these goals conflict, clash, and ultimately reshape the games and what follows.

After I do a second pass, I will be looking for some extra beta readers. Message me if interested!

Image Change: A New Cover For Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I am full of Turkey and pie, and generally pretty zonked. Domains of the Chosen Book Four is moving along nicely, and in preparation for wider release Dan and I decided to redo the cover of Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale to match the more popular style of Bloodlust: Will to Power.

Domains of the Chosen Book One. Original Cover.

Domains of the Chosen Book One. Original Cover.

This is the very first cover that Dan designed for Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale. It is a little blurred out because of a custom re-size, but you can see the important details. The cover works quite well, especially on trade paperback. At the time we were happy with it. It is distinctive, it does not prejudice the reader with images of the characters, and it conveys meaning to anyone who reads the book.

Some people like it, some people did not.

For Bloodlust: Will to Power I let Dan have a freer hand. This is what he came up with.

The Nearly Complete Cover for Book 2. Points to anyone who can spot the differences.

The Nearly Complete Cover for Book 2. Points to anyone who can spot the differences.

This style is less metallic/shiny, and more grainy. Lookt at the lines on the Lion’s mane and the Scorpion. It is one of the Woodcut styles that Dan has developed over the years. People really loved the final version of this cover. Most importantly it looks good as a thumbnail, a full size image, and a physical image on a paperback book. After some thought, we decided to change the cover for book one to emulate this style.

The Retouched Cover for Bloodlust: A Gladiator's Tale.

The Retouched Cover for Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale.

Not only does this cover emulate the style of the Bloodlust: Will to Power cover, it also has a few changes for clarity.

  • The sub-title has expanded. A Gladiator’s tale is now bigger and more readable.
  • Domains of The Chosen: Book 1 is now on the cover, clearly calling out that the book is part of a series.
  • The texture of the cover is more visible. Dan was disappointed that black leather texture he used did not pop on the original cover. He added a digital light source to make it more visible at the top, fading down into black at the bottom.

Not bad, eh? If you prefer the new cover and have an ebook, just update the version via amazon (why it does not prompt you to update is beyond me).

Cheers, and happy Turkey day for my Canadian friends.

Teaser Tuesday

In two days I will upload Warbound: The Shield Maiden to Amazon. If all goes well it will be available for download on Thursday.

I want to thank everyone who helped me out or offered encouragements. This year has been tough, with several deaths and unfortunate events, not just for me, but for my family and friends. With your help I persevered, perhaps even prospered in some ways. I am truly lucky to have friends, family, and fans who care so much.

Here is the final version of the cover.

The Final Version

The Final Version

Damn fine work.

And here is one last set of teasers for ya’ll. I hope you enjoy the book.

Finally, the time came to embark. The Bright Company, Ninth Legion in tow, marched through the North Gates of the Capital, down through the tall-house tenements, up through the industrial districts and out onto a long pier full of ships.

            The people of Krass lined the streets to watch the procession. The expedition to Ithal’Duin was seen as folly by some, but most people were eager for tales of new lands and the hope of new opportunities that they might bring.

            Chosen Brightloch, smiling at the head of the parade, with strange-eyed Ri[click]va at his side drew many cheers. Some among the crowd remembered his time in the arena, fifty years past.

Vintia marched with the Eighth Cohort, the first unit of the Ninth Legion to reach the ships. The engineers of the Eighth would oversee the loading of artillery and other delicate equipment through out the day, while the rest of the Legion would assist the civilian pioneers.

            Legions on campaign typically included a contingent of professionals that tended to their needs.  These ranged from smiths and healers, to herdsmen and cooks. The Bright Company included a much larger number of these, adding prospectors, surveyors, and many other specialists who would ready the Chosen’s Domain for settlers.

            Many of these civilian pioneers had been handpicked by Brightloch himself. They were rugged travellers who rode in collapsible waggons. Whether stream powered, elemental, or animal driven, these waggons would be rapidly dissassembled and stowed aboard the ships.

            Over two dozen transport vessels, escorted by a trio of fearsome Ironclads, would make the journey.

            A smaller crowd gathered the next day, as the sun rose and the ships finally set sail. Vintia scanned the people gathered, a cheering mass, looking for familiar faces as they wind pushed them away from home and toward adventure.

And here is a second bit. These excerpts twere added to the book during late re-writes, both based on reader feedback, from my sister and brother, if I recall correctly.

“I like it here,” said Sadira looking out over the Spires of Kirif from a sheltered cove. They lay on the beach, naked and entwined, watching the Fologi play in the wake of three massive ironclads headed to Fort Nerus.

“It is rather far from Krass,” said Gavin. “Are you sure?”

“You and I are only allowed a single Domain,” said Sadira. “And a single vote in the Council of the Chosen. Why hurry? We can also communicate without a link over long distances. What stops us from continuing our explorations here? I am fond of the idea that others won’t be looking over our shoulders all the time.”

“So be it,” said Gavin. “Let us be a little more open about it than Chosen Brightloch.”

“I would prefer to stay out of Kirifan politics as much as possible,” said Sadira.

Gavin laughed. “What about your plans to reconquer Avenholt?”

“Don’t think I’ve given up on that, Gavin,” said Sadira. “I am an ambitious woman, and I am learning the value of patience. I will follow that dream when I am ready. I will enjoy the fruit that is Ithal’Duin while it is at hand, learn what I can, and move on. We don’t have to settle here.”