The Blackmoon Shards Now Available

On the heels of The Ukinhan Wilds, the second book in the Warder trilogy is now officially available. Anyone interested in the further adventures of Kylac Kronus can read the prologue, order online, or request autographed copies here.

“Unbowed” Artist Paul Carpenter

Another artist to whom I owe a significant debt of thanks is the talented Paul Carpenter. Paul is perhaps best known as the proprietor of PompousPets.com, where he is commissioned to illustrate real pets in fantastical portraits. However, he took time out from these and other artistic endeavors to provide the cover art for the standalone ebook version of “Unbowed.” Previously, “Unbowed” had been featured only in the Unfettered anthology from Grim Oak Press. So when the time finally came to split it out on its own, it needed a cover specific to that story. Paul was gracious enough to provide that, and was so pleasant and easy to work with that I only wish I had more stories in need of cover images as striking and realistic as this:

Cover Art for “Unbowed” by Paul Carpenter

A goal of mine for the future, certainly. In the meantime, I leave you with a few images from Paul’s gallery, and encourage anyone who may be interested to contact him at PompousPets.com for work in this vein or any other.

Map Artist Maxime Plasse

While the art needs of most authors begin and end with the cover image, fantasy authors know that the next thing readers expect is a map of their fictional world. Tolkien had maps, and so every one of us writing in the post-Tolkien era is expected to have them as well. This may not scare you if you happen to be an artist yourself (looking at you, Todd Lockwood and Christopher Paolini). But if you’re more like the rest of us, your own illegible scrawl of a map might look something like this:

Original sketch of Addaranth by Eldon Thompson

So once again, you turn it over to the professionals. Fortunately, there are a lot of terrific artists out there who specialize in cartographic illustration. French artist Maxime Plasse is one of them. Not only does he have an extensive portfolio, but also an impeccable professional reputation. Meaning he has proven time and again to be prompt and effective in his communications, and to deliver according to deadline—never a guarantee when it comes to artistic endeavors. Below is what he was able to do with my meager sketch:

Final rendering of Addaranth by Maxime Plasse

For obvious reasons, I highly recommend Max to anyone in need of a map illustration, be it for this world or their own. Even if you’re merely an art fan, I would encourage you to preview his collection of work—including amazing full-color illustrations—at www.maxsmaps.com. And if for any reason you do have the pleasure of communicating with him, give him my thanks!

Sample full-color map by Maxime Plasse

Sample full-color map by Maxime Plasse

Sample full-color map by Maxime Plasse

Sample full-color map by Maxime Plasse

Warder Artist Daren Horley

Because readers can and do judge a book by its cover, every author knows how important it is to find the right artist for any given project. I believe this to be particularly true for fantasy fiction projects, where the artist must seek to evoke lands, characters, creatures, and talismans not to be found in the real world, which are thus less immediately relatable for the prospective reader.

Fortunately, I’ve had no cause for complaint in this regard. In fact, the artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with have done such a tremendous job in delivering on the promise of the story by way of their imagery, that the onus on the story itself to deliver on that promise becomes so much greater. Expectations are, after all, the breeding ground of disappointment.

I’ll accept that challenge every time out, however, in exchange for an image striking enough to draw a reader to open the book to begin with. And so I thought I’d take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to these fine talents who have made certain my books hold artistic value even if the words within them do not.

First up is Daren Horley, an Emmy-winning artist from the United Kingdom who has seemingly worked with every major studio or publisher in the world of film, television, and video games. I’m talking Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros, Universal, Fox, Lucasfilm, Lionsgate, Discovery, Animal Planet, Microsoft, Eidos… the list goes on. Below is just a small, select sample of images from some of those projects, several of which viewers will recognize at a glance:

As impressive as I found the overall portfolio, it was these latter two, the Chimaera and Medusa concept images for the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, that really sold me. Because I imagined that anyone who could draw creature images like this could draw my “feral groll” any day.

Daren shocked me by making time amid all of his other commitments to do so, illustrating the cover art for all three Warder books. It’s a debt I’ll never be able to adequately repay.

You can check out these and other incredible fantasy images by Daren Horley at: https://darenhorley.artstation.com.

THE THIN LINE at Covellite Film Festival

Among the many diversions used to postpone novel writing over the last few years was the little matter of assisting my brother Neil in the production of his feature-length directorial debut: The Thin Line. No small matter, as it turns out. If you’ve had cause to sit through the closing credits of just about any movie in the last decade, you might have some idea of the number of individuals involved in modern filmmaking.

Sadly, I proved far less useful in the venture than I’d hoped. Fortunately, Neil and my brother William were able to rally a small army to help pick up the slack, and invested an army’s worth of time and effort themselves. Along with editor, producer, and fellow USC Cinema alumnus C. Eric Powell, they eventually ushered the film through a grueling period of post-production. While the entire affair took far longer than intended, I’m proud to say that they did ultimately complete the film, which screened this past week at its first independent film festival: the Covellite Film Festival in Butte, Montana.

Now, Butte won’t soon be mistaken for Cannes. For one, there were far fewer yachts. (Then again, when you live in Newport Beach, California, a land without yachts actually makes for a nice change of scenery.)

What was my point?

Oh yes, Covellite. A delightful little celebration of the visual arts, just three years old, but with a historic setting and an endearing sense of hospitality. The Thin Line was granted a place of honor with a Saturday night screening. The audience was very gracious in its reactions, and graciously enthusiastic during the Q&A afterward. For those of you who know Neil, his discomfort at having to stand there and endure their praise was in and of itself worth the price of admission.

The unexpected adoration continued on Sunday, when we learned that The Thin Line had earned festival award nominations for Best Actress (Neva McIntosh), Best Editing (the aforementioned C. Eric Powell), and overall “Best of the Fest.” While we fell short in the Best Actress and “Best of the Fest” categories, we were quite pleased to see Eric acknowledged for Best Editing. (Though, since he wasn’t able to attend in person, and already has more editing awards than he can possibly know what to do with, I think we’ll keep this one on his behalf.)

(L to R) Producer/Composer William Thompson, Executive Producer Allison O’Briant and Writer/Director Neil Thompson display the Award for Best Editing from the 2018 Covellite International Film Festival for THE THIN LINE

I wish I could say this was an announcement as to where more viewers could watch the film. Alas, that will have to keep until we line up another festival screening or two, or stumble upon some form of distribution agreement. While it’s too early to even be thinking in such terms, I will take this opportunity to say thank you and kudos to all the countless folks who helped bring this particular little cinematic vision to life.

Regardless of what the film’s future may hold, a copper mountain’s worth of appreciation to Covellite’s executive director Don Andrews, programming director Brian Boyd, and to their entire team of festival organizers and fellow attendees for granting the entire The Thin Line cast and crew this pleasant, unexpected acknowledgment.

On the Delay of Kylac

As a naive young reader, I grew accustomed to authors who routinely released a new book each and every year. Every now and then, I’d run up against one who would appear to take long breaks between series, if not titles, and it always left me wondering: Why? What was taking so long? What on Earth could this author have to do that was more important than publishing the next installment of their particular adventure?

Suffice to say, I never wanted to be one of those writers.

Well, flash forward to adulthood, and I’ve learned firsthand that, even for professional authors, there are a million and more things that might get in the way of that next book. Let’s start with the exhaustion that can settle in after grinding through a 750,000 word trilogy and really wanting nothing more to do with those characters or settings for a time. Then there’s the distraction of competing professional pursuits such as only Hollywood can offer, with exponentially larger audience demands and the promise of eight-figure back-end participation. Add to that an economic recession and the resulting overhaul that even a major publisher might go through, where staff is decimated and the executive editor moves elsewhere. There are the obligations to a single mom and her young child, athletics coaching, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, a move, new schools, and weekend chores. There are daily workouts, injuries, surgeries, and unexpected deaths in the family. Toss in the contractual commitments to side projects, volunteer and charity efforts, secondary work when some of those larger Hollywood windfalls fail to materialize, and… well, before you know it, a decade or more has slipped by, and you’re still promising you’ll focus on that book “right after this.”

In fact, when I look back at some of my particular distractions, I don’t feel quite as bad about taking this long to complete another trilogy. Trouble is, readers only know that I’ve “abandoned” them for all this time, and so I must apologize. Just as I must apologize to all of those authors out there whom I silently judged and criticized as a callow youth, when I believed that their first and only priority should always be to their craft.

Excuses and apologies aside, there’s nothing I can do about the past. So I’m trying instead to enjoy the sense of relief, enthusiasm, and potential that always comes with the launch of a new project. There’s some trepidation too, of course. Will readers even remember me? Will the new story satisfy them? How, after all this time, can it possibly measure up to expectations? Having learned that the answers to that are certain to be mixed, however, I’m resolved not to spend much time dwelling on it. With as precious as time has become, and knowing that a host of fresh distractions are waiting just around the corner, I’d do better, I think, to get started in earnest on that next book.

The Ukinhan Wilds Now Available

The wait is over:

The Ukinhan Wilds

Anyone interested in the further adventures of Kylac Kronus can read the prologue, order online, or request autographed copies here.

All-New “Warder” Trilogy Featuring Kylac Kronus

Well, it’s official. As teased a few weeks ago, Kylac is back in his very own trilogy, collectively entitled Warder. The series kicks off next week (August 28) with the release of Book One: The Ukinhan Wilds. Books Two and Three will both be available before the end of the year.

Anyone who may be interested can read the full announcement here.

“Unbowed” as Standalone eBook

As of today, the Kylac Kronus short story “Unbowed” is available for purchase as a standalone digital download from online retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. This is the same story that originally appeared in the anthology Unfettered from Grim Oak Press, so if you already own that particular title, you don’t need this one. And if you’re a fan of authors such as Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, or Terry Brooks, I’d encourage you to check out the full anthology instead. But if it’s truly just a short story about Kylac you might be interested in, now’s your chance.

Waiting for Kylac

To this day, the first question I hear from anyone who manages to slog through the entirety of The Legend of Asahiel trilogy is: “What happened to Kylac?”

Well, for those who may still be interested, I’m pleased to report that the answer to this question is finally set to be answered…