Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Storm's Gate Featured on the Faerie Review

It was wonderful to see Liliyana Shadowlyn's review of Storm's Gate, Book 3 of the Stormfall Chronicles, earlier today.  To quote briefly from the review:

I’ve enjoyed following Lynette, Baxter and Eirlon over the last two books, and getting to continue their adventures with them has been a delight. . .  
There's a lot on the line, and you'll be turning pages, wanting to know what's coming next. Definitely recommend for fantasy adventure lovers!

So glad she's been enjoying the series. Liliyana's review and website and be found under the links below.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Book 4: The Editing Chronicles

The editing process for Book 4 has been stretched out. Too many day-to-day demands on my time, it would seem.

I have begun editing the novel in the same way in which I began composing it: with the final chapters. I have now completed my first round of edits on the final quarter of the novel. The word count has climbed from 78,000 words at the end of the first draft to 90,000 words today. Hopefully the edit process for the earlier chapters will flow a little more quickly.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Collecting Photos for Future Cover Designs

Went on a hike with my middle daughter at James L Goodwin State Forest today, collecting photos for use in future covers. It was a beautiful day out. Beginning to look like spring.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Designing a Cover: Book 3 of the Stormfall Chronicles

Having completed the first draft for Book 4 of the Stormfall Chronicles, I will soon be launching the cover design for Book 4. This should give my cover designer time to begin working on the cover, in parallel with my edits to the text.

This might therefore be a good opportunity to discuss the cover design process that I've used throughout my novels. My covers usually begin with a very quick, hand-drawn sketch outlining what I'm looking for. It's usually nothing elegant, just a starting point for discussions with my cover artist - who happens to also be my middle daughter. From there, the two of us can discuss what photography she will need to help create the final design.

Each cover that my daughter produces is generated from a series of photographs which she breaks down into the constituent elements and reassembles to produce the final product. Her sisters will often serve as models. For other elements, we'll go on day-trips to state parks or similar sites with camera in hand, looking for inspiration.

The raw photo and processed image compared.
Numerous changes were made to the dress and hair.

For Book 3 for example, she used an image of her younger sister - but had to edit the color of the dress to match the sketch. She also needed to extend the dress' hem, as well as the hair length in the image (her sister had cut her hair shorter between the photo taken for the cover for Book 2 and that taken for Book 3).

The dragon began as a polymer clay figure.

A model for the dragon, in turn, was constructed from polymer clay which was painted to achieve the general tone. After experimenting with a couple of alternatives, we settled on constructing the wings and neck of the dragon separately - to allow us to take photographs at a variety of angles which could then be sorted through, to determine which combination worked best. Working from the photograph, the contours and pose of the dragon and its neck could be adjusted to achieve the desired effect.

Relatively few changes were needed for the tower

The background for Book 3 also required a wall and a tower, for which we made a trip to Castle Craig Tower in Meriden, Connecticut.

The wall image was mirrored for the cover

Built as a scenic lookout point, the tower required minimal modification, while the image of the wall had to be mirrored to fit in with the overall design. Similarly, the courtyard surface required a trip to a local landscape retailer to collect working images for the stone paving.

The flames were likewise reconstructed from actual flame images, captured at night. The color contrast was then adjusted to match the tones in the sketch.

There were a lot of fine details which needed to be added or adjusted to get the image right: smoke; lightning bolts; shadows; and texturing. The most crucial part, however, was the lighting. Getting the color and lighting just right to resemble the illumination from a flaming background was no small feat - and something which my daughter had to research on her own and figure out how to do.

Getting the lighting right was essential to achieving the final design

Once the image was complete, it was passed through a filter to arrive at the final, "oil-painting" style. The cover lettering and framing color could then be added once everything else was done.

Assembling the cover was another great part of working with my daughters on these books. Together with beta-reading the final drafts, the cover design was another chapter which I will sorely miss when my two eldest children leave for their respective universities next fall.

Monday, March 15, 2021

First Draft for Book 4 Complete

The first draft of Book 4 is finally complete. Like most of my first drafts, it's a messy thing. There are a lot of scenes which I'll need to go back and add, and a lot of refinement which needs to be done for each scene. At long last, however, the first draft is complete.

It took me a bit longer to pen this draft than it did for the prior novels. At 78,000 words in length, it has required some 19 weeks to complete, for an average writing pace of 580 words per day - as compared to 880 words per day for the first draft of Book 2 and 930 words per day for Book 3. I had to divert a certain amount of time and energy during the past few months towards tutoring my daughters in their classwork, so the slower pace is inevitable.

This first draft is slightly longer than the initial draft for Book 2 (74,000 words), but is shorter than the initial draft for Book 3 (98,000 words).

Looking forward to editing the novel and adding those missing details during the coming weeks.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Book 4: Closing In

I've exceeded 70,000 words into the first draft of Book 4 in the Stormfall Chronicles. Into the finale of the series now. A lot to juggle as the story arc closes in on its conclusion.

The first draft always takes longer than I plan for. Between my day job and family time commitments, it's always a challenge to find the hours needed to write. I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to make it this far. I already have ideas floating in my mind for the cover design as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Book 4: Progress

I've finally surpassed 60,000 words for the first draft of Book 4 in the Stormfall Chronicles. As I've hinted at before, this will be the final installment in the original story arc, following the experiences of Lynette, Baxter and others, as they face an epic battle for the future of their world.

As the final chapters in the first draft take shape, I can already begin to see beyond the original series. Possibilities run through my mind for spin-off stories, following some of the many characters who appear in the current series. The temptation to complete some of their miniature story arcs is becoming ever more irresistible as the epic story nears its closure.

If I do decide to write a follow-on novel or novels, however, I expect them to be structured as stand-alone novels - more narrowly focused on a single story arc and character. Juggling an epic fantasy has been an exciting undertaking, but has also absorbed more energy and time than a more conventional fantasy tale would require. Something for me to think on.