Book V Cover Update

June 29, 2011

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

The Book V cover is coming along and artist Carol Phillips is ready to start painting which is always fun!

We had a number of challenges to address with this particular cover. First of all–how do we convey the sheer size of the place?? The Temple is a mile long and half a mile wide–that’s a rather large area to say the least. It’s also a thousand feet high and filled with over 100,000 bad guys: the Vatican has nothing on the Temple as far as size goes. To tackle this problem, Carol opted to give the place a slightly more confined, penned-in feel while giving clear indications that there is a lot more Temple than what can be seen at a glance. Also, there’s a constant thunderstorm raging inside the temple, which Carol has boiling up in the heights (I always remember my mother saying to come in from the rain where it’s safe–where no harm can come to you. I wanted it storming on the inside of the Temple as if to say: “It’s NOT safe in here!)

More Designs (Carol Phillips)

I entreated Carol to go over the top on this cover–this is the Temple after all we’ve waited two whole books to get to it and I wanted it to be unabashed in its evil.

Pillar detail (Carol Phillips)

There’s certainly nothing subtle about the Temple. I wanted skulls and leering faces and raging mouths everywhere.

As Carahil has been a usual fixture of the past books, he’s present here in this one as well: can you see him???

I’ve always had a love for the work of Keith Parkinson going way back to my unprincipled D&D days in college and I wanted the cover to be as beautifully creepy as his works used to be (Keith Parkinson’s passing was a great loss for us all)

And then there’s Kay hiding behind a pillar, a fly in this evil ointment. Sort of like when the criminologist comes on in Rocky Horror Picture Show and everybody boos, his presence indicates that the party’s over.

copyright 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

My friend, author Michelle Davidson Argyle, needed volunteers to promote a Blog tour to assist the victims of the Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear disaster in Sendai, Japan, and I am happy and honored to help.

Take it away, Michelle:

One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit the city of Sendai in the Tohoku region of Japan on Friday March 11. The magnitude 9.0 quake unleashed a deadly tsunami that slammed into Japan’s east coast, leaving a swathe of devastation in its wake. Thousands of people lost their lives, and many are still missing or injured. Thousands more have been left homeless and destitute.

As a testament to the generosity of the world’s citizens, emergency appeals have been swiftly set up in the aftermath of the quake, but I’m sure many of you, as we did, had the same thought: our donations seem so puny. There must be some other way we could make a difference!

With that in mind, Stories for Sendai was born!

The Stories for Sendai Anthology is a collection of 19 short stories and one poem. Some are inspired by the events of the earthquake in Sendai; others are simply stories of hope and inspiration. All are uplifting and worth reading. Please consider buying a copy of the anthology and spreading the word about this wonderful, uplifting little book. All proceeds go to relief efforts to aid Japan.

Stories for Sendai will soon be available in paperback or Kindle format.

You can find a list of the contributing authors and their stories here (

You can visit the Stories for Sendai blog here (

coypright 2011, Michelle Davidson Argyle

Book V Cover Update

June 22, 2011

Carol Phillips is plugging away at the cover for Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head and it’s coming along nicely.

"The Temple of the Exploding Head" by Carol Phillips

She has the main interior laid out, complete with central dais, pillars, Berserkacide statues and skulls. I’m hoping to convince her to make the back wall nothing but skulls. I was concerned a bit about the width–the Temple is a half-mile wide, however, the composition gives the impression of a rather narrow space, like a cathedral. There is clearly more Temple beyond the pillars and arches, so I can live with the more narrow central area. I love the impression of lofty heights that Carol gives the Temple–too bad most of that will be covered up with dark clouds. It rains inside the Temple.

"The Horned God" by Carol Phillips

There are quite a few missing elements which Carol is adding:

Kay is missing
Sam is also missing
Monama victims in cages swinging from chains
Carahil in chains (Carahil is a constant feature of all five covers so far.)
The gods
Dead bodies everywhere
Killanjo having a rave
Lots of Phallic Symbols
More Phallic Symbols
And, last but not least, the Horned God Himself.

Oh, I can’t wait for this cover–it should make for a memorable conclusion to the TOTEH trilogy.

Copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

Book V Update

June 13, 2011

Book V, the exciting conclusion to the Temple of the Exploding Head saga is due to be published in November, and, even though Book IV still hasn’t been released, things are starting to happen!

The manuscript is off at Loconeal for editing. It’s the largest of the three books, topping out at about 120,000 words, it also contains the largest single fight scene I’ve ever written with over 11,000 combatants!!

Concept for the Cover of Book V, by Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips has begun work roughing out concepts for the cover. We usually hash out a number of scenes from the book and pick which one is best, but, in this case, a scene inside the Temple of the Exploding Head is a must. We just need to get the sense of scale right. The Temple is a mile long and half a mile wide with the ceiling about a thousand feet up. It’s so large inside the Temple, it often clouds up and rains (I got that idea when visiting the Astrodome as a boy. I was told the climate had to be carefully controlled otherwise it would rain inside the Astrodome).

As it is the Horned God’s temple, all sorts of horrible things are going on inside, and we’ll have to temper it down a little for the cover. Certainly we’ll have the Horned God himself in the background, along with several Priestesses and a number of sacrificial Monama victims. There will also be a number of captive gods in the scene ready to be handed over to the Horned God’s servants, the Kestrals. I’m debating as to whether or not Sam will be on the cover.

Will Kay be able to put a stop to all this foulness?? We shall see…

Banner and table cable for Book V (art by Fantasio)

I’m also ready to begin pumping out promotional material, banners, table cards, and so on. I should have most of this stuff ready by the Book IV launch Party at Fandomfest in late July.

It all should make for a busy summer.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio

THE XAPHANS HAVE KNOWN OF THE FLESHLESS DEMONS THAT STEP OUT OF THIN AIR FOR CENTURIES. The outlying League worlds also know of them. On Onaris, they’re called Jennybacks, on Bazz: Fa Zemlas. The most common name for them is the Xaphan name: Killanjo.

"Killanjo in the Mirror" by Carol Phillips

Killanjo are almost always horrid versions of a loved one: a brother or sister, a parent or other such relative–though the person they resemble is often alive and well when they make their appearance.

The Killanjo are terrible to behold. Their bodies are bent and mal-formed and are always skinless. As such, they drip and reek. They often have extra appendages fused to their bodies. They are said to wear delicate golden masks covering their bleeding, mutilated faces.

Killanjo often are seen in command of Berserkacides and use them to do most of the fighting and killing. The entire House of Monama appears to greatly fear the Killanjo, that they “watch them” at all times and then force them to do their foul bidding. The ancient Remnath hero, Atrajak of Want, led an army of Monamas against the Killanjo in a series of battles called the Hidden Wars. In Atrajak’s writing, which has been banned by the Sisterhood of Light, he mentions the Killanjo themselves were slaves of a greater enemy he called “The Golden People“, of which virtually nothing is known.

The Killanjo are also conjectured to be out-of-joint in time, possibly from the future. Their skinless, semi-pickled appearance is ideally suited to project their bodies from the theoretical rigors of time-travel.

Lady Sammidoran has a vision of Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort being attacked by Killanjo (by Fantasio)

Their purpose appears to be to create strife and terror, and they are very effective at doing just that. They appear out of thin air and typically fall upon their intended victims when they are most vulnerable. The Killanjo sometimes attempt to kidnap their victims, to drag them away to an unknown fate. The Xaphan House of Prim, which vanished without trace, were said to have been carried off by Killanjo. They are commonly reported to be able to cast spells rendering most people who hear it immobile. They are also cannibals and will eagerly devour the flesh of any who fall under their spell.

They are also said to have several key weaknesses. They fear their own reflection and cannot look at it and, accordingly, will flee from mirrors. Also, they are not reported to be overly strong fighters, having to rely on their spells or their Berserkacides to fight for them.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

"The Sisters" by Eve Ventrue

THE SISTERHOOD OF LIGHT is the oldest and most influential sect in the League. Their origins are shrouded in mystery. What is no mystery is that the Sisters are the acknowledged protectors of the League, even more so than the vaunted Fleet, and are universally loved.

They are often seen walking the streets in the various cities on Kana in their flowing white robes and winged headdresses. They are generally attractive, but rather stern-looking ladies, somewhat tall and rather elongated in form. The Sisters can barely speak verbally, instead using a complex form of empathy to communicate and employ specially trained Marines to speak for them when in public. They are also virtually blind: their incredibly powerful minds do all the seeing for them.

Many citizens of Kana demonstrate their love and admiration for the Sisters by buying them lunch or dinner when happening upon them in the cities. On such occasions they prove to have voracious appetites and a love of rich foods.

According to Sisterhood publications, the Sisterhood of Light was formed early in the EX time epoch on Kana. Their purpose was to commune with the High-orbiting Elders and deliver their news to the people. When the Elders bestowed the Gifts of the Mind to the tribe of Vith, the Sisters took it upon themselves to investigate these Gifts. Their investigation continues to the present day.

It is said by some that the Sisters are in fact much older a sect than they let on, having been in existence since the CX time epoch on Cammara, which would make their order almost 300,000 thousand years old.


The Sisters seeking Programmability from Captain Davage, while Countess Sygillis protests (Carol Phillips)

The Sisters perpetuate themselves not by recruitment, but by birthing within their own ranks. When a Sister goes into her Fertile Period, the Sisters quickly locate for her a male deemed to be of suitable stock. This is an ongoing process, and how a League male is looked upon by the Sisters is a critically important benchmark in terms of status and social-standing known as Programmability. League males with high Programmability (in other words, those who have been called upon to mate with a fertile Sister many times) can do or become virtually anything they wish in the League, while others with a lesser Programmable rating have a much more difficult time. Those males considered Untouchable by the Sisters have difficulty finding employment and cannot join the Fleet.

"Hiei" by Carol Phillips

The Sisters maintain twenty-five strongholds across Kana, each presided over by a Grand Abbess. Most of these strongholds are not open to the public. Only the chapel of Kurtis in the Great Armenelos Forest is readily open to the public. Many strongholds, such as Attilan, Twilight 4 and Deep 7 are forbidden and may not even be looked upon by the public at large. Air traffic is carefully routed away from such sites. Other sites, such as Hiei, Bern and Barton are partially open to the people provided they observe strict Sisterhood rules.

Enemies of the Sisterhood:
Being such a powerful and long-lived sect, the Sisters have made some persistent enemies over the centuries.

The Black Hats
The vile Xaphan sect of Black Hats are the enemy and constant foe of the Sisters. Once Sisters themselves, they followed the teachings of the Grand Abbess of Magravine who was obsessed with the odd and little-known Gift called Shadow tech. They gathered in secret, covering their faces with black sashes and performed things forbidden. Eventually, they splintered from the Sisters and fled into Xaphan space where they have been at war with the Sisters ever since. Though fearsome in power and armed with a number of illegal Gifts, an average Black Hat is no match for an average Sister and generally avoid them on the battlefield if at all possible.

The Hertogs:

The Professor, husband of Lt. Kilos and suspected Hertog (Bea Matarredona-Garcia)

An unusual adversary, the Hertogs are a group of renegade sages, scholars, historians and chefs who have fled the League to Ming Moorland. The Hertogs openly dispute the historical teachings of the Sisters and call into question their version of past events, often-times implying that the Sisters are not nearly as kind and chaste as they present themselves to be. Of all their various detractors the Hertogs are the most vocal and dangerous. Whether or not the Sisters seek to “silence” them is not known.

The Order of Lacerta
Though kept quiet for centuries, the Order of Lacerta is a gathering of “Fallen Sisters”. Occasionally, members of the Sisterhood become disenchanted and flee, often times into Xaphan space. These “Lacertas” generally don’t last long as they are pursued and hunted down by Torrs Twilinger. Lacertas often hire themselves out as mercenaries and paid bodyguards for Xaphan warlords. They are fearsome adversaries, possessing all of the Sisters’ power and none of their inhibitions. They revel in wealth and rich foods and fabrics. They become addicted to chemicals, narcotics, tattoos, piercings, smoking and unprincipled sex.

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Bea Matarredona-Garcia and Eve Ventrue