At long last, Book VI of the LoE series, The Sands of the Solar Empire is underway. Carol Phillips is beginning work painting the cover and, to me, the cover is the heart of the book and its completion is a huge ceremonial step toward publication.

Sketch for "The Sands of the Solar Empire" by Carol Phillips

A few things about the Sands. As with the Temple trilogy before it, the Sands was too large to be published as one self-contained book. At 200,000 words, I had to divide it right down the center, with the Sands comprising the first part and Book VII “Against the Druries” being the second. The Sands mostly explores the main character, Lord Stenstrom of Belmont-South Tyrol and how he came to be. He has many secrets (you might notice he’s wearing a mask on the sketch).

The cover depicts a scene from the book where Lord Stenstrom, or “Bel” as he’s known is facing death at the Bones Club, a place where the members openly mock and disparage the Sisterhood of Light (If you look carefully at the chairs in the background, you’ll see several Sisters carved in demeaning positions).

The Sands is the first book in the League of Elder Second Series, where a new slew of characters are introduced.

"Taara" by Eve Ventrue (unfinished)

Bel is the first of many new characters. Also is Josephus, Lord of A-Ram, a man from Calvert, the brooding Lt. Gwendolyn and, my personal favorite, Private Taara de la Anderson from Bazz. I can’t wait to share them with the world.

It should take Carol about a month and a half to complete the cover. By then, with luck, most of the interior artwork will be completed. As with previous LoE books, the Sands will be well-appointed with artwork.

It should be a fun ride.

Bowl Naked


copyright 2012, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue

Lord Stenstrom of Belmont grew up under the heavy hand of his rather domineering mother. Many times he yearned to be free of her. But, as many young men do (most without knowing it) he selected as his choice of bride a strong-willed and forceful lady very similar to his mother. Lord Stenstrom gave his heart to Lillian of Gamboa, in essence replacing one domineering woman in his life with another.

"Lilly" by Eve Ventrue

Lillian, or “Lilly” as he calls her, is a socialite and artist from the land-locked Esther city of Gamboa. Though generally considered in the Esther social circles to be a rather unattractive and stork-like woman, Stenstrom found her to be tall and perfectly formed, blonde-headed and extremely attractive. Lilly is also quite talented. She is an artist whose paintings and sculptures were looked upon with high regard and she owned a small but profitable gallery in Gamboa.

Stenstrom was introduced to Lilly by his mother, Lady Jubilee. Always in her son’s business, she searched high and low for a suitable match for him. She had to be of the proper stock, have the proper pedigree and, above all else, she had to be normal and mundane. Given Stenstrom’s training as a Tyrol Sorcerer, it was very important to his mother that he have a mundane, well-grounded wife to counter-balance his forays into the occult. Lilly fit the profile to a tee and Lady Jubilee was very keen on her son taking up with her.

She summoned Lilly to see Stenstrom in the Chalk House on the manor grounds three times. On the first two occasions, Stenstrom refused to see her as he resented his mother’s intrusions. On the third time, however, his mother summoned a demon who was promised his flesh if he didn’t see her. Choosing the Lady over the Demon, Stenstrom met with Lilly in the Chalk House and found, to his surprise, that he liked her.

After that, he was smitten and Lilly grew to control every aspect of his maturing adulthood. She suggested he go to school in Bern. When he was lonely at school, she would always arrive in her coach to cheer him up. She suggested his join the Bones Club. She picked his friends for him. She picked his choice of occupation. She even, eventually, selected his “uniform”, his HRN coat that would become his personal trademark.

And, years later as Stenstrom made his way through space in a powerless, scuttled Seeker thousands of stellar miles from Kana and crawling with demons, who emerged from the lightless bowels of the ship carrying an arcane lantern … Lilly.

Normal, mundane Lilly …

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia and Eve Ventrue

Relentless Ronda Rousey

March 6, 2012

NOTE–This blog post has nothing to do with my series of science fiction/fantasy books. This is just something that popped into my head.

Ronda Rousey

I admit it, I bought into Ronda Rousey’s game.

All the talk.

All the hyperbole and vitriol.

Her flippant rapport. Her sass.

Such theatrics caused me to overlook just how magnificent Ronda Rousey is in the cage, her skill and her champion’s heart. It’s like watching the Venus de Milo grow a pair of arms, get in the cage and fight.

I needled her prior to her much-hyped championship match with Miesha “Take Down” Tate. Given her past record, both amateur and pro, it wasn’t really a mystery what Ronda Rousey was going to do: Arm Bar. All day, all night.

“So Ronda,” I chortled, “when Plan A fails for ya’, what are you gonna’ do next?”

Huh, huh? What are you going to do?? What’s Plan B??

Apparently, the answer to that question is: PLAN B: “If Plan A fails, repeat Plan A.”
Repeat, over and over.

I figured that all those quick arm bar victories were won at the expense of some partially trained 0-record girls living out their boyfriend’s dreams by getting into the cage. I figured there was no way she was going to do to Miesha Tate what she did so easily before.

However, I figured wrong. The match with Miesha Tate was, without question, the most tension-filled and dramatic MMA bout I’ve ever seen. A good MMA fight isn’t necessarily a lot of blood and gore–it’s a chess match, move and counter move. From the opening bell, Ronda Rousey attacked, applied pressure and maneuvered Miesha Tate into position to apply her nuclear weapon: the arm bar. It really wasn’t a surprise. Everybody in the arena, including Miesha Tate, knew exactly what she was going to be up to, and when “Take Down” Tate escaped from the first arm-bar attempt and took Ronda Rousey’s back, I rose to my feet and cheered–“That’s it, babe! Game Over! You’re done!” I assumed that was it for Ronda Rousey, her fabled nuclear weapon quashed, I thought Miesha Tate was going to pound her to death … and I couldn’t wait for it.

I sat back, waiting for the carnage to unfold.

However, I learned (as Miesha Tate learned) that although Ronda Rousey has but one tool in the proverbial woodshed, that tool is so utterly sharp and deadly that, were it to fall to earth, it would continue on through the core of the planet and come out again in China and wreak havoc there.

There was no stopping Ronda Rousey. Attack, attack, go to the ground, step over, grab the arm, pull, pull! She’s massive and dense enough to absorb punishment, yet agile and light on her feet, elusive on the ground and always looking to apply the arm bar and lock it in.

Yep, Miesha, you left one arm in Columbus, Ohio

And I watched the inevitable happen. The answer to the question “How is “Take Down” Tate going to counter Ronda Rousey’s arm bar?” is “She isn’t. She’ll step into the cage with two arms, and walk out with one.”

The other amazing thing about Ronda Rousey is her use of judo. In comparison to some of the more “in-fashion” martial arts like Brazilian ju-jitsu, judo seems rather dated and quaint. However, in the hands of an Olympic bronze medalist, judo is in fact quite dangerous. Throughout the fight, Ronda Rousey was able to take Miesha Tate off her feet at will, throwing her down into a place that she rules. Add it all together, the size, the density, the agility on the ground and an infallible go-to weapon, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a new bantam weight champion anytime soon.

After the fight, a match with Canadian contender Sarah Kaufman was brought up. Sarah Kaufman, her face marked up and puffy from an earlier fist-flying encounter with Alexis Davis, eagerly accepted the fight.

Hope you don’t mind losing an arm, Sarah.

Bowl Naked


The LoE Second Series is fast in production with Book VI, The Sands of the Solar Empire coming out in June, 2012.

"Private Taara" by Fantasio

The Second Series, though placed in the same universe as the original series, deals with a whole new cast of characters, and one of my personal favorites is Private Taara.

Unlike many of characters dealt with in previous LoE books, Private Taara is not rich, nor does she have rich friends and know rich people, she is a kid from Bazz, the Naples, Italy of the League. The people of Bazz do not make use of the feudal Great House system seen on Kana and Hoban, instead Bazzers are all considered commoners. As such, Taara has a first and last name, a rarity in the League. Her full name is: Taara de la Anderson.

Her mother was a fruit vendor and her father distilled zemuda, a cheap, brain-wrenching spirit known for causing severe constipation in the guts of those who indulge too much. Taara was a small kid, pretty with a tom-boy’s body. She was a rowdy kid, a clutz and rather a dim bulb. The only activity she excelled in as a tweener was stealing things, which she often indulged in. She was sent off three times to children’s disciplinary camps digging clams on the shores of the Endax Sea.

Taara eventually is transformed into a "goddess-like" woman (Eve Ventrue)

Taara’s uncle ran a successful Apothecary in Benson-Benson, known for brewing the “Potion of the Gods”, a rare tincture said to supercharge a male’s virility and ensure a mighty son. The apothecary was eventually destroyed by a fire and Taara, who was there that day, was blamed for it. Beliving her to be a jinx, Taara was sent off into the Stellar Marines, hoping they might instill some manners in her.

As a Marine, Taara was a disaster. Lax and uninterested, she often got her company in trouble, causing them all to be disciplined. They took to calling her “MOM”, for “Maiden of Misery” and she was loathed from top to bottom. She was eventually assigned to lowly guard duty in Fleet headquarters in the city of Armenelos, where it was thought she couldn’t get into trouble. They often made her stand in a corner to guard a bust of the infamous Admiral Pax.

After once again getting her unit in the dog house with command and forced to wear a “MOM” sign around her neck,

Taara couldn’t know that her life was about to change forever when the tall man wearing a long green coat and a Robber’s Mask wandered into her area.

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia, Fantasio and Eve Ventrue