January 27, 2017
Ah! The four year odyssey that is the House of Bloodstein books is nearing an end. The second Bloodstein book, LOE Book 11: The House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis is in post production.
Cover Lettering: Not Started
Interior Artwork: Collecting
The cover for Book 11 is a Technicolor dream. I had wanted tons of vibrant color, and Carol Phillips delivered. It super trippy and suitably weird, which I was hoping for. Unlike the previous covers which contain greater or lesser amounts of Nixies (Elements in the portraiture that are either exaggerated or not “as presented” in the text) this cover, except for one small detail, is pretty much how the scene is presented in the book.
Blurbing is my bane, I hate it. Taking a 138 thousand word book and pot-boiling it down to a few-hundred descriptive words is a chore. I recall blurbing Book 1, with its sort of back-and-forth character interaction was almost impossible to properly accomplish.
This book wasn’t too terribly bad:
The House of Bloodstein: MENTRALYSIS
They thought the episode with their cousins to the east, the Bloodsteins, was over, something to laugh about at the grand table in fond nostalgia, but they were wrong. They were so wrong.
And Castle Blanchefort has fallen!
Lord Kabyl has lost everything: his wife, his kin, his family fortune… And his home, once a safe haven, is overrun with enemies seeking his blood.
In what follows, he must join forces with ancient enemies and with people who do not exist. He must treat with sinister, possibly untrustworthy gods and barter away his soul for urgently needed arcane help, or face certain death at the hands of forgotten tyrants and their terrifying machinations from a bygone age.
And, how can a strange science known as Mentralysis, practiced in secret in the hidden places of the League, hold the key to ultimate victory?
What should have been obvious to Lord Kabyl from the start has at last become crystal clear: Foolish is he who dares possess the Ultimate Object, for misery shall be his only reward.
League of Elder Book 11: the House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis will be available Summer 2017 from Loconeal Publishing
copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips
September 7, 2016
Without a doubt, 10 Weeks at Chanute is a radical departure from anything I’ve ever written before. It went from a cathartic impulse, to a lost manuscript, to a surge of creativity and a finished product that I’m quite proud of.
BORING OLE’ ME
In nearly ten years of writing, I’ve been careful to keep myself out of the equation. Some authors make themselves the star of the show, with their writing a distant afterthought and by-product of their cult of personality. That is totally not me. If you’ve ever seen my tables at the various shows I attend, you won’t see my name splashed up in giant letters on towering banners with me dominating the space as a Grand Poobah over my devoted followers–all you’ll see is The League of Elder, my series with my name nowhere to be found. I’m just the little irrelevant guy pulling the strings, the odd things and places I’ve created are the undisputed stars of the show, I’ve never made any pretense about that. That’s how I like things.
So, all of a sudden, here’s this little book, 10 Weeks at Chanute–no spaceships, no Shadow tech, no dashing people or daring-do, just a story about me and my military experience set as it happened in suburban 1992.
I served in the Ohio Air National Guard from the end of 1991 to 1997. I went to Basic Training at Lackland AFB with all the other recruits and then finished up my training at Chanute AFB in Illinois. Though most trainees disliked desolate, landlocked, remote Chanute as a “real drag”, I actually loved it, found peace and an easy affinity with the place. I credit my time at Chanute for creating the mature person I am today. In 1993, about a year after I graduated, Chanute closed, just one of many bases to be shutdown and abandoned by the military. Twenty years later, I decided to return to Chanute, just to look around and reconnect. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: the desolation, the ruined buildings, empty streets, broken windows and utter silence. It was like walking straight into Silent Hill where the only demons roaming about were in my head.
Seeing a place that I loved in such a state of smash had a profound effect on me. I sat down and started writing about my experiences, both at Basic and at Chanute. I wondered if I could actually accomplish such a thing, and, even if I could jot down a few thousand words, would anybody want to read it? How could the exploits of boring old me as an Airman in the military during a time of peace be of any interest?
I got about four thousand words into it and then stopped. I was busy pumping out my League of Elder books, the Temple Trilogy at the time if I’m not mistaken, and I had to put it aside in order to get the other books produced. Writing books is one thing, publishing them is another, much longer process. Eventually, with everything going on, I sort of forgot about it.
I forgot about Chanute…
Time passed. Books were published. I’m not sure why, but in early 2016 as I finished Kat, the latest of the Shadow tech Goddess books, I became rather nostalgic for my little Chanute epic. Lost projects, if given enough time, can find new life, and Chanute was rapidly reawakening in my imagination. I thought about the story, about my time there, and I was suddenly flush with things I wanted to put into the book. The sheen of twenty years had taken effect–Chanute seemed now like a Wonderland to me, a place crying out to be remembered.
I was ready, at last, to continue and give the story the attention it deserved.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it.
I couldn’t find Chanute…
Try as I might, I couldn’t find the file. I knew, back in 2012, that I’d penned down around four thousand words–not much but a decent start. The only file pertaining to the story I could find in my archives, was a mere two hundred words. Losing three thousand words, words that could never be replaced, would have sounded the death-bell for the project. I could not had recovered from such a loss. Words, once written, can never be replaced. I searched and searched, I lamented what was lost, I despaired. Then, in the back of my desk drawer, I found an old jump drive. On the drive was a copy of Chanute, four thousand words, just as I had left it years earlier.
I was elated.
I sat down and wrote. Over the next few months, four thousand words increased to twenty-three thousand–not quite a novel-length, but enough that I needed to tell my story. I filled the pages with humor and bawdiness of an earthy sort that soldiers tend to indulge in. I wrote of the birth of my ambition, my fear, my growth as a person and as an Airman, and my sorrow at what was lost. Those who have beta-read the book tell me it’s a fine glimpse into the life of a modern soldier, seeing what a soldier sees, feeling what he feels, far from the lurid, blood-soaked tales of Full Metal Jacket and other romanticized military stories.
It’s just a story about a soldier and a great place that died.
And so passes Chanute AFB. But, perhaps with my little story and other little bits of shared memory, it will live on through the ages as a great place that once was that should not be forgotten.
10 Weeks at Chanute, will be published by St G Press in early 2017.
copyright 2016, Ren Garcia
August 1, 2016
Finally, after years of work, LoE Book 10, The House of Bloodstein is available! The HOB series consists of two books, this one, subtitled Perlamum and Book 11, subtitled Mentralysis. Mentralysis is already written, just going through the usual editing and pre-publication process which can take a long time. It should be out in 2017.
All authors are different. Some are note-takers, scribbling down thoughts and sudden ideas for consideration later. Others outline the story from beginning to end, making the work into a full-fledged project. And then there’s me. I write on-the-fly, no notes, no outlines, nothing. I just write. It works for me most of the time. The problem with writing how I do is I tend to change my mind in mid-stream a lot. It’s never the case where the story I intended to write at the beginning is what ends up in the final product–and that is triply so for HOB.
As much as I complain about the NaNoWriMo month as a destructive stunt and waste of time, HOB started as a NaNo project I did to appease a friend about five years ago. It was a fairly straight-forward tale, but it lacked the manic imagination and strangosity I’m known for. In fact, as I finished the first draft, it reminded me of those feel-good ABC After-School Specials I used to have to watch as a kid. There’s a term in Spanish that applies here: The first draft of HOB had no tiene chiste. What that means is the story was plain, boring, had no oomph, had no pop. Love or hate my books, nobody’s ever bored, and HOB, due to the emphasis of NaNo on word-count, was full-on boring.
So, there I was with a 50k manuscript that I, frankly, hated.
I moved on to writing the oft-mentioned but seldom-seen Shadow tech Goddess. As I wrote, the candy-coated mess that was HOB stayed in the back of my head like a doomed bug fying in a window pane. But, you know, sometimes, the addition of one or two elements can make all the difference, like that elusive missing piece of a puzzle that, once found, pulls everything else together. I’m not certain when it happened, but that missing piece for HOB hit me–hard–and I went back to the story. 50k words quickly exploded to 170k, enough for two complete books.
With this addition, all the old imagination came back in earnest, in spades. HOB went from a moribund cake-walk with no chiste, to the weirdest, most epic, most sprawling book in the LoE series yet with tons of chiste. I held nothing back… it is all out there and I am so happy to share it with the world at last.
I usually suck at blurbing–it’s a lot harder than you might think, but, this one just sort of wrote itself for HOB
Mysterious and elusive, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein calls from the ruins of her castle. She dwells in the dark, hiding her face, ravaged by an ancient curse. The only way to break the curse is to win a game called Perlamum. If she loses, she dies. She looks to her Vith kin in the west, begging for help acquiring the all-important pieces she needs to play the game. Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, his Ne-Countess Sammidoran, and his cousins answer her call. However, collecting the Perlamum pieces for Lady Bloodstein is a deadly game. They must face a host of perils:
-The terrible Black Hat in the city of Waam who knows their every move.
-A hated rival on the planet Xandarr and the bewildering labyrinth of Gods Temple.
-The man from Shook who cannot be killed. -A family of vile bravos from the south.
-The diabolical Dead Men of Mare, nigh invincible creatures straight from an insane nightmare.
To even the odds, Kay and Sam turn to a forgotten graveyard deep in the Telmus Grove, and the great eminence resting there. Can Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein be helped, or, for that matter . . . . . . can she be trusted?
The House of Bloodstein is out on Amazon–CLICK HERE to go to Amazon.com. I also have several signed copies available. If you’d like one, message me. I’ll even pay the shipping and throw in a little swag.
copyright 2016, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips
November 4, 2015
One of my personal favorite portions of the book creation process is the formulation and execution of the cover. It’s a lot of fun putting my head together with talented artists, like Carol Phillips, and seeing what shakes loose.
For my next book, the unbridled House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, the planning process followed the usual pattern.
SO MANY SCENES
First, we hash out what scene we want to layout for the cover. I usually pick seven to ten scenes from the book that I think are interesting, pertinent to the general tone and feel of the book, and that will be strong enough to catch the eye of a passing shopper.
I type up a quick synopsis and send them off to Carol. Now here’s the weird part–even though this is my book with my characters and scenes, Carol has a great deal of say-so in what shows up on the cover. Using her polished artist’s eye, she selects what scenes to expand upon, often asking to read those select parts of the book, and scribbles up a few quick sketches for reference. Then, between the two of us, we agree upon the final subject matter for the cover. As for the rejected cover ideas, those almost always end up in the interior of the book–Carol’s work is just too good to throw away.
WHAT’S A “NIXIE”?
Most of the covers we do have at least one Nixie lurking around in them somewhere. A Nixie is an element on the cover artwork that either A)-has been greatly modified or exaggerated from the text, or B)-wasn’t in the book at all. We do this to give the cover composition a little more life and eye-candy where needed. Usually the Nixie isn’t too egregious and we never promise something on the cover that is not delivered upon in the book–we just change things around a little bit sometimes. For the House of Bloodstein, there is one minor Nixie in the artwork, but nobody other than Carol or me knows what it is–and I’m not telling.
Depending on her workload, it takes Carol about three or four months to finish the cover–all of it painted digitally one little element at a time. Since Book 2 (The Hazards of the Old Ones) we’ve opted for a wrap-style cover, meaning the artwork goes all the way around to the back cover, including the spine. Having a larger canvas to paint on allows Carol more freedom create a knock-out piece of work, though she has to be careful to place the key bits of artwork on the front part of the painting (the right side) and a bit less on the left side (the back) allowing for the rear-cover text. You can tell on the finished work above the left side of the composition has a lot more free space than the right. Carol also likes to put a little surprise on the spine. Can you see what the surprise is??
GOING LOOPY FOR LETTERING
Having the finished piece of artwork is just the first part, now we’ve got to letter it, and that’s a great deal tougher than you might first think. It takes talent to thoughtfully, and tastefully, letter the cover. You want the lettering to pop out, to be easily readable from a distance, or, more importantly, from a tiny thumbnail on a website. As The House of Bloodstein is a somewhat gothic tale, I wanted something in that tone, and I imagined the lettering in a twisting block layout. After some mixing and matching, we decided on the above, it’s got the gothic theme I was looking for, I like how the letters fit together and the purple matches the artwork well.
Now, comes the painful part–how to add the lettering without covering too much of the artwork. That is always a struggle–what to sacrifice without losing the spirit of the composition. In this case, we couldn’t find a good spot to put the lettering, either going high or low, it ruined the artwork. We decided on the old trick of dimensioning down the general size of the artwork, creating a significant void space where the lettering can freely go. We’ve done that before, way back on the revised cover to Book 2, we scrunched the entire piece onto the front creating a void space on the top and the bottom. Here Carol uses a gothic pattern stained a handsome shade of red and black to fill in the void.
The back cover is full-sized and covered with around 250 words of back-cover text strategically placed around the characters.
The over-all effect is great. You get the impact of the large-sized lettering without having to cover up too much of the artwork–we still get to witness Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort locked in a mortal struggle with a horrific giant-sized space guy in the cool green passes of the Telmus Grove. Cool stuff.
MATCHING TONE WITH CONTENT:
One final word of note. Unless you’re aiming for some sort of sick satire, you want the tone of your cover to match the tone of your story. If you’ve written a twisted tale of the macabre, you really don’t want a lot of sunshine and lollipops on the cover, otherwise you’ll confuse your readers. The House of Bloodstein is an imaginative action thriller, so we opted for an action scene. Had the book been more focused on romance, we would have selected the cover mock-up on the left, which gives the impression of loads of romance, conflict and general male/female drama to come.
The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, will be released in late 2015 from Loconeal Publishng
copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips
September 22, 2015
I have, I think, over a thousand sketches, drawings and paintings of the various scenes and characters in my books. I love commissioning artwork–it’s a bit of an addiction, I think. When I was a kid I loved all the illustrations in my Chronicles of Narnia books. I’d stare at the pictures by British artist Pauline Baynes for hours. Baynes also illustrated JRR Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham, which I also loved.
I swore if I ever managed to collect the crazy ideas in my head into an actual book I’d have it plastered with illustrations.
Flash forward about thirty years. I made good on my promise. With an average of twenty-five maps and illustrations per book, I’ve got over 200 in print and counting.
A Picture is worth … a thousand less words.
The practice of adding illustrations to the interior of books seems to have vanished in modern times. When folks pick up my books to have a look at them, they almost always fan through the pages–what are they looking for?? Most books don’t have anything but printing in the interior and checking the pages for them usually comes up with nothing. But, imagine their surprise when they flip through my books and come to a page with a beautiful illustration. It’s a genuine moment.
Illustrations are also helpful when you’re dealing with a fantastic, completely made-up world like what I write. You have to describe everything, and that can derail the plot. Modern readers don’t like that, plot is very important Instead of spending a couple thousand words going over one of my whacky creations, why not toss in a cool picture and go a little lighter on the descriptions?
A Creative Symbiosis
I usually give my artists a lot of freedom when they create an illustration. Some authors can be quite exacting in what they expect, me, I’m easy. I rather enjoy seeing how the artist interprets the subject. If I see something I really like, I’ll often add it into the writing, it’s only natural to do so.
Take this image of Princess Marilith of Xandarr by Carol Phillips. This is one of the first commissions I got from Carol, going all the way back to Book 1. As you can see, it’s a nude. I don’t recall asking Carol for a nude. Princess Marilith is an angry, spurned, blue-haired woman, heartbroken and vengeful. However, my early visualizations of her were fully clothed. Carol’s painting of her captured those various feelings–you can see how upset she is in her painted face. Her unexpectedly nude body is strong and beautiful. I was captivated by what I saw. Inspired, I went through and re-wrote the Princess, making her essentially nude in the story. She comes from Xandarr, a very hot and dry place, so it seemed to follow. Wearing only light veils or nothing at all, daring you to look her in the eye, has been her trademark ever since.
Revving-Up my Creative Process
I usually come up with an idea or a character years before they actually appear on the page. Typically, as the image clarifies in my head, I get all excited and commission a drawing of it. Seeing the finished artwork gets me going every time and influences what happens in the books.
Take Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR. I was sitting at a Burger King several years back when I came up with a foil and opposite number for The Professor–Lt Kilos’ brainy husband. I imagined a tall, rather swarthy woman dressed all in white, her skin powdered to pearly perfection, her raven hair tucked up into a large white wig. I immediately sent a note to my friend, the amazing Eve Ventrue, gave her the details and waited a week or two to see the results.
Eve came up with Hannah-Ben sitting in an opulent padded study. As usual, I incorporated her study into the writing, the image of Professor Shurlamp sitting in her fine red room is her standard calling card.
That first painting of Hannah-Ben was stunning, she was beautiful, but I thought she was missing a little something. She was too demure, too unassuming. Professor Shurlamp is anything but unassuming–everything she does is big and bold and in-your-face.
Not enough wig, not enough eyebrow and piercing stare. I wanted something beautiful, yet sort of horrible as well, rather like Gerald Scarfe’s work on Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Just like that. I wanted something cool, but a little creepy.
Enter Carol Phillips, the Queen of the League of Elder who has contributed probably 40% of my massive art inventory. Carol went to work and produced the second painting of Hannah-Ben.
Working with Carol for so long, she is often able to pop my head open, pull out the mess that’s inside and paint beautiful things with it. The painting Carol created of Professor Shurlamp was absolutely perfect. She was a mile high, she had the wig, the eyebrow, the “You are nothing to me” expression … everything was perfect. Even her snowy white gown was perfect–look at the frills, the buttons, the tight waistline and the bows. So many bows …
Seeing this thrilling painting gave me the added “oomph!” to finish The Shadow tech Goddess, a tome that had taken me four years to write.
And then came Stenibelle, another book where Hannah-Ben Shurlamp makes a notable appearance.
I wanted another image of Hannah-Ben for the book, I thought it would be a nice touch, and this time, Carol came up with a true masterpiece–the ultimate image of Professor Shurlamp holding her Glyph with scores of data orbiting her head. This image gave me chills when I first saw it (really–no kidding!!)
Seeing that giant wig, those curls, that glyph-wand in her hand helped me figure out the various twists and turns in the story that had been giving me a few minor fits.
So, when in doubt, get a piece of artwork and let it fire your imagination, you’ll be glad you did.
Copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Eve Ventrue
September 7, 2015
Over nine books, I’ve introduced a number of sciences delving into all sorts of odd things. Of course, I’m not a scientist, and therefore, all the sciences I introduce are pure fantasy. As they are fantasy, I don’t hesitate to make these made-up sciences as bizarre and off the chain as I can.
Here they are in no particular order:
The science of maiming, enslaving and killing men is practiced on the dark, remote world of Carina 7. The ladies inhabiting Carina 7 are the descendants of the haremites of the Emperor King of Ming-Moorland. After centuries of being tormented by the Emperor, the ladies of Carina decided to turn the tables to some extent and created a whole science dedicated to enslaving, fighting and killing men. Any lone man who happened to make his way to the stony surface of Carina often found himself an unwilling victim and test subject as they refined their techniques.
Eventually, Gynology became a well-honed and proved science. A trained Gynologist, armed with a host of man-killing weapons, could effectively control men using various scents and an insidious device known as “The Barb”. A “Barbed” male would be enthralled to the Gynologist for the rest of his life, however long that lasted.
The Sisterhood of Light took a secretive interest in Gynology and managed to replicate some of its various tenets. What the Sisters do with this incorporated knowledge is currently unknown.
Anthecary is a mind/body enhancement technique practiced on Onaris, particularly in the south Calverland region. Onaris’ majestic Lone Rider Mountain is the home of the Stoutback, a huge, six-legged lizard the locals have (somewhat) domesticated. Those herding the creature, known as Stoutback Shepherds, must do so in the near vertical pastures dotting the mountain’s face. Unable to afford technology to assist them in getting around in this grueling and dangerous environment, the shepherds developed a mind technique called Anthecary which would allow them to “stick” to the vertical surface of the mountain using their minds. Anthecary also “hardens” their bodies, allowing them to stand upright without having to brace themselves. When the League Stellar Marines adopted the giant S/K pistol as their standard-issue firearm, they adopted the use of Anthecary to combat the deadly recoil of the weapon. “Hardened” in an Anthecary state, the S/K can be safely and accurately fired.
Xaphan Cabalism is a veritable mixed-bag of herbology, home-remedies, quack medicine, folklore, arcane investigation, machine science and religion all rolled into one. Cabalism was the Xaphans answer to the Hospitalers in the League, attempted to treat wounds and other medical maladies using pieced-together knowledge from various sources. Though rightly considered to be horrendous quacks and frauds, the Cabalists did managed to gather some practical knowledge, primarily through seducing and or abducting Hospitalers.
In the burgeoning field of communicating with unconscious and comatose persons, Mentralysis is in the forefront. Using sophisticated computerized devices known as Mentralysis Decks, one may speak with a sleeping or comatose person as if they were awake. The Gold Coast of Hoban is the home and major research center of Mentralysis.
A major breakthrough with this science came when it was discovered that within all people is a Sleeping Self (SS) which takes control while asleep. The SS has a unique and independent personality, and may be very similar to the Waking Self (WS) or may be radically different. Mentralysists, through analysis, have determined there are seven types of Archetypical people, depending on how different the SS is from the WS.
Mentralysists have determined that various neurosis due to incompatibility between the WS and the SS can be treated, and oftentimes cured, using Mentralysis techniques.
Given the fact the League is full of people with an excess of spare time, a number of novel fads have come and gone through the years. One fad that took hold and has continued to grow is Cyberlitica, where one fabricates a completely different persona of either a fictitious person or, in some cases, of themselves. Using Cyberlitica, the fabricated “Changling” has a birth-date, public records of their passing, receipts, diplomas from various universities, have taken husbands or wives, and may have criminal records. The overriding goal of Cyberlitica is to create a completely convincing persona. If a Changling happens to make the posts, that is an added benefit. One man, a Lord Sharper of Stillville, divorced his wife after he learned most if not all of her glamorous wealth and exploits were fabricated via Cyberlitica. The Sisterhood of Light doggedly investigates Cyberlitica, and those who have been found to have created a Changling face heavy fines and or imprisonment.
Never underestimate the Xaphans for coming up with crazy sciences. Bondarism, practiced in the city of Waam, is no exception. Bondarism is the notion that the human body can experience accelerated evolution if the body is rigorously stressed by placing it into unusual and uncomfortable situations. Buildings and various vehicles built with Bondarism in mind, have little to no ergonomic considerations, are suicidally unsafe and are impractical in the extreme. However, the people of Waam do appear to exhibit a number of advanced abilities, including the ability to fly and walk up walls. Perhaps there is something to Bondarism after all.
TA (Time Apparent)
TA is a form of Time Travel being studied by the Hospitalers. Time travel is a very difficult thing to achieve, though the mechanics of it are fairly well understood. Temporal Gravity (TG) is the most difficult aspect to overcome, as your TG ceaselessly attempts to pull you back into your proper place in time. Perception is also a very confounding thing to deal with, as time travelers will “forget” what they’ve come to do. (A legendary machine is said to have overcome all these problems, though its existence is in dispute)
An odd solution to the various issues with time travel is called Time Apparent by the Hospitalers. With TA, instead of sending your physical body ahead in time, only one’s consciousness goes. Once in the future, your consciousness will inhabit your body, in whatever condition your body happens to be in. You could appear as an animated corpse, a skeleton, a cloud of dust, or, in some cases, as a group of people if your material has been reincorporated into new life forms.
TA is only effective going forward from your apparent place in time. It has yet to be approved for general use by the Sisterhood of Light.
copyright 2015, Ren Garcia
July 22, 2015
Riding fast on the heels of Book 9, Stenibelle is Book 10: The House of Bloodstein. It is comprised of two volumes: the first being Perlamum, and the second Mentralysis.
ZOMBIES AND DRAGONS AND GODS, OH MY …
I wrote the Bloodstein books to be fun, to be exciting. I tormented my imagination until truly weird and amazing things popped out of my head. Using the previously introduced House of Blanchefort characters, we embark on a journey across the League and beyond.
In the past, I’ve tried to avoid monsters that have been covered by other authors–vampires, witches, werewolves, etc. I was also going to avoid zombies--too over-done, too formulaic. But then I had a bright idea–I figured out a way to use zombies that hasn’t been tried before, so you’ll find the zombies in The House of Bloodstein as breath of fresh air–dead air.
I also decided to tackle everybody’s favorite fantasy monster: dragons. Again–I never do the expected and well-trodden, if I’m going to have a dragon, it’s going to be a weird dragon. ‘Nuff said.
Here’s the current blurb for Volume 1:
THE HOUSE OF BLOODSTEIN: PERLAMUM
Mysterious and elusive, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein calls from the ruins of her castle. She dwells in the dark, hiding her face, ravaged by an ancient curse. The only way to break the curse is to win a game called Perlamum. If she loses, she dies. She looks to her Vith kin in the west, begging for help acquiring the all-important pieces she needs to play the game.
Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, his Ne-Countess Sammidoran, and his cousins answer her call. However, collecting the Perlamum pieces for Lady Bloodstein is a deadly game. They must face a host of perils:
-The terrible Black Hat in the city of Waam, who knows their every move.
-A hated rival on the planet Xandarr and the bewildering labyrinth of Gods Temple.
-The man from Shook who cannot be killed.
-A family of vile bravos from the south, and, worst of all, the Dead Men of Mare, nigh invincible creatures straight from an insane nightmare.
To even the odds, Kay and Sam turn to a forgotten graveyard deep in the Telmus Grove, and the great eminence resting there.
Can Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein be helped, or, for that matter …
… can she be trusted?
The House of Bloodstein. Perlamum will be out September 2015 from Loconeal Publishing.
copyright 2015 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips
June 10, 2015
This fall, the League of Elder book 10, The House of Bloodstein (HOB) will be published. It’s the first of two HOB books, this one subtitled: Perlamum, and the second: Mentralysis. The second, already finished, will be out in 2016.
This little epic began life three years ago. Much as I dislike and complain about NaNoWriMo month as an unproductive and potentially destructive stunt, HOB was, at first, a NaNo project my friends talked into doing.
As with all my books, the finished product is nothing like what I started out with.
My initial thought was to explore the elusive and somewhat austere House of Bloodstein mentioned in previous books and learn a little more about them. The central plot point was a Perlamum tournament between Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein and a mysterious unknown opponent, possibly someone from Xaphan space.
In case you’re wondering, Perlamum is a board game rather like chess that is often played between two ladies with a high-stakes wager of some sort placed on the outcome. In a radical departure from chess, the contestants give their game pieces to a person known as the Gamesmaster, who then hides the pieces and sets the date the game is to be played. The pieces can be hidden literally anywhere. The contestants then must recover their pieces using clues left by the Gamesmaster. On the date of the game, the contestants play with what they have collected.
So, with that in mind, the original plot of the book was the courageous House of Blanchefort featuring Lord Kabyl, Lady Sammidoran, and their cousins Sarah and Phillip questing to recover the Perlamum pieces for Lady Chrysania. She then, like a scrappy little trooper, would play her game against incredible odds and come out on top in an inspirational display of the underdog winning out.
Blah!! It read like a bad ABC After School Special, and I wasn’t going to have it like that. I went to work on the story, pouring all the odd bits of my imagination into it, completely revamping the plot and the characters eventually coming up with enough material for two complete books.
No more After School Special.
As you can see from the cover, I think I out-did myself with original story-telling on this one. We’ll meet the Bloodsteins and trouble over their many secrets. We’ll head back to the city of Waam, first seen in Book 4 and stand in the presence of Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam. We’ll trade fists with the House of Wunderluck, bullies from the south, and face the horrid fury of the Dead Men of Mare.
It should be a ton of fun.
copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Ewelina Dolzycka
April 8, 2015
Melazarr of Caroline is a frequent character in the various Shadow tech Goddess books. Her character varies wildly from one book to the next. She almost always dies in the books.
25th DAUGHTER OF WILHELMINA
In all of the books, Melazarr’s lineage and general appearance are the same. She is an heiress of the Xaphan House of Caroline, born in the vast halls of Wilhelmina Castle. She is the 25th daughter of the current line. She has one father and ten mothers–the Carolines often indulge in the practice of gene-splicing to produce the most desirable of children. One genetic flag the Carolines always opt for is the potential for Arcane-Interface.
As familial giantism is common in the Carolines, Melazarr is a gigantic woman, standing 7’1 and weighing over 300 pounds of soild bone and muscle. She is typically very lank and skinny, hiding her impressive weight. Her hair is a fawnish-blonde color, though she often paints it green or blue.
She is a Tropist, skilled in creating sexual pleasure merely by touching non-erogenous parts of the body.
Melazarr is also always an Extra-Planar Entity known as a Merten. A Merten is a person who, for unknown reasons, carries important messages from the Universe. A Merten is never aware of carrying these messages, and, extracting them is most often fatal to the Merten. When in the presence of a person known as the Kaidar Gemain, a Merten will fall into a trance speak, sing, or draw out the message they carry. Others seeking the messages would have to extract them via sex, burning, torture or drowning. Mertens often die divulging the information they carry.
Melazarr’s mannerisms vary greatly from universe to universe.
In some, she is incredibly shy and insecure in the Court of Wilhelmina amid all her rival sisters, hiding the fact by painting herself in make-up and wearing bolabungs designed to make her fierce and confident. All “bunged Up”, Melazarr presents herself as an outrageous and rather debauched woman, reveling in Xaphan society. Often finding herself in dangerous situation, the VERY MARY, a garter belt that teleports a Caroline maiden back to the ancient Ruins of Caroline on Kana when she finds herself in mortal peril. Melazarr has turned up in the Ruins a record 57 times.
A Bound Tropist
In others, she is a bound servant of the notorious Xaphan Warlord Rodrigo of Burgon. Rodrigo often keeps her drugged into a trance-like stupor and bound to his side by a Chastity Key that has been branded into her neck. With the Chastity Key in place, she cannot venture more than fifty feet from his side. Rodrigo sometimes treats her with kindness, despite keeping her drugged and insensate.
Melazarr, no matter her situation, is often killed, either by those attempting to extract the information she carries within, or by accident, misadventure and poor circumstance.
copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Kayla Woodside
March 11, 2015
It doesn’t happen too often, especially in my case, but on select occasions your own characters can jump up off the page and surprise the heck out of you.
Such was the case with Stenibelle, a character I dreamed up on a lark.
OUT FROM THE DARKNESS:
I was working on The Shadow tech Goddess, a tale dealing with alternate universes and Extra-Planar Entities. Our hero, Paymaster Stenstrom, Lord of Belmont-South Tyrol, had been informed that there are many Wvulgroms. alternate versions of himself running around, all somewhat similar to himself but undeniably different–such is the basis of the entire Shadow tech Goddess storyline. It’s not an unfamiliar concept, we’ve seen it before in various media: fiction, TV, comics, films (the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” immediately comes to mind). In many cases, these “alternate entities” are a study in opposites: good vs evil, chaste vs immoral, that sort of thing. In my case I wanted these Wvulgroms (qv=alternate entities) to be merely a product of their circumstance. They can be very different from the character we’ve come to know, or, they might be very similar, it all depends.
In the case of the Shadow tech Goddess saga, eight different versions of Paymaster Stenstrom are involved. They all have similar experiences: they all served as paymaster aboard the Fleet ship Seeker for Captain Davage, and they all bought the captain’s chair of the Seeker later on. They all had various levels of failure/success in the Seeker Affair, as it was known. Some had no trouble at all securing the Seeker’s chair, some had a bit of rough sledding, others failed spectacularly. One was imprisoned, one was enslaved in a sex pit, and one was killed.
At the end of Book 8, all of these various alternate versions are brought together in the smothering darkness of the Shrine of Boraster on the Planet Eng and sorted out, each sent on their merry way.
As I wrote the final scene, each Wvulgrom was brought forth and presented to the central version of Paymaster Stenstrom–all of them tall and handsome.
And then the 3rd version was presented. As I wrote, my fingers worked the keys all by themselves. The third version presented was a small, comely woman. I had established earlier in the story that the Wvulgroms of Paymaster Stenstrom didn’t all have to be as is, they could be of differing race, of differing species, and, of differing gender. Such was the case here–the 3rd version was a woman named Stenibelle.
Lord A-Ram told him: “In another universe, you are a woman, and you would be most proud of her.”
So, that’s all I had, just an odd revelation that he, somewhere out in the universes, was a she.
Shortly after I finished the first draft of the Shadow tech Goddess, I developed the idea of writing a series of smaller, shorter books detailing the activities of the alternate Stenstroms’ as pertaining to the main story. I started writing them all at once, but the one that stood out most in my head was Stenibelle, the female. I began writing a quaint story dealing with Stenibelle’s quest to discover the way to long lost Cammara, an abandoned home-world of the League lost for over 200,000 years. At first, Stenibelle had all of the “It Man” abilities the male versions of Paymaster Stenstrom have: super strength, invulnerability, flight via mind power, and so on. The only thing she couldn’t so was fire the NTH pistols, which require a male-hand to shoot. I wrote her as a demure, considerate woman doing her best for her House under bizarre circumstances.
I quickly got bored with her. Where was the growth? Where was the potential? I really didn’t see it. I put her down for a long time and moved onto other stories. I considered deleting her altogether.
Then, it occurred to me that I’d been doing Stenibelle a great disservice. There was no depth to her, no agency, no room for personal growth. I’d been treating her with kid gloves, and she, though she had a great deal of power, was essentially helpless, like a princess in a tower.
Time for the gloves to come off. Time for Stenibelle to face the world. I was going to lay her bare and watch her grow into something new–not a perfect person, mind you, not invincible, not a cold, gritty tent-pole character, but a human one, full of successes and failures, remorse and joy, frailty and determination, and the capacity to better herself and her House.
First, I removed all of Stenstrom’s It Man powers. She still possessed all of her skills in Tyrol Sorcery, the vanishing, the lock picking, all of that, but no more super strength, no more flying and TK’ing. I took away all of the vast sums of money Stenstrom has available to him and made her a pauper. I also stuck her in prison. I made her angry and unsure of herself. I put her under the sway of powerful people and I addicted her to personality-altering Bolabungs.
Through all of that, Stenibelle had to make do, had to overcome poverty and addiction, had to learn to stand up for herself in the face of powerful people, had to learn to trust and seek help when it was needed, and to come to terms with her own heart. The character that grew before me was quite a welcome surprise, becoming more whole and complete than I has first thought possible.
I put her through a lot, and the person she became is something anybody can relate to and cheer for.
That’s what I was hoping for all along.
League of Elder Book 9: Stenibelle will be available summer 2015 from Loconeal Publishing.
copyright 2015: Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, Fantasio, and Eve Ventrue