Temple cover Cropped FrontAt last, the Temple of the Exploding Head Omnibus is available on Amazon. When I started this whole process last year, I figured it would be pretty easy to just compile the three books that make up the saga–The Dead Held Hands, The Machine and the Temple of the Exploding Head–and that would be it.

Didn’t quite turn out that way–creating this omnibus was actually pretty difficult and extremely time consuming. I might as well have started from scratch.

The whole Temple thing began life back in 2011. I wanted to highlight Lord Kabyl, the son of Captain Davage and Countess Sygillis. I wanted him to embark on a long quest, one where he would grow into manhood.

Temple Cover Cropped BackThe end result was the original Temple of the Exploding Head, which weighed in at a little over 300,000 words, which is a pretty big book. That said, I was forced into editing the book into three roughly equal parts that were published over the next three years.

Thing is, I never really liked it chopped into three parts. I felt it was better whole, as one book. Flash forward around ten years. The time had come to re-assemble it into one large tome, as it was meant to be. Re-edited, with the soon to be released paperback featuring over 100 interior illustrations from artists all over the world, the book is a complete quest from beginning to end, and something I’m quite proud of. It also features a brand new cover by Carol Phillips, the Queen of the League of Elder universe.

In the book is Lord Kabyl, a young man, the son of famous parents, trying to discover himself, his cousins, Lady Sarah and Lord Phillip, their friend Lord Lon of Probert, and Kay’s love, Lady Sammidoran of Monama, a woman full of secrets, and not all of them are pleasant. In fact, some of them are quite terrifying.

Below is my Ren Presents podcast where I discuss the book, the characters, it origins and my thought processes as I came up with the concept.

 

The Temple of the Exploding Head Omnibus is available on Amazon from Hydra Publications.

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia

 

 

 

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REN PRESENTS

April 6, 2018

Ren Presents 1I do two things fairly well:

–Write 500 million word books.

–Talk.

I can talk. I can fill up space with my talking. Ask my wife. On our first date, she was totally unimpressed with yours truly, until I charmed her with my silver tongue.

That being said, I started a monthly podcast called Ren Presents, where I talk about writing, books, movies and any other thing that crosses my mind.

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia

Monamas

November 16, 2017

I’m planning on compiling the three Temple of the Exploding Head books into one deluxe volume. In going over the material, I re-discovered the Monama people who figure heavily in those books. A pet project of mine, their lore has expanded greatly since I completed the Temple books.

THE HORNED GOD:

 

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The Horned God, by Fantasio

A celestial being of immense power, the Horned God was worshipped by the Berserkacides for ages. By his command, they built a temple for him and buried it deep underground where they gave him torn and burnt offerings unabashed for centuries. Reveling in the carnage, the Horned God lured in unsuspecting alien beings for the Berserkacides to slaughter.

 

When he snared the alien beings who came to be known as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS), the Horned God thought they would make easy prey for his Berserkacides. They proved to be much more resourceful than he anticipated, building cities in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides couldn’t get to them. Additionally, the GJS began experimenting on the Berserkacides, eventually developing them into what became the Monama peoples. Unable to compete with the prolific Monamas, the Berserkacides went extinct. Forsaking him, the Horned God haunted the Temple alone for a vast period of time, and, like a spurned lover, he swore vengeance on the Monamas.  He eventually replaced the Berserkacides with the Golden People, whom he bade torment them without mercy.

THE GODS OF JADE AND SAPPHIRE:

Modern Monamas are creations of genetic engineering undertaken by an alien species  whom the Monamas referred  to as the Gods in Jade and Sapphire (GJS) for the clothes they wore. These were a decadent people who were at an evolutionary dead end in their development and were mostly infertile. Their lived in windowless cities in the northen reaches of Kana. In the fertile but savage Berserkacides of south Kana, they found possible surrogates to bear their offspring. Too brutal and blood-thirsty to be of any use, the GJS began capturing and experimenting on them with the goal of toning down their bloodlust. After several generations they successfully engineered what would become the Conox Monamas (Mo-Na-Ma meaning the “Bearers of Children”) who were much more docile that the Berserkacides, were extremely fertile, and only had a single pair of arms. Continuing their experimentation, they eventually created the larger Anuian strain, whom they considered to be more successful than the Conox.

The GJS were eventually made extinct by the Horned God’s shape-shifting Golden People, who stole their forms, slaughtered them, and occupied their cities.

THE TEMPLE OF THE EXPLODING HEAD:

 

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The Temple of the Exploding Head, by Carol Phillips

The Temple was a place built deep in the ground by the Berserkacides. Under his direction, they hacked out and shaped each brick with nothing but their bare hands. A colossal structure more than a mile long, they worshipped the Horned God there unobserved by the gods for ages without pause or rest. The Temple became a temporal anchor point due to the rage and suffering that went on there that was eventually discovered by the time-traveling Golden People. Given that the temple created a tunnel into the past for them to harvest slaves and brood-stock for their children, the Golden People continued the practice of worshipping the Horned God there, sacrificing Monamas there by the untold score.

 

THE GOLDEN PEOPLE:

Sinister and inscrutable people, the Golden People served the Horned God as his “Dark Angles” for many ages. Shape-shifting entities from far in the distant future, they rode the waves of time searching for temporal anchor points to latch onto and explore. When they discovered the Temple of the Exploding Head, they found a place rich with potential victims to exploit. Pretending to be subservient to the Horned God, they found the Monama people of south Kana ideal, prolific and disposable warriors for their various conquests, and even developed the ability to revert them in time, transforming them into Berserkacides.

KILLANJO:

Servants of the Golden People, the Killanjo were hideous beings and primary tormentors of the Monamas. They were invariably victims abducted by the Golden People and placed into a caustic substance that would prime their bodies to the rigors of time travel. This preparation created hideous results and put the victim into a rabid dream state which caused them to behave in a sadistic fashion. They were then sent back in time to do the Golden People’s bidding. They were often skinned and bleeding, with additional parts attached to their bodies. They could cast spells which would render the Elders immobile. They could not bear the sight of their own reflection.

ANUIANS:

The large, bold, more warlike strain of Monamas are, for the most part, gone from the modern Kanan landscape. In the early days of the League on Kana, the Anuians were many, their numbers on-par or exceeding that of the smaller, more timid Conox Monamas. Large, dense, incredibly strong and fast, the Anuians ruled over most aspects of Monama culture, their language and customs passed onto the more primitive Conox. They were bold, stubborn, and passionate. Rejecting weaponry, Anuians always fought with their hands.

Monamas AnuiansThe Anuians also were more inclined to fight back against the enemy: the Horned God and his angels–the Golden People, their constant tormentors. When the League came to Kana, the Anuians were impressed by their technology and presented themselves to their local warchief, a man called Atrajak of Want. They even presented him with a gift: a princess of the Nebulon tribe. Following Atrajak, they embarked on a long series of battles with the Golden People, confident he would lead them to victory. Losing his mind after a failed attempt to attack the Golden People on their home world, Atrajak was executed by the Sisterhood of Light. Without their leader, the Anuians were lost. The Golden People, seeking revenge, hunted down and harvested the Anuians without mercy, wiping them from the face of Kana, leaving only the more easily-controlled Conox.

Today, there is no stable population of Anuians on Kana. Their bloodlines still exist in the Conox genetics, and, on rare occasions, an Anuian will be born amongst the Conox. As the Anuians reqired a six-month gestation persion instead of only three for the Conox, when an Anuian is born, they are severely under-developed. The Anuian Jar is an artificial womb filled with brine, allowing the Anuian to complete their development.

Attempts to cross-breed Anuians generally leads to failure, as they tend to give birth to more Conox. They are also mystically bound to Kana, as they quickly grow sick and die when taken into space. They also are extremely susceptible to cold temperatures and were confined strictly to the south of Kana.

CONOX:

The smaller, more tame, more timid strain of Monamas, the Conox comprise 98% of the current population on Kana. Much smaller than the larger Anuian Monamas, they are slighter in many ways. Their heads are smaller, with, accordingly, smaller facial features. They are not as fast as the Anuians, and not nearly as strong, though they tend to be about four times stronger than the average Elder. They are, on average, only half as heavy as an Anuian.They are more prone to make use of weapons,

Monamas ConoxBut, the Conox are more adaptable than the Anuians. They tolerate cold temperatures much better and they can survive in space much longer. They are incredibly prolific, having ten to twenty young to a litter after only a three month gestation period.

Per Monama writings, the Conox were the original Monamas engineered by the Gods in Jade and Sapphire. The Anuians came later, a second-generation of engineered peoples whom the GJS considered to be superior to the Conox. Concentrating on the Anuians, the Conox were left to fend for themselves, and, accordingly, it was the Conox who had to fend off attacks from the Berserkacides to the south, relying on their weaponry and their sheer reproductive power to thrive and eventually overpower them.

BERSERKACIDES:

Terrifying monsters once the bane of the Monama peoples of South Kana, Berserkacides are extinct in the modern League, though the Monama believe they will one day return to plague them.
Bersekacides.jpgAncient Monama writing states in the primordial days of Kana, the Berserkacide (the word “Berserkacide” is a modern appellation–they had no particular name) was the apex predator of the south, living in the vast tangle of the forests. They were brutal and savage, hunting and killing anything in their grasp. They rejected civilization, had little language and no written word. They worshipped a terrible Horned God who was delighted by their horrendous bloodlust. Adopting them as his Dark Angels, the Horned God brought them victims to slay so he could watch and revel in the misery.
When the Horned God lured in a weak and sickly race of star-faring alien, he thought they would be easy prey for the Berserkacides. However, the aliens proved to be more resourceful than anticipated, and they made shelter in the cold north of Kana where the Berserkacides could not get to them. Furthermore, the aliens found the Berserkacides to be beautiful and fertile. Hoping to quell their blood-thirsty nature, the aliens, using their superior technology, captured them by the score and took them into their northern cities where they experimented on them. After several generations, they were successful, creating what would become the modern Monamas, much more docile, much more fertile and only having a single pair of arms. The Berserkacides loathed the Mo-Na-Mas and made war on them without end, only to find themselves wiped into extinction, as the Monamas were just as strong as they were and reproduced at a staggering rate. So passed the Berserkacide.

Berserkacide 2

A Killanjo with a leashed Berserkacide (Carol Phillips)

The hated Golden People, coveting the Monamas for their strength, discovered a method to revert them genetically, turning them back into Berserkacides at their whim. Using the strength and fury of the Berserkacide to their own ends, the Golden People enslaved the Monamas until the Horned God’s temple in the ground was destroyed, thus ending their reign on Kana. Lord Lon of Probert, researching the matter discovered a method to remove the genetic trigger, thus ridding the Monamas of the threat of being transformed into a Berserkacide forever.
Berserkacides were fast and savage. Any Monama at any time could be reverted into one, and, once transformed, there was no going back. They were cruel and merciless, taking great pleasure at harming and killing those they formerly loved. Their extra set of arms appeared rather crab-like. They did not appear to suffer from cold temperatures and were thought to be able to breathe under water. They had an odd hole between their eyes that was thought to aid them in locating prey. The hole appeared to be an adaptation coded into them by the Golden People.

 

copyright 2017: Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

 

 

Covers of the LOE Series

October 9, 2017

We’re up to 12 League of Elder books now, and we’ve pumped out some sweet covers over the years, all by the Queen of the League of Elder, Carol Phillips. A lot of times the artwork gets messed up by my poopy text.

I thought we would review all of the covers naked with no text.

But, before we begin–a quick note of comments. Over 5 or 6 years, this blog has received only a handful of comments. I’d love to hear what you think–do you like these covers? Do you hate them?  Say something–let me know all about it.

Book 1–Sygillis of Metatron

LoE

The original Book 1 cover by Pat Larsen

Back in 2009 we put out the First LOE Book: Sygillis of Metatron. The original cover wasn’t done by Carol P, it was sketched by Pat Larsen. I used it for about a year, and then was told, in no uncertain terms, that the cover came up short in a number of areas.

 

I determined that a change was needed. I took to the internet looking for an artist to redo the cover for Book 1.

The very first name that came up on my search was Carol Phillips–fantasy artist. I sent her a note. She responded and it’s been golden ever since. I sent Carol a number of scenes from the book and allowed her to pick which one she wanted to try. Eventually, she settled on the scene in Metatron where Captain Davage is reunited with Syg. I thought the scene needed a little something, so we added Carahil, though, as written, he had already escaped Metatron prior to Syg’s arrival. Little changes that don’t fit in with the narrative are called Nixies. Nixies add a little drama to the scene.

Book1

Sygillis of Metatron, revised, by Carol Phillips

 

Carol’s cover was designed as a front-only image. We used a grab of the city of Metatron for the back cover. Not until Book 9, “Stenibelle”, would we use a front-only design.

 

Book 2: The Hazards of the Old Ones.

Book2

The Hazards of the Old Ones, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 2 is without a doubt the most metaphysical and pastoral cover of the group. We usually select exact scenes from the various books, this one was more abstract, combining several scenes together as one. We presented it as a wrap-around cover, with the scene extending to the spine and the back cover. I thought that the scene looked best all at once–it lost a lot of impact wrapped around, so we eventually revised the cover to the front only.

 

Book3: The Dead Held Hands

Book3

The Dead Held Hands, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 3 is the first in the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy. It carries on the tradition of featuring Carahil on the cover, he has been on all three so far. Carol often places a “surprise” on the spine–in this case it’s Castle Blanchefort in the background. I had to beg Carol for the green flags on the spires of vacant Castle Durst.

 

Book 4: The Machine

Book4

The Machine, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 4 is one of my favorites. Once again Carahil appears on the cover though he’s a little harder to find. Thomasina 19th appears on the spine. The green cars are actually “cable cars” with cables going all the way up to a vehicle in orbit–though Carol didn’t want to have a cable messing up her artwork, thought it was a “Bob Ross” move. I thought the Princess Marilith vending machine was a nice touch. Carol put her initials “CP” on the dumpster.

 

Book 5 The Temple of the Exploding Head

Book5

The Temple of the Exploding Head, by Carol Phillips

 

I remember I was on vacation in Florida when we started working on this one. I told Carol to “Go Nuts”. I think the results speak for themselves.

 

Book 6: Sands of the Solar Empire

Book6

Sands of the Solar Empire, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 6 is the beginning of the Belmont Saga, featuring the intrepid Paymaster Stenstrom. The scene takes place in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Bones Club. I based the scene off of a Masons lodge that was being torn down–they had a central oculus.

 

Book 7: Against the Druries

Book7

Against the Druries, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 7 is one of my personal favs. I’ve had a crush on Lady Alesta of Dare for some time., and there she is. I like the drama in the painting. As per usual, one of the giant Cronins appears on the spine.

 

Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess

Book8

The Shadow tech Goddess, by Carol Phillips

 

The first book in the Shadow tech Goddess series. I think this is one of the prettiest covers–I like the colors. I also enjoy seeing Hannah-Ben Shurlamp on the cover.

Book 9: Stenibelle

Book9

Stenibelle, by Carol Phillips

 

Book 9 sees a return to a front-only cover. Book 9 also sees Paymaster Stenstrom as a woman in an alternate universe. This one seems to be Carol’s fav cover. She likes the color scheme and the various element, like the flying hookers swooping down to pounce on Stenibelle. Stenibelle, who appears as a man in other books, looks amazing.

 

Book 10: The House of Bloodstein–Perlamum

Book10

The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, by Carol Phillips

 

The House of Bloodstein books add a touch of horror to my usual sci-fi/fantasy. The Machine in the background returns from the Temple books. The silver kingfisher is King, a favored character of mine.

 

Book 11: the House of Bloodstein–Mentralysis

Book11

The House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis, by Carol Phillips

 

This cover features Queen Ghome, one of my favorite bad guys. I just love her. I wanted a really colorful cover, and Carol delivered as usual.

 

Book 12: The 6th Turn–Kat

Book12

The 6th Turn: Kat, by Carol Phillips

 

A return to the Shadow tech Goddess books. This once deals with an alternate version of Kat, who really developed into a cool character over the various drafts. Carol designed her with a massive Mohawk, which I wrote into the story.

We made a conscious effort to make the Shadow tech Goddess sub-books look the same, so the formatting for this one resembles Stenibelle.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

14291686_10154531872029586_2865426175355244435_nIf anybody had told me five years ago that I would have written a non-fiction book, I seriously would have laughed.

I mean really…

I don’t write non-fiction. I write about spaceships and Shadow tech and other oddities. Fiction is easy for me to write.  Non-fiction puts too much of a strain on my imagination.

And, if somebody would have additionally said the “non-fiction” book in question would have been about myself during my military years, I would have turned gray with fright.

A story about me? Who would want to read about me? Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a Hell more horrific than having to read page after dreary page of a book detailing the  insipid Wonder Bread doings of me.

But, here it is: 10 Weeks at Chanute, a daring but admittedly short detailing of my doings as a trainee Airman in the US Air Force. I had always thought that writing a tale about me would be hard, would be too much. Writing weird sci-fi is easy because it has nothing to do with me. But this–this is a glimpse into my soul.

HangarI was sent to Chanute Air force Base is 1992 to learn how to perform maintenance on jet engines. Chanute, for all of its long history, had been a place of training. I was just one of many to go there. But, I would be one of the last.

Chanute was dead–chopped, shut down, and, about a year later, would close its gates forever.

In 2012, I felt an odd calling to return to Chanute. I’m not certain why. I took the long, somewhat uninteresting drive across Indiana to what was left of Chanute. Twenty years of being abandoned had left its mark.

I wasn’t quite prepared for what I saw that stormy afternoon.

Chanute HQ BW 2So, when I got home, I started writing that non-fiction book I’d dreaded for so long. I had to write it, to get it off my chest. I wrote about me, and Chanute, how it had made me into a better person. I had no idea where I was going with it or what I was trying to say, I just wrote.

And then I lost it. I lost the Chanute manuscript. Even though I was only a few thousand words into it, losing those initial words would have been devastating. It’s difficult if not impossible to re-write something already written. I searched and searched for the manuscript. If I couldn’t find it, then that would be the end. My crazy urge to write a memoir would be over.

But then, there it was, hiding in the back of my drawer in an old jump drive I’d forgotten about.

Chanute was on again.

White Hall BW 3And I went on a tear. I wrote about my experiences and my state of being in 1992, how different things were back then. I wrote about Chanute, about its customs and heritage ninety years in the making. Those are things needed to be remembered and properly preserved.

I wrote about the funny things, the good times I had and the friends I made. I wrote about my sorrow twenty years later, seeing what had become of the old place.

Thirty thousand words later– just barely novella size–I was done. I said what I needed to say.

This tiny little book–I was amazed at what I had created. In just a few words, I told my story and Chanute’s story as well.

What more could I have asked for?

10 Weeks at Chanute is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.com from Hydra Publications.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia

 

 

The Making of Kat

July 12, 2017

Kat cover Front FinalIn a few days the paperback of The League of Elder, Book 12: Kat will be out. This journey has taken plenty of twists and turns over the past three years when I started it. Every book has its own flavor, and this one was certainly no different.

The issues I encountered with this particular work were unlike any I’d seen before.

First of all: I wasn’t satisfied with the story. When I first came up with the story, my intent was to simply add-on to the events from Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess. In that book, our hero, Paymaster Stenstrom, encountered a sinister Knife-class Black Hat in the lonely, but oft-visited, Ruins of Clovis located in the Vithland region of Kana.  There, he encountered three Knife-class Black Hats, two dead, one alive, all searching for evidence of the identity of the fearsome, yet elusive, Shadow tech Goddess. After brief skirmish, the lone living Black Hat captured Stenstrom’s companions, Lord A-Ram and Lady Gwendolyn of Prentiss. Due to her astounding agility and her Shadow tech tail, he called her Kat. She then forced Stenstrom to descend into the catacombs under the ruins, where he encountered the dead bodies of her two companions. Despite everything, Stenstrom found himself fascinated by Kat, at the hints of blonde hair and sparkling green eyes through the mask. As Stenstrom begins his quest across the Plains, Kat’s name was added to the list of seven mates for him. And then she was horribly killed by the Lacerta in the Ruins of Caroline.

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Kat–as she originally appeared in Book 8, The Shadow tech Goddess. Panting by Eve Ventrue.

So, that was that for Kat. In the subsequent StG books, I wanted to explore the various alternate versions of Paymaster Stenstrom and his loves. For the 6th turn, it was Kat’s turn. My plan was to simply pluck her as is from the pages of Book 8 and give her a fresh lease, adventuring with Paymaster Stenstrom as he battled the horrible demon Bellathauser.  I used the KISS technique: Keep it Simple, Stupid.

 

But, that’s when my troubles began. I was about 40 thousand words into the story. I had thought to keep these StG stories short, anywhere from 40 to 60 thousand words, and I had accomplished that with Stenibelle at around 50k.

With Kat, though, I found myself disliking the story, for lots of reasons.  I found I was repeating myself. I never have issues with Writer’s Block, but, if I think I’m revisiting previous material, that can slow me down considerably as I strive to keep things fresh–I call that Writer’s Thunk! With Kat, I felt I was reheating old stuff at every turn–I mean this is the 12th book in the series, it’s hard to keep coming up with totally new material, but still.

After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that most of the book’s issues came from the character of Kat herself. Simply ripping her out of Book 8 was not satisfactory for me at all. She was flat and uninteresting, her interactions in the story perfunctory at best. Her story was too similar to that of Sygillis of Metatron back in Book 1–the taming of an unruly Black Hat, etc. And, rather embarrassingly, I found her relationship with Paymaster Stenstrom reeked of Instalove.

Kat Sketches

Early sketches of the rebooted Kat by Carol Phillips. Kat’s spark, her ever-present brightness and zest for life is evident in the sketches.

Action was called for. I was certain if I could get the character of Kat right, then the rest of the book would follow. So, I went back to basics. In Book 8, Kat was a fully-powered Knife-class Black Hat. We’ve seen plenty of that in the previous books, while only hinting at the horrors they suffer during their training in a place called the Shade Church. I thought if I removed all her of skills and make her a trainee with limited skills, that could introduce all sorts of opportunity for growth.

 

 

Paige 2

A theme emerged after the additions, that all things, no matter how unlikely, have the potential to better themselves. (Painting by Carol Phillips)

I went to work, adding a few scenes to the front of the book to give Kat a little life–never in my wildest dreams did I think I  would eventually add up to 40k words, almost doubling the size of the book. I found myself intoxicated in the creation process, exploring the revised Kat character, seeing what was there, all the while, keeping the plot moving. I came up with Autocons and Sentrils.  A-Ram and Alesta, who had been absent from the book, reappeared. The two dead Black Hats from Book 8 became Kat’s sisters, Bird, Walker and Wheel. All of this was organic characterization, everything in real time, on the fly. In 40k words, Kat went from being a rather pat and uninteresting fantasy character to something special, stealing every scene she’s in.

 

Book 12: Kat has everything–lots of action, loads of imagination and fantastic situations the League of Elder is known for, plus fully developed characters that grow before your eyes.

Stg-blueThe 6th Turn: Kat is published by St G Press/Winter Wolf.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

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.

Manuscript: Done

Editing: In-Progress

Cover: Done

Cover Lettering: Not Started

Interior Artwork: Collecting

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The House of Bloodstein: Mentralysis,  by Carol Phillips

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.

 

BLURB:

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

10 Weeks at Chanute

September 7, 2016

chanute-final-cropped-frontWithout 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.

Me??

chanute-airstrip-1

Abandoned, lonely  Chanute, 20 years later in 2012.

IN RUINS

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.

chanute-final-1-cropped-backSeeing 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.

hospital-bw-5

Chanute’s abandoned hospital, situated in the heart of the old base, a neglected derelict in 2016, still maintaining a fragment of its haunting beauty despite broken windows and overgrown trees.

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.

white-hall-bw-5

P3, White Hall, once the crown jewel of Chanute, a dangerous, rotting place in 2012. It was torn down in 2016, a great hole left where it had stood since the `30’s.

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

 

 

bloodstein-purple CroppedFinally, 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.

Cover mock-up

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. We moved this image to the interior. (Carol Phillips)

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.

HOB 4

The Wunderlucks, Ernst, Clara, Rusty and Aiken, are a bunch of bullies that are fun to hate. (Carol Phillips)

BLURB:

 

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

 

 

HOB: Picking a Cover

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.

Unused cover ideas generally are placed in the interior of the book. (Carol Phillips)

Unused cover ideas generally are placed in the interior of the book. (Carol Phillips)

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.

The House of Bloodstein, by Carol Phillips

The House of Bloodstein, by Carol Phillips

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

bloodstein-textHaving 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.

Current cover configuration for Book 10--The House of Bloodstein

Current cover configuration for Book 10–The House of Bloodstein

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:

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. (Carol Phillips)

This cover mock-up, although beautiful, looks more like a cover one might find on a romance book, which is not the case here. (Carol Phillips)

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.

Bowl Naked

RG

The House of Bloodstein: Perlamum, will be released in late 2015 from Loconeal Publishng

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips