The Hospitalers

October 2, 2017

Hospitaler Logo

Seal of the Grand Order of Hospitalers

The Warrior/Healers of the League, the Hospitalers are an old sect, second only to the Sisterhood of Light in age. They are also the only non-Vith sect to achieve a very high position of power in the League. Originating on Onaris centuries ago, they started as group of fighting valets. They served their Blue Vith lords and were their trusty companions. Powerful fighters, the Hospitallers earned a reputation for their speed and fierceness in battle, they using a strange silver weapon called a Jet Staff instead of usual swords, pistols or axes.

 

At some point, on the forgotten wastelands of some battlefield, the Hospitallers began trying to attend to their master’s wounds. The Elder-Kind having been Gifted with youth and no disease had little need for medical knowledge and almost nothing was known about basic first aid. The Hospitalers, through persistence and practice, perfected techniques in binding wounds, clearing blood poisoning, re-attaching fallen limbs and so on. Their knowledge grew so great that even the mighty Sisterhood of Light turned to them for medical help when it was needed, sharing with them some of their most guarded secrets that the Hospitalers have never divulged. The Hospitalers have always worn black and silver.

There are a number of Hospitaler Sects that may or may not be well-known outside of the Order:

Hospitaler HopkinsThe Hopkins: General practitioners of the medical arts, often inhabiting healing sanctums in cities all over the League. The Hopkins are the most commonly seen Hospitalers. They are expert at most medical needs the general populace might present to them. They are well-versed at healing maladies of the flesh, blood poisoning, limb replacement, dental/orthodontics, hair transplantation and hair colorations, eye myopia corrections, tattooing, 4-D tattooing, and various exorcisms.

Throughout their history, the Hopkins have been targeted by a number of Xaphan Warlords hoping to impress them into service, as the Hopkins are vastly superior in knowledge and skill than the Xaphan Cabalists, who are widely regarded as quacks.

BoblytesThe Boblytes: The most warlike of all the Hospitaler sects, the Boblytes often serve on the battlefield, both in a fighting capacity and administering medical care while the battle is in progress. The Boblytes are well-known and prized for their martial skill. A small force of Boblytes can often defeat much larger fighting groups. Occasionally, their presence alone can prevent or postpone a battle.

Though mostly regarded as the military wing of the Hospitalers, the Boblytes have contributed a number of technical innovations, including the Troutman scanner for measuring blood poisoning and the Veltromax used to keep terminal patients alive until more comprehensive medical care can be administered. They also invented 4-D tattooing as a method for triaging casualties on the battlefield.

KnickerbaumsThe Knickerbaums: Knickerbaums are adventurous and outgoing, seeking to expand the Hospitalers’ medical knowledge through quest and adventure. Knickerbaums are often found serving aboard Fleet vessels, hoping to discover new knowledge and medical techniques.

Second only to the Hopkins, the Knickerbaums are the most well-known sect outside of the Hospitaler order. Their black and silver uniforms and winged silver helmets are often thought to be the standard wear for the sect as a whole, but that is not correct. Their martial skills are also considered to be second only to the Boblytes. The most mercurial of all sects, the Knickerbaums are known to be a bit temperamental to work with, often giving Fleet commanders fits.

EphysiansThe Ephysians: A mysterious sect within the Hospitalers seeking to expand their knowledge by means other than those allowed by the Sisterhood of Light. They are the most reclusive and least seen/understood Hospitaler sect. They are often tasked to test and validate new sciences, including Mentralysis, Anthecary, Bodism and Time Apparent.

The Ephysians are not known to travel much, except in rare situations, and their fighting skills are next to nil.

In their quest for knowledge, they are often said to share information and collaborate with unconventional parties, such as the Hertogs, the Ming Moorlands, the Black Hats and the Xaphan Cabalists.

The JonesThe Jones: A branch of the Hospitalers located on the world of Bazz, The Jones in the modern sense barely resemble the main branch of the sect. They were assembled by the Boblytes in the early days of Bazz after it had been terraformed into a Type 1 world. They are named after a hero of Bazz lore: Darius Jones. With the passage of time, they have diverged away from the Hospitalers.  Their appearance is bizarre, looking nothing like other sects. They are deadly in battle and are masters of fast hypnosis.

It is said The Jones seek a being called Bellathauser, a creature whom they believe to be the pinnacle of human perfection.

copyright 2017, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

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HeartofALion_CoverStephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the

StephenZimmerAbout the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), and the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Telling Rayden Valkyrie’s Story in Words and Images

This is the first time I’ve been able to tell a character’s story through more than one medium, with Rayden Valkyrie taking center stage in a TV Pilot after appearing in a couple of novels and a short story. Bringing one of my book characters to the screen is a new experience for me, with its own set of challenges and creative possibilities.

Short stories and novels are the end products themselves, whereas a completed screenplay is a blueprint that serves as a guide for a very collaborative process in creating an end product of a feature film or TV episode. Along the way in a feature film or episodic production, a lot of other individuals are going to bring elements to the process; whether it be the director costume designer, a prop master, cinematographer, members of the cast, or even a special effects artist. Each one of those production areas is going to make its mark on the final production.

Further, a screenplay can only show story elements and dialogue. Unlike a novel or short story, it cannot go inside a character’s mind to reveal what the character is thinking or going through internally.

Finally, the reader generates their own mental vision of a story through the intimate connection with the author through the words on the page. The author engages the imagination of the reader. In a film production, it is more of a passive process for the viewer, as the vision of the story is set out for them on the screen itself. The imagination of those involved in the production process is displayed.

The two realms are truly apples and oranges, which is why there will always be debates wherever both a book and movie/tv series exist of the same story. In my opinion, each needs to be judged on their own merits simply because they are completely different methods of storytelling.

All the same, it is my mission to bring Rayden’s story to viewers and readers alike in a manner where each gains a strong sense of who Rayden Valkyrie is, and what she is all about. While the TV Pilot production is a collaborative creative process, there must be consistency between the Rayden on the pages of the books and the Rayden portrayed on screen.

From the casting to the story I developed for the TV Pilot, I have taken great care to make sure the consistency is there, while also understanding that there will be differences due to the nature of the mediums. Rayden’s look on screen could not stray far from how she is described in the books, nor could her actions in the screenplay drift from how she acts and reacts in the books.

Those core parameters that had to be kept, while allowing room to breath for individuals such as the costume designer (Timothy Shackleford) and the actress portraying her (Sol Geirsdottir). Maintaining the nature of her character in the on screen presentation is, in my opinion, key to telling her story effectively in visual mediums.

The screenplay for the TV Pilot is not an adaptation. It is an original story that expands the Rayden Valkyrie storyline and universe, so it gives something new for the readers of the books without having prior expectations set in place (as there would be, if the screenplay was an adaptation of one of the novels).

Storytelling in words and images involve mediums that are very different in nature, but together I find them great channels to reveal the full Rayden Valkyrie story in a dynamic and multifaceted way.

ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800Book Synopsis for Thunder Horizon: A deadly menace stalks the shadows of the lands to the north, stirring the winds of war. Farther south, the power of the Teveren Empire spreads with every passing day, empowered by dark sorcery. Formidable legions bent on conquest are on the march, slavery and subjugation following in their wake.

Within the rising maelstrom, Rayden Valkyrie has returned to the Gessa, to stand with the tribe that once took her into their care as a child. No amount of jewels or coin can sway her, nor can the great power of her adversaries intimidate her.

With a sword blade in her right hand and axe in her left, Rayden confronts foes both supernatural and of flesh and blood. Horrific revelations and tremendous risks loom; some that will see Rayden’s survival in the gravest of peril.

Even if Rayden and the Gessa survive the trials plaguing their lands, the thunder of an even darker storm booms across the far horizon.

Thunder Horizon is the second book in the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.

 

HeartofaLionCover_1200X800Book Synopsis for Heart of a Lion: Rayden Valkyrie. She walks alone, serving no king, emperor, or master. Forged in the fires of tragedy, she has no place she truly calls home.

A deadly warrior wielding both blade and axe, Rayden is the bane of the wicked and corrupt. To many others, she is the most loyal and dedicated of friends, an ally who is unyielding in the most dangerous of circumstances.

The people of the far southern lands she has just aided claim that she has the heart of a lion. For Rayden, a long journey to the lands of the far northern tribes who adopted her as a child beckons, with an ocean lying in between.

Her path will lead her once more into the center of a maelstrom, one involving a rising empire that is said to be making use of the darkest kinds of sorcery to grow its power. Making new friends and discoveries amid tremendous peril, Rayden makes her way to the north.

Monstrous beasts, supernatural powers, and the bloody specter of war have been a part of her world for a long time and this journey will be no different. Rayden chooses the battles that she will fight, whether she takes up the cause of one individual or an entire people.

Both friends and enemies alike will swiftly learn that the people of the far southern lands spoke truly. Rayden Valkyrie has the heart of a lion.

Heart of a Lion is Book One of the Dark Sun Dawn Trilogy.

Teaser Trailer Link for Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7w_UI_RCg4&t=34s

Teaser Trailer for Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart: TV Pilot

Author Links:

Twitter: @SGZimmer

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7

Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Website: www.stephenzimmer.com

 

Tour Schedule and Activities

8/16 The Temple of the Exploding Head Guest Post

8/16 The Page Turner Guest Post

8/16 BOOKS TO CURL UP WITH Author Interview

8/16 Bookishly me Author Interview

8/16 DarWrites Guest Post

8/16 Sheila’s Guests and Reviews Guest Post

8/16 Sapphyria’s Books Guest Post

8/16 Deal Sharing Aunt Top Ten’s List

8/17 DarWrites Review

8/17 Bookin Around Town Author Interview/Podcast

8/17 Full Moon Bites Character Interview

8/18 BOOKS TO CURL UP WITH Review

8/18 The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn Top Ten’s List

8/18 I Smell Sheep Guest Post

8/19 Paranormal Pleasures Review

8/19 The Page Turner Review

8/19 Bella’s Book Reviews Review

8/19 Jeni’s Bookshelf Guest Post

8/20 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! Guest Post

8/20 The Seventh Star Blog Guest Post

8/20 Stuart Thaman Books Guest Post

8/21 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Author Interview

8/21 SpecMusicMuse Author Interview

8/21 Jordan Hirsch Review

8/22 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post

8/22 Discover New Authors Author Interview

8/22 Butterfly’s Booknerdia Blog Review

8/23 The Occult Detective Review

8/23 Bookishly me Review

8/23 Jeni’s Bookshelf Review

8/23 Jorie Loves a Story Interview

8/23 Readers Life With Trisha Ratliff Review

 

Amazon.com Links for Thunder Horizon:

Kindle Version

https://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Horizon-Dark-Dawn-Book-ebook/dp/B06ZZ7JT56/

Print Version

https://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Horizon-Dark-Dawn-Trilogy/dp/1941706576/

Barnes and Noble Link for Thunder Horizon:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thunder-horizon-stephen-zimmer/1126268394?ean=9781941706572

 

Amazon.com Links for Heart of a Lion:

Kindle Version

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Lion-Dark-Dawn-Book-ebook/dp/B00T44R6LE/

Print Version

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Lion-Stephen-Zimmer/dp/1941706215/

Barnes and Noble Link for Heart of a Lion:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-of-a-lion-stephen-zimmer/1121113044?ean=9781941706213

 

 

copyright 2017, Stephen Zimmer

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.

 

 

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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

We’re doing a pre-read for LOE Book 12, Kat soon. I as given a character interview to fill out from Loving the Book Blog Tours to help promote the event.

 

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Kat, by Carol Phillips

While I love all the various characters I’ve created over the years, Kat, the first countess of the House of Belmont-South Tyrol, stands out. She’s a ‘new’ person, freshly minted and her response to things tends to be  childlike, mixed in with a bit of hard-bitten earthiness. It’s a lot of fun to dive into her mind.

 

So, what are we waiting for?

1: When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Second?

KAT: Oh, you’re going to think I’m weird or something, but the wallpaper. I just LOVE wallpaper. I like to look at it, and I like to touch it, too, especially if it’s padded wallpaper like we have in the Chalk House. Hehe, you know, I even like licking the wallpaper when nobody’s watching. I guess countesses aren’t supposed to do that sort of thing, right? But, yeah, I like the taste of the glue. I’ve licked wallpaper up and down the Esther coastline. The Harvey’s in Dee have the best-tasting wallpaper around. It’s like heaven. The second thing I look for, I guess, is a bathroom. I love sitting in bathrooms. I love the porcelain, I love the tiles and I love the smell of the water in the fixtures. I could sit in a nice bathroom all day.  Yeah, I’m mental, I guess.

 

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Original painting of Kat, by Eve Ventrue

2: How would you change the world?  The things around you? The people around you?

 

KAT: I don’t know—I’m still pretty new to the world and how it works. Sitting here in this big ole’ manor by the sea, I probably miss a lot of it. I guess I just want everybody to love each other. I’ve spent such a long time not being loved, I want to make up for it now. It was horrible in the Shade Church, that’s where I was for a long time and every day there was something new to make you miserable. Now that I’m out, I want to be loved. Love all around, everybody happy. Let’s dance and love each other. Why not?

3: How do you learn best?

KAT (Smiling) Haha, On the floor, after lunch. I love sitting on the floor. I feel all caged up in a chair. Yeah, I’m weird, right? But, that’s how G taught me to read mostly, us sitting nose to nose on the floor under the table in the library. I think I’ve thrown more chairs than have actually sat in them. Chairs are great for throwing, but, they kind of hurt my back. If I really want a good night’s sleep, I slide off that crazy bed and get comfortable on the floor. Hell, everything’s better on the floor, and I mean everything.

 

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Conceptual Cover for LOE Book 12, “Kat”, by Carol Phillips

4: What are your goals in life?

 

KAT: My goals? You’re making my head hurt, haha. I think a lot of my goals I’ve already accomplished. Here I am in the big house with my man. I’m not bleeding, I’m not unconscious. I’ve got a full belly and we’re playing cards tonight. Looking ahead, I just want to be a good wife and a good mom once me and G have kids. That might sound simple, I guess, but when you’ve lived underground under the Black Hat’s heel for most of your life, it’s the simple things you crave. Oh—I guess I want to master my Shadow tech, too. I’m trying, I practice all the time, and I’m trying not to cheat using NatalZ of Mund’s ‘squash data’ we got in Vain. That’s cheating. I want to figure out how to make StT’s, like NatalZ could. But, it’s really, really hard. Hey, you’re not a Black Hat are you?

5: What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?

KAT (Blushing) Well, ok, I’ll just tell you. I love tying G up. I’ll tie him to anything I can find. Having sex isn’t the same unless I’ve got him trussed-up like a Nether Day goose. Umm, that doesn’t freak you out or anything, does it? I mean, it’s all in good fun and if he didn’t let me do it, I wouldn’t. Heck, he tied me up to the flag pole once and left me there. I’m not a bad person or anything. I’m sure other countesses out there tie their guys up—look what they’re missing out on. I can teach them if they want–Bondage, made easy by Kat, haha. I love my G … but I really, really, really love him all tied up. I guess that counts as a hobby.

6: What are you most afraid of?

KAT: Well, I really don’t like being shut into confined spaces. It’s not something I like talking about much. I just don’t like small spaces. Can we move on from that question?

 

Kat & Sisters

Kat, Wheel (Standing on the left), Mountain Walker and Bird, by Ewelina Dolzycka

7: If you had one wish, what would it be?

 

KAT (Tearing up) My Sisters … Bird, Walker, even Wheel. I’d give anything to have them back. Really miss them. I visit them every day on the hill. I even talk to them. I’m sorry, I need to step away for a moment …

8: What do you like best about yourself?

KAT: Me? What do I like best? I like my hair. Yeah. I like the color and I like my temples freshly shaved. I like how my hair whips around when it’s windy, like it’s alive or something. I could sit in the boudoir for hours letting them comb my hair. I used to not like my hair color at all, but, as few other people seem to have it, I guess it makes me stand out a little.

 

kat sketch2

Conceptual sketch of Kat, by Carol Phillips

9: What do you like least about yourself?

 

KAT: I’m too short. When I want to kiss my G, I’ve got to stand on something, or he’s got to stoop. I used to just climb up his chest and latch on, but I’m not allowed to do that anymore–my claws tore him up too much. I loved how tall Walker was, that’s how I’d like to be: longer legs, way tall, my head in the clouds.

Kat will be appearing in the League of Elder, Book 12, Kat, coming soon from Winter Wolf Publications.

copyright 2017: Ren Garcia

 

LOE Characters: Sam

February 17, 2017

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The original painting of Sam by Fantasio. This painting became the standard for all future paintings of Sam

Without question, Lady Sammidoran of Monama (later, of Blanchefort) has been one of my favorite characters since she was introduced way back in Book III: The Dead Held Hands. As such, she’s also the most frequently painted character in my stable. I wanted to bust out a post celebrating her visual history as she has been interpreted by various artists over the years.

 

As in all things, she started out life very different than how she eventually turned out with lots and lots of sub-steps in between.

A LAUNDRY GIRL:

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Sam’s humble original look (Carol Phillips)

Sam started out as a simple servant, a laundry girl toiling away in the bowels of a Calvert Great House. There was nothing extraordinary about her at the time, except that she was rather brawny as a result of her labor-intensive life, and her odd ability to create mental projections known as Killanjo. There was no “Monama” at the time, I hadn’t even thought up the House of Monama yet. That’s how my creative process works, little by little, each thought building on the last. About half way through writing  Book III, I realized the direction I had been heading in wasn’t very interesting. Though I hated to do it, a drastic change was needed, and fast. I had created the House of Monama recently, and at a dinner scene there was a Lady Strella of Monama, a friend of Lady Sarah of Blanchefort. I’d written Strella as a sort of Goth, wearing black clothes and black makeup.

 

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Sam, wearing her steampunk goggles, by Eve Ventrue

On a lark, I suddenly flip-flopped plain, ordinary Sam with the much more exotic, gothic Strella. All of a sudden, Sam was the Monama and Stella was on the outs, though I eventually brought her back as a Fleet ship’s captain from the Remnath area of Kana in Book IV. As I created, Sam and her new Monama heritage got stranger  with each successive draft.

 

The pale makeup she’d been wearing previously became her actually skin tone. Her fingernails became deadly claws, in fact the entire House of Monama became an alien species native to Kana with a savage history where they were once four-armed beasts slaying everything in their past.

I continued to create. The brand new alien House of Monama blossomed before my very eyes.

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Sam, displaying many features of a Monama–claws, huge eyes, pale skin, massive hair, and no belly-button. She’s wearing her Snugs medallion which protects her from the cold. (Fantasio)

I imagined different tribes of Monamas huddled around their fog-bound ancestral home, Lake Monama. I imagined the Astralons, the Nebulons, the Cardinals and Fphenooks. I came up with the idea the Monamas were fast and strong, much more so than the Elders of the north. I also gave them their greatest weakness, a fatal susceptibility to cold, keeping them based in the south, and I made them very unfit for space-travel, slowly got sick and weakened when away from Kana until they perished.

 

Remembering my grandmother, I added the White Emilia flower that plays a large role in the Monama mating rituals.

And then I created the beast raging within all of them: the Berserkacide and the Killanjo demons from nowhere that tortured them without pause.

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Sam and her husband, Lord Kabyl (Carol Phillips)

In dealing with my German friend, Fantasio, I hit upon the idea that the Monamas don’t speak LC, or “League Common” as a first language. I changed them around to speak a family of Monama languages: Anuie, Conox and Systerel. At the same time, since they were speaking different languages amongst themselves, I figured there might be different types of Monamas as well–Big ones and little ones. I came up with the Greater Monamas, or “Anuians” and the smaller, more frequent Lesser Monamas, or “Conox“.  Of course I made my heroine Sam a Greater Monama–having her be little and stringy wouldn’t do.

 

SAM AND KAY:

Sam has always been associated with Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, whom she would one day be wed to. Monamas have prophetic powers, Sam dreamed of “Kay” years before he was born in the cold north of Kana. She saw him every night in her dreams. Bucking a Monama tradition of abandoning her dreams by planting a White Emilia flower at the Wailing Wall, the remains of an old Anuian Fortress, Sam clung to them, hoping one day to meet in person and win the heart of this Elder boy whom she loved.

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Sam Dead (Fantasio)

Sam, though, was an unwitting pawn of a terrible outlawed being known as the Horned God, and was used by him to frame the saintly god Carahil. After a series of horrific events, Sam died as a Berserkacide, shot to death by her love, Kay. Put to rest in her tomb atop Dead Hill, Kay grieved for her for nearly a year.

 

But, Sam had foreseen her transformation into a Berserkacide and death. She had taken steps to either prevent the change, or to circumvent it.

Using the arcane Machine, Kay was able to Bring Sam back from the veil of death where they were shortly wed at last.

As they began their life together, Sam discovered that, while she was in her tomb out on Dead Hill, Kay had been seeing other people, and was enraged. That fact that she was dead while this was going on didn’t matter to her–she would have rathered he spend the rest of his long life alone and miserable.

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Sam waiting for #6 (Sarah Smith)

Displaying a long-lived  jealous streak, Sam grew to hate the woman who dared to conduct a relationship with Kay while she was dead. It was Domeneau of Holly, #6 of the Xandarr 44. As the 44 often came to the Telmus Grove to pray at the statue of Carahil, Sam often found herself out there, waiting for #6 to show.

 

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

As you can see, Sam has been painted a lot by various artists–this sampling displayed here is hardly all of the materials we’ve collected over the years.

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Sam Awakens, by Rebecca Sinz

Sam continues to be one of my personal favorites. I can’t wait to see what further treasures will be created.

 

Bowl Naked

copyright 2017 Ren Garcia, Fantasio, Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue, Rebecca Sinz and Sarah Smith

StG Characters: Kat

October 12, 2016

 

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Kat, by Carol Phillips

Every fictional character goes through a genesis of sorts during the creation process, be it big or small–it’s just natural for an author to either polish up or improvise bits to a character during the creation process, or to change their mind completely and start over.

 

It was doubly so for Kat in the upcoming LoE book 12: The Shadow tech Goddess: Kat. I changed her so much she really isn’t the same character as when I started.

I do that a lot, though. As I prepare no notes or pre-plan no outline for a story project, I tend to frequently change course, get inspired, add tid-bits, or, change direction entirely. I’ve cut lots of pretty cool stuff because I either thought I was treading over previously covered ground or could find no good use for the material. The Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy  is nothing like what I started out with–nothing.

And so, we come to LoE Book 12: Kat. First introduced in Book 8: The Shadow tech Goddess, as one of the 7 potential love interests for Paymaster Stenstrom across the universes, my original intention with Kat was to simply pull her off the page as is and resume her tale in Book 12 with little or no intro or preamble. In StG, Kat was a Black Hat sent with several others to infiltrate the Ruins of Clovis in the Kanan north and uncover evidence of the identity of the Shadow tech Goddess. It was, essentially, a suicide mission with the possibility of success remote at best.

 

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

Kat was a Knife-class Black Hat, very mobile, very heady with micro-line Shadow tech. When Paymaster Stenstrom came upon her in the cold ruins, she was alone, her two nameless companions dead, killed by whatever lurks in the depths beneath Clovis. She was cold and uncaring, limber to the point of being rubbery and quite ruthless.

 

This somewhat limited character is what I hoped to make the heroine in Book 12. I made a good go of it, but, as I neared the completion of the first draft, I realized something.

Kat was boring.

It’s important for an author to be able to step back to see the naked truth as it unfolds before them. Though I loved the limber, blonde-headed Kat (I had based her off of Ginger Rogers), I had to face the fact she was not only a re-tread from previous characters in the series, she had no life. She was plain boring. Her transformation from Black Hat to loving Countess had already been done (as with Syg and Duchess Torijayne of Olyn), and her love for Paymaster Stenstrom bordered on the dreaded “Insta-Love”. I stopped writing. I knew action had to be taken.

 

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Proposed cover for Book 12, by Carol Phillips (Kat’s new wind-whipped Mohawk easily seen in the sketch)

I figured I’d go back, add a few scenes to the beginning of the book, flesh-out Kat a little bit and give her her own path. Shouldn’t take too long, I thought.

 

It would take half a year and about 40 thousand words before I was done, the “few scenes” I wanted to add took on a life of their own and Kat would never be the same.

I started from an elemental level, following Kat as she struggled to survive in the Black Hat’s horrid training facility, the Shade Church. I took away her mastery of Shadow tech, making her a novice in the extreme (though I would have to figure out a way to give her mastery back again by the end of the book). I gave her mentors, those watching her from afar, weeping as she suffered under the Black Hat’s heel.  I even included Kat’s sisters, those sent with her to Kana. I also added the gods, people in far away places, mystical items, the works.

I threw the lot at Kat, and her transformation was stunning. Gone was flat, boring, Kat, replaced by a remarkable new character, full of life, one that I was proud of. Fueled by these changes, I finished the book in no time.

Kat is in the initial stages of pre-production. It should be out by 2018.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue and Carol Phillips.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

The Ballwigs

July 2, 2016

Of all the various sects rolling about the League, it is probably the case that the Ballwigs are the most notorious and reviled. Never has a sect been so despised, feared and coveted all at once.

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Emblem of the Ballwigs

The Ballwigs are a select sect of beautiful, wealthy and socially influential ladies from all over Kana, Hoban and Planet Fall. They are both married and unmarried. Their primary function is to attend balls, endurocons, cotillions and other such social events across the League. Their mere presence tends to elevate the event they attend in stature.

What makes the Ballwigs so universally reviled is their frigidity and terminal unavailability. They take great pride in rejecting any attempt to socialize with them, with any and all attempts being rebuffed. They even go so far as to compete amongst one another to determine who can reject the most people. Whichever Ballwig collects the most points over a given period of time, receives a fabulous Golden Harrsprung made of gold, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.  Points are given for the following:

Being asked to dance

Being offered a drink

Being offered a cigarette

Being asked for a visit

One of the most coveted prizes the Ballwigs seek: hearing the words “I love you”. It is also said that the greatest point allocation is applied if a person commits suicide after being rejected.

If a Ballwig ever returns any affection shown to them, or if they publically state their love for a person met at a ball, they are immediately cast out of the sect.

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Lady Vendra of Cone, the founder of the Ballwigs. (Eve Ventrue)

The founder of the sect is Lady Vendra of Cone, a spinster socialite from Remnath who was spurned at a ball by the man she loved. Determined to get even and make others feel as she did, she created the Ballwigs to unleash hell upon the hearts of men everywhere in the League.

The rival sect to the Ballwigs is a group known as the Lambs, a collection of much more matronly ladies actively seeking to attract a husband.

Their emblem is a Harrsprung, a mythical rabbit-like creature of Vith lore leaping out of a garland wreath. The Harrsprung is said to be uncatchable.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Eve Ventrue

 

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Roethaba of George, by Carol Phillips

Among the many new characters introduced in the upcoming House of Bloodstein books is the mysterious Xaphan Marist Roethaba of George.

 

Roethaba, for a number of reasons, is truly an enigma, so much so, even her very existence comes into question.

CONSUMED BY SICKNESS??

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Roethaba is often in the presence of her bodyguard, Hruntha, a Haitathe warrior. (Painting by Eve Ventrue)

Per the Book of Xaphan, Roethaba  was born in 3273 (or 003486AX in League designation) as the 5th daughter in the Court of George, a favored, gentile branch of the House of Burgon. Her mother, Marist Styxa of Burgon, was said to have snuck into a League ball and cuckolded with a Vith lord named Lord Mauro of Bloodstein. Two years later, Roethaba was the result, a beautiful, golden-haired girl, and she was given to the Court of George, who were lacking in females. A retelling of the story insists that Styxa gave birth to twin daughters, Roethaba, and Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein.

 

Roethaba’s young adulthood is very sketchy, with stories wildly varying. One story has her going to school in Midas before becoming an A-List Marist, other stories claim she was deathly sick as a child, inflicted with the genetic scourge of flesh rotting, an inherited defect brought on by the Burgon’s habit of eating human flesh.  Other stories claim she was sustaining herself via arcane methods at the expense of her twin sister, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein; her rivalry with her sister is a common thread in her narrative, be it arcane or social.  In any event, Roethaba was considered a stunningly beautiful woman, long sought after by many Xaphan Warlords.

A CYBERLING??

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Roethaba is friends with the notorious Willhella Cormand-Grande, the Made Black Hat of Waam (Painting by Eve Ventrue)

If anything, Xaphans love stories, and any Warlord or Marist of note have their life history extensively chronicled by people known as “Daemonesses“.

 

Roethaba’s history was compiled by a Deamoness named Sysaphaea Marx (or, in League designation: of Marx). As she worked, Sysaphea ran into a significant problem. Though Roethaba was notorious for her love affairs, her expensive tastes, her scandals, her Haitathe bodyguard, her friendships with a number of Black Hats, including Wilhella Cormand-Grande, the Mad Black Hat of Waam, she could find no tangible proof Roethaba of George had ever been to any of the places she was said to have been. In fact, she could find few credible people would could say that they’d ever seen her in the flesh other than from a distance. Sysaphaea had seen her several times at various social functions, but could never get close to her or be granted an audience. Her 10 foot tall bodyguard Hruntha, would allow her no admittance–were it not for the bodyguard’s presence, she would seem like a ghost. She began to suspect that Roethaba of George was a Cyberling, a fictitious person with an extensive made-up history making her seem real, hiding some vast secret. She suspected the League was involved, possibly perpetrating some grand conspiracy in Xaphan society.

In her digging, Sysaphaea wrote that she found a hazy link at a ruined temple once dedicated to a dead goddess, Anabrax, the Goddess of Fertility. In the temple was a fading mural connecting Roethaba, Lady Chrysania and an old dictator from the early days of the Xaphan empire named Queen Ghome of Trimble–their faces were all there, painted together.  What that connection is, Sysaphaea never found out, as she dissapeared without trace, never having finished her work, leaving only incomplete hints as to what she had stumbled onto.

For now, Roethaba of George continues to make headlines and break hearts across the Xaphan empire for her outrageous behavior, still ever elusive and full of mystery.

bloodstein-purple CroppedRoethaba of George appears in the League of Elder, Book 10–The House of Bloodstein from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips, and Eve Ventrue

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Queen Ghome and her Attendants (Painting by Fantasio)

The Xaphans, if anything, are great lovers of stories. Though smaller and not nearly as old as the League, Xaphan lore is rife with shadowy characters and hidden places whispered into anxious ears in the insane courts of Burgon, George and Midas.

 

One such name is that of Queen Ghome, a favorite in Xaphan Society. Her name is familiar on multiple worlds, her likeness is seen in any number of statues and  paintings hanging in Xaphan museums, even an entire class of battleships was name in her honor, her name conjuring up images of strength, tenacity and endurance.

Who was Queen Ghome? Was she a real person of antiquity, or is she simply a colorful figure of lore, more myth than reality? What deeds is she attributed with to earn her such a ready place in Xaphan culture?

Queen Ghome first came to light in Xaphan history thousands of years prior when she claimed the hand of Queen Xo of Trimble during the Night of Centenos when many came from across the Xaphan Empire to court and win her love. In the early days of the Xaphans, one of the first planets colonized and established as a Vith stronghold was Trimble, therefore the opportunity to claim its throne was clamored for by many. To the shock of all attending, it was an unknown woman milling in the crowds who claimed Xo’s hand, becoming Queen Ghome, ushering in the brief age of the Two Queens of Trimble.

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The Two Queens of Trimble. Queen Ghome (on the left) began her practice of wearing horns after she claimed the throne. Note the floating Garden of Zama in the sky.(Painting by Fantasio)

Who was Queen Ghome? Many suspected she was a refugee from the League, with s0me even saying she had once been a prisoner of the hated Sisterhood of Light. Many thought she was a sorceress. With the sudden death of Queen Xo less than a year into their marriage, Queen Ghome would not remain an unknown for long. She ruled Trimble with an iron fist for over six-hundred years, slaying millions, putting her people to the lash and instigating any number of small to medium-sized skirmishes with both the Xaphans and the League.

 

THE WOMAN OF A THOUSAND FACES

Bloodthirsty tyrants and deadly potentates are no strangers to the Xaphan Empire. They come and go quite often, many forgotten to the ages once they’re forced from power and executed. Queen Ghome, though, was no ordinary tyrant. Everything about her was strange and fanciful, worth story-telling. For one, those in attendance in her court reported that her appearance varied wildly from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. Elias of Sorrander, a mystic known for her ability to see through elaborate Cloaks, was a frequent guest in Queen Ghome’s court in the early days of her reign. She often wrote that Queen Ghome’s frequent changes in appearance, including hair color, general features, size and skin tone, appeared to not be a Cloak, rather her changes appeared to be quite real. She also wrote the one sure way to tell for certain when one was in the presence of Queen Ghome was to look into her eyes: red and piercing, like the eyes of a demon.

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Horns and deadly red eyes were a frequent Queen Ghome attribute. (Painting by Carol Phillips)

Elias also wrote of Ghome’s other body changes she often indulged in. She was known to flit about the towers of Centenos Castle with a leathery pair of wings, sometimes peeking through the windows of guestrooms in the upper floors.

The thing most commented on was Queen Ghome’s tendency to appear to her subjects wearing horns. Horns of various sizes, shapes and colors. Many who visited Trimble mentioned Ghome’s horns, though a few wrote that she wore a horned helmet instead of sporting real horns.

THE SUITORS:

As Queen Xo had sought a suitor to the throne of Trimble, so too did Queen Ghome, though, to be a suitor for her hand meant facing death. Over many years, she put to death countless suitors, robbed and tortured others, and humiliated the rest. She often enjoyed making her less-favored suitors stroll through her deadly Garden of Zama where a host of carnivorous plants she had cultivated, lurked in wait for an easy meal. She never did take a husband, and many of the enemies she made during that time would lead to her eventual downfall.

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Queen Ghome was said to have command of a great beast that guarded her vast wealth. She often used this beast against her enemies. (Painting by Carol Phillips)

AN IMMORTAL??

 

In all, three women named Ghome ruled Trimble over six hundred years. Ghomes I and III were very similar in temperament to the point of being interchangeable, while Ghome II was considered a genuine saint. Ghome II also abjured the practice of wearing horns and changing her face. Still, scribes on Trimble often speculated that Ghomes I, II and III were the same woman, with Ghome II being under a spell that changed her brutish nature to a more benevolent one.

THE BMQ

The people of Trimble living under Ghome’s lash never forgot about poor Queen Xo, whom they believed was murdered. An underground sect grew in the province of St Georges called the Brotherhood of the Murdered Queen, dedicated to the overthrow and prosecution of Queen Ghome. Ghome and the BMQ were constant antagonists. Ghome’s assassins, the Mensada, often smoked the BMQ out of their hiding places and slayed them only to see the sect rise again elsewhere. Ghome was also said to command a giant metal beast that was unstoppable in battle whom she used to slay the BMQ.

Conversely, Ghome’s ruthless and capricious rule was unsustainable, nearly toppling her from the Trimble’s throne several times. During these times, she was secretly propped up by the BMQ, as they wished to be the force that toppled Queen Ghome, not economics.

THE BATTLE OF THE TOMB

After six hundred years of rule, Queen Ghome III was finally deposed from the throne by the BMQ, backed by the warlord Vai of Sorrander and his fleet of battleships. Vai’s great grandfather, Wilmer, had been a rejected suitor of hers. After a pitched battle on the floating Garden of Zama, the BMQ defeated Ghome’s forces and sought to capture her. Ghome herself was never found among the dead, leading to speculation that she had escaped Trimble, though, she was never seen or heard from again.

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Mysterious socialite Roethaba of George is often thought to be Queen Ghome in disguise. (Painting by Carol Phillips) 

Xaphan society refused to let her go. Many believed she had in fact escaped the Battle of the Tomb, wearing a different face and is living a more inconspicuous life somewhere, waiting to rise again. Some thought that Baroness Camilla of Sorrander was Queen Ghome in hiding, a rumor she enjoyed perpetuating. Other names bandied about are Millicent of Tuck, Melazarr of Caroline and the elusive Roethaba of George–are all people who be Queen Ghome in disguise.

 

And, it could also be that the venerable Queen Ghome simply died at the Battle of the Tomb, her body buried in a mass grave along with the other victims of that conflict, leaving many to scratch their heads and wonder, her lore simply too delicious to let die.

bloodstein-purple CroppedQueen Ghome’s many secrets are explored in the upcoming House of Bloodstein books, from Loconeal Publishing

copyright 2016, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Fantasio