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.

 

kat-portrait-final

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.

 

stg-7

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

 

The release of LoE Book 8: “The Shadow tech Goddess” is just around the corner.

Being the eight book is the series, many of the items and weapons appearing in the book have been introduced and covered previously. It’s a persistent issue in a series–how much time should the author devote to going over things that already have been described? You really don’t want to bore a returning reader with the same information and you also don’t want to exclude any new readers.

The person who edited Book 8 had never read any of the previous books and was a bit confused in the beginning. “What’s this” and “what’s that”, she asked in frequent side notes.

I wondered…

I was watching my wife play Mystery Manor, it’s an app on her Ipad that she enjoys. It’s one of those games where you see a lavish static setting filled with unusual objects, and your goal is to find a number of specific objects before time runs out (find the tea cup, find the garden rake, etc). Seeing her play the game, I was struck with inspiration. I envisioned a scene where most of the items and weapons appearing in the book were laid out in one lovely composition. That way, if a reader has a question (for example, “What’s an NTH?”) they can look at the painting and see it first hand. I got Ewelina Dolzycka to paint it for me.

Stenstrom's Office 2

I think it turned out pretty well and covers most of the bases. Some of the objects laid out in the scene are specific to Book 8 alone and have never been seen before.

I had a similar idea previously in a map to the Garden of Horrors, an arcane place visited in the book.

 The Garden of Horrors, by Carol Phillips

The Garden of Horrors, by Carol Phillips

I recalled once visiting a lavish garden in an Egyptian museum during a trip to California. The garden was like a maze filled with hedges arranged like streets, dotted with scented fruiting trees and potted flowering plants. Hidden in the hedges and elsewhere in the garden were a number of small to medium-sized statues depicting various Egyptian deities. A guide told us all the major Egyptian deities were hidden in the garden. They even gave us a small booklet providing clues where they were hidden and spots to check-off when we located them. It was like an egg-hunt locating the statues and we spent all afternoon searching the garden. I don’t think we ever found them all.

I got the idea to include a similar garden in Book 8: the Garden of Horrors, a wondrous place tended by a woman claiming to be the Shadow tech Goddess herself.

stgcover-front

Hidden in the garden were a number of statues depicting the various types of Extra-Planar Entities following Paymaster Stenstrom, the main character. The highlight of the garden was in the center, a hideous monster hidden behind a locked door trying to get at the Paymaster and take his life.

I wish such a garden actually existed, I could spend all day in it.

The Shadow tech Goddess will be out early June, 2014 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2014, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka and Carol Phillips

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

It’s Day 1 of the Big Sands of the Solar Empire giveaway on Amazon. Sands is beginning of the Belmont Saga and takes off in a new direction with a fresh cast of characters: Same LoE Universe, different folks!

Monday, April 8th and Tuesday, April 9th the Sands ebook is totally free. Click on the Sands cover picture to go direct to Amazon.

Here’s the Blurb for the Book:

GET THE BRANDY TO BAZZ . . .

That’s all Paymaster Stenstrom, the Lord of Belmont-South Tyrol, has to do and the old warbird Seeker is his. He has dreamed of captaining a Fleet ship his entire life.

Little does Paymaster Stenstrom realize that he is in the grip of an old Vendetta and the short trip to Bazz might very well be his last.
Faced with a dead ship and a lost crew, Paymaster Stenstrom finds help in the strangest places: the thief Marine and the milquetoast young man from the Admiral’s office, and, though he just became acquainted with these two strangers, he discovers they have been influencing each other’s lives for a very long time.

Something sinister hovers over Paymaster Stenstrom and his two new friends, something they are only now becoming aware of. The SANDS OF THE SOLAR EMPIRE stretch out before them in an endless gulf brimming with the unknown. Can a masked Paymaster, a thief, a coward and a once great warbird face what awaits them?

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

Also, don’t forget that Book VII, Against the Druries is also available on ebook. Book VII is the exciting conclusion of the Belmont Saga.

Here the blurb:

THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF BAD BETWEEN KANA AND BAZZ . . . That’s what they say on Bazz, that the “Deep Sea”, the open space between the two planets, is cursed and full of bad dreams—but nobody ever listens to people from Bazz, do they? Paymaster Stenstrom, Private Taara and Lord A-Ram struggle to navigate the Seeker, an old warbird, through the shipping lanes to Bazz. If the Paymaster can’t get to Bazz with his cargo of brandy, he loses the ship and will probably end up in jail as well. Jail? If only . . . The three adventurers are about to discover the old farfetched mariner stories are very real and that the Devil himself waits for the unwary in dark places where there is no help. The Circle closes in on Stenstrom, Taara and A-Ram, and its judgment for them is far worse than any jail cell. The Seeker is about of become just another ship that set sail from safe shores and was never heard from again, unless . . . The Belmont Saga concludes in this heartbreaking and action-packed tale of friendship and dedication, of vile evil and hopeless terror, and that sometimes help for those gone astray comes from the most unlikely of places.

See you there!!

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia

Time to come up with the back cover Blurb for LoE Book VII: Against the Druries. Blurbing is without a doubt the thing I dislike most during the cover creation process–I’m not very good at being brief, I guess. Anyway, here it is. I added the text to the amazing painting of Lady Alesta by Kayla Woodside because I currently don’t have a paint wash of the Book VII cover yet. Carol Phillips is going to start painting it this weekend, she said.

Sorry if the text is a little small–just expand the pic and it reads just fine.

Copyright 2012, Ren Garcia and Kayla Woodside.

Still trying to collect my thoughts from my furious weekend at Gencon in Indianapolis, Indiana.

First of all, what an amazing convention. It was huge, stocked full of cool stuff and interesting characters. I met amazing people, like artist Kayla Woodside, whom I plan on giving a lot of commissions to, and fellow Seventh-Star Saint Georgia L. Jones . I also sold more books there than I ever have at any one convention. Sounds great, right, but … before we get carried away and proclaim the Gencon experience the ultimate an author could ask for, let’s compare it to another fair I recently attended, the affable Stillwater Arts and Crafts Jamboree in Dayton, Ohio (basically, a Catholic bake sale).

Outperformed by 30%

First, the hard numbers. Over four days at Gencon, I sold a total of 64 books. I was able to sell all books in the LOE series, including the usually difficult to sell Book II and the Temple Trilogy which made me very happy. Meanwhile, at Stillwater, I sold 22 books in one afternoon. Comparing the two events, the Catholic bake sale actually out-performed Gencon by 30%–I didn’t sell as many books of course, but I was only there one day for four hours, while I averaged only 16 books a day over four days at Gencon. Just looking at the cold, hard numbers, the Bake Sale took Gencon down, it stands to reason–Gencon was a bewildering kaleidoscope of books, artwork, games, shirts, monsters, costumes and dice. Many people in a daze, walked past my table, smiled, and said “Just looking”. Some, who might have wanted to buy a few of my books, said they couldn’t find me again. There’s also the novelty factor. At Gencon, I was surrounded by artists and other authors while at the Bake Sale I was the only bookseller there amid a sea of oven mitts, aprons, cookies, cakes, doilies and other homemade treasures, the novelty of being an author of a book series was pronounced and a key selling point, while at Gencon it really wasn’t a big deal. One final note–my expenses for Stillwater were virtually nil, amounting to a $25 table fee and a tank of gas to get there, while Gencon carried significant expense.

The Portal to Hell

My depleted rack at Gencon as the show concluded

You would think that Gencon would be a den of vice and pagan idol worship, which it probably is, however, I’ve never seen all Seven Deadly Sins as vividly on-display than at the Catholic Bake Sale at Stillwater, especially the sins of Sloth, Greed, Pride, Envy, and, in some cases, Wrath as each home cook and artesian tried desperately to out-do the other. Money flew and I was the beneficiary with people buying merely to spend money. It was quite amazing to behold.

So, next year, I look forward to another outing at Gencon, and I also look forward to another go at Stillwater where vice and all that goes with it makes for great sales.

Bowl Naked
RG

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

LoE Book VI, The Sands of the Solar Empire, is finally just around the corner in time for the summer convention season. I should have it in my hand in time for Gencon in August. We will also be doing a few free giveaways on Kindle Select, something I’ve not tried before.

Now that the Book is nearly ready, the hard part comes: Marketing. Writing a book is easy, marketing it is hard, and it never ends.We’re going to try a few new avenue this time to get the word out. Most of my past sales are direct POS–conventions, shows, flea markets and other such places where I can set my table up and place my fanny. Of course, we’re going to do the standard Facebook/twitter rounds, and I might even try diving into avenues such as Smashwords. One avenue, though a little expensive, is Publisher’s Weekly. We’re thinking about doing a mass ad from Loconeal advertising a number of upcoming titles.

Oh …. this is so complicated and tiring. I just wanna’ write the books, somebody else do this!!

Sands of the Solar Empire from be out August 2012 from Loconeal Publishing.

Bowl Naked
RG

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

The time I live in fear of has come again: time to create the back cover marketing for Book VI The Sands of the Solar Empire.

I find the whole process bewildering, like trying to select a protein bar at GNC: so many choices, so many ways to put two feet wrong. Sometimes I wish I had a line of editors to do this stuff for me, but then I come to my senses and thank the Lord I don’t.

So, I stumble and flail about, trying how best to summarize a 115,000 word book in 200 or less.

All things considered, this book wasn’t as hard to summarize as, say, Book II, The Hazards of the One Ones which caused me no end of pain and suffering. Book VI is a little less complicated than Book II. I think it flows well enough, but what do I know??

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia


Book V, “The Temple of the Exploding Head” to finally out and ready to go.
I remember putting the final dot on this series back in 2009. It does seem a long time ago. The trilogy changed several times as I did and re-did certain aspects of the story. This story is full of surprises–even to me, the author. You’d think as I created this situation that I’d be in full control. It never quite works out that way. The story comes from somewhere deep within and manifests itself as images and flashes of color that demand to unfold in a certain way despite what you as the suthor may or may not want.

So, after a fair amount of change and turmoil, I’m very pleased with the final product and here it is out in the world for the first time. It’s sort of like putting your kids on the bus and sending them off to school. You watch it drive off and you wonder … you wonder.

The Temple of the Exploding Head is now available for purchase at Amazon.com. Click Here!!

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

I’m a small author. I have no illusions. I have my small but loyal fan base, and every day I add a few more, but it’s a lot of work. Keeping your brand moving is like a hamster running on the wheel–as long as the hamster is moving, the wheel turns, but, the moment he gets tired, goes for lunch or–God forbid–takes a day off, the wheel refuses to turn any further. It really would be nice if the wheel turned by itself. Keep on turning, you wheel you.

A key component of spreading the plague that is my brand is showing my smiling face: craft shows, bake shows, car shows, any place I can set up a table is fair game. And, truth be told, those lowly roadside shows can be a virgin goldmine: “You wrote this??” they cry. “Really?” An author standing proud amid fresh fruits and salted meats is a real novelty, and out comes the wallet and off goes the book sitting merry in its bag. Everybody wins.

A convention, on the other hand, is a whole different sort of cat. You got mind-scanned people coming and going in droll waves, you’ve got costumes and flashing lights and buffets of questionable foods … and you’ve got authors left and right, coming out of the baseboards, reading, speaking, standing in front of their tables, hucking and shucking. Wow! At a convention, being an author isn’t really a big deal. It’s pretty normal.

And then, you’ve got the handful of “Name Brand” folks moving about, the authors who are rather Big and have an Established Following, messiah-like amid the eager faithful. Just like in Lankhmar on the Street of the Gods, the bigger gods take their place at the end of the street and all the little gods and ragged priests line up nearby, hoping to snag a wayward or drunken worshipper or two. In such an environment, being shy and coy simply will not do. You cannot simply wait for the fish to jump into your boat, you’ve got to trawl for them.

My good friend Pete Grondin, author of the McKinney Brothers murder-mystery series, is a master at it. People pass by and Pete fearlessly casts his line: “Hey, lady! You like murder?” he asks to astonished stares and quickening paces. But, occasionally, people stop: “Yes, I do like murder,” they reply and the sale is transacted. So I sigh and give it a go: Hey! You like Science Fiction?? No? You like Fantasy? How about Romance … I got `em all!”

Oh is it tiring…

For me, the greatest value of attending a convention is the contacts and genuine friendships I make. I walk around and talk to the authors and show genuine interest in their work. I listen to them. I support them either with a pledge to mention them at future events or with my money. I speak on panels, and occasionally people remember that. I’ve met some great people. I met the incredible Shandahars–Tracy Chowdery and Ted Crim, and Denise Verrico. I got to know Nic and Fiona Brown of “Werewolf for Hire” fame, I met the sweet and misunderstood Elizadeth Hetherington (is she ever tall) and, of course the amazing and also upbeat Stephen Zimmer. I come out of these conventions exhausted, a little soiled, but enriched–people who didn’t know I existed before know me afterward and that is worth it all.

I sometimes wonder what it might be like to be the Brand Name, the Big God sitting at the end of the street entertaining throngs of followers. Does the Big God know the names of his followers, can he recall their faces?? Certainly, it can’t be as fun and fulfilling as snagging that select person or two and making a real connection. Now that’s a happy ending.

Bowl Naked

RG

"The Machine" by Carol Phillips

Finally, part two of the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy is done. We’ve got all 27 interior pics and the cover. All it needs is a last bit of proofing and it’ll be ready for its July release.

Unlike Book III interior art which had a number of thumbnail sketches, Book IV’s art is mostly composed of full page compositions done by Carol Phillips. These scenes have been simmering in my thoughts for so long that finally seeing them come to life is a real treat.

The previous three covers in the League of Elder series have all had a distinct fantasy look to them. For Book IV, I wanted more of a science fiction theme. I love everything about the cover, the colors, the city of Waam all around, the giant-size Princess Marilith vending machine, the flying Bondarunga statue in the background–you name it.

Waam is one of my favorite places in the LoE universe. I always loved the Fritz Leiber books of Lankhmar. A great city full of mystery and adventure, a cobbled maze of mist-filled streets leading to the unknown. I always wanted to write about such a place. The cities in the League are too demure and civilized to allow me to really cut loose and use my imagination, so I took advantage of the much-less prim and proper Xaphans and created Waam, an advanced, rather racy and highly evolved city where literally anything can happen. Fritz Leiber had his Gods of Lankhmar lurking in the city, and I’ve got my Black Hats festering in their temples.

Carol is going to take a few weeks off and recoop a bit. Then she’s going to begin work on Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. Oh, such fun …

Bowl Naked

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips