The Belmont Saga

November 14, 2018

Of all the books I’ve published, Books 6 and 7 were the ones I’ve regretted the most.

Book 6When I wrote Sands of the Solar Empire, I introduced the LoE Second Series with a whole new cast of Characters including Paymaster Stenstrom, Lord of Belmont, Private Taara de la Anderson of the 110th Marines, Lillian of Gamboa, and, fan-favorite Lord A-Ram.

I wrote the book full of mystery, giving Paymaster Stenstrom all sorts of secrets at the beginning of the book, and then revealing them bit-by-bit in the second act leading to an exciting conclusion.

But, things didn’t quite work out like that.

Given Sands’ 200,000+ word count, I was compelled by my then  publisher to split the work into two books of roughly equal length. I ended up with Sands of the Solar Empire, and Against the Druries. 

Book 7The bad thing: I didn’t write Sands to be two books–I wrote it to be one long book, with the front end being more about discovering the characters I’d introduced, and the back half being much more action-oriented. Splitting the book down the center made Sands a very disjointed book, where I introduce the plot and leave it hanging butt-first to the wind. I even had to contrive a manufactured ending where none of the plot is resolved at all–a total face-palm cliffhanger, and not a very good one at that. Some readers didn’t notice the abrupt ending, but some utterly hated it and let me know all about it, with me having to give a tacit mea culpa, as I knew they were correct.  Against the Druries, being a much tighter, action-oriented story where the plot is resolved, was a much more well-appreciated book.

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Rough sketch for The Belmont Saga cover, by Carol Phillips

But now, under the Hydra brand, I finally get to correct that injustice and finally give Sands of the Solar Empire and Against the Druries the treatment they deserve and they will be republished as one book entitled The Belmont Saga. Finally, the story can be told as I meant for it to unfold, as one narrative with a beginning, middle and an end as all stories should have. Plus, the book will feature a brand new cover by Carol Phillips and over 70 interior artworks with some being totally new.

I can’t wait for this one to come out, as I’ve always dreamed to see it–one story, one book done up right, Hydra-style.

The Belmont Saga will be available in mid-2019 from Hydra Publications

copyright 2018, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

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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

It’s odd. I’ve been working on the latest LoE manuscript: The Shadow tech Goddess for almost three years. It’s been, by far, the longest slog I’ve ever had in writing a book.

"Carahil's Busy Morning" (Artwork by Carapaulo)

“Carahil’s Busy Morning” (Artwork by Carapalou)

And then, there’s Carahil’s Busy Morning, a children’s book I decided to write on a lark which took me about five minutes to finish.

Well, not so fast, let me explain…

I’d learned a few things going to shows over the years. One: books that really sell are YA and children’s. I hate to say it, but that does seem to be the case. Most of the people browsing around are parents looking to buy a book for their kids. My science fiction books (richly illustrated by Carol Phillips) tend to catch the eye, People passing by often stop, pick one up, and ask “Are these books for kids?”

Kids?? Of course I could have lied and said “Sure … kids will love these.” My LoE series is not for kids–too much violence, too much darkness floating around. It is what it is.

But then I thought about it. One character that is a continual ray of fresh light in the series is Carahil, the Great Nargal Spirit and patron god of the House of Blanchefort. Just a big kid himself, Carahil would do well in a children’s series, and if I ever got around to writing one he would be the subject matter. I put that thought on the back burner and let it simmer.

Carahil and Mabs beginning their life together (Carol Phillips)

Carahil and Mabs beginning their life together (Carol Phillips)

Over time, I wondered about Carahil and his jolly face emblazoned in the pages of a kid’s book. What would the book be about? Would kids understand Carahil’s supernatural origins? Would they identify with his cosmic, star-faring ways?

It occurred to me that all the weirdness in the world really doesn’t matter much, as long as there is a familiar framework in which to paint and give it perspective. And, what could be more familiar than a nuclear family setting–a father, a mother, the kids and all the pressures and situations that come along with such a setting. A family of odd creatures in space is really just the same as the family next door. I began thinking about Carahil’s family.

I knew that Carahil had taken up with Mabsornath, the Cat Goddess seen in LoE Book II: The Hazards of the Old Ones. Mabs was actually the main bad guy in the book, plotting the destruction of the planet Xandarr. Being the straight shooter that he is, Carahil managed to turn Mabs around. In the end, they became close, eventually committing themselves to each other and mutually sharing their secrets (a very big deal among the gods). As the LoE Series progresses, we see Mabs pregnant, and, eventually, the proud mother of seven children. In a vision, Captain Davage and Countess Sygillis see them playing at her feet.

Atha, as a sultry adult and as an innocent child (Fantasio and Carapalou)

Atha, as a sultry adult and as an innocent child (Fantasio and Carapalou)

That’s all I had, Carahil’s children aren’t seen again … until I began writing The House of Bloodstein. In the Temple of the Gods on Xandarr, Lord Kabyl, Lady Sarah and Lord Phillip of Blanchefort go seeking Carahil’s help. Instead of Carahil emerging, a tall, sultry woman with short blonde hair and a glowing visor over her eyes appeared. I immediately knew who it was: Atha, the youngest daughter of Carahil. Unlike her father, Atha is a mysterious and somewhat ominous presence. Her motives are unclear. To prove to Kay that she is in fact Carahil’s daughter, she takes him to Carahil’s Gift Shop in 1000 Carahil Park and shows him a children’s book where she is depicted as a little girl in Carahil’s household. The book was a light-hearted family farce called “Carahil’s Busy Morning” where Atha, as a precocious kid, tends to stir up innocent trouble.

So, then I had it, all at once. I had the characters and I had the setting. In five minutes of working on my manuscript, I also dreamed up a 1000 word story of Carahil and Mabs raising their seven children at the Top of the Universe, encountering surprises, and teaching their kids important lessons. It was the easiest writing I’ve ever done. It just felt right.

Dreaming something up and writing it down is the easy part, turning it into a living, breathing story is hard. As it’s only a 1000 words, the story would need to be driven by the artwork, and that would take an artist of exceptional skill. My good friend BeaKimera, an amazing Manga artist and a representative of many others soon had the solution. Bea embraced this project and showed real enthusiasm. She had a whole portfolio of artists for me to look at, all of whom were immensely talented–one, though, was the clear choice, with a clean Manga style and a flair for story-telling: Carapalou.

Seven months and a lot of hard work later, here we are with a finished book, each page a masterpiece. The end of a long, hard road in publishing is an ISBN and a barcode. CBM now has those things and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Carahil’s Busy Morning will be available in late June from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carapalou, Fantasio and Carol Phillips.