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

 

The House of Bloodstein

July 22, 2015

Riding fast on the heels of Book 9, Stenibelle is Book 10: The House of Bloodstein.  It is comprised of two volumes: the first being Perlamum, and the second Mentralysis.

Cover mockup for the House of Bloodstein, volume 1 (artwork and lettering by Carol Phillips)

Cover mockup for the House of Bloodstein, volume 1 (artwork and lettering by Carol Phillips)

ZOMBIES AND DRAGONS AND GODS, OH MY

I wrote the Bloodstein books to be fun, to be exciting. I tormented my imagination until truly weird and amazing things popped out of my head. Using the previously introduced House of Blanchefort characters, we embark on a journey across the League and beyond.

In the past, I’ve tried to avoid monsters that have been covered by other authors–vampires, witches, werewolves, etc. I was also going to avoid zombies--too over-done, too formulaic.  But then I had a bright idea–I figured out a way to use zombies that hasn’t been tried before, so you’ll find the zombies in The House of Bloodstein as breath of fresh air–dead air.

I also decided to tackle everybody’s favorite fantasy monster: dragons. Again–I never do the expected and well-trodden, if I’m going to have a dragon, it’s going to be a weird dragon. ‘Nuff said.

Here’s the current blurb for Volume 1:

THE HOUSE OF BLOODSTEIN: PERLAMUM

Mysterious and elusive, Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein calls from the ruins of her castle. She dwells in the dark, hiding her face, ravaged by an ancient curse. The only way to break the curse is to win a game called Perlamum. If she loses, she dies. She looks to her Vith kin in the west, begging for help acquiring the all-important pieces she needs to play the game. 

Lord Kabyl of Blanchefort, his Ne-Countess Sammidoran, and his cousins answer her call. However, collecting the Perlamum pieces for Lady Bloodstein is a deadly game. They must face a host of perils:

-The terrible Black Hat in the city of Waam, who knows their every move.

-A hated rival on the planet Xandarr and the bewildering labyrinth of Gods Temple.

-The man from Shook who cannot be killed.

-A family of vile bravos from the south, and, worst of all, the Dead Men of Mare, nigh invincible creatures straight from an insane nightmare.

To even the odds, Kay and Sam turn to a forgotten graveyard deep in the Telmus Grove, and the great eminence resting there.

Can Lady Chrysania of Bloodstein be helped, or, for that matter …

… can she be trusted?

 

The House of Bloodstein. Perlamum will be out September 2015 from Loconeal Publishing.

copyright 2015 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

 

 

Melazarr of Caroline is a frequent character in the various Shadow tech Goddess books. Her character varies wildly  from one book to the next. She almost always dies in the books.

25th DAUGHTER OF WILHELMINA

Melazarr of Caroline (painting by Kayla Woodside)

Melazarr of Caroline (painting by Kayla Woodside)

In all of the books, Melazarr’s lineage and general appearance are the same. She is an heiress of the Xaphan House of Caroline, born in the vast halls of Wilhelmina Castle. She is the 25th daughter of the current line. She has one father and ten mothers–the Carolines often indulge in the practice of gene-splicing to produce the most desirable of children. One genetic flag the Carolines always opt for is the potential for Arcane-Interface.

As familial giantism is common in the Carolines, Melazarr is a gigantic woman, standing 7’1 and weighing over 300 pounds of soild bone and muscle. She is typically very lank and skinny, hiding her impressive weight. Her hair is a fawnish-blonde color, though she often paints it green or blue.

She is a Tropist, skilled in creating sexual pleasure merely by touching non-erogenous parts of the body.

A MERTEN:

Melazarr is also always an Extra-Planar Entity known as a Merten. A Merten is a person who, for unknown reasons, carries important messages from the Universe. A Merten is never aware of carrying these messages, and, extracting them is most often fatal to the Merten. When in the presence of a person known as the Kaidar Gemain, a Merten will fall into a trance speak, sing, or draw out the message they carry. Others seeking the messages would have to extract them via sex, burning, torture or drowning. Mertens often die divulging the information they carry.

Melazarr, drugged and on a trance, is the Tropist of Rodrigo of Burgon (Painting by Carol Phillips)

Melazarr, drugged and in a trance, is the Tropist of Rodrigo of Burgon (Painting by Carol Phillips)

CHANGEABLE PERSONALITY:

Melazarr’s mannerisms vary greatly from universe to universe.

A Harlot:

In some, she is incredibly shy and insecure in the Court of Wilhelmina amid all her rival sisters, hiding the fact by painting herself in make-up and wearing bolabungs designed to make her fierce and  confident. All “bunged Up”, Melazarr presents herself as an outrageous and rather debauched woman, reveling in Xaphan society. Often finding herself in dangerous situation, the VERY MARY, a garter belt that teleports a Caroline maiden back to the ancient Ruins of Caroline on Kana when she finds herself in mortal peril. Melazarr has turned up in the Ruins a record 57 times.

A Bound Tropist

In others, she is a bound servant of the notorious  Xaphan Warlord Rodrigo of Burgon. Rodrigo often keeps her drugged into a trance-like stupor and bound to his side by a Chastity Key that has been branded into her neck. With the Chastity Key in place, she cannot venture more than fifty feet from his side. Rodrigo sometimes treats her with kindness, despite keeping her drugged and insensate.

DYING:

Melazarr, no matter her situation, is often killed, either by those attempting to extract the information she carries within, or by accident, misadventure and poor circumstance.

stenibelle_mockup1 CroppedMelazarr of Caroline appears in the League of Elder Book 9: “Stenibelle”, coming soon from Loconeal Publishing.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Kayla Woodside

 

 

 

HoB: The Autopyle

March 16, 2015

 

 

Lady Poe of Blanchefort had quite a dilemma on her hands. A Silver tech female of growing regard, Lady Poe had become famous in Vithland for her Silver tech familiars, that she could create from thin air in a matter of moments.

The Autopyle room overlooking the Bay of Bloodstein (painting by Ewelina Dolzycka)

The Autopyle room overlooking the Bay of Bloodstein (painting by Ewelina Dolzycka)

She had a vast collection of them: Bark the hound dog that could act as a tireless extension of one’s eyes and ears, able to detect even cloaked persons. There was Shadow the cat that could uncover and destroy Shadow tech, Fins the fish that healed wounds and Whisper, the over-sized lady bug that could cloak one sight and sound.

Most popular of all was Tweeter, the little bird that could get one to where one needed to go without fail.

Lady Poe was always happy to create a familiar when one was needed, however, the demand for them became more than she could keep up with. She was a mother and busy tutor of the Blanchefort children after all, but she was the type of person who never wanted to let anybody down.

She tried creating a great number of her familiars to have on-hand for use in case one was wanted, however, the familiars only last for a week before they fade away into nothing and she’d have to start all over again.

Lady Poe of Blanchefort had no idea the trouble her Autopyle would create (Carol Phillips)

Lady Poe of Blanchefort had no idea the trouble her Autopyle would create (Carol Phillips)

She needed a method to keep her familiars functioning for an indefinite period of time, that way she could always have a small flock of her creations around for any who needed one. She eventually came up with a very clever and seemingly harmless answer to the problem.

Lady Poe created a Silver tech device she called the Autopyle.  As she wanted to use an abandoned bell tower in the western face of Castle Blanchefort to keep her familiars, she formed her Autopyle into the shape of a massive bell. The Autopyle transmitted vast amounts of energy, and, with it in place, her familiars would last indefinitely. She decorated the bell tower, sanding and staining the floors, painting the walls, adding artwork, bookcases, draperies and couches, all done up in her provincial taste. In the rafters she added bird houses for her Tweeters and branches for the Whispers to climb on. When somebody needed a familiar, all they needed do was come to the room and sign one out on her ledger so she would know what needed to be replenished. The room became very popular. It was considered very relaxing to go into the nicely decorated room and play with all the animals.

RUTHINKILN OF WAAM:

Lady Poe had little idea the trouble her Autopyle creation would cause. Word eventually got out of the wondrous Silver tech creation Lay Poe had invented. Its news made it all the way into Xaphan space and into the ears of Ruthinkiln of Waam, a foul Black Hat and sister of the long lost Ethylrelda of Waam. With such a wondrous device, Ruthinkiln could create Shadow tech monsters the League had never seen before, and, on no less than ten separate occasions, she attempted to infiltrate Castle Blanchefort with her Spectre henchmen, the Drunes. Their intent was to steal the Autopyle and take it back to Xaphan space where its secrets could be unveiled.

Fortunately, all of Ruthinkiln’s infiltration efforts were detected and quashed. Lady Poe’s daughter, Millie, and Sebastian, son of Magistrate Kilos, made protecting the Autopyle room their personal quest as they grew into adults.

 

copyright 2015, Ren Garcia, Ewelina Dolzycka and Carol Phillips

 

 

Vive la France

September 9, 2014

French flag

I tend to get a lot of hits on my blog from France. Visitors originating in France rank second only to my home country of the United States in quantity of hits, with Germany being third. Germany makes sense, as I work with a number of immensely talented German artists. But France?? I often wonder if these hits are actual people looking at the artwork, or if the hits are simply products of spam.

I’d like to hope something of my work has touched somebody in France.

So please, if you’re from France, or anywhere else in the world, and you’re a real, living person, I invite you to leave a comment. Say “Hey” or “Bonjour” or whatever else comes to your mind.

Fingers Crossed

RG

As League sects go, none have more power or authority than the Sisterhood of Light. They come and go as they please, they take what they want, they have their own police force and their own fleet, and they dictate the course of the League. The Sisters are the de-facto rulers of the League.

There is, however, one very outspoken group that mocks and challenges virtually everything the Sisters do: The Hertogs.

The Hertogs are a loose band of disaffected scholars, chefs, tailors, craftsmen and scientists whose ongoing mission is to bring down the Sisters. They operate in secret, their origins and membership are unknown.

The Hertogs insist the Sisters are bizarre and demented and much more capricious then they publically let on.

The Hertogs insist the Sisters are bizarre and demented and much more capricious than they publically let on.

They first came to general attention in 003120AX when they published a book in the city of Jacarta called: The Real History of the League and of the Elders in Particular written by, mysteriously enough, “The Hertogs”. The book challenged a number of key points in ancient League history as told by the Sisters and presented a much darker history, especially regarding the old, departed Elders. Essentially, the book claimed the League is enslaved to the Sisters, claimed they are bizarre and demented, and called for an end to their reign. Predictably, the Sisters reacted badly to the publication, censuring the publisher and calling for an “open debate” with the Hertogs to cover the key points made in the book.

The Hertogs were a no-show to the debates. Instead, they circulated a number of pamphlets claiming the Sisters intended to smoke them out into the open, capture and most probably torture them to death.

Since then the Sisters have gone on a quiet, but persistent, campaign to discover the identity of the Hertog membership. Unfortunately, the Hertogs appear to be adept at avoiding the Sisters’ vaunted Stare as, so far, they have yet to uncover a single one. They suspected Grand Dame Hannah-Ben Shurlamp, EVoR of the University of Dee as being a key member, but they could not prove her involvement. Their search continues.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is frequently associated with the Hertogs, though her direct involvement is not proved.

Hannah-Ben Shurlamp is frequently associated with the Hertogs, though her direct involvement is not proved.

The Hertogs are seldom quiet. They publish frequent comments and critiques, usually blasting the latest Sisterhood proclamations. They once, famously, shot holes in a simple article written by a Sister proclaiming her fondness for the lunch menu at the Empire Hotel in St. Edmunds. Such childish antics, their tendency toward paranoia and hyperbole, and their unwillingness to come out into the open tends to lessen their impact and gives the general League populace pause. They are considered to be an interesting, if not entirely credible, voice in the regular postings not to be taken too seriously.

There is word that the Hertogs produced a groundbreaking work called The Splendor of the Vith detailing the considerable power the Vith peoples of Northern Kana once possessed and how the Sisters waged a successful bloodless war to rid them of it. This book, if true, would be particularly damning and could lead to the downfall of the Sisters. So far, the existence of the book is a mere rumor and no copies are publically available to be read.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carol Phillips and Eve Ventrue

"Carahil", by Felipe Montecinos

“Carahil”, by Felipe Montecinos

Of all the various characters roaming around the LoE Universe, Carahil appears to be the most sympathetic and well-loved. He’s a cool guy, has a heart, has a sense of humor, and he’s always ready to give of himself. He’s reformed the cold hearts of wayward goddesses and saved whole planets. For that reason, he tends to strike a chord with readers. You never know what might happen when he’s in the area–could be anything.

There are several aspects of the character you may or may not be aware of:

Carahil 1 (Carol Phillips)

Carahil 1 (Carol Phillips)

CARAHIL 1: The original Carahil, or Carahil 1, appeared only for a brief period of time in LoE Book 1. He was a scavenger living in the dregs of Sygillis of Metatron‘s temple, eating the dead bodies she created in abundance. Occasionally, when driven by hunger, he would take one of Sygillis’ Hulgismen guards. He was basically a big rat. When Syg was turned from evil and the Shadow tech of her temple changed to Silver, Carahil too was enlightened. He grew in size, became intelligent and powerful with Silver tech. He carried Captain Davage aloft into battle and, when Syg’s temple escaped the desolation of Metatron, Carahil 1 escaped as well and was, from the reader’s perspective, never seen again. We can only hope he had a happy ending out there somewhere along with his friends. Notice he is quite large, and has a natural, somewhat predatory appearance diminished a bit with a benevolent expression. Aside from his size, strength and ability to fly, Carahil 1 had none of the amazing abilities Carahil 2 would one day possess.

Carahil 2 (Carol Phillips)

Carahil 2 (Carol Phillips)

CARAHIL 2: Though he only knew him for a short time, Carahil 1 had a great influence on Captain Davage. Davage would often speak of Carahil at dinnertime, how he had admired him and considered him a benevolent soul and a friend, and that he missed him. Sitting at the table listening to all of this, was Captain Davage’s sister, Lady Poe. As a Silver tech female of growing power, Lady Poe loved creating little animals in Silver tech, and she was inspired by her brother’s tales. She decided to give Carahil back to Davage as a gift. She spent months collecting thoughts and recollections direct from Davage’s head, placing them into an ancient Vith fountain in the Telmus Grove. As she worked, Lady Poe became particularly devoted to the “Carahil Project” and was determined to make him “something special”. She gave him great wisdom, knowledge of magic and lore, and even threw in knowledge of cooking, sewing, botany, alchemy, and animal husbandry. Still not satisfied, Lady Poe wanted to give her masterpiece “a proper heart” She wanted him to be kind, to have a love of life, though she didn’t quite know where to get such a thing.

Carahil, as a human, with a pregnant Mabsornath (Carol Phillips)

Carahil, as a human, with a pregnant Mabsornath (Carol Phillips)

She would soon have an answer. The kitchen staff had an old bloodhound they called “Cookie” who was known for her gentle disposition and willingness to mother lost animals. The staff often brought her lost kittens, and Cookie would mother them until they were big enough to fend for themselves. Cookie was old and, as she lay dying, Lady Poe took her essence and placed it into the fountain as the final ingredient. Soon, Carahil 2 emerged from the fountain.

Lady Poe was delighted with Carahil and considered him to be her first child. She created a number of medallions which would summon carahil when needed. Carahil 2 brimmed with power. He loved rescuing small animals and nursing them back to health. He also had a love of jokes and pranks. His favorite prank was stealing gowns from Countess Sygillis’ wardrobe and hanging them from a flagpole.

Carahil’s abilities have never been fully tapped or displayed. He is powerful enough to be invited to join the Celestial Arborium, an organization of gods seeking to maintain Universal Balance. Carahil follows the rules of Universal law preventing him from using his abilities to their full extent. He is known to change his shape at will, become larger or smaller, use TK, control the weather, control animals, travel vast distances in moments, become ethereal or astral, ward away evil and destroy Shadow tech.

XANDARR:
Carahil took an active role in saving the Planet Xandarr from a Black Hat attack. Ever after Carahil was considered the protective patron god of the planet.

Carahil and his family (Felipe Montecinos)

Carahil and his family (Felipe Montecinos)

CARAHIL’S FAMILY: Carahil eventually took up with Mabsornath, the Cat-Goddess and together they had seven children. Their children were all very powerful, including Lannis, the Herald of the Gods and Atha who became a goddess of unluck, misfortune and impossible quests.

CARAHIL’S TEMPLES:
There are a number of mystical places associated with Carahil. The places are usually fun and filled with Carahil’s light. The Mystery Library in Castle Blanchefort, 1000 Carahil Park and its Gift Shop on Xandarr have both been confirmed as temples dedicated to Carahil.

There is another place associated with Carahil that is very frightening and dangerous, the Cathedral of Bone and Wire where a hideous demonic beast resides. How Carahil could be associated with such a dark place is not currently known.

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia, Carol phillips and Felipe Montecinos

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.

The following has nothing to do with my science fiction/fantasy book series. Just some thoughts on a sport that I love and respect. WARNING–there’s a bit of foul language.

Ronda Rousey

–Note, the following interview occurred only in the imagination of the blogger … Ronda Rousey is becoming a force in the world of women’s MMA, not just because of her amazing skills in the cage, but also because of her bold personality and ribald, unpredictable wit. Her material just sort of writes itself and she is destined to become the Muhammad Ali of women’s MMA for her ability to bang out quips and one-liners and self-promote a fight.

TOTEH: So Ronda, we appreciate the opportunity to sit down and speak to you today.

RR:

TOTEH: In your last outing, you beat Sarah Kaufman in just under a minute of the first round via armbar. What can you tell us about that fight?

RR: No, no, I beat Sarah Kaufman in about ten seconds, really. I bull-rushed her, knocked her down using some judo stuff that I know and then she spent the rest of the fight trying to avoid the inevitable. I snapped her arm off like a twig–you saw it. She was all patriotic before the fight, saying the belt was going with her back to Canada. Looks to me like the belt’s staying right here in the US. I’m amazed maple syrup didn’t come gushing out when I broke her arm off. How’s that for promoting US-Canadian relations??

TOTEH: You’ve won pretty much every fight you’ve ever been in, either amateur or pro, by way of armbar. Your critics call you one-dimensional–that’s not me talking, I’m just saying. What’s your take on that?

Anna Maria Rousey DeMarrs

RR: My take? Yeah, I’ve got a hot armbar, and when somebody can figure out how to beat it, I’ll move on to something else. Look, Plan A of every fight is to land the armbar. Want to know what Plan B is?? Do you? Plan B is: Repeat Plan A. I used to wake up as a kid with my teddy bear and footie pajamas and have my mom all over me, rolled up in the armbar position. “Get out of it, you little milk-drinking punk!” Mom would shout. “Get out of it!”, and eventually I did.

TOTEH: Your Mother is Dr. Anna Maria Rousey DeMarrs, a very famous judoka of the `70’s and `80’s.

RR: Damn right. The only chick out there tough enough to beat me is my mom, and I don’t think you’ll be seeing her stepping into the cage anytime soon.

Miesha Tate

TOTEH: Let’s move on. Miesha Tate

RR: Oh, f— that bitch! No–take that back, I wouldn’t f— that bitch if I was a guy, see? Did you see that scene while I was kicking Sarah Kaufman’s ass? She was sitting there eating a cupcake or something, and got frosting in that stupid hair-doo of hers. See, I frighten her so much, she can’t even eat a cupcake in my presence without embarrassing herself. So me and Kaufman are rolling around and I’m like: “Why don’t you take that forked tongue of yours and lick that frosting off of there, bitch, I mean Miesha!” Ha! Miesha Tate … Thanks to me, we all know what the inside of her arm looks like.

TOTEH: But, she …

RR: Next question, she’s old news and out of the picture. F— her. Did you see her almost lose to the dried up Earthly remains of Julie Kedzie in the under, under, under card that night? Heck, I could help Julie Kedzie cross the street and she’d end up with a broken arm and a busted hip. Julie Kedzie needs to apply for AARP or for one of those scooters old ladies rumble down the sidewalk on. Time to retire, Julie! You know what Tate’s trying to do, right? She’s trying to create some sort of cross-association linking her name to my name to get her places, sort of like Tonto and the Lone Ranger, Bigfoot and Wildboy, Batman and Robin. She’s like the ghost of some nameless person whose ass you’ve kicked and wants to haunt you forever. Let “Cupcake Girl” win some fights against non-senior citizens and eat some cupcakes without getting it in her hair and we’ll see. I’ll add her other arm to my collection.

Cris Cyborg

TOTEH: Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos is considered one of the most dangerous females ever to step into the cage. Her doping suspension is up soon, and she has stated that she wants you to come on up to her weight level and fight. Looks like she wants her belt back. What do you say to that?”

RR: What do I say?? I say there’s two types out there, there’s the “Champ,” and then there are all the “Chumps”. If you’re not the Champ, then you’re a Chump. I don’t see a belt around her waist, and therefore she’s a big, sorry-looking Chump from Brazil. Maybe there’s a problem with the Portuguese to English translation, but the Champ does not come up to the Chump’s weight class. No, no, if the Chump wants to fight, then she’s going to have to put down the `roids and the creams and the clears and come on down to where I am and we’ll fight. I wonder, when I rip her skinny, cut-weight Chump arm off, if it’ll wiggle around on the mat and do a little Chump Samba for me. What do you think?

Michael Phelps

TOTEH: I think that would be something to see. You were recently critical of former Olympic teammate Michael Phelps for being a “Diva“. Can you expand upon that?

RR: What’s to expand? He was a big guy around the Olympic village in Beijing–didn’t hang out, didn’t participate in stuff with everybody else, played by a different set of rules. Sounds like a Diva to me. Sounds like he ought to be dating Miesha Tate and they can hang out and be Divas together. I hung out. I made friends. Oh, by the way, he’d last about as long as Sarah Kaufman did against me.

TOTEH: Well, he’s not an MMA guy, he’s a swimmer. I don’t think he knows judo.

RR: I don’t know judo either, I just rip arms off. If he’d like to swim, we’ll swim. I’ll jump into that pool and armbar it into submission in world record time.

TOTEH: Well, er …

RR: You know, sometimes when I’m working out and I get a real sweat going, I think I can see through time. You know what I see there at the end of time?

TOTEH: What?

RR: I see a big arm there, ripe and sweaty, just waiting for me to grab hold and hyper-extend it.

TOETH: Miesha Tate’s arm?

RR: Oh, hell no–she wishes. She’s at minute 14 1/2 of her 15 and we’re moving on without her. Nope, it’s just an arm, and one of these days I’m going to reach out and it’s going to tap.

RG

There are many ruins dotting the landscape of Kana, especially in the northern continent of Vithland where the remnants of old manors and castles litter the landscape. Most are forlorn and ill-trodden places, overgrown and generally best left avoided. One notable exception is the Ruins of Caroline sitting in the green lands of Hala near the Straights of Elder under the eye of the Sisters’ lighthouse. The ruins of the fallen manor are frequently visited. Inns and pubs nearby do a brisk trade of those travelers seeking to visit them. The locals frequently go to the ruins and tend to the grass and keep the footing level so that visitors unfamiliar with the terrain won’t hurt themselves.

“The Ruins of Caroline” by Carol Phillips

The House of Caroline was a Great House of Hala stock. Like most Halas, the Carolines were simple farmers and tillers of the land. They were well-liked, generally followers in the complicated social scheme of Kana instead of pacesetters. They had many friends across Kana. Caroline Maidens were known to be very beautiful. The Carolines were known to be quite tall for Halas, taller even than the Vith. The Sisterhood of Light diagnosed them with the early onset of Giantism.

The Carolines were one of twenty-five Great Houses to flee the League during the Great Betrayal in 000000AX and become Xaphans. Most of the other fleeing Houses were mal-contents and rabble-rousers: The Burgons, the Zary and Trimbles. The Carolines, however, were content league citizens–it was the House of Zary, a rather wayward House, that cooerced the Carolines to leave the League with them. So, broken-hearted, the Carolines boarded their ships and left their beloved manor by the sea behind.

The Carolines wandered the empty passes of Xaphan space for months. They were raided by several other Houses, including the House of Zary, who were starving in their transports. In danger of becoming extinct, the Carolines put out a distress call, which was answered by the League vessel Victor. With the Victor’s help, the Carolines settled on a gray world in the Tu Mervolin system.

There, the Carolines thrived, becoming Xaphans (technically, enemies of the League). The Carolines, however, always maintained friendly relations with the League and, during the Battle of Mirendra I, provided safe harbor for damaged League vessels, saving many lives. For their part in the battle, the Sisterhood of Light reinstated the House of Caroline’s familial patent in 003152AX, making them dual League/Xaphan citizens.

The abandoned Caroline Manor fell into ruins over the centuries, the grand estate tumbling down and blackening. The Lords of Hala went to the Sisters and demanded they be permitted to raze what was left of the manor and rebuild a new House there. Their request was denied and Caroline remained a ruin.

A Lady in the Ruins

6 ft 7 Melazarr of Caroline ended up in the Ruins a record 59 times (painting by Eve Ventrue)

An interesting legend and fad arose over the years regarding the Ruins of Caroline … as time and time again, the ruins were not completely abandoned.

The House of Caroline’s LosCapricos weapon is a strange garter-belt-like device called the VERY MARY. The VERY MARY, when worn by a Caroline maiden, will spirit her away from danger and return her to her ancestral holdings: the Ruins of Caroline near the sea in Kana. Over the centuries, Caroline maidens grew taller and taller and became more and more adventurous. Often times they found themselves in mortal peril, and many times they found themselves standing alone in the ruins under the Kanan moonlight. In 000272AX, Eon of Caroline was about to be sacrificed in Burgon and was saved by her VERY MARY. She wandered the ruins and, driven by cold and hunger, made her way into the countryside to locate shelter. She was met by Zal of Thompson, a lord from a nearby Great House and was welcomed into their home. Soon, Zal and Eon fell in love and he made her his lady. Eon was well-liked, and when word of how she arrived on Kana got out, gentlemen seeking a fine bride began venturing out into the ruins, hoping to encounter a Caroline maiden from nowhere as Zal had done.

The fad became popular and gentlemen from all over Kana and elsewhere flocked to Hala to take their turn sitting in the ruins under the moonlight. They brought with them flowers and candies, and gifts of jewelry. They wrote heartfelt letters and placed them by a remnant of masonry that became known as the Heartstone. The fad might have faded, as many often do, however, occasionally the gentlemen’s efforts were rewarded with success and the pratice perpetuated itself, eventully becoming a cottage industry in the region.

Carofabs

As with all things, there were those who sought to take advantage of such a quaint fad and turn it to their own ends. Such was the Carofab: a local lady who disguised herself as a Caroline. Kanan ladies became rather jealous of all those eligible men going to Caroline to seek romance. They developed a rather sophisticated spy network so that they could know exactly who was going to be sitting in the ruins and when. When a desired gentleman was slated to be out there, Kanan ladies hoping to catch his eye would dress themselves up as a Caroline and meet him there. Lady Constance of Belmont-South Tyrol did just such a thing and won a husband for her efforts.

copyright 2012 Ren Garcia