Thursday, October 4, 2018

Galahad's Doom featured in local newspaper

The local weekly newspaper in Phenix City, Alabama has a feature on me in this week's edition.
If you aren't able to pick up an actual newspaper (suitable for framing), you can still read the article online. 

Many thanks to Toni Stauffer and everyone at The Citizen of East Alabama for taking an interest in one of your local writers.

To everyone visiting this blog after reading the article, I invite you to click through the history of previous posts here and feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments. I'm excited by the story I'm telling and I hope you'll check out the books and then let me know what you thought of them.

Acts 17: 20 “You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”


Monday, August 20, 2018

Book 2's Cover Design

Marching As To War, the second book in the Galahad's Doom series, is now available. Check my earlier entry for more information.

But today, I wanted to provide a glimpse of the design process behind the cover.

At first, I thought about only showcasing two characters on the cover in order to provide symmetry with the first book. But then I decided that I'm only ever going to have so many book covers and I didn't want to pass on a chance to show depictions of more characters.

I always knew this second chapter would be the darkest book in the cycle. The Second Act is always where the bad guys win and all seems lost for our hero. So with that in mind, I knew I wanted to show off the bad guys.

So I sketched out very roughly my composition idea. Nothing groundbreaking about it. It's very common in fantasy to basically have two or three characters pose for portraits. But with this sketch, I made the decision that we would see Queen Azzrea and Maphael on either side (both characters familiar to readers of the first book), with the new villain featured in the middle. He's new to this book but Dark Lord Iscariot's name is given away in the promotional blurb. But you'll have to read the book to know more about him.


The general idea is there from this first sketch, particularly the serrated sword prominent in the foreground. But what should also be noted is that I had precious few ideas for costume details. All I knew is Maphael needed to be in quasi-military noble's garb, but I made him look like a member of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

So I decided to take it a step further and do a mock up with pre-existing art stolen without remorse from random Google searches. I looked primarily for character archetypes that fit what I had in mind, and ended up settling for a photograph to stand in for Azzrea.  The primary purpose of this over my sketch was to play with color palette and tone.



At this point, it was time to get my artist involved. I reached out to artist Mark Aaron Williams and told him what I was looking for. Then I gave him the news that I hope he'd take as a creative challenge. I told him I didn't really know what these characters looked like. Let me rephrase: I didn't know what their costume details were. I totally handed over to Mark the freedom to interpret and invent their looks based on my written descriptions of their characters and their roles in the story.

But I did give him celebrities to use, not as likenesses, but as inspiration.

First for Azzrea, I suggested Morena Baccarin and provided these pictures:


For Maphael, I had in mind a pale, sunken-eyed version of Luke Evans.



For Iscariot, I could think of no one better than musician Henry Rollins to convey that no-nonsense intensity that demands to be the center of gravity in any scene.




Then Mark went to work, taking my sketches and these celebrity inspirations and adding his own flare. I cannot tell you how much of a thrill it was for me to get the artwork back and see how someone else imagined my characters. Mark absolutely nailed everyone of these. All the detail work in the costumes is 100% Mark's imagination. But there were a couple of changes I requested from his first drafts. First,Iscariot with the long hair of a rock star (probably taking a cue from my mockup above). I loved the look, but the story I wrote required a soldier's crew cut some scars:



It's worth noting that Mark rendered all of this in 3D digital art. This means he could create 3D models of the characters and then move the virtual camera around them for the exact angle he wanted. After choosing that, he composited the models together.

NOTE: You can click on any of these images for a bigger, closer look.



You see there the earliest stage character model for who would become Azzrea. After finalizing the look, camera angle and lighting on Iscariot, Mark went about designing Azzrea's look:



Azzrea is an evil queen, but I wanted to avoid the clich├ęd look of, say, a Morticia Addams. And she didn't necessarily need to have a dress at all, but I needed a look that was powerful and feminine. This first draft above gave me that tough look, and I liked the flared jacket that recalled a skirt without being one. But she looked too much like a scraper and not enough like a queen. So Mark came back with this:


This draft was much better and I started really getting excited about what Mark was doing. The costume details really screamed character.  But it was too much skin. I knew this was a villain, but it was still a little too risque for the tone I wanted. As a compromise, Mark covered her up with mesh and criss-crossed with solid straps of material.  He then added the crown and jewelry to bring home that queen-like quality.  Beautiful work. And 100% to Mark's credit. I had no specific ideas for Azzrea and he really brought her to life:


Maphael came together a lot more quickly. Mark pretty much nailed him from the get-go:


The only change I asked for him was to reposition his hands. The final version has him clutching a lock of hair to his chest.  Then Mark put it all together with the background image he painted and gave us the final image we all love today:



And there's a peek at the creative process behind the cover to Galahad's Doom II: Marching As To War.  

I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you'll check out my series.http://www.whiterocketbooks.com/galengriffon/index.htm  













Friday, August 17, 2018

NOW AVAILABLE!! Galahad's Doom Part II: Marching As to War

It thrills me to announce the second book in my series is now available in paperback and Kindle formats. I know it's been a long time. It still took over a year after a successful GoFundMe campaign and the final cover design.  I plan on being a lot more active on this blog and will spend future post digging into the journey this book to get to market.

For those of you who contributed to GoFundMe, your copies will processed and shipped out as quickly as I can do it. Right now, I'm still waiting on my inventory copies to show up.


The Galahad's Doom page on my publisher's website has the press releases for both books, you can go there and check them out.

And you can find both My Brother's Keeper and Marching as to War on Amazon. I hope you'll check them out and let me know what you think. And, as always, I need your Amazon reviews!

The cover spotlight goes to the villains in this darker middle chapter of my trilogy, but the story remains one of Christianity existing in fantasy world. The inspiration for this story came to me in 1997 after reading Ephesians 6.

It's exciting for me to continue this story, working once again with familiar characters and introducing new ones. Hopefully, the story goes in directions that will surprise you, but I can promise once the action gets started in this one, it never stops.


Invasion. War. Darkness. These are the Beginning of Sorrows.

A mysterious knight born in the depths of Hell
 leads an army of beasts and demons as they march to a single goal: 
Conquest.

For the glory of the Serpent, all that is Good must fall.
But as war engulfs the kingdom, Galen Griffon begins a journey of discovery
 that could represent the world’s only hope.

Sworn into the knighthood of the Church, Galen is thrust onto a quest and told to save the world. Upon this journey he must face his deepest fears, 
discover his father’s tragic secret and reunite with his beloved Ariana
 in time to save the kingdom.

Queen Azzrea has sent her new champion, Dark Lord Iscariot, to the front lines of war.
Armies and cities fall before him. Hosts of demons swarm over the realm.
 In this storm of violence and fear and darkness, a single light flickers. 
The Angelic brand on Galen’s arm and the fruit grove of a secluded monastery
 may unlock the desperate secret to survival.




Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy 2017, New Readers

I was blessed enough to sell a few copies of My Brother's Keeper during the Christmas season. If you are one of those new readers, thank you for your support. I hope you have enjoyed it and I look forward to hearing from you.

I am excited about 2017, because the second book in the series, Marching As To War, is on track for a summer release. I have just recently completed another editorial pass over the entire manuscript and I'm very pleased with how it flows. I am going to probably do my most revision work on the first chapter, because I feel like I can still improve it.

I can't wait for everyone who has read the first book to get their hands on the second.

A bit of news this week, I was contacted by the local newspaper here in Columbus, GA and I was interviewed for the "Faith" section in this Sunday's edition. I should be the featured story in that section and hopefully it will succeed in spreading the word a bit.

If you are finding this blog for the first time, please know that I'm always open to your questions, comments, praise, criticisms (*cough* andpositiveAmazonreviews *cough*).

I will use this space in the coming weeks and months to keep you updated on the status of the next book and answer any questions that may come in. I also have a bit of an art gallery I've developed to help me visualize the characters. I will try to go through those drawings and post them from time to time.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sci-Fi Fantasy Fest appearance


This weekend, I will be a guest at the 2nd Annual Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fest at the Hoover, Alabama public library.

I don't do as many of these types of shows as I'd like. Maybe once the second novel in the series is out, I can focus on marketing and creating a strong table presence.

But I hope some of you that meet me this weekend in Hoover will check me out here. I plan on making this blog the main conduit between myself, my readers and those that wish to support me.

So to any new folks that may read this: welcome. I hope you enjoy the first book in the series My Brother's Keeper. 

Here's a look at the postcard flyer I will be giving out this weekend:

Galahad's Doom Part II Update


I know it's been inexcusably too long since I last updated this blog, but I do plan on being better going forward.  I promise to post something at least once a week, if you promise to keep coming back and checking it out. Okay?

Cool.

So what's going on with my series? I can tell you that I spent 2015 and the first half of 2016 really focused on writing the second volume. Galahad's Doom Part II: Marching As To War has made it past the first draft stage. I can announce that it is in the hands of my editor and we will get it out as soon as we can.  Realistically, that's probably Spring 2017.

I'm really excited with how it came out and can't wait for everyone who read My Brother's Keeper  to check it out. I can tell you it is loaded down with action and hopefully there's a few surprises along the way.

And while my editor rips apart my manuscript, I've also been turning my thoughts for the first time towards the concluding third volume. I have several pages in a composition notebook already filled and I'm already excited by some new ideas I've had.

So if you haven't read the first book yet, go ahead and do that. Then stay tuned to this blog for not only all important details and announcements going forward but also for thoughts about the story and characters that I will share in future posts.

Here is a look at my first preliminary sketch for my cover idea for Part II:




And here is a rough mock-up I put together in Photoshop based on that sketch. Please understand, this is NOT (notnotNOT) the actual cover. I grabbed pre-existing artwork off the internet, using general character archetypes.  It's just to help with design ideas.



The two folks on the left and right are standing in for Queen Azzrea and Lord Maphael, characters that readers of Brother's Keeper should know. The tough warrior guy in the middle? Yeah, you'll have to read Marching As To War to figure that one out.  Again, I will commission original artwork that depicts my characters accurately. This is just a rough design sketch.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'm on a Podcast

I was a guest on the White Rocket podcast a little while ago. My publisher, Van Plexico, conducted this 45-minute radio style interview.

So please feel free to take a listen and cringe along with me at the sound of my voice.

And in other news, the Kindle version of "My Brother's Keeper" is just around the corner so be sure to look for that announcement soon.