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.  

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: 

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.