Cover Reveal: Tarnished

The cover for Tarnished is done! Like the rest of the book, pencils were by Patrick Buermeyer. Colors for the cover were done by John Rauch. I gotta say that these two make a pretty solid team, going off of the cover for this and The Northern Campaign.

 
tarnished cover.jpg
 

Based on our current pace, Tarnished should be done by late 2018 or early 2019. Once it is, you guys are in for one helluva ride.

Site Changes and Wiki Launch

With the upcoming release of A Memory of Solstice, it seemed time to make some adjustments to the website to reflect our growing catalog. Previously, there has been a Gods and Men Cycle tab in the navigation bar. This would take you to a drop-down menu where you could find all of the books, some information about the world, a bestiary, suggested reading order and the timeline.

This all existed because The Gods and Men Cycle is a huge series with lots of interesting information and worldbuilding that I wanted to be able to share on the website. The issue is that Dark Ocean is another series that debuts with A Memory of Solstice, and it needs room to breath too. But adding another drop-down menu to the navigation bar felt cumbersome and unwieldy. It was poor site design. And this doesn't even take into account the several other series that we have planned down the road. Something had to be done.

To clean up the clutter, there is a new drop-down in the navigation bar, which has replaced the Gods and Men one, titled: "Our Worlds". This lists ever series currently published by Dark Tidings Press (if it isn't a series it isn't listed). Now, when clicking on the Gods and Men Cycle tab, for instance, you are taking to a unique landing page that talks a little about the series and includes links to several of the previously mentioned pages.

The background even rotates through the artwork!

The background even rotates through the artwork!

These landing pages are not only a functional way to cut down on the navigation bar clutter, but they are also prettier to look at thanks to the way Squarespace treats them as a microsite with their own design templates. Each series will now get a landing page that will serve as the home base for all of the links and other miscellaneous pages connected to them.

You'll also notice that in this process the Artwork page that previously fell under the Gods and Men tab is now in the main navigation bar. This is because I ran out of link space on the landing page, and I decided that this page should showcase all of the amazing artwork that we get commissioned at Dark Tidings Press, not just for The Gods and Men Cycle. Other changes include changing the blog title to "New & Updates" which is more appropriate and doesn't carry the same promise of regular content that a blog does, and the addition of a submission form under the About tab. That's right, we are open to submissions now!

Playing off of the same theme, I launched the Realms of Creation wiki today as well. This will replace the Bestiary and World pages for The Gods and Men Cycle, as well as contain dozens of other articles and pages covering characters, items, events, and places throughout the saga. While creating the pages for the website, I often struggled to strike the right balance of information on the pages. I didn't want to include spoilers outside of the timeline, but sometimes that left certain entries feeling lifeless. With a wiki, I can include all of the details that I want, on as many topics as I want, and readers can sift through it at their own peril. Keeping all of that separate from the main site will be very helpful overall. As to why its called the Realms of Creation wiki and not the Gods and Men Cycle wiki...well, let's just say that the High God was busy creating other worlds while on hiatus after Lio killed Xyxax. 

Hopefully, these changes lead to a stronger website and a more pleasant experience for all of our fans.

 

The Blight of Piracy (or, I'm Big Now, I Guess?)

This past week it was brought to my attention that the audiobook for Wrath of the Fallen was uploaded to Youtube. I did a quick search, and sure enough, there it is. And it has been up since 2016! In that amount of time, it has had 377 views. For a 10-hour audiobook that's not a lot, since its safe to guess that none of those 377 finished it in one sitting, so the reality is a lower number of people participating in the piracy.

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Even so, I went through a few stages of disbelief and anger. On the one hand, this is somewhat flattering. I mean, someone bought the audiobook from Audible, listened to it, and thought, "this is good enough that I'm going to take the time to pirate it." However, that also means that they stole from me in some capacity. Who knows how many sales (if any) I missed as a result of this, and ultimately that's not what bothers me about it. It's the principle over the money. Hours went into writing this story. Hours went into recording it. Finn deserves his cut of each sale just as much as I do.

I did a little more digging and found the audiobook up on a file-sharing site as well. Great. More pirates. What do I do now? I've considered ignoring it and looking at it as free publicity. I've considered taking the time to try and get it taken down. I've mostly spent a lot of time pondering how the hell this happened to someone so small.

Ultimately, whatever I do will be the right choice for me and Dark Tidings Press. If you ever have the urge to pirate something, don't be a dick. Especially if it's from a new author/small press. If you legitimately can't afford it, just ask, and we will probably give it to you for free for a review or something. If you can afford it and just don't want to pay for it, you're a dick and don't deserve to read it anyway.

Anyway, that's enough about that. If you did find my work through illicit means, I hope you liked it.

The Northern Campaign Launches on Wattpad

Our new web-serial The Northern Campaign launched on Wattpad a few days ago. For those who don't know, Wattpad is a website where readers can engage with writers and read tons of fiction for free. 

I decided that I needed to start a web-serial for two reasons: 1. It will force me to write something regularly, which will only help my output on my traditional novels, because I will be in the writing "mode" more often. 2. It will serve a great way to get people into the world of the Gods and Men Cycle without asking them to pony up any money. "Hey, you like The Northern Campaign, why don't you check out Wrath of the Fallen or The Nightbreaker?"

 

Did I mention the cover art is by the same guy illustrating Tarnished? And that the color work was done by the guy who colors Batwoman?

Did I mention the cover art is by the same guy illustrating Tarnished? And that the color work was done by the guy who colors Batwoman?

The Northern Campaign is set in the early years of the Gods and Men universe. For those who have read The Nightbreaker, this should be familiar territory. While Daniel was mucking around at Siltstone tower as "punishment" for his initial failure against Rexin the Blasted, the Northern Campaign had begun in earnest in the Rim of Paradise.

The serial picks up a year or two after the end of The Nightbreaker, with Daniel now cemented into his role as a Hero of the Light. It will follow the adventures of the gang from The Nightbreaker under the command of Daniel, as well as followup more on the secret affair that he is having with Lio, one of the Gods of Light. However, the main characters of The Northern Campaign are the newly formed Ash Company, a group of Paladins led by Daniel's best friend Merek, who was name-dropped in The Nightbreaker. (Merek also has a larger role in things to come, check out the timeline if you want some spoilers...)

Wattpad is designed to have illustrations as well, so each chapter of The Northern Campaign will have an illustration from Patrick Buerymeyer, who is the artist for Tarnished. Expect a new release for this every few weeks or so. I'm trying to get ahead so that chapters come out in regular intervals (they are somewhere between 1st and 2nd draft in quality, so that helps) but as usual, life takes hold and I can't make any promises. The story itself is split into several smaller story arcs, so expect each 3-4 chapters to tell smaller stories that tie into the whole. The first arc, titled "Ash Company" is done, with chapters 2 and 3 coming in the next few days.

Check it out on Wattpad here.

First Colored Pages for Tarnished

I just got back some of the first colored pages for our upcoming graphic novel Tarnished. You'll recognize the imagery as the creation story as pieced together throughout Wrath of the Fallen.

The lettering isn't done yet, so just sit back and enjoy some awesome art!

 

Announcing A Memory of Solstice by Caleb Chandler

Dark Tidings Press is pleased to announce that we will be publishing A Memory of Solstice by author Caleb Chandler. A Memory of Solstice will be the first volume of the five-part Dark Ocean series following a group of extraordinary individuals who learn of secret abilities whose origin lie in a planet that is connected to Earth in mysterious and dangerous ways.

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Caleb Chandler is a junior at Oregon State University from Anchorage, Alaska who is studying Digital Communications and Business. His passion is with the cinematography arts but lately he has been fascinated with writing when he decided to create a story from his childhood. The Dark Ocean: A Memory of Solstice is his first major written work. He does not see himself so much as an author, but an individual with a big imagination who wants to share an adventure with the world. Much of his inspiration comes from staring endlessly into the night sky and hoping an idea comes across his chaotic mind.

Expect A Memory of Solstice to publish in early 2018!

Updates, Delays, and What the Future Holds

Well...So much for posting weekly. Or monthly.

Turns out this whole working dad thing cut into more of my creative time than I had anticipated (which had been a bunch). That being said, I have been working on several projects, though not all of them are getting done as quickly as I had hoped.

First and foremost, THE THINGS THAT WALKED BEFORE, my Lovecraftian novel that is an adaptation of a film script I wrote in College is being tabled for the moment. The cover is done, and adapting my own screenplay feels like I am second drafting rather than first drafting, so the project should be moving on at a good clip. It isn't. Its not the story, I really like it and want to share it with the world. Its the timeline that I planned to have it finished in. THINGS was slated for an October release, and that isn't even close to being a reality. I think its a combination of the looming deadline combined with my desire to finish CRIES OF THE FORSAKEN first that ended up slowing my pace to a crawl. So, for the immediate future I am delaying this one. Its still coming, the story is mostly complete, I'm just adding some connecting prose and refining some details. When it does get done (next year?) prepare to get scared.

 
Things Cover.jpg
 

Secondly, CRIES OF THE FORSAKEN is right on schedule. First draft is done, and Im starting my re-read/edit and then on to the second draft. It should be out by December. Milica has the cover order and should be starting on that in a month or so.

Now to the more secretive projects...

The one that will come to fruition first is an original novel by a new author to the Dark Tidings Press team. I can't share too much detail on this yet as we are still in early days for the process. I am excited for this novel to say the least, and it's about time for us to publish more professional liars than just myself.

The second project, which I can talk about in more detail though it wont be out for considerably longer (irony?) is a graphic novel set in the Gods and Men Cycle. Patrick Buermeyer who has been doing some monster art for us (check out the bestiary) is doing the pencils and inks. The book is tentatively titled TARNISHED. It follows the adventures of the Paladin who trained Trent, Devin, and Gil prior to the events of WRATH OF THE FALLEN as he hunts down a rogue Paladin who has started burning villages. The book will most likely be released as a single volume graphic novel in a casewrap hardcover. There is no projected date for release, at this time.

Thats it for now. Stay tuned!

Stray From Your Outline, or, Why I Deleted a Chapter Before I Wrote It

The first draft of Cries of the Forsaken is almost done. And its even closer now that I didn't write the next chapter that I was going to write today. Don't worry, I'm making actual writing progress too, I wrote a chapter just before I didn't write a chapter. Cool?

 
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

See, my writing process follows a very specific process that works for me, but may not work for everyone else. First, I come up with my story concept, which usually happens spontaneously and while I am planning or writing something else. Then, when I decide that it is time to write said story, I start with a somewhat detailed outline. After finishing the outline I write the story, following along the outline as best I can, taking a few minor detours along the way (the point of this post). After the first draft is finished, I put the manuscript away for a few weeks (or in the case of Wrath of the Fallen, a few months) before I come back to it. I do a complete read-through, marking up the draft with a red pen before I dive back in and write the second draft. This is always completely from the ground up, with the printed and marked up copy of the first draft on my desk in front of me. When I'm writing the second draft I change some of my wording, add more detailed descriptions, fix clunky dialogue, etc. After that I do a final edit, and send the manuscript to my editor and beta readers. After that it's ready for you!

Some authors don't outline, they prefer for the story to grow organically. George RR Martin is famous for this gardener (vs. architect) style. Others are strict about outlining. Terry Brooks used to be a big outliner, but recently he has moved away from that to give himself more of a challenge (I can't remember where I saw him say this...). Some authors don't do a second draft either. Mark Lawrence writes a first draft and then makes a few edits and he has a best seller on his desk. I am not that fortunate.

This brings me back around to my experience today. My outlines are somewhat detailed, but not to the minute detail. Mostly, I write a single paragraph per chapter, giving me a roadmap to follow, but I don't plan chapters in advance down to ever story beat. This gives me the freedom to have individual chapters grow organically, while still keeping the story on track. However, this means that sometimes the story takes its own path, and the outline has to change. When this happens, I go back and add the changes in red, preserving the original outline so that I can refer back to it. From time to time the changes in one chapter mean that a later chapter needs even more changes, because now events that may have played out later happened earlier, or an entire plot point has evolved. 

The chapter that I did write today had an ending that felt completely organic based on the characters and the situation. This was not what was in the outline. Originally, the chapter would have ended on a relatively boring note, because we are building toward the climax, but not quite there yet. As I was writing though, several opposing forces felt like they would finally come to a head, and as a result one of the characters would get imprisoned. Then, I realized that the other major character in the scene wouldn't allow such a thing, and a battle ensued. It was great. So I needed to stray from the outline and the story was better for it.

Then I tried to start the next chapter, and I realized that this chapter was from a weaker POV and spoiled a twist that is going to happen in a few chapters. I tried and tried to figure out a way to still use this character to create another chapter here, to give them something "on camera" to do, but I decided that nothing felt natural here. Everything that this character could do in this situation would either be redundant to something that came before, or it would be redundant or spoil what would come later. So, I ignored the outline and cut the whole thing, moving right on to the next one (now affectionately called Chapter 19). Not only will this save readers from slogging through a redundant chapter, but it saves the narrative from slowing down just before the climax.

Thankfully, I realized that this chapter wouldn't work before I spent the time writing it, only to cut it during the editing process. This is why I outline. So that I can make the story the best that it can be before I even put pen to paper. 

The Importance of Artwork When Building a Fantasy World

This is the first post on the Dark Tidings Press blog. I can't guarantee how frequently I will be posting, as I am working on multiple projects, and some other business related activities that I can't announce yet. Just know that I will try and post once a week or so!

Recently, I decided to put out a call for some artists in my college network to see about getting some concept art done for the Gods and Men Cycle. This got me thinking about the importance of artwork for me as a writer, and as a reader. I have always thought artwork for my world was important, which is why my covers are scenes from the book, rather than stock photos or graphics, and why there is an art tab on the website showcasing all of the wonderful artwork that I have commissioned over the years.

Historically, fantasy artwork has been a staple of the genre, from the often lurid covers of old pulps and paperbacks, to the illustrations accompanying Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manuals. Growing up I always fell in love these pieces of art. They took me into the world in a different way than the written word did. Not that one was better or worse, just different. Often times I would refer back to the cover of a fantasy book as I was reading, to try and add context to the image on the cover, or to help the image I had formed in my own mind. When reading a book that doesn't have illustrations I usually go to the web and search for art, official or fan made to add to the image in my head. When I get get really lucky I find an official art book or world book that I can purchase a hardcover of and put it on the shelf alongside the novels in the series. I mean, what fan of Conan doesn't like to flip through nice prints of Frazetta's take on the character?

There are of issues with this, of course. Unless the author and the illustrator are the same person, the artwork is just an interpretation of the world. This is how we end up with covers where the protagonist has the wrong hair color, or a scene from the book plays out the complete opposite of how it does inside the pages of the work.

 

By Sanjin Halimic

By Sanjin Halimic

Wrath of the Fallen has this issue to a degree. Arra looks perfectly like I had intended. The carnage of the battle is just like what I had hoped for. Ren looks great. The Herald is perfectly menacing and awestruck by the presence of the goddess. However, the Herald doesn't have any wings. In the world of the Gods and Men Cycle, Heralds and Seraphs are two sides of the same coin, angelic-winged figures that have some measure of Divine Blood which allows them to speak for the gods on the Mortal Plane. In the cover, the Herald wasn't given wings because the artist couldn't make them look good, so I relented and let him go on the cover as-is. And I don't really mind. 

Writing a novel isn't a collaborative art form like film is, for example. But sometimes collaboration and different interpretations can come into your work, and I usually let it happen. While the artist should do their best to reflect the world and words created by the writer, they are creating something original as well, with their own agency. That's why I usually give artists freedom when they are creating a representation of my world.

One of the other ways that artwork and artist agency influences my creative process comes into the way that I draft a story. When I write (another blog post, for sure) I start with an outline, then a first draft, followed by a second (written from the ground up), and finally I edit and release the work. I usually commission artwork for the cover somewhere around steps one and two. That usually means that the art is done while I am either writing or editing the second draft. When this happens, I often refer back to the artwork, just as I do when I'm reading, to allow it to transport me into my world and influence my descriptions in my writing. Don't mistake this for taking away my own agency as a creator though, the Herald kept his wings after all.

A sneak peak of Akklor by Patrick Buermeyer

A sneak peak of Akklor by Patrick Buermeyer

This brings me to what I plan to do going forward. The universe that I created for the Gods and Men Cycle is diverse, populated by all manners of fantastical creatures. In order to illustrate (I couldn't help myself) this, I will be commissioning several works of concept art of these beings. For now, this art will be showcased here on the website, but eventually the illustrations will be compiled into a world book of some kind when I have enough history to warrant writing one (see The World of Shannara by Terry Brooks or The World of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin) or possibly an illustrated edition of Wrath of the Fallen or The Broken Pact Trilogy as a whole.

The art won't always match what is in the books perfectly, so don't let it ruin your headcanon or mental image. But enjoy it all the same. I know I will.