2017 INDIE FANTASY BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS!! — Derek Barton

2017 IFBG Winners

 

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!!  HERE ARE THE WINNERS:

GRAND PRIZE — $100 Amazon Card and 8 Ebooks:
Sharon Haley!!

RUNNER UP — $25 Amazon Card and 6 Ebooks
Edi Cruz

BOOK WINNERS —
Alyssa Hollingsworth
RJ Shefler
Henry Walker
Carol Gowett

CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS!!!!

Winners will be getting an email to confirm their winnings. 🙂

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ONE YEAR BLOG-ANNIVERSARY!! — Derek Barton

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The picture is to pay homage to one of the books that most inspired me to be a horror/epic fantasy writer:  The Shining by Stephen King!

 

Jack and friends have come out to celebrate with me on MY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY writing my blog!!

 

I am super thrilled to celebrate and mark this occasion.  It certainly doesn’t feel like I have been doing this blog for a whole year!  What an incredible journey it has been — in a good way filled with a lot of personal growth and accomplishments that I didn’t think were possible.

Just a few stats that I would like to point out.  Since July 17th, 2016:

  • Visitors to the site:  659
  • Views on the different pages:  1603
  • Visitor countries:  19 different nations (including Japan, Thailand, Australia, Indonesia, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Romania and someplace called Guernsey!)
  • Blogs posted:  37 (this will be 38th!)
  • Stats for July 2016:  79 visitors, 219 views
  • Stats for July 2017:  184 visitors, 244 views (and the month hasn’t finished!)

 

Been an unbelievable year and I am ecstatic to see what the next year will bring! Thank you for being with me this year and enjoying the ride with me.  You are all my favorite passengers! ha!

 

Now back to work….

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY

ALL

WORK

DULL BOY

 

 

 

 

2017 Bi-Monthly Goals for July & August — Derek Barton

Blog Pic 7-10-17

July & August Bi-Monthly Goals

Recently, I came across an interesting video blog on Youtube from fantasy novelist, Kristen Martin. She outlined her “bi-monthly” goals for the months of January & February. I liked the process a lot and I could see how it would be a great motivator for me.

The main aim is to break down your “bigger picture” goals into easier, more obtainable goals. These can be both professional as well as personal. The other part to the process is to publicize them as this gives you a sense of accountability. If I can accomplish at least 12 of the 15 goals then that is 80% which is a “winning” and successful score!

I will be revamping these again in September. I will give you a rundown of how I did and then a new or revised list.

Here are my goals for the next two months:

1. Finalize my Chapter Outlines for The Bleeding Crown: I am a big time “plotter” as they say in the industry. I write faster and have better quality of work if I know where I am going in each chapter.   You can think of it like a road map.  Some authors write by the seat of their pants (“pantsers”), but when I did this, I found I would always get lost. Then I would lose enthusiasm for the story and not finish. For this story, I know exactly where I am heading and how I want it to end. The difficulty is to determine all the little steps along the way on that road getting to the finale!

2. Complete the First Rough Draft of Bleeding Crown: I have been putting a lot of effort into writing the first draft and have three quarters of the story down. Unfortunately, I am quickly coming up to the end of what I had written for the outline. Thus, goal #1 and goal #2 go hand in hand. If I don’t do #1, I won’t get near #2. Sighhhhhh

3. Complete 52,000 words written (52 days * 1000 words):  This ties into the other goals, but even if I finish The Bleeding Crown, I have my Elude series.  I want to accomplish this so I have even more on my site and Amazon for my readers to dig into.  A 1,000 a day is actually not that hard for a lot of writers (Stephen King does over 3,000 every day), but that IS his only career… HA!  Once I can comfortably do this on a daily basis, I will be increasing it.

4. Outline first two books of Elude Series:  A lofty goal for me, but without the stretch goals I won’t know for sure what I can actually accomplish or not, right? I am enjoying this genre as much as I enjoy my fantasy work (both have my biggest love – horror).  I was inspired to write the Elude story after reading Stephen King’s novel Mr. Mercedes which is a great “grim detective” series (he also added a lot of horror elements to this genre story too!).  The novels are all going to be relatively short (under a 100 pages each) as I want them to be an on-going series and I want to build that anticipation element to it.  Plus right now “short is in” on Amazon and writers are finding success with this approach.

5. Write out three more Elude Sections: I am including the first five sections of the first book for Elude on my blog. Would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions or if any of you have questions about the story. Another appeal to this work is that it takes place in my city Phoenix! I moved here when I was 26 and fell instantly in love with it. Now I can take you, my readers, on a whirlwind tour through Vicente’s eyes!

6. Compile and create an Ebook on the Writing Craft from my past blogs: I have kind of already done a part of this. I put my self-publishing and writing blogs together, but have not edited or refined them in any way. The idea is to put them in a non-fiction ebook. It will be my take on the writing craft and what has worked well for me and what has not gone according to plan.

7. Design bookmarks for my books: I do have a couple of bookmarks already that I can sell when I get back into the comic-con game. But I want more and will be coming up with some new ideas from the books. I want to sell these also from my site.

8. Get the character portraits from artist by August and start getting Poker Card and Calendars made: This is another lofty goal as there are a lot of characters from Consequences. Plus, he’s also got a busy schedule and life! This is my goal, but it does require some successful production from him as well.

9. Complete two Giveaways (one on Kindle Review and my own Indie Book Giveaway): I have signed on for another book giveaway on the site Kindle Review. It’s called A Midsummer’s Dream. A cool production that I am happy to be a part of. The other giveaway, of course, is my own, The Indie Fantasy Book Giveaway, which I have been heavily marketing. It has been slow growing, but I am seeing some success with it. This will also help me out on building up my email mailing list. I do love the website traffic I am seeing from the giveaways. This month has already broken my all-time records for most visitors in a month!

10. Complete one Newsletter a month: July’s was already sent out last week and I should have another one out in the first week of August.

11. Read one writing craft book a month: Reading about my writing to me is incredibly essential. It has raised the level of my writing in a short time. It has helped me learn what the current trends are and given me the tools to produce a more polished product than when I started writing again back in 2010.

12. Prepare for book convention in Tucson: I would like to go this convention, but not sure how financially set we will be for me to do so. We have had some setbacks lately and it has stalled my participation in the comic-cons or book shows. Not only do you have to pay to take part and reserve a table, but you also have to pay for the inventory to sell. There is also expenses for travel and any hotel accommodations to consider if you are not doing it locally.

13. Get booth banners: Again this is an investment I would like to make, IF I can get back into the comic-con circuit by the end of the year. I may have to stall on this one and let it go on future month goals coming up.

14. Strive to walk 3 miles a night, workout set at least once a day: The heat in Phoenix this year has been devastating. Last year we did have one or two days over 120 degrees. This year it has been over 120 degrees off and on for a week and a half. The days it hasn’t reached 120+ has still been very oppressive. When I try to walk at night, I have gotten severe headaches. This heatwave won’t last forever, but it sure does feel like it. I moved to get summer year round (lived in the Icy Hell of Indiana for 26 years) – I don’t regret the move, just cannot wait for our normal weather to come back. This fitness goal is to help me with my bigger goal of losing weight. I want to lose 40 by the end of the year!

15. Create a book trailer video: Another high bar goal, but I have been toying with the idea. I have a lot on my plate and with my day job, it doesn’t give me a lot of “free time” to experiment and toy with the technology out there. It may happen, especially since I now see it is not that hard or even expensive to do. The time to research and find all the images is the obstacle.

This is a lot of minor goals, but if I can accomplish this in two short months, then my overall success for the entire year will be very fulfilling indeed. I realize that there is a good chance that most of these will not get completed, but it still helps having them written out so that I see my targets and the road ahead that I need to take.

2017 INDIE FANTASY BOOK GIVEAWAY!!! — Derek Barton

Contest Ad 2017

Starting Saturday, JULY 1ST, you can enter into my INDIE FANTASY BOOK GIVEAWAY which will have 6 WINNERS!!

Top Winner will receive $100 Amazon Gift Card, 8 EBOOKS (2 Best Selling Fantasy Ebooks and an Ebook copy from each of the 6 above-listed authors.)

Runner up will get a $25 Amazon Gift Card and 1 Best Seller and an Ebook copy from the 6 above-listed authors.)

Four other winners receive Ebook Copies from the above-listed authors!!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER:  FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY ENTRY

All you need for the contest entry is to subscribe with an email address to these authors’ mailing list.

AUTHORS & BOOKS:

KM WEILAND — Dreamlander

DEREK BARTON — Consequences Within Chaos

SUSANNE LAMBDIN — Seeker of Magic

NESA MILLER — Alamir

NATALIE WRIGHT — H.A.L.F:  The Deep Beneath

LS O’DEA — Lake of Sins: Escape

(Click on their name to see their Amazon Profiles and Book Collections!)

Best Sellers:

EMILY R. KING — The Hundredth Queen

JOHNATHAN RENSHAW — Dawn of Wonder

Get extra giveaway entries when you Commenting on Facebook, Sharing this Ad on Facebook and Commenting on Twitter about the Giveaway!!!

PLUS IF YOU REFER YOUR FRIENDS, YOU GET UP TO 10 EXTRA ENTRIES INTO THE RAFFLE!

Drawings will be on Saturday, July 22nd.

D O  N O T  M I S S  O U T !!

 

Upcoming Projects — Derek Barton

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I have gotten some inquiries on the progress I have had on certain projects (especially concerning my sequel, The Bleeding Crown) so I thought I would send out a quick update.

 

THE BLEEDING CROWN — At this time, I am almost a quarter to half way through the first draft.  I spent a lot of time organizing, structuring the story line and developing the characters along with their backstories.  My projected goal is to finish the draft around September or October.

On a side note, I have been kicking around the possibility of a third novel in Wyvernshield, making this a trilogy.  I have some interesting paths I could go down, but I have not fully decided one way or another.  And since I am not done with the second novel’s first draft, it is too early to start plotting out the third.  One thing that is definitely making me hesitate is that I want the series to have a complete whole overall story and not two complete stories and one disjointed story thrown in the mix.  If that makes any sense.

CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS AUDIO BOOK — A sad development here.  My voice actress had too much on her plate at this time and just could not dedicate the necessary time to get this done within the time frame I was looking for.  So… I have submitted a proposal on Audible.com and I am waiting on audition proposals.  My goal was for the end of July, but with this delay I am not sure it will happen that soon.  Audible states that once an actor has been chosen, it could be done in 3 to 8 weeks give or take the size of the novel.  My book is estimated to be 11 hours recording.  Keep your fingers crossed with me!

CONSEQUENCES WITHIN CHAOS COLLECTIBLES — I cannot yet go into too much detail on this, but I have made some inquiries, connections and working relations with several sources in an effort to create some character collectible items.  A calendar set, magnetic bio cards, foil posters and a designer deck of poker cards may be on the horizon!

GOODREAD GIVEAWAY AND A GREAT INDIE BOOK CONTEST — I have been promoting the Goodreads Giveaway a lot, but I am also working out a big contest with at least one other independent author.  More to come by July, but I am getting pretty excited about what we can offer and what I have in store for you guys!

A NEW HORROR BLOG SERIES — I am working on a new story line and series for you, my horror lovers!  Inspiration struck and it won’t stop haunting me.  And since I need blog ideas, I have decided to work this out through the blog like I did with In Four Days.

Plus I am still working on the horror novel with my father T.D. Barton; be on the lookout for sneak peek chapters of that as well.

IN FOUR DAYS AUDIO BOOK — In current talks with another voice actor for my novella.

As you can see, I am truly working hard this year! hahaha

Last note, as July is approaching I am astounded and thrilled to realize that this blog and website will be celebrating its ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!  Thank you all for your continued support and helping me grow this dream each day!

Lots of things in the works and more to come — exciting times!

Talk again soon!

A Brief Glimpse… — Derek Barton

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Here is a tiny morsel… A free grocery market sample of a chapter in my rough draft of The Bleeding Crown.  Enjoy!!



Taihven rapped his knuckles upon the wooden door. It was more formality than anything. He opened it before Captain Ruessard could answer it. The young soldier sat facing outward, scanning the horizon as he always seemed to do.

“I have your Brulla, Rashad. And with that northerly wind coming in today, I went ahead and added a touch of Candock Whiskey to them.”

Rashad turned around, sporting a wry smirk upon his face, “Well, who am I to debate with my king. It does have a bite of frostiness in the air this foremorn.”

He had touches of premature grey at his temples. He also had his late father’s hazel eyes and a spattering of freckles under his eyes that forever made him younger in appearance than his actual age.

They fell into a comfortable silence in the high guard tower which overlooked the docks. Each young man lost in his thoughts. Over the last two months, this had become an odd routine that they both grew to appreciate. During the Viestrahl Siege, they both lost cherished family members and were thrust into new positions of responsibility. It took them time to adjust, get settled in their roles and a friendship had developed naturally from this upheaval that they shared in common.

“You would not have known this by looking at him nor by the life he lived, but my father’s heart always belonged to the sea. Before the Wyvernguard had demanded more of his time, he and I would spend early hours like these fishing from a broken-down skiff he salvaged.” Rashad said wistfully looking out at the crashing waves. “There is something enchanting about the color of the water, the soothing roll of the waves and the thrill of watching the lightning storms in the distance…”

“Hmmm. You are right, I did not know that about the good captain. To tell you the truth, Bardun Ruessard used to scare the color out of my face!” Taihven laughed. “It took a long time for me to not be nervous around him. The man was as near a legend I had ever been close to.”

Rashad joined him in laughing and said, “You were not alone. It was rare any of my friends would dare to visit me. He was not a hard man, never laid a hand on me or my sisters, but I guess he had a different side to him ‘on duty’.”

Again, silence settled over them. Taihven’s own father and mother were entombed together only the prior month. He had lost everything that truly mattered to him. The new king felt that sacrifice each moment of the day and restless night.

A flash of memory interrupted his reverie. Letandra’s mace lying abandoned in the courtyard sand…

He grimaced and shook away the image. Then, he tried to take in the rays of sunlight with his eyes, drink it up and feel the spread of warmth over his chest — over his ice frozen heart.

“I am sorry, Rashad. He died a hero though and you honor his name well.”

He did not reply and took a deep drink from his mug of Brulla. Taihven continued to scan the waves of the bay himself. He took note and tracked a procession of five ships which had slipped around the Eastrock Lighthouse Island. They bore the flags and colors of the Trade Merchants of Ansony.

“That is welcome news.” He pointed to the fleet approaching the docks. “The plague has been keeping many of the supply caravans away. They still believe there is an outbreak within the outside edges of the villages. The Court Scribes and I were scheduled to work out letters for the Envoys. Requesting that word be communicated that we have stamped out the Viestrahl plague, but we were now dealing with shortages.”

“Yes, now it appears that will not be necessary…” His words faded and he squinted against the dawn sun. “Seems odd that Ansony would send five ships though.”

Another row of ships, these branded as Premia fishing vessels abruptly appeared, coming in from the west.

The first of the Ansony fleet floated alongside the docking posts of the pier. Taihven wondered aloud, “And now we have another six?”

Rashad stood up and unhooked a ram’s horn from its cradle set upon a wall shelf. He held it as the two men studied the docking merchants. The boats aligned two on one side, three on the other pier. No one had exited, yet dozens were gathering on the ship decks.

The Premia boats cruised into the bay. Yet, they were not approaching and were lowering their barnacled anchors. Men rushed in chaotic errands to and fro on their decks as well.

“Captain, this does not strike me as normal.”

“Indeed.”

Three dock guards strode out to the moored ships as per normal protocol. Taihven and Rashad noticed the dock guards were alert and had their hands on the hilts of their swords.

At the same instant the dock guards called out a greeting, a volley of fireballs launched from the decks of the Premia ships. They arched in smoky trails through the sky These were arcane evocations.

“It is an attack. Sound your alarm!” Taihven growled and he yanked open the tower door, but the young captain grabbed his wrist.

“You cannot go out there yet, lord! Wait for the Royals to escort you.”

Rashad pierced the stillness of the morning calm with a shrill series of warning notes from his horn. Hooded men in black leather armors charged from the Ansony boats waving hatchets and scimitars.

The invaders overwhelmed and dispatched the unfortunate band of dock guards.

Four Royalguards appeared and without word swept both of them into their circle of protection. They scrambled as a unit down the wooden steps.

An eruption of thick sheets of ice formed a few feet above the guard tower. The sheets drove through the shingles, imploded the guard room and pulverized most of the winding tower stairs into splinters.

“Take him to the Vaults!” Rashad demanded of his men and then broke from the circle. He head straight to a rank of Wyvernguard sprinting toward the docks.

“TO ME! CENTER TO ME!”

As Taihven was man-handled toward the castle, he glanced back over his shoulder in time to see a bulging, black-blue wave of sea water as it cascaded into the bay. It washed up and over the pier. The wave retreated leaving behind a colossal, ivory beast unlike anything he had ever witnessed. It extended its gelatinous, spiked belly in rolls as it thrashed a long split-tail over the boards. Guards and enemies alike were flung head-over-heels into the air and sea.

Rashad led the charge of a shield phalanx, lances and polearms bristling from it. They advanced upon the creature and the mob of invaders.

The beast’s hooked snout opened and several spear-like tongues erupted from it, impaling and dragging several victims back to it.

Screams of agony and echoes of snapping bones filled the air as the Adventdawn Vault door slammed behind him. The Royals hauled Taihven away from the dock carnage.

IT IS TOO SOON! Taihven’s thoughts screamed in his head as panic gripped him. WHAT CAN I DO? WE ARE STILL SO WEAK FROM THE DISEASE AND HORDE MARCH! HOW CAN I STOP THIS ALL ALONE?



Please let me know what you think so far.  Comments are always welcomed!

The Wilds of Aberrisc… — Derek Barton

Aberrisc Map 2017

As promised in my blog A New Land to Behold…, here is my first draft of the Map to the Wilds of Aberrisc.
I am not completely happy with it so it may not find its way into the book like this, but perhaps another version will.   Yet, I do feel that a map was overdue.  And I have to admit they are fun to build!
“You were rumored to have been imprisoned by the Eulocths a while ago. Was this true?” Taihven was confused until an image of the Green Ones flashed in her mind.
“Oh, yes! Vicious, little lizard-like creatures.” He blurted out, but immediately he felt anxious and did not like the possible outcomes of this topic.
“Well, you see our race has had constant conflicts with the Eulocths. Ever since we got knotted in Yamtolak.”
“Knotted? What do you mean?” he asked.
“Yes, knotted. How do I explain…” she gathered her words. “Where you come from, do your lands not knot? When the lands collide, but connect versus pushing away from one another?”
The look of confusion on his face answered for him. “Our lands do not move. They are locked into position.”
“Ah!  You see, all the continents here float upon a massive ocean and they move along with the subterranean currents. Occasionally, the lands collide, but bounce off from each other. The knots are when the lands strike and lock into each other or part of the land tears free and remain with one land or another. Such is what happened with our Sacred Groves of Ara Turas. We have been knotted and trapped here on Yamtolak when it knotted with our homeland.”
In Consequences Within Chaos, the characters were in various locations, but a map was not as necessary to follow the story line. In the Bleeding Crown (the sequel to Consequences Within Chaos), I feel it will be very beneficial to see where the characters are and where the action is taking place in relation to one another.
Here is also a little write-up on each continent:

Wilds of Aberrisc

Ara Turas – Homeland of the Duradramyn; their lands exist of grassy plains and rolling tundra.  Duradramyn are a simplistic, tribal people that rely heavily on ritual or spiritual magic.  While renown for their agriculture, they are also dedicated to existing with nature, living among animals and preserving the environment.

Aviytoss – Homeland of the Flohki; sprawling wetlands and dwarf tree swamps. Flohki are half-bird humanoids that tend to be xenophobic and very territorial.  Their technology, militant personalities and scientific knowledge has fostered them several large cities and coastal fishing industries.

Bre’Avat — Vast jungles and volcanic mountain ranges.  The continent does not have a known race or humanoid culture, but is home to original species of Mammoth Bats, Khortha Lizards and Reaxes which are massive beetles that live within lava pits.  Abandoned ruins of an intelligent race have been found there, but no survivors or descendants are known.

Cordavail – Homeland of a small human kingdom.  They are very isolated in a ring of high mountains and rarely reach out to neighboring lands.

Dorminahz – Homeland to the Thettes and Brohmn Giant races.  These two clans are very war-like and have often battled in bloody and costly civil wars.  They live barbarian lifestyles, but the Thettes are nomadic and follow after migratory animal herds.  The Brohmn claim permanent residences and dig out immense structures in mountain sides and subterranean caverns.

Ele Tessis – Territory to the shadow race of Bal’Avals.  These mystical creatures tend to have sadistic desires and evil tendencies.  Little contact has been made with them; they protect their lands violently and will not suffer any trespassing.

Fhey Rhas – Homeland of the Yuul; their home is a ring of seven islands.  The Yuul are a feline/human race that dedicate their lives to the study of magic.  Political sciences and government organization are also key concerns to their culture.

Huuscia – Endless miles of desert wasteland; suspected to be unpopulated, but few explorers have ever returned from their expeditions.

Mescarne – A heat-blasted, barren plain; at its center is the legendary Quartz Tower.  The Tower is believed to be the key focal point for the magical energies and ley lines to the entire world of Aberrisc.  Few have found it and been able to return to describe the structure.  Some propose it is of ancient origin by a long-forgotten race.  No one has ever been able to describe the interior.

Peht Glacier Flats – Ice wasteland; unpopulated by humanoid creatures due to its weather and unstable lands and climate.

Rya – Desert dune lands cover most of this continent.  However, there are also long stretches of glass fields that mar this sand expanse.  Ancient tales and folklore describe the region as a homeland to a once noble and powerful race, but they unleashed a doomsday cataclysm which formed the glass fields and ever growing dunes.  No evidence of such a race has been discovered to date.

Utakraas – Homeland of the Balshazras; these lands are made up of sprawling swamp areas, deep lakes and enormous rivers.  Balshazras are reptilian, but have a high intellect that matches their natural gifts with arcane and elemental magic.  The unique creatures can continuously reincarnate and thus are seemingly immortal.

Yamtolak – Homeland of the Eulocths.  These vile lizard humanoids have very base, selfish desires and often make raids upon other lands for food, treasures or to take slaves.  They exist in linked clan villages that all answer to their tyrant king.  Their biggest strength and weapon is in their sheer numbers.  With a mob-mentality, the Eulocths do not fear anything or anyone.

I hope to create another world map of Wyvernshield soon for the next blog.  Please let me know what you thought and if you have any suggestions.

A New Land to Behold… — Derek Barton

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Recently I have been toying with the idea of making maps for my fantasy worlds detailed in Consequences Within Chaos, the prequel Seyde in Blood and my upcoming sequel The Bleeding Crown. 

There are a lot of debate on whether maps are a hindrance or a benefit to your story.  I think that like any other writing tool or technique that a writer can use, it should be considered carefully for each story, thought out thoroughly and done on a case by case basis.  Not every story will warrant a map.

The first important question to consider is:  will it add to the story for the reader?   Do you think that there may be too many names floating about in your prose or do you feel that the layout of your places are pretty straightforward for the reader to follow?  When I read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I had to often look at the maps to keep the story straight in my head.  For that matter, he had so many characters going all over the place and working with so many different characters, I even made an Excel Spreadsheet to keep the names straight!  But Mr. Martin has such a great talent and incredible story that I forgave him as a reader and put in the extra effort.

Another question:  Do you feel that the map is going to help you as the writer?  Will it guide you in keeping all the facts straight and keeping an accurate idea of where each character might be?  Or will a map also give you inspiration or show you where you have room to grow?

When you do decide, you will also face the dilemma of where are you going to get it?  Are you going to draw it yourself and if so, do you have the right amount of cartography skill?  If you are not taking up the challenge to create it, then what resources do you have to get one?  There are a ton of “free map images” out on the net, but then you may have to make concessions or even possibly alterations to your story.  Perhaps you might be wise to invest on getting it professional completed.  There are also many websites that will provide map-making services or websites like Cartographers Guild that has a forum for questions and/or advice.

Overall, the questions surrounding the “to map or not to map” debate really comes down to time, resources and whether or not it will benefit you as a writer and/or the readers.

For myself, I have started my sequel and I think it will be a positive addition for the readers to see where the lands are and maybe help give the readers a better perspective of all the key lands that are involved in the story.  My plan is to make a map of both worlds detailed in the books.  And yes, I do plan on designing the maps myself.  I designed several in my old Dungeon & Dragon days and found that it really provoked ideas and plots (usually evil plots to mess with the players!! haha)

I will keep you all in the loop and hopefully share my maps soon!!

When One Must Battle… — Derek Barton

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When I started my first novel, Consequences Within Chaos, I fell into an almost obsessive “plot mode” and wrote a rather long, bulleted outline of my story (60 pages to be exact).   However, for the battle scenes, I skipped past with a lazy wave of the hand and just wrote a line “insert battle scene here.”  Not giving the battle scene its proper respect was not only a big mistake as far as outlining, but it also became a huge stumbling block for me when I attempted my first drafts.

Why? 

Well, when it came time to write these epic battles, I found I had no real idea where to start.  Instinctively, I knew that there was a lot riding on capturing this part to my story just right.  I had lied to myself and naively thought that this would “all magically be revealed and come naturally to me”.

Suddenly with all that sitting upon my shoulders, I put off writing the first one; even postponed and put aside the book for months.  I wouldn’t categorize this period as writer’s block, but maybe a weird version of stage fright?  If I didn’t write the scene (didn’t walk out upon the stage), then I wouldn’t screw it up (I wouldn’t show how bad I was at this) and embarrass myself (fall flat on my face in front of the audience).

It took me a lot of research, experimentation, rewrites and some sheer will to get the battles done for the book.  They’re not perfect, but I am happy with them overall.  Will I do better nowadays?  I sure hope so! 

To save you from my pain, here are the critical factors you need to answer when using a battle scene (this includes all types of fights – barroom brawls, ambushes, street assaults and all the way to the epic, five army battles!):

  1. Determine who is all involved (Characters/groups) – this includes not just your main characters or protagonist and any friends, but it includes the antagonist (most times) and/or his minions or allies.  Also keep in mind any surprise attendees you may want to include.  This will add to the tension of the scene!
  1. Provide goals and personal motivations for all parties (Individual beliefs) – you will need to ask yourself why you are doing this battle.  Ask yourself if the battle is really important to the overall story (in other words, don’t include it just to have an action sequence).  Also ask what reasons and goals does each character have for the battle.  Make them have an invested motive to being there.  What do they have to lose being there or what do they need to achieve?  Here is a great chance to really highlight a person’s inner thoughts.  Showcase their strengths, courage or lack thereof.  And be sure that their reasons are not the same for each battle and you are not just repeating what you have already accomplished.
  1. Decide where the battle will take place (Setting) – this important step can elevate your scene to that next level.  Backgrounds can be key elements that bring the scene to life.  If the battle takes place in a cliché or too common landscape then the scene might come across as redundant or even predictable.  For example, look at the epic fight scene between Annakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith.  The frantic battle between the two characters was incredibly more entertaining due to tension of having their duel upon pieces of debris in a lava flow.  The battle was a highlight for this film (as there were very few that I can think of).  If the battle was just on a large open field, the scene would not have stuck in your mind.  However, use caution as there is a fine line between entertainment and disbelief!
  1. Orchestrate the exact movements and attacks (Pace) – here you must be careful with the “dance steps” of the battle.  Who moves where and who reacts to what.  It is very important to write the actions carefully so as to not be choppy (which happened with my first attempts) and has to be clear so that the reader isn’t confused.  Remember they cannot actually see it and are relying on your words to paint the proper picture.  Also in order for the prose to be read smoothly and the pace of the combat to be in line with the action, use short terms, small paragraphs and simpler words.  The whole hope is to have the readers become immersed, have their breaths taken away and have them on the edge of their seats trying to figure out what’s going to happen next.  If they are reading through intricate details, lengthy descriptions or wordy dialogue, they are not going to experience the same impact that they would with tighter pacing.
  1. Include at least one unexpected event or tactic (Conflict) – as a rule for myself, I try to bring a creative element to the battle that the readers as well as the characters were not expecting.  It heightens the tension of the whole scene.  In the movie Braveheart, they added often many twists to their battles that caught the viewers and the combatants by surprise.  During one battle that comes to mind, when the English were charging on horseback with swords held high and ready to trample the foot soldiers of Wallace’s armies, the Scots suddenly brought up spears that were hidden within the tall grass!  While the unfortunate horses paid the price mostly for this trick, this simple twist changed the whole expected outcome.
  1. Plan for and carry out the results (Outcome) – when you start designing the battle, be sure you know what you are getting for each side and be sure you what you really want for your plot and story.  Many writers have written themselves into a deep corner because they didn’t think ahead to the outcomes.  They focused so much on the battle that they didn’t plan for the results.  Your battles should serve you!  Whether the results pin your main character down even harder (which is great – the farther the point where the character has to come back from, the more tension and conflict it brings to the story) or whether they actually win at last what they have been struggling to obtain the entire story, battles are stepping stones for your characters. Battle outcomes are pivotal and vital to the future of the story and it can be disastrous to lose focus on that.

Every scene is a platform for your character to level up and grow in the direction you need them to in your story.  Their triumphs or losses are the very ingredients that make up who they are.  Just like us in every day life – if we don’t experience ups and downs then we do not grow from them or learn from the journey.

Writing a battle scene can place your character under intense scrutiny, pressure to succeed and motivate him or her to excel – without this extreme moment of their life they would not have achieved anything your story wants and needs them to accomplish.

For us as writers, battles are waged and won with swords and words!

New Character Sketch #2… — Derek Barton

Here is another sneak peek at an upcoming character for The Bleeding Crown, sequel to Consequences Within Chaos.

 

Scars

 

Character Profile Questions:

What is their name? Only known as Scars. He lost his birth name in battle and will never use the real one again.

How old? 48 years old (He is one of the species called Flohki which live on average to 110 years old.   Their upper torso features are mainly bird, the rest humanoid.)

What does your character look like? White feathered head, broken beak, scars running down left cheek and multiple scars along the top and back of his head. He has the muscular body of a weightlifter and the head features of a seagull and icy blue eyes.

Where does he live? During an ambush along the Flohki borders, he was captured and enslaved by a roving Thette Giant Clan. He is the personal slave of Korba-Tarn and bodyguard of the giant’s mate, Frest-Alae.

Where is the character from? Scars grew up in a fishing community called Maxnen Vale. The Flohki continent called Cammiana consists endless grasslands surrounding lush swamps. The Flohki are divided in a civil war with the Pesha-aar due to territory and nesting land disputes. This disorganization has made them very vulnerable to the Quietus Army and the Ebon Throne.

What kind of childhood? Through his first decade of life he was happy and worked hard alongside his older brothers on the docks and the fishing boats. When times got tough and his family had misfortunes (a typhoon destroyed their small fleet of boats and home), the parents were forced to turn there children over to the Elder Leaders of the Ledatd Nest. Conscripted as “Bre-ox-da” which means “battleborn”, he and his brothers learned and trained in military combat. The Bre-ox-da are navy warriors that protect the coast lines. They were expected to serve for life as an “honor”.  The Flohki don’t believe in allowing anyone to be homeless, however they do require some form of restitution. The parents would not be able to feed the boys and themselves so the Leaders took the boys and the parents were given shelter and food for their remaining lives.

What does the character do for a living? Scars was rising in  the ranks as a military bodyguard and escort for officers of the Ledat Nest. He was also reknown for his horse combat skills and martial arts. Between assignments he trained many of the new Bre-ox-da in hand-to-hand fighting and military strategy.

How does your character deal with conflict? He has a knack for observation, studying enemy patterns and movements and uses patience to gather information for when he does strike or make a decision. Methodical and full of purpose. Being reduced to a slave and being dishonored, he is broken and submissive to the Thettes.

Who else is in their life? He has no contact with his race or family. A pair of Duradramyn survive enslaved in the slave pens with him.

What is your character’s goal or motivation? He knows that he should escape, but he also feels so lost and without direction, he has not yet discovered any reason to leave.

Their Status: Surrendering in battle means you lose your title and name forever. On a mission to escort his assigned officer, they were ambushed by the Thettes. As the unit leader, Scars surrendered as a sacrifice to allow his unit and brothers time to escape capture or death. Scars cannot ever regain his status and knows he will be ostracized by his race.  Part of him feels that being a slave  is almost proper punishment for not dying in battle.