The one where I talk about Saint Seiya, the problem with the Gold Saints and my own novel setting issue.

Whoah, that was a really looooong title.

*Warning: spoilers for a 30-year-old anime show… and my own novel.*

If you were a kid from Mexico in the early 90s’, odds are that you woke up early every Saturday to watch the legendary anime “Los Caballeros del Zodiaco”, the original name “Saint Seiya” (for the purists) and known in the US as “Knights of the Zodiac” after a bastardized adaptation. And odds are that if you are Mexican kid that grew up in the early 90s’, is that Saint Seiya is your favorite anime -or one of them-.

Me? I’m a fan, not a big fan as some of my close friends (one of them even has every single figure released since the heyday of the show), but I would lie if I say I’m not a fan. The concept is pretty simple (the video below gives a remastered, succinct explanation for the visually inclined): every 300 years, ancient gods return in the shape of avatars to take over the world, so Athena (yes, that one), reincarnates in a human body**, calls forth her Saints or Knights, who wearing special armors inspired by the 88 western constellations, will face these gods -Poseidon, Hades- to protect humanity. The Saints are divided into the humble Bronze, the flashy Silver, and the godlike 12 Gold Saints -that follow the Western Zodiac-. However, this time, something went wrong, Athena and a few of her ‘weaker’*** saints are in the run of the most powerful ones and have to face them in a grueling marathon to uncover the truth, the traitor and fix everything before Poseidon, Hades and their armies return.

The show has a favorite character for everyone, especially if your zodiac sign had a cool representative among the Golden Saints, the top of the cream of warriors in the show. Really 10 out of 12 signs had a great character representing it-unless you are a Cancer or a Pisces, then I’m sorry your respective saints suck big time-. My wife has Shaka, Virgo Saint, the closest man to God and basically a buddha* with the power to traverse every single hell and heaven from anywhere. And is more dangerous when he actually opens his eyes.

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Mine, is this man:

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Dokho, Saint of Libra, custodian of the 12 sacred weapons of Athena, watcher of the Rozan peaks where the specters of Hades are trapped, having lived for 243 years and trained an old incarnation of the Pegasus Saint and the current Dragon Saint, Shiryu (my other favorite character). Dokho, who is the Yoda of the show that -spoiler- when the time comes and things get dire near the end, returns through a special technique to his peak form, that looks like this:

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The shortest, hot-tempered, goofball Gold Saint ready to take names and kick ass. In this form he is… well, the Obi-Wan of the show, even to the other Gold Saints. And even if he looks like a hyperactive teenager (which he technically still is).

But I digress… the show is entertaining -if a bit repetitive as older anime usually is-. The music is superb (think a rock group playing with an orchestra waaay before Metallica did it). And you grow fond of the characters -unlike they are Pisces and Cancer, seriously, they need a better PR spokesperson-. And I really enjoy it, to the point that I’m addicted to the new mobile game. But there is an issue here… I get that Seiya, the Pegasus Saint and titular character, and friends are the main heroes. And the show is about their growth into heroes. But the thing that most of my friends and I agree is that as much as the show sells you the idea of the Gold Saints being these beastly, godlike beings capable of facing gods when they show up in the show… they barely actually show up.

Yeah, I have the same expression as you, Dohko.

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Don’t get me wrong, some of the battles between the 5 Bronze Saints -Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryu, Cygnus Hyoga, Andromeda Shun and Phoenix Ikki- and the Gold Saints are nail bitters, especially those between Ikki and Shaka, Hyoga and his master Aquarius Camus, Shiryu vs Cancer Deathmask**** and Capricorn Shura, and the last stand of Seiya against the evil side of Geminis Saga before Athena dies -look, it’s really complicated to explain-. But the rest are… a mixed bag. Aries Mu is an ally of the heroes. Taurus Aldebaran is convinced by the heroes that they are right, Dohko is busy being a Yoda, till Hades returns in Season 3. Scorpio Milo gives a good fight but he is a good guy and changes his mind and Pisces… he is so damn annoying and his fight with Shun really drags on. Aiolia Leo is being brainwashed by the main bad guy so he has to be freed from his control and Saggitarius Aiolos has been dead for 13 years. And when the Poseidon Chapter comes, nothing happens with them. The Hades chapter was meant to redeem them, but it only worked for Dohko and Kannon, the evil twin of Geminis Saga that now is the good twin -that family has ISSUES-. Then came Soul of Gold that tried to redeem them but the animation did them no favor at all. And Lost Canvas, which is not canon, did use well ALL the Gold Saints, but they were from a previous incarnation, taking place in 1743 and the only known character there is Dokho who is kinda a rookie then (this Obi-Wan in Episode I).

And here is the thing that bothers me: they are not that awe-inspiring when they appear, aside Saga whose power set is broken (which makes him a good villain).  I get that the animation techniques back then (the series started in the 80s’ even if it arrived at this side of the world in the 90s’) didn’t allow for much spectacle and thus the powers seem subsided, reduced. But when I was a kid I remember dreading the day the 5 Bros were about to face the Gold Saints because of the show’ propensity to sell you the idea that the later were nigh impossible to defeat. That their powers were earth-shattering -literally in the case of Capricorn-. But when the fights came about, they were not that different from the main 5. Which led to a sense of power escalation in later seasons -as many shonen***** anime do- that never allowed the Gold Saints to show their prowess against feared rivals like Poseidon’s Marines or Hades’ Specters. They were punked.

Which leaves me a sour taste in the mouth, because the Gold Saints should be downright terrifying. The kind of guys that inspire myths because what they can do is off the charts: create tears into the space-time continuum, freeze things to atomic level reaching absolute zero (the show plays fast and loose with physic laws), cut through the Earth itself, move at the speed of light, send your soul to the Underworld, crash a planet on your head… you get the idea.  They are the stuff of nightmares, even if they are, for most of the part, the good guys.

Rather, they are not so spectacular.

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Yes, it’s kinda sad, kinda amusing, Dohko.

This is a particular issue of concern for me while I work in the sequel of Tempest Blades. Fionn -and really, any of the Gifted- is known as a powerful warrior whose abilities are way beyond the ken of mortal men. But due to the peculiarities of the villain in the first book, he had to fight with a literal hand tied to his back. Same for Gaby and Alex. Now, for the sequel, they have free reign, more training, and more experience under their belts to show off all that they can do. However, I know the risk of power escalation, which can destroy the suspension of disbelief within the setting, making the Marty/Mary Sues, if I just give them more power. That’s a serious problem.

So that left me thinking…

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The solution is already set in the first book. In the POV of the only regular character of my cast: Harland. And others like him.

I don’t need to increase their powers. There is no need because they are already that powerful. What I need is to show how the powers they have, without the restrictions, posed by the plot of the first book, look to others from the outside. Namely, for Alex, manipulating energy might seem normal after 10 years. But for Harland, who is a regular human, it might be downright scary. And what about when Fionn truly let go. So far he has barely shown his full potential, for fear of collateral damage. But if the restriction is lifted… Gaby… well, you will see. That’s why in the new book I’m introducing a couple of characters that will give the perspective of how is like to watch a Gifted with a Tempest Blade in hand, going full out. Because while for my main cast, Harland aside, doing what they do is part of their daily lives, for the people watching from the sidelines, what they do, is the stuff of nightmares. Even if they are the good guys.

I just hope Athena can guide me to make it work.

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*Well, not basically a buddha, he is actually a reincarnation of Buddha.
**She is like the Christ-like figure of the story. Seriously, Saint Seiya is a hot podge of myths, religions and everything between, but seen through the greek mythology glasses and anime tropes.
***Weaker, sort to speak. While the 5 main characters: Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryu, Cygnus Hyoga, Andromeda Shun and Phoenix Ikki are Bronze Saints and thus the lower step of the stair, they -in very shonen fashion- grow to be more than a match for the Gold Saints and assorted deities.
****No, really, that’s his birth name. Kurumada has the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
*****Shonen is anime aimed for male audiences, think Dragon Ball.

My 2019 awards eligible stories

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Hello there, world. This is the first time I write one of these posts (as I have only been nominated once for an award and I wasn’t the one promoting it). But given that this was a seminal year for me as a writer, it was due time to create one. So here there are my award-eligible stories for 2019. Here are in order of length.

Novel

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518349ZKw8L“Tempest Blades: The Withered King.” Shadow Dragon Press. August 2019. Approx. 97,500 words.

Buy it from Amazon: https://mybook.to/TempestBladesWK
Buy it from Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2kDhBlA

Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction

What’s about? Fionn thought that his days as a warrior were over. Gaby & Alex never expected to become heroes. Now they must join forces to stop an ancient evil. In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible. Including second chances.

What others have said about it:

“An action-packed blend of magic and mayhem, sword and sorcery, science fiction and fantasy. The book is full of entertaining characters, has a sense of humor and adventure, and there’s a crackling video-game vibe added for good measure.” —Maria Haskins, author, and B&N Blogger

“A glorious sci-fi adventure for any reader of the fandom of the classic video game ‘Soul Blade'” —Booklist

“Like Final Fantasy meets Dungeons & Dragons! An action-packed sci-fantasy adventure that fans of the genre will love! Victoria delivers a lively story that feels like a video game, with plenty of heart and humor along the way. The characters are interesting, the action keeps you turning the pages, the concepts are fascinating! This is good stuff! The one-liners are killer, too!”Diane Morrison, Author of the “Wyrd West Chronicles” & Manager of the official SFWA YouTube channel

“It was a fun, fast book, full of action beats. It was also surprisingly introspective and deep. As entertaining as it was, this is ultimately a book about second chances. I found it highly enjoyable.”Jodie Crump. Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

“It’s a science fantasy epic that bursts with originality. It is new, it is fresh, and it makes the imagination soar. In short, this is not something you’ve read before.”Leo McBride at Altered Instinct

“There’s a some portals and a spaceship, a lizard pilot dude and a good deal of magick, a 133 yr old father-mentor guy and lottsa swords. A total mashup spanning the spacepunk, fantasy, scifi, and LitRPG genres, The Withered King looks to surprise you on every page…

…The Withered King is an impressive debut that any reader of speculative fiction should enjoy.”Paul at Paul’s Picks

Novelette

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Tales of Magic and Destiny cover“Asherah’s Pilgrimage.” in the anthology Tales of Magic & Destiny (Inklings Press). Edited by Leo McBride & Rob Edwards. July  2019. Approx. 9,100 words.

Buy it from Amazon: http://mybook.to/MagicDestiny

Genre(s): Fantasy

What’s about? A girl, the first with the gift of magic, has to step up and lead her people into a new world in finding a place to settle. But the perilous journey will mean for the freefolk to leave behind what remains of their old ways. And for Asherah to succeed, it will mean sacrificing everything she is and find her new place in the world.

What others have said about it:

“A story that has high-stakes and drama, personal courage and friendship, action and introspection, humour and pathos. For me, it captures the essence of what it is to be an individual overcoming their own limitations to achieve something that really matters.”  E.M. Swift-Hook at Working Title.

“…I loved the image of the freefolk and they seemed so intriguing and I loved the little glimpses of the world they left behind. I loved how the story grew to its close and I absolutely wasn’t ready for this one to end. The battle in the maze had some really great imagery. I haven’t read this one a second time yet (because I just read it this afternoon on my lunch break!) but I will definitely give it a second read.”Reviewer at Amazon.

Short Stories

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51yj0nKMCsL._SY346_“No-Sell.” in the anthology Gunsmoke and Dragonfire. Edited by Diane Morrison. March  2019. Approx. 4,800 words.

Buy it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1999575717

Genre(s): Fantasy Western

What’s about? In a world where magic delayed the invention of firearms, an ex-spellslinger has taken up a career as a traveling sales being of a newfangled weapon called a “rifle”… and he has a few tricks under his coat.

What others have said about it:

“I also enjoyed No-Sell, from Ricardo Victoria, taking the theme and running with it, for in a Wild West world where magic is commonplace, what use is a gun? And what would the equivalent of a snake-oil salesman do with one if he had one?”Leo McBride at Altered Instinct.

““No-Sell” by Ricardo Victoria was a fun story that reminded me very much of Dragonheart, but in a Western setting and blending in a bit of Aztec mythology. I really enjoyed the slow reveal on this story and the twist at the end.”Geoff Habiger.

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41sHL1Kc1rL“Good Boys.” in the anthology Gods of Clay: A Sci Fi Roundtable Anthology. Edited by Eric Michael Craig & Ducky Smith. February 2019. Approx. 4,800 words.

Buy it from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Clay-Sci-Roundtable-Anthology/dp/1733728317/

Genre(s): Science Fiction

What’s about? In the distant future, uplifted dogs and octopuses sent a mission back to a legendary place, a ‘lost’ planet, to find about a strange signal sent by their long-gone creators. The secrets they find there, the ancient enemies they will encounter, will shake their beliefs and their future.

Today is the day.

So yeah, I published a book today.

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After 5 years of writing, editing, cursing, looking for a home for it (rejection included), more editing, working with the cover artist, a life goal is finally achieved and here. My first novel is out. I can say that I have achieved the 3 goals I set for myself before I reached 40 (it was originally before 35, but I guess I’m a late bloomer). Those goals were:

  1. Marrying the most beautiful girl in the world. Check
  2. Publish a Book. Check
  3. Get a Ph.D. while studying abroad. Check

Damn, I need new goals now.

Anyways, back to the book, it was getting good reviews so far, it has been called “imaginative”, “an epic that bursts with originality”, “highly enjoyable” & “an impressive debut” that “should appeal to readers looking for adventure and fun.”

For more detailed reviews, please visit the Goodreads page of the book. Hopefully, those will cross over to Amazon and help get sales. Because while I write for the love of the art, the extra money would be nice and it would give my publisher an incentive to publish the sequel I should be writing.

And this is the book blurb:

Fionn is the wielder of a legendary Tempest Blade, and he is blessed – or cursed – by the Gift. Though his days as a warrior are long over, his past leaves him full of guilt and regret. Life, however, has other plans for him, when he agrees to help a friend locate a missing person.

Gaby and Alex never expected to become heroes… until they met Fionn. As an ancient evil arises and consumes the land, Fionn must help them to master their own Gifts and Tempest Blades.

Together the three of them, and their friends, will chart a course aboard the flying ship Figaro to save the planet. Will Fionn’s past be an anchor, or will he overcome the one failure from his former life before time runs out?

In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.

Including second chances. 

Anyways, I hope you like the idea enough to buy it, read it and hopefully review it. You can get in Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indigo.

I will go to celebrate later with y wife and friends if the exhaustion from my day job doesn’t take a toll first.

Updates on life and my novel

I haven’t updated the blog in more than a month. As usual, life has been hectic. I got twice sick -once with a cold, another with a stomach flu-. I’m in the last stages of my research project at my day job -with very interesting results- and need to prepare a conference presentation about it.

And of course, I’ve been writing and promoting said writing. It takes time. In 2 days, a new Inklings anthology will be released: “Tales of Magic & Destiny“, with a story of mine that links with Tempest Blades.

And in a month and a half, “Tempest Blades: The Withered King” will be released into the wider world with the hope that people like it. So far, the book has gotten great advanced reviews. Some are already available at the Goodreads page for the book, another is in the Booklist website, and a couple are at the reviewers’ respective blogs, here at Altered Instinct and at Witty & Sarcastic Bookclub. There is hope for more reviews coming in the following days. And with luck, they will be good.

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking a  few lines from each review to use in these images (the Alex one still has room for more lines though):

Reviews FionnReviews GabyReviews Alex

And working in the sequel of Tempest Blades. I already have the prologue and the epilogue done. I just need to write the middle part. Easy! *sarcasm*.

So yeah, it has been a couple of tiring but fruitful months. I just need a holiday break to take it all in.

My novel’s dream soundtrack.

A while ago, I wrote a similar post about my ideal soundtrack for my novel when I was around the 7th draft. Now that it is to be published and in hands of the ARC reviewers, I thought in updating the list to make it fit better.

This is my ‘dream’ soundtrack, the one that if money, rights and time weren’t an objection, would be what I would like to hear in a movie or a tv show. Alas, this is the list of songs I used while writing my novel.

Some songs are for scenes, others, to reflect the character in question -a musical shorthand if you like, a leitmotif -. So their ‘character songs’ are the ones I listened when writing their parts. Same with specific scenes that have a ‘theme’. Thus the reader could listen to them with the same effect, maybe getting a better idea of the mood I was aiming for. These songs really helped me nail particular bits of the story.  Even if this is an eclectic list, to say the least.

And thank you to the artists behind these songs. Your work inspired me to write the best story I could.

Theme Song for the whole story:

Character themes:

Fionn’s Theme:

Gaby’s theme (and the inspiration for the song she sings before the crutial fight):

Alex’s theme:

Sam’s theme:

Sid’s theme / The Figaro’s flight:

Harland’s Theme:

Scene themes:

Opening Chapter / Heroic Resolve (I’m gonna kick your sorry ass):

The Freefolk theme (for anything related to them, the Maze, Mekiri or magic in general)

Training Scenes:

Big Damn Heroes (in the final chapters):

The Final Duel:

Closing moments / Credits:

 

It’s been a long road… the stories within the continuity of Tempest Blades.

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.
It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near.
And I will see my dream come alive at last. I will touch the sky…

I think “Where My Heart Will Take Me” lyrics encapsulate the way having my novel published and released in a few months. But the world where it happens, the inhabitants living there, the main characters, have a history. And I’ve been working (and publishing) on bits of that history, connected one way or another to the main series.

This is a short list of stories already out and how they connect with the novel. They are ordered in chronological order, within the universe, rather than in publishing order in our universe.

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It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near…

Asherah’s Pilgrimage (8,000 to 10,000 years before present day):

It’s the ‘true’ story behind the legend of the foundation of the Freefolk first kingdom and the source of most of their major cultural beliefs and customs. It is also the story of how modern Freefolk came to be as they are now in the times of the Withered King. It will be published in Tales of Magic & Destiny in a few months, this year.

Silver Horn (around 152 years before present day):

My very first published story actually. It’s the folk tale -not the actual events- of how a young man undertook a quest to return a dangerous item deep inside a mystical place related to the Freefolk. Being a folk tale, it is more comedic and takes liberties about the actual events, but it’s the kind of tale a father would tell his son about his own exploits, to inspire the kid to become an adventurer and a hero. The young man in the story? It was the father of Fionn, the main character of my novel. It was featured in Tales from the Tower.

Buried Sins (around 110 years before the present day):

Around the world, there are multiple events taking place. Some are of no consequence, others have repercussions across space and time. And major wars always have different fronts, different battles. Some are big scale, like the Longhorn Valley battle at the start of Withered King and some are more personal. Buried Sins take place around the same time as the first chapter of the novel, across an ocean in a different land and is a tale about a man haunted by its inner monster, trying to stop mercenaries that are trying to dig up a weapon that could change the War portrayed in chapter 1 of the novel. And the events of this story will also affect the potential sequel of the novel. It was featured in Tales from the Underground.

Cosmic Egg (around 50-80 years after the present day):

Part sequel, part spin-off, it’s the tale of the first space expedition from Theia to explore the rest of the galaxy. None of the characters of Tempest Blades. The Withered King appears here, but most of the story’s characters are related to them in one way or another. Also, in the novel, you can see the technological precursors of the Fireraven, the ship featured in Cosmic Egg and the mention of a legend connected to a character from Asherah’s Pilgrimage. It was featured in Tales from the Universe.

So there you have a current list of stories tied to my novel.

Writing stories to flesh out the world of my novel has been helpful, not only for putting down historical events that can’t be included in the main series without bogging it down; but have also helped me to practice my writing skills and improve them. Bear in mind, and I’m being honest here, that the style has changed over the years. And I hope it has changed for good as I aim to be a good writer. Thus, the stories vary somewhat between them. Nonetheless, I hope you like them all as well as I hope you like my novel. That’s more than I can ask.

So I did something at the last La Mole Comic Con…

I haven’t updated much the blog lately, because I’ve been busy with a certain book which is now also available for preorder at Barnes & Noble) and with grant applications that are really important for my day job (and my finances). But last Friday I took the day off to go to Mexico’s main Comicbook convention: La Mole.

La Mole is our equivalent to the SDCC and until last year, they were affiliated to the SDCC (shenanigans by a third party got said affiliation suspended until further notice) and they usually bring heavy hitters from the comic industry and pop culture. This year they brought Kevin Eastman, Jason David Frank, Jock and several other Marvel artists of which I’m afraid I can’t recall all their names (an apology).

So Salvador, the friend who did the art for my book’s cover, decided to do a limited print run of the cover art as a poster (only 25 copies), a hundred bookmarkers with a QR code to take the recipient to the Amazon preorder page and put them on sale along the rest of his art, in his stand at the Artist’s Alley part of the event. He also added the cover to his portfolio that he presented to Marvel, so let’s wish him luck. Given that it was a limited run, he signed it… and invited me to sign them as well. It’s the first time I do something like this. I even created a special signature for that (can’t use my legal one for… well legal reasons). My wife, as usual, had her camera at hand and took photos of the event, including one that Geoff, my editor, wants to use as Author Photo. I dunno… I was expecting to use something more epic, with a sword, like Ned Stark saying “Winter is Coming”. But hey, I dug my own grave on this one.

Anyway, here are some pics of the event. Don’t judge me, please. I’m not camera friendly.

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Yes, this is the new Author’s Photo. The tongue as sharp as a sword I guess. What I was thinking?

The Reveal: “Tempest Blades. The Withered King”.

Well, here it is, my book’s cover is finally done. And the book is for preorder too. But first the cover.

cover reveal TBWK

Pictured: Fionn, Gaby, and Alex, my main characters, trying to clean up the mess that someone else created. Some reunions can get really chaotic.

It’s amazing isn’t? I mean I can’t stop staring at it. It’s widely different from what I had pictured at first, but that’s the great thing! I get to see my world through the eyes of one reader. Because yes, Salvador Velázquez, the Mexican graphic artist who worked in this awesome art piece read the whole book to try and get the right feel for it.

I consider myself lucky for many, many reasons in life (like having a wonderful wife and great friends). But in this case, I think, without wanting to sound as I’m gloating, that I’m also as a writer. Usually, when a writer gets to be published, the editor sends the design brief to the artist, the artist does their interpretation of said brief (which is not the same as the actual story) and you get a cover done. Most of the time it works but not always, as in that fight between a cover artist and an author that was neither good or kind. Others the author if they have the skill, work on the illustrations as well, like Tolkien. Sometimes if you self publishes, you buy a premade cover or hire an artist and result may vary. And occasionally a writer gets to work directly with the artist and a good rapport and communication surges, becoming friends, which is my case with Salvador.

I was lucky that my publisher, Artemesia Publishing, allowed me a certain degree of liberty when it came to the cover design and illustration. And me, being the control freak I am, took the opportunity. In another blog entry, I will showcase the development and evolution of the cover art, with added comments from Salvador (given that it will be a long post, it will take some time to put it together). Lest suffice to say that I spent the last months, chatting back and forth with Salvador, trying to get his vision and my ideas to mesh together into the fantastic illustration you are seeing above. I have to give it to him as he was patient enough to listen to me rambling about how a bow should be used or asking about references while leaving his own imprint on the piece. I think that something that helped is that both of us have a design background* (and since I will be overseeing as well the editorial design of the cover) so we shared a common language and understood how and why to ask something.

This is the cover, all put together with the synopsis in the back. The final cover design and assembling were done by my wife, who is not only an amazing photographer but also a talented editorial designer who is starting her business creating covers for authors like me. Trust me, it might look easy, but the level of skill required to make sure everything is correct right to the last millimeter is staggering. I still have a lot to learn from her if I want to improve the covers for Inklings Press.

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The synopsis reads:

Fionn is the wielder of a legendary Tempest Blade, and he is blessed – or cursed – by The Gift. Though his days as a warrior are long over, his past leaves him full of guilt and regret. Life, however, has other plans for him, when he agrees to help a friend locate a missing person.

Gaby and Alex never expected to become heroes… until they met Fionn. As an ancient evil arises and consumes the land, Fionn must help them to master their own Gifts and Tempest Blades.

Together the three of them, and their friends, will chart a course aboard the flying ship Figaro to save the planet. Will Fionn’s past be an anchor, or will he overcome the one failure from his former life before time runs out?

In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.

Including second chances.

Anyways, this is the cover. The back blurb is not on it because I wanted you to admire the art and the custom made logo Salvador and his girlfriend did for me. You can give them a better look at these promotional banners:

Banner TBWK Fionn

The Greywolf

Banner TBWK Alex

The Inventor

Banner TBWK Gaby

The Dreamer

While “Tempest Blades. The Withered King.” will be released on August 20th of this year, you can preorder my book (so weirdly satisfying to say that) here**:

http://mybook.to/TempestBladesWK

Preorders help writers too -actually, they help a lot, more than you can imagine- so I will be deeply thankful if you go and get a copy for yourself. And let me know what do you think when you get your copy after August 20th.

Thank you.

*Design, like many other fields such as engineering and medicine, has different specialties and different skills. Yes all designers, know how to draw. But one thing is to draw a product -like in my case, and I admit I’m not that good- and another to draw a custom made illustration or develop a marketing campaign. Yes, you can cross-pollinate abilities -my wife, a graphic designer, and photographer, is teaching me about editorial design and photoshop- but it takes time to get good at them. See my point about editorial design.

**I just hope that by the time you see this, Amazon has updated the cover image for the ebook version, that’s why the link will take you to the paperback version.

Entrance (free flash story)

(From time to time I participate in an activity at the  Sci-Fi Roundtable Facebook group, where we write flash fiction. This a sample of what I’ve been doing there. As an exercise, it is helpful to keep the imagination strong. This one, in particular, is part of the Tempest Blades Universe. Also, I want to thank Brhi Peres for allowing me to use her art for this story ).

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The Trickster Goddess decided to descend upon the world once more. This was a message that had to be relayed in person. On this occasion though, it would be though as she needed to be really careful. Last time she did it using her true form and full power, she broke the world, leaving it with a scar that held reality warping anomalies. Thus, she opted for creating an avatar as she came down. She first projected her personality and part of her wisdom and power into the world. Around that, using her divine powers, she invoked the Creator’s light. Globules of light coalesced around the spiritual form.

The goddess manipulated matter at the quantum level first, then atomic, then genetic. She built from scratch a -correct anatomically speaking- mortal body, one of a humanoid young woman with long reddish hair and big black eyes. She walked across the Boreal Forest –each step longer than those of the giants- completely naked, while moved her hands, matter shaping around her, making clothes and shoes. It took her a while to readjust to the lessened mortal senses. Only a modicum of cosmic awareness remained, an ironclad thread to her real form tucked in the higher dimensions. That didn’t mean that the goddess could be destroyed in this form. She was still capable of reality warping feats, she still knew how to fight and her body –impervious to anything from the universe- could easily walk into a black hole and torn it asunder with one hand. She had made sure of it. But this form, this mortal coil, wasn’t designed to deal with the sensory input that omnipresence and omniscience caused, even the limited version she inherited from the Creator. It would take time to fine tune that aspect. But she had nothing if time.

She paused for a while, at the side of a blue pool of water, surrounded by mist. She stared at her reflection and liked what she saw.

“Well, the clothes could use more work. I might need to recreate my old armor, from the Fall Time,” she said to himself.

Aside from that, this form should be perfect for interaction with the mortals, interaction of any kind she thought. Her mind had already a few ideas of what sensory experiences she wanted to go through. After all, if she wanted to protect these mortals, she needed to understand them, see the world the way they did. But first, she had to take care of visiting a freefolk girl and giving her a particular mission.

“It’s so weird to have a physical body in this realm. But it feels good to visit the old home. Let’s find that girl Asherah. I have a mission for her. But first, I need a name for this avatar.”

She walked away from the pool, the globules of light still surrounding her, creating a metal armor- while musing on what name she would take. That was the most difficult part of creating an avatar. Not the accessories, the name.

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The world of Theia. Part 1: Ionis.

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Every story, every adventure needs a place to… well, take place. So this is Theia, the world where Tempest Blades takes place. Actually, it’s just one of the continents in Theia, where the story of this particular arc of Tempest Blades takes place.

But first a few data on Theia: it’s a planet similar to Earth, orbiting a sun within the habitable zone. It has two moons: one is round like ours, the other is a smaller, elongated one (no one really knows what the hell it is) that appears only when something on the mystic side takes place. It also has a thick ionosphere, with the result of massive storms rolling over the continents, and affecting the development of telecommunications and high altitude flight. Thus they have developed differently. Weather is mostly the same, but a bit more extreme and has both similar species to Earth (and from two other planets) and endemic ones. It also has a highly stable magick energy field atop the magnetic one.

Ionis is the central east continent of the planet, the most densely populated despite being the second or third ‘colonized’. It’s part of a larger landmass, divided by mountain ranges such as the Jagged Mountains and inner seas on the south. The Grasslands is where the most eastern continent starts. Nowadays the continent is organized under the rule of the Free Alliance, a coalition of city-states and small kingdoms and republics that formed after the Great War took down the Old Kingdoms. There are no nominal borders within its territory, although each city-state has under its protection the smaller ones, as well as towns.

The freefolk nations shares space with humans with relative peace and their settlements rule themselves but in an alliance with the city-states as formal members of the Alliance. Freefolk and human intermingle with such frequency that it’s almost impossible to distinguish one from another (unless someone uses magick). Samoharos are a rare sight in the continent, only visiting ports such as Portis, Saint Lucy or the Seven Watersnakes.

Weather and vegetation are similar to that of British Columbia. There are still cultural, economic and sports-related rivalries within its regions, which sometimes can spill into minor conflicts. But for the most part, Ionis has endured a century of peace since the war ended. Think the European Union or the Carolingian Empire.

The map, for the sake and brevity, only depicts places that are mentioned in the actual story or are really important (such as the three main cities). There are more places there, but it would have been madness to fit all in that space. So this is a primer on the places marked there. In alphabetical order.

Belfrost: the short name of Belger’s Frost, in honor of Belger, the famous explorer that mapped most of the continent and founded the city as last stop before going into the Grasslands, where he would get lost forever. Now is considered the “city of spies”.

Carffadon: important commercial and touristic town in the Emerald Island due to its key location on the banks of the river Breen. Home of artists, poets, merchants, and pubs.

Emerald Island: the major power of the region, it coalesced into a single rule under King Castlemartell the leader of the Alliance during the war and now ruled by his daughter, Queen Brenda ‘The Long-Lived’. It has the largest overall population of freefolk outside the regions neighboring the World’s Scar.

Lemast: tiny town in the shadows of the Jagged Mountains. Only memorable for their particular architecture, the strange mausoleum in the middle of a cemetery and the regiment posted there to guard it.

Longhorn Valley: the place where the war was won by the Alliance and where the Light Explosion took place.

Manfeld: the oldest city in the continent is now a major commercial, cultural and industrial center. Its high walls, location upon a hill and easy access to water made it the perfect defensive spot and was the only mainland city to don’t fall during the war, although the siege that took place did a number on the city. It also has the largest population of city freefolks.

Maze, The: a  most peculiar region of the World’s Scar. It is said that it’s the exact spot where a certain goddess entered the world the first time. As such, is a place with reality warping properties, gravitational waves and endless roads that can get you lost. Also, it has dangerous predators there. It is the most important place for the freefolk nations as it is considered the location of the birth of their culture and where they discovered how to use magick. Visiting the place at least once in their lives is a significant goal of every freefolk on the planet.

Mercia University: one of the many universities on the continent. Recognized by its advanced programs in arcanotech –first of its kind-, design & engineering and freefolk-human relationships. It has an exchange program with Ravenstone.

Portis: the merchant city. It controls all the islands and maritime trade routes from and to the continent (think Venetia during the Renaissance). Famous for its legendary swordsmen and swashbuckling escapades that inspired hundreds of novels. Rumored to be founded by sailors that worshipped a strange sea deity. Most megacorps such as that from the Galfano Family have their main offices there.

Ravenstone: THE place to learn magick. It’s a mostly an only-freefolk school, although it does take human students with an aptitude for magick. Reaching it’s hard, but that’s on purpose, given that housed students of all ages, it needs to be a safe place for them. Located deep into the Maze region of the World’s Scar, it’s the perfect place to practice magick without blowing up the neighborhood.

Saint Lucy: capital of the Emerald Island and one of the three main cities. Founded on the remains of an ancient capital by King Castlemartell and named in honor of his deceased wife. It’s also known as the ‘city of blinding lights’. Queen Brenda rules from there.

Samheil Mountain: tallest peak in the Emerald Island. It is said to be haunted by fey –will-o-wisp creatures- and it’s the place where Fionn decided to settle after his return.

Sandtown: Its original freefolk name is lost, but it is believed that it was the location of the capital of the freefolk Kingdom of Umo (or Ulmo, spelling varies from tribe to tribe), before its fall almost a millennia ago due to a terrible catastrophe. Nowadays it’s a small town that houses Queen Brenda’s secret retreat and the nominal seat of the Free Alliance ruling council. Although nowadays the council rotates location between the Three major cities (Portis, Manfeld, and Saint Lucy).

Seven Watersnakes: a most fertile region on the continent, home of farms, cities, and ports. The region was in ancient times home to three quarreling kingdoms whose inhabitants’ exploits formed the basis for the Romances of Monstegur, a popular series of books, movies, and video games.

Skarabear: town located in the extreme north of the Emerald Island. Hometown of Fionn, it is the prime example of human-freefolk friendly coexistence, thanks to its legendary daughter and son and their exploits during and after the Great War. While part of the Emerald Island, it’s a town that tends to consider itself independent of the main rule from Saint Lucy and while friendly to outcasts, its inhabitants keep to themselves for a mysterious reason.

Thunder Pass: the nominal south-eastern border of the continent. Known for the endless thunderstorms that take place there. Currently the home of the power farms that provide energy to the continent.

World’s Scar: it’s a canyon… that crosses the whole planet (yes even under the ocean it’s rumored to have walkable spots. The place with most magick energy. In older times it was considered the geographical northern border of Ionis, but with the inclusion of the northern freefolk settlements of the Boreal Forests & the Mistlands, that became part of the past, with now the start of the Tundric lands the new frontier. Legend says that it was created when a certain goddess entered the world in her full form.

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Creating the map of your setting is not an easy task. Coming with shapes, names and geologically coherent structure is an intricate work of love. Thankfully I have a great illustrator -who is also a science buff- on my corner: Mr. Marco García.

He usually draws dinosaurs, cryptozoologist guides, and storyboards, but he agreed to help me with this, providing we stuck to geology and geography rules, with one exception (which is a magical place that violates the laws of nature on purpose). His input has been invaluable and even helped me to reexamine how some bits of my worldbuilding should go on.

The image above is the result of such collaboration. It is the location where the adventures of my characters from Tempest Blades takes place (at least the first novel-arc) It is not a complete map of the world (there are like 3 more continents still on the works) and of course the places pointed in the map are not the only ones in existence, just the ones used in the novel.

I have to say, I love the little details and the coherence between rivers, marshes, and mountains. Even the little, unnamed islands and the waves. As a first approach to this, I can’t be any happier. And if you want to see more of Marco’s work, go to his DeviantArt page.