I stumbled upon Steve Lichman a while back (after the first Kickstarter had already finished) and really, really enjoyed the lampooning of 'typical male' behaviour, common fantasy tropes and nerd culture, very clever writing and wonderful art from Dave Rapoza.
If you don't mind a bit of violence and swearing, you'll probably find it hilarious - and good news, there's a kickstarter for the second volume of the comic, where you can grab volume 1 at the same time :)
But only 40-something hours to go while I type this!
Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off
I'm leading off this post with some lovely news about my epic fantasy/adventure story The Amber Isle - I was thrilled to learn it was a semi-finalist in the opening round of Mark Lawrences' SPFBO (which you can read about here) and while I didn't expect a novella to fare to well against full length novels, I'm still very happy with how it went!
You can also see the great review from Lynn, the blogger assigned to the batch of titles I was up against - among which was the eventual winner, Outpost by F T McKinstry. Good luck to F T McKinstry :)
Two short interviews are also up - one is a quick promotional one which talks a little about the inspiration behind City of Masks and the other is part of Ambrose Hall's Gothic/Horror month, where I talk about A Whisper of Leaves and living next to cemeteries :)
(In fact, A Whisper of Leaves, my ghost story set in Japan, is actually $1 during the lead up to Halloween if you're looking for a suspense read)
Another Review :)
I was pleasantly surprised to find that a new review group Fantasia Reviews, found a copy of City of Masks and did an in depth review that featured pull-quotes, which I thought was ace :) They describe the writing as laconic and effective (which I liked :D) - check it out!
Greatmask is on track for its late November release and I'll soon be sharing a chapter from Seto too. I'm at around 15k for Never #5 and hope to announce a kickstarter for it soon. Next year, after Never #5 is out, I hope to be working on a sequel to A Whisper of Leaves and another dark fantasy/suspense story (Fallow-Man). Otherwise I'm also planning to get a lot more reading done over the ever-nearing Christmas break :)
As part of the lead-up to the release of Greatmask, I thought I'd post info, deleted scenes and competitions, a sneak peak of the cover art and such, all spread out over the coming weeks.
So, first up is this deleted opening - which was once going to kick off of Book 1, City of Masks. It's a scene which tries to establish the city a little, and shows a little of a Storm Singer in action too.
(In the end I felt it was a little too far removed from the main story-line, namely Notch and Sofia, and so it ended up hitting the cutting room floor :) )
Anaskar clung to the bluestone mountains that protected it, bathed in a heavy sea-mist which dampened the enormous walls and diffused any possible glow. The city shouldered its way into the air, a half-circle of spires with dark windows for eyes that had long ago been turned to the ocean. The passage of feet on stone was lost to the wind and beneath its rising howl, the crack of waves breaking against stone echoed across the bay, before it too was swallowed in the failing light of dusk.
A figure in a thick cloak walked Anaskar’s sea wall, moving out amongst choppy water, which sloshed over the sides. The paved spar stretched across the waves and its end was difficult to see in the mist, but the woman walked on, footing certain even as icy wind whipped the sea higher. The mosaic beneath her feet did not turn its course, catching the last of light from the sun and holding a faint, bluish glow.
She paused as a wave crashed over the side, water rising to her ankles and soaking the hem of her cloak. As soon as she was able, she kept on, increasing her pace, her heels smacking on the wet stone. A tall chair of stone waited at the end of the spar, and she hastened to it, pausing twice more as the waves became increasingly violent. Neither swept her from her feet, she had been here before.
The Storm Throne was drenched but she sat, gripping the arm rests and closing her eyes to the churning of the ocean; to the dark swirl of grey before her, where beyond waited ships in the harbour with its ancient Sea Gate. A wave crashed over her but she held tight, having felt it coming – it was not so large anyway. Salty water covered her skin, bitter on her lips, and she remained still, expectant.
As the rhythm of the sea soaked into her, along with the chill that soaked through her cloak and the robes beneath, she found its pulse. The patient anger, a forceful pummelling, an anger whose voice was ageless and unforgettable. Something stirred beneath the waters and she opened her mouth and sang.
A clear note cut through the wind.
The Song of Soothing rang out as Kalerin wove her voice with the wind and water, letting it slip between the nuances of the splash on stone and the waves pummelling the spar and the city walls behind her. As she sang the rise and fall of the old words, words she understood in a general way only, Kalerin began to sweat. Soothing the young storm was like dancing with an untrained partner who made unexpected moves that pulled you off balance but it was worse with the bigger storms, the ones only her father could calm.
She sang on, lashed with wind and water, eyes clenched her voice soared, spluttering occasionally, until finally, when the song was finished and a hush had fallen over the night, she opened her eyes to a smooth ocean stretching beyond the bay. It ran in an endless expanse of black that barely caught the reflection of hesitant stars overhead.
Today I wanted to announce that Greatmask (the third book in the Bone Mask Trilogy) is due for release on November 28th!
I’ll actually be releasing it myself, as the previous publisher Snapping Turtle and I have parted ways for now – it’s an amicable split and I’m still happy with all the work we did together on the first two books and on Greatmask too.
I’m keen to release this one so I can see what folks think of the trilogy’s ending.
Finishing a trilogy is pretty much the same as finishing a novel; I’m feeling the same doubt – is the ending good? Will it be satisfying to readers? Have I wrapped up enough? Have I left enough open? (Well, it’s the same except magnified, since it’s a multi-pov, multi-storyline ending that’s been building for two books prior :D)
But there’s also a lot of excitement and anticipation too, after four years of hard work!
Checking my old hard drive, I see that I started the trilogy back in late September 2012, which is when I wrote the first 500 words of Notch’s opening in Anaskar’s prison. Next I wrote an unused opening that was much more of a ‘wide view’ that established the city itself, which I’ll share in a future post leading up to the release.
In the meantime, here’s a reminder of the fantastic map I had commissioned a while back. I wanted to plot a red-line showing everyone’s path over the books but couldn’t bear marring the image :D
The Hero’s Journey is one of those classic, prevalent narratives that you can find anywhere from Homer’s Odyssey to the first Star Wars. An early work used for its development might be Carl Jung’s archetypes, which were then further explored and used by Joseph Campbell in his Hero with a Thousand Faces, an exploration of what he termed the ‘monomyth’. (Writing students are probably also familiar with Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, which is in turn adapted from Campbell.)
The Hero’s Journey is typically broken into stages and obstacles – here are the twelve stages which Vogler adapted from Campbell’s original seventeen:
1. The Ordinary World
2. The Call to Adventure
3. Refusal of The Call
4. Meeting with The Mentor
5. Crossing the Threshold
6. Tests, Allies and Enemies
8. The Ordeal
9. The Reward
10. The Road Back
11. The Resurrection
12. Return with the Elixir
Such a structure will probably be familiar to many readers and film fans (especially Disney fans). Another example might be The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, it’s clear that Gandalf acts as both ‘Call to Adventure’ and ‘Mentor’ while other stages should be recognisable without me summarising the whole story – something I’m far too lazy to do! (But I will say that what I liked best about what Tolkien does with the structure might actually be when Frodo returns (with Elixir/Dirt) he finds another problem in Sharkey.)
But my favourite stage is Five – where the hero will typically encounter a Guardian of the Threshold, often a physical enemy but which can also be represented through an internal struggle (a great visual example of the Guardian is probably the Sphinx/Oracle scenes in The Never Ending Story). This is one of my favourite aspects because it allows a hero to really show the reader what they’re made of – are they strong, powerful or rash, clever, resourceful or kind? I learn a lot about my favourite heroes when I see how they deal with Threshold Guardians.
The example I wanted to chat about just a little is Sen and No-Face from Spirited Away.
For those who have seen the film, obviously it isn’t until after she literally crosses a threshold to enter the bathhouse that she encounters No-Face properly. At that point she has already faced various guardians and trials, but it is No-Face as much as Yubaba that stands in her way. No-Face is constantly seeking her, offering her what he thinks she desires, No-Face terrorises the bathhouse and if not dealt with, it will be No-Face that prevents Sen from saving the stricken Haku.
And then comes the telling moment, a test of the hero’s mettle perhaps – Sen sacrifices medicine she won from the River-Spirit, medicine she had been saving for Haku – and with it, uses her kindness and compassion to not only pass beyond the Guardian, but transform him into a friend. From that point onward, Sen looks after him and his rage is eased.
Such kindness is actually a hallmark of a many of director Miyazaki’s heroines and something you’ll rarely encounter in say, an action blockbuster that follows the Hero’s Journey.
As it turns out my favourite Threshold Guardians are often those that are transformed after coming into contact with the hero – take Inigo from The Princess Bride or even Puss in Boots from Shrek 2 as film examples, both become strong allies of the hero. What I love about this as a writer, is that the transformation often equips the hero with better knowledge that can be used against the villain, knowledge he or she would have lost had they simply slain the Guardian.
Steampunk Fairy Tales is an ongoing series of stories set in steampunk worlds and inspired
by fairy tales. Often, but not always, steampunk retellings of classic fairy tales, other shorts
are more liberal with their interpretation or tackle lesser-known fairy tales.
The books are produced by a great group of authors I know and work with and while both editions feature short stories by me (The Yellow Butterfly and Esmeralda respectively)
there are heaps of other ace stories you should check out :)
Thanks to the team for all the hard work and once again, thanks to
Louis of Indigo Forest Designs for two brilliant covers!
Would love to use this stretch of coast here in Victoria (one day) for the setting of a story - but I have to hurry as they're always eroding, of course!
At Snow’s urging, Never climbs into the Folhan Mountains to search for the Altar of Stars, which he must reach by the new moon. Yet he cannot shake off his doubts; will the answers he seeks even reside with the altar? Or is Snow manipulating him once more?
Today is the launch for The Peaks of Autumn – the 4th installment in Never’s quest for not only his true name but also for a way to break the curse on his blood.
As you probably know by now, I’m thrilled by the cover (thanks, Lin and Vivid Covers) and have been busting to release this one, to get that beautiful artwork out there (and the story itself too) While most of the Never stories up until now have been novella-length, this one is a novel (albeit a short one) and I hope you’ll find the extra time spent with Never to be full of action and surprises.
If you want to read right away and are in a position to financially support my writing you can find purchase links right here:
Barnes & Noble
If you’d like to enter some giveaways for the ebook, ones that are open now but closing a couple of weeks from now, you can visit Library Thing/Booklikes/my fiction site. (You can also enter a Goodreads Giveaway for the print edition of Never: Vols 1-3 when it opens next week.)
Library Thing Giveaway
(scroll to find me)
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the story!
New to The Book of Never? Learn more by clicking the image below – you’ll find a few of the ebooks currently on special for the release of The Peaks of Autumn. (Also, the Never Prequel short story should be permanently free in the near future too.)
As I mentioned previously, here's a little guessing game (just a bit of fun rather than a difficult challenge :D) with a prize up for grabs - three ebook copies of The Peaks of Autumn.
All you have to do is be among the first 3 folks to correctly identify the covers from the snippets I've cut out and arranged on the image below:
All done? Nice work - now all you gotta do is leave your answers in the comments here OR just send 'em to me - mountain0ash[at]gmail[dot]com - and I'll e-mail you your choice of mobi/epub/pdf within 24 hrs :)
If you happen to be new to the 'Never' books and have heard me blather on about The Peaks of Autumn (coming soon) over the last few weeks and wanted to check out the series risk-free, you can grab a copy of the prequel short story Never for free today.
Here's some links (Amazon only for now - planning to change that soon)
Free October 6th
Free ebook with every newsletter sign up in 2016
Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
Imperial Towers (Never Book 5) - draft 1
Moss Dragon - draft 1
Reed Lavender (working title) - draft 1
Unnamed Spec Fic - draft 1
Whisper of Leaves (sequel) - Outline