Tag Archives: eternal

Laputa, Lilliput and Eternal

Newsflashes, while efficient, are so sterile. Let me tell you a story instead, clarity be damned.

The first ever Real Adult Book I read was Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage II. It was a massive thing to my twelve-year-old eyes, a gargantuan undertaking that took all summer to get through. My very first Sci-fi doorstopper.

viaje-alucinante-ii-destino-cerebro-isaac-asimov-leer-12696-MLA20064364207_032014-F

A cover I could never forget.

I fell in love early on. Albert Morrison was my scientist avatar, awkward, love-starved, a bit desperate. Natalya Boranova a compelling and stable companion, the one I rooted for as love interest. Sophia Kaliinin a tempting sylph, but quite clearly out of Morrison’s league. And Yuri Whatsisname an apt, ultimately too-powerful rival. There was another guy in there, the pilot or whatnot, but apparently I didn’t care that much for him because I can’t remember his name. I can’t explain to you right now how proud I am of remembering those names, by the way.

The Science-fiction and plot points were awesome too, but they kind of took a back-seat to the relationships in there. I’ve always been a very character-focused type of reader, or I guess media-consumer. Be it novel, TV show or CRPG, it’s the character interactions that really do it for me.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Fantastic Voyage II opened my eyes to what books could really do for you. It was my first obsession in written form, and I’d re-read it at least five times in the course of my teenage years—whenever I couldn’t remember the name of one of the cast. That poor paperback was lovingly beaten and downtrodden by the time I was done with it.

Some time after that first read, my brother picked up from the library the first volume of Chronicles of the Dragonlance. I remember being greatly intrigued by its cover, Tanis and Goldmoon and Sturm all posing in front of a forest or a meadow or something like that, super badass and attractive. It was another massive book, too—to my eyes, at least.

I wouldn’t have dared open it up if it weren’t for my Fantastic Voyage II venture, but I was a seasoned doorstopper reader by then, you see. What would have been daunting before was only a mild challenge now. And so I started reading it. And so my true teenage obsession began.

Return of the Dragons. Better title, if you ask me.

Return of the Dragons. Better title, if you ask me.

The Dragonlance series, flawed and cliché and hit-you-over-the-head pro-Christian as they might appear to a more adult or experienced readership, was my Lord of the Rings, my Star Wars, my Star Trek. I had no idea what a fantasy trope was at the time, so everything was just fresh and mind-blowing. The religious undertones flew completely under my radar—it was just a fantastic story with Gods and mortals and life lessons and whatnot. The most awesome tale ever told, and I do mean awesome in the biblical sense. I would pay real money to have that sense of wonder again, to be able to relive that discovery. It takes so much more nowadays to buy into things….

I consumed Dragons of Autumn Twilight like it was my first heroin high, then felt sad when it was over, then overjoyed when my brother said that this was, in fact, the first volume of a trilogy. Oh, how I buggered him to find the next installment, which he did, and the third installment, which he didn’t. They didn’t have at the library, you understand.

So I had to go hunting. This was the late nineties, with the internet in its infancy and online ordering nothing but a distant chimera (It still kinda is, in Spain.) So that meant going to a local bookstore.

What do you know, it's still there, right next to college campus.

What do you know, it’s still there, right next to college campus.

Now, you must understand what this means for an awkward, shy, overweight-and-self-conscious-about-it teenage boy. It means tentatively walking into a somewhat secluded, mildly busy place, trying to look like I knew where I was going. It means surreptitiously reading aisle signs in a frantic search for the suitable section. It means working up the inhuman courage to talk to a pretty and helpful staff member because I just couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Truly an epic ordeal for the ages.

Anyway, they didn’t have it in stock. I could’ve tried in half a dozen other stores, but that would have meant repeating this whole process all over again, which was a fate worse than death. They happily offered to order it for me.  “You can do that?” I remember saying. It never occurred to me that you could choose which books the store would get. It was magical.

I bought the book from them a week later. It was the best in the series. I loved every tiny bit. And at the end, there were ads. In stunned silence I leaned that there were more Dragonlance books out there. A LOT more. So I returned to the store.

That bookstore, the name of which I’ve unfortunately forgotten, became my drug dealer. I’d come in with a list of wonderful highs I wanted to try, and a week later they’d have a pile of the stuff waiting for me. I just needed to cough up the cash, which my parents were gracious enough to provide. My mother loved it, was so glad I was spending time away from the ubiquitous videogames. My father would just shake his head in amusement. Not much of a fantasy guy. They still have my giant collection on their shelves, providing a much appreciated and probably well-calculated sting of nostalgia whenever I lay eyes upon them through the webcam.

What the hell am I getting at with all this, you might ask? I have a great fondness for local bookstores, that’s what I’m getting at. They were a strange, mystical, nigh foreboding place that later became a direct gateway to some of the best experiences of my teens, which was getting lost in Krynn and daydreaming about being a badass Red Robe. Wait, is that sad? That’s pretty sad, isn’t it. Just replace “bookstore” with “brothel” and “Krynn” with “titties.” Yeah, much better.

So hopefully this story begins to explain just how special it feels to see this at Gulliver’s Books, the bookstore to which I deliver mail every day:

Among all the other local author stuff. Conspicuously non-Alaskan-themed...

Among all the other local author stuff. Conspicuously non-Alaskan-themed…

 

Gulliver’s Books is currently stocking Eternal. Hooray!

It’s only relatively recently that I went in there as a customer, which I regret dearly. I grew older, moved away from home, had no transportation of my own for a while so I was swept into the convenience of ordering books online. Shame, shame, everlasting shame.

After going back into an actual building to buy books, it became clear how far I’d strayed. How much magic is lost through the sterile causeways of the internet. There’s something about standing in the middle of wall-to-wall shelves full of books waiting to be discovered, something that simply cannot be described. Countless covers and spines clamoring for your attention or quietly awaiting their turn. Perhaps it’s the density of work-hours condensed into one place: hundreds upon hundreds of hours per linear inch, all neatly stacked and presented as somebody’s best efforts to take you somewhere they thought was worthy of the time.

Have you done it of late? Have you ever done it? Well, now is as good a time as any. And if you live anywhere close to Fairbanks, Alaska… you know where to find my stack of hopeful hours.

Happily frothing,

– Israel

The Art of Eternal

I was going to title the post “Eternal Art” but the pun is probably wearing thin by now.

It’s no secret that I like to doodle. Eternal is full of neat art that gets manhandled like a Nigerian prostitute ratty hand-me-down during the publishing process. The physical version gets a bit pixely, while the digital version needs to be shrunk for it to nicely fit in readers of all sizes. And so I now point you toward the Art Gallery bellow. SHAZAM! Click on the images to make them HUGE.

infinitileB The Infinitile

This motif is used throughout the book and is all over the floor of the Census chamber, among other places. It symbolizes that the passage of time is a load of bullshit the twisty whims of time.


 

 

scenesepB2

Alexandra’s stylized staff

This is a stylized rendition of Alex’s staff. It’s used to separate scenes.


 

 

Sunburst2

 The Silver Sunburst

This is one of Humanity’s symbols. It represents the everlasting, far-reaching light of the Silver Sun.


 

 

ring2

Alexandra’s ring

The gems are amethysts. The body is white gold vines with obsidian background. The inside of the shank is white gold. It is expensive and she’s ashamed of liking that.

 


 

nexus gateS

Gate to the nexus

A tiny Alexandra steps through the gate, with Carved Barrow’s Mount in the background.

 


 

 

SORD

Ming Xiu’s sword

Get a good look at it while you can. It might vanish into shimmering billows any moment.

 


 

The Spire2The Spire

If you squint hard enough, you can spot Aaron in there.

Nah, you really can’t.


 

The BEacon

The Beacon

This one didn’t make it into the book because it looked weird on a page. It’s still kind of a sketch.


 

I’ve also drawn a few banners to post as ads. I’m pretty fond of them! Here are the originals—most of the time I have to edit these down to a manageable size so they’ll fit the ad criteria.

 

ETERNAL-LEADERBOARD

A certain someone (left) has a depressing conversation with Alexandra (right).


 

template_skyscraper

Ming Xiu dives into the writhen tide like a boss.


 

ETERNAL-SQUARE

And a little button I haven’t even used yet.


 

I wish I had more time to pour into this kind of stuff. I’m one of those people that googles rule 34 fanart of any book / game I enjoy—or rather, any book / game / what have you that I connect with. I think it’s the one thing I’ve fantasized about the most, actually: people out there liking my stuff enough to make raunchy doujinshi fancy fanart of it. That’d be cool as hell, brahs!

Anyway, I feel compelled to illustrate all these images in my head. Hope you like ‘em.

Swaying uncontrollably,

– Israel.

Bedazzling Bounty of Book Beauty

Alliteration, that trusty ol’ friend for obnoxious headlines, strikes again! It didn’t occur to me until now that I haven’t shown pictures of the final print version of the book, so here’s a pile of them. Click them for glorious four dimensional viewing, IN SPACE.

Hmm, this picture is missing something.

Hmm, this picture is missing something.

Ah, yes, cats are excellent props.

Ah, yes, cats are excellent props.

Case in point

Case in point

It's such an enticing snippet, you must open up the book and read more!

It’s such an enticing snippet, you must open up the book and read more!

Scene breaks in style.

Scene breaks in style.

Alexandra's ring sure is pretty.

Alexandra’s ring sure is pretty.

Let me tell ya, getting the art to display decently in the electronic versions was a royal pain in my anus. I seriously felt like Queen Elizabeth with a bad case of hemorrhoids, I kid you not. If you like the book and have the funds, though, I’d wholeheartedly recommend getting the print version, and I don’t say it because of profits, because the print version gives me the least profits–I’d just rather you you experienced Eternal the best way possible. HOORAY.

Coasting down a perilous highway,

– Israel

 

 

Eternal for Sale

Eternal is released. BEHOLD.

main-wordstrings-SM

You must enter Eternal. Click to make it really big.

Go right here and use your money to buy it!

It’s out and I feel zen. I’m all too aware of the downsides to self-publishing: more expense, more work, much more legwork marketing-wise, no establishment validation, no support system behind you, and the uphill battle that is Self-published Stigma. I do it myself, you see—I think of self-published books as less than. Probably because, sadly, most of the time I’ll be right to think that way.

So let’s be positive and enthusiastic and talk about the wonderful upsides! There’s plenty, but I’m most fond of two of them:

1) Complete control means no ultra-lame cover and/or formatting.

Most new authors don’t get a say on how the book they wrote will look. Actually, I just pulled that out of my ass, I don’t know if it’s most. But many don’t. Depends on the contract you sign, I guess. Have you seen some of the putrid turds of a cover that some books get? And not just the dime-a-dozen, fire-kindling-worthy garbage you might find in the bargain bin, but really good stuff as well. Need I cite the old Wheel of Time covers? Some editions of Asimov’s best work? The copy of Dune I got in the mail only a week ago? Hell, even the first editions of Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind were cringe-inducing. I’m not saying the cover I designed is the be-all end-all of fancy book fronts, but at least I can rest assured it won’t be in any “top ten worst covers of all time” lists. Which one would you choose at the book store?

bookcoverAWFULI think I'd pick the Hitler book, actually
I think I’d pick the Hitler book, actually

I also get to put in a bunch of cool art and illustrations in the book itself. I’ve always appreciated stuff like that when reading a novel, and I wanted mine to have them as well. There’s no-one to stop me!

2) No release pressure. (THIS IS THE GREATEST PUN OF ALL TIME.)

“My book didn’t sell well when it came out, so it got un-stocked from most stores and no-one even lists it anymore.”

“My publisher let me go. They didn’t care for the sequel because sales in the first year were poor.”

“Nobody will look at me twice because my debut novel was a flop and I made a bunch of people lose money because of it.”

These words will never haunt my sleep. It’s a different game with self-publishing, a slow and steady game. The release date doesn’t really matter. There’s no “grand opening” event. It will be released, and sales will start trickling in (hopefully.) I’ll be marketing and promoting steadily and somewhat quietly, and with luck and the help of friends and family and good word of mouth, it’ll slowly spread. I have no idea how far, but my expectations are realistically low, as the chances of it spreading like the next bird flu pandemic that will kill us all are lottery-worthy. It’ll be more like the recent Ebola outbreak: relatively small, slow to proliferate, but boy will it be virulent and hard to eradicate. Yes, Eternal shall take hold of some people out there and consume them until there is only a feverish husk left, and all who come in contact with them will become irrevocably infected.

Hm. This metaphor kind of ran away from me.

All this positivity is exhausting! I must now retire, it’s just too much. At least my quota for the year is covered; I can go back to being a cynical piece of garbage with nothing good to say about anything. Cheers!

Turds, turds everywhere,

– Israel

The ETERNAL Wait Is Over

Eternal will be published on September 16th, 2014. It will indeed be self-published.

Eternal Print

Back | Spine | Front

Talks with Booktrope looked promising until there was sudden and complete silence. It was in the middle of a conversation with zero indication that they weren’t interested. My liaison simply stopped replying to emails. I waited for a month, then prodded again. Still nothing. It made me think that the man maybe had had an accident or something, so I felt a bit hurt seeing that he was still tweeting banalities day in and day out while my hopes withered. He could have had the decency of falling off a cliff to spare me the heartache of rejection. Oh, how I despaired.

Tangentially: Isn’t it such a weird and tentative dance, the whole emails-with-a-stranger-in-a-position-of-power thing? You never want to say too much, or too little; you want to be obsequious without being needy, you want to be cool without being aloof. You want to be sincere without coming across as a complete dumb-ass. It’s high school non-dating all over again.

Anyway, Eternal will be for sale soon, both in physical and electronic form, but exclusively online. Well, maybe I can convince the local bookshop to give it a read, awkward as the conversation might be. I deliver the mail to them, they owe me!

The eBook won’t cost more than a fancy cup of coffee. The print version will be as cheap as I can make it to cover production expenses—it’ll probably hover around fourteen to fifteen measly dollars. Is that the price of a movie ticket these days? It’s been a while.

I’ll be posting many more details on where to get it and what I’m doing to prepare. Though I might procrastinate on everything and then work around the clock to make this self-imposed deadline. Somehow I see that as the more likely scenario.

Exciting and/or soul-crushing times are afoot. Rejoice!

Friends always and forever,

– Israel

Query: the Query

I was thinking today (gasp!) that The Path to Publication: The Hunt for an Agent is hardly a complete story without the query itself. Shouldn’t it have been the first thing that I posted?

Well, I answered myself, the query feels like something you show later, you know? What you have now is as refined as you can make it, but you don’t know for sure that it won’t change before The One Agent is smitten with it. You wait until it’s all said and done, and then you go, “oh yeah, here’s the query letter that made it happen.” It doesn’t feel like a risk at that point—you’re showing off your success while being helpful to aspiring writers. Everybody wins!

But that’s not the point of the blog, I answered lustily. The point is to share the ups and downs of the Path to Publication, I added sumptuously, regardless of how silly it makes you look. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone improves over time, everyone starts somewhere. That’s what you’re trying to show here in real time (somewhat), instead of telling it later.

Yes, you have convinced me, I told me. The truth, I continued to tell me, is that I’m too scawwed to take the risk of posting a risible failure. A breach of etiquette is also of concern. It all boils down to the hundreds of atomic wedgies I got in high school, I concluded wisely.

Never mind that, you fool! I exhorted myself—okay this is getting old. Anyway, here it is. Query: ETERNAL as was sent yesterday.

Dear (agent’s full name):

I submit for your consideration ETERNAL, a 160,000-word fantasy novel set in a grim yet wondrous afterlife.

Alexandra and Aaron Gretchen have died in a massive explosion. They arrive at separate locations in an afterlife that’s shared with all of the sapient species in the Universe.

An atheist in life, Aaron confronts his continued existence in an alien landscape. He’s barely started searching for Alexandra when he encounters an amiable tentacled monster eager to lead him to the nearest human domain. There he learns a terrible truth: the known afterlife is boundless, and Alexandra could be anywhere. Undeterred, Aaron resolves to do everything in his power to find his wife.

Alexandra was certain she’d ascend to heaven, and so her worldview is shattered when hideous demons attack as soon as she regains consciousness. Wounded, hunted, royally pissed off at her assigned fate, Alex vows to find her husband and battle her way out of hell. Her escape becomes a harrowing quest for answers as she realizes her situation is a far cry from eternal damnation.

Aaron and Alexandra’s parallel stories reveal an afterlife where humanity has no shortage of enemies; where the dead arrive at random times and places, thoughts shape reality and ceasing to exist is a very real possibility. Aaron will strive against an ancient conspiracy designed to keep him away from his beloved, while Alexandra will rise to lead an insurgence among enslaved souls, everlasting torment as the price of failure. Their all-consuming need to be reunited will drive them to persevere against daunting adversity—but how can they hold out hope, when even their allies scheme to keep them apart?

ETERNAL is my first novel. It reads like dark fantasy, but also incorporates science fiction and dystopian elements, exploring themes of faith, the resilience of hope and the limits of human knowledge. It comfortably stands on its own but it’s planned to be the first part in the Boundless Trilogy.

A final draft is complete. I’d be delighted to follow up with the full manuscript at your request.

(agent-dependent paragraph(s) )

On top of the closing paragraph, I’ll tailor a few other spots to the specific agent, depending on their preferences. Giving examples feels pretentious since I don’t know yet whether I’m doing it right.

I’ve been saving previous versions of the query letter for a future poast on the evolution of the query, which is something I can’t do until I reach the end of the line with this book. I anticipate it will be a very popular poast when the time comes, and I very much hope this version will be at the bottom of that poast.

That’ll be all for now. I should go.

- Israel

Cats and Books – Print on Demand

I was terribly curious about Print on Demand and figured why the hell not. To clarify, I only wanted to print out a sample copy for private use. No intentions to sell anything here! After summary research I shunned the more mainstream stuff in favor of The Book Patch. It was a fairly painless process and it cost a whopping $12 plus shipping and handling fees.

I want to say I was quite thorough in researching first that this does not use up your first publishing rights. As long as you don’t sell it to anyone, you’re good. It’s the same as printing out your manuscript in your home’s printer.

Results! Luna is pleased.

Click for full feline greatness

Click for full feline greatness

I’ll admit I expected complete garbage, so I was very much impressed with the quality. The cover is somewhere between paperback and hardcover, while the interior is just as pretty as you’d expect a printed book to be. Too bad they don’t allow customization of paper quality — though the paper has the right feel, it would be nice to be able to use something more cream-colored.

Hairy fingers fans rejoice

Vanity at its best. Also it’s “theatrics,” not “theatricals,” and “he” instead of “him and other scribes.” That’s the kind of stuff that jumps out at you!

I’d recommend these guys to anyone, overall. The only snag I noticed is that the black and white printing isn’t very good for interior art designs, though maybe I simply used wrongly-optimized files. If you want to see how your book will look in print, this is definitely the way to go.

Which brings me to the actual, extremely useful aspect of this endeavor! This is an awesome tool for revisions. The draft I printed out with them was thought to be final after gruesome, lengthy editing, but so many things jump out at you from the actual printed page. I’d encourage everyone out there with a final draft to do this before starting to query (and I do mean final, editor-reviewed, ready-to-be-submitted draft: it would get way too expensive to do it all the time.) I didn’t regret it and neither will you, I swear on Andraste’s rump.

It’s also a very nice present for people that have believed in you through the writing of your novel, and I’ve put together a nicer, better formatted edition for them. And who knows, it could become an extremely rare collector’s item five hundred years from now. You must always watch for future generations, you see.

I’m still a little stunned that this technology exists at all. Print a book, any book, for hardly an hour’s worth of wages and some fiddling with suitably formatted files. It’s the future, people! 

Live well and prosper.