I knew that when the time came to put forth my world onto paper, it would need some sort of map to help people develop an idea of the land itself. Solatus is a small island nation, the mainland is barely fifteen thousand square kilometres and the population numbers something like half a million people if one were to include pure blooded Solati, half-blooded Solati and permitted residents.
Most of the Mainland is inhabited by the upper caste of Solati society: The Pureblooded group. This is an ethnically and culturally homogeneous group which could roughly be divided into five sub cultures which have developed over the four hundred years of Solatus’s existence as a nation.
The differences between groups vary slightly, mainly in nomenclature, willingness to allow marriage to certain foreigners or into certain other Solati households, war-paint and variations of some religious rituals in each of the five sacred groves.
The Norreians occupy the north eastern section of the Mainland, mostly in Mother City Norreia, but also in the surrounding mountains, mining communities and rural settlements.
The more rural Westfold folk occupy the north-west of the Mainland, having no cities of their own. People who dwell in communities in the Western Range and the Noldair Forest also tend to identify as “Westfolders.”
The people of White Sands and the only accessible coastline into Solatus are referred to as “Coastal Folk.”
Marshmen in the Eastern Frog Marsh are referred to as “Marshfolk.” They are probably the most reclusive of the Solati purebloods, preferring to fish and hunt the Solati wetlands. They trade mainly with the “Farmfolk” and maintain an almost semi autonomous hold over their small portion of Eastern Solatus. Nevertheless, they fulfill their obligations to the State and to the Matriarchy in the forms religious obligations, taxes to the regency as well as muster to the Solati Guard.
The residents of the rural communities spread out across the Fenlands, Plough Lands and Mannien Moors are referred to as the aforementioned “Farmfolk.”
The other map which I felt that I HAD to have in my story was the battle map. I remember watching Braveheart as a kid. When I got older and read up on Scottish history, I felt that Braveheart didn’t really do as much justice to the facts as people think.
To name but a few of those facts:
1) During the battle scenes, feudal Gaelic speaking Christians are prancing about in wode. This is a blue dye which was either painted or tattooed onto the bodies of the ancient Picts who once inhabited the south eastern parts of what is now Scotland, were pagans and probably spoke a language closer to Brittonic.
2) Kilts? In the late 1200s? I think that they only popped up later…
3) And then there’s the battle of Battle of Stirling Bridge… Where the hell was the BRIDGE??? Come ON Hollywood!!!
Nevertheless, My protagonist seemed to be of like mind to both William Wallace and Andrew Moray with his approach to the Battle of Thane’s Bridge. Though, I think that my Chief Warden had far more time to prepare and fortify in the manner by which a Republican General of Rome (Caesar perhaps?) would have done.
Given that Anaìr did train through the large Imperial War Academy of Teyrras-Lene far to the east of Solatus prior to the events which take place in the novella, the newly appointed Chief Warden had to mix and match and make do with what he had.
I would like to thank Ms. Davidson for putting things into a geographical perspective so wonderfully for my readers! I would also advise anybody perusing this blog to check out The Sketch Dragon website.
Lastly, I think that the best way to experience the whole story – and not just The Battle of Thane’s Bridge – is to actually buy the book from this link.
Oh My! But this cover from the talented Fiona Jayde Media was totally worth the investment!
Fiona was prompt and professional when it came to answering questions and adjusting a design to my needs. I am really happy with the results and I encourage any other Indie Author reading this, regardless of the genre, to browse Fiona’s website and portfolio.
Okay, so this site has been inactive for a while. This does not mean that I have stopped writing or given up at all!
I am waiting for the last round of editing to arrive from Thoth Editing, a battle map to arrive from Sarah Evelyn Art and I am in the finishing stages of my Print Cover with the talented Fiona Jayde of Fiona Jayde Media (as soon as I know the page count it’s all good to go). Two ISBNs have been paid for and registered – one for an e-book in English and the other for a print copy in English.
Now, that said, an e-book cover is actually ready! However, I am still figuring the ins and outs of the art of a good “cover reveal” so all that features in this post is a skeleton…
In Conclusion to this brief post. I would like to state that this experience has been a more arduous (and expensive) process than I had anticipated and I am waiting for the culmination of the project – the book launch on amazon so that I may finally see it through. That said, I am lucky to have had such talent working on my project (seriously, do yourselves a favour and click on their links) – not to mention my awesome beta readers who will get a mention in their own right in later post – and it has been a tremendous learning curve. I suspect that with the market as it is and the world of indie author book marketing looming, my learning curve is only just entering the early stages…
Draft 4 is on its way!
Let’s have a recap shall we?
I drafted the Novella of the Redemption of Anair in a ‘Three Act” structure. My mum – an English Teacher – proofread it for mes by scene. I made a few grammatical changes and worked on my punctuation, thus producing “Draft 1”
This was then submitted to Thoth Editing for the “first round edits” wherein the content and quality of the work in general was scrutinized, thus leaving me with Draft 2.
Draft 2 was submitted to my beta readers and most of them got back to me with really helpful input. One beta reader is actually an editor in her own right, and her input was most valuable. As a consequence of this, I added an extra scene and added content to two extra scenes. Alas, I am still debating how to cut down on some of my wordier descriptions (only two or three) as advised by one reader. Nevertheless, Draft 3 was drawn up and prepared.
Draft 3 is now in the capable hands of Casey Fenich – Thoth Editing – Whom I am sure will cut sentences and attend to any grammatical, punctuation or technical errors as she sees fit. Money well invested, I might add.
Nevertheless, Draft 5 will have my ultimate approval as I will re-read this novella (again) prior to formatting and uploading it.
I do hope that one learns to shorten this process as one progresses in the craft!
Much praise can be lauded upon those who take the time to go over your prose and see where things do not quite add up.
One of the most dedicated beta readers of TROA (“The Redemption of Anair”) was a tremendous help. He asked me questions about the cultures and the peoples – things which one cannot cram into one novella, but it is a great deal of extra material for future novels in the series. The antagonists are not the stereotypical “bad guys.” They are not Orcs or Uruk-hai but people.
The novellas which I have planned are aimed at painting the characters on all sides as people – all complete with their faults, flaws, loves and desires. I think that it bodes well for me that my beta readers have all seemed to identify TROA as a character orientated work first and foremost. All of the other factors, the world itself, the supernatural aspects, the conflicts etc., they serve to shape the various personalities whom I am portraying.
Another point which came across was that I had to be more aware in portraying chronology or seasons. The calendar for MY world is sitting in front of me and I have to figure out how to subtly show it to my readers instead of telling them. That is another thing which I have grown to love about writing; trying more and more often to “show and not tell.”
Nevertheless, having committed and awesome beta readers makes the whole process much more efficient and rewarding – the pre-publication feedback is invaluable.
The old adage “never judge a book by its cover” seems to be an unheeded one – if one were to ask me. The public do judge books by their covers. When it came to choosing a cover artist I had to consider a few things:
- Pre-Read Introduction – This allows me to tell a little bit of the story without it being read as well as to set the tone of the novella. People can see that there is a darker veneer to the story, that it is a story which has violence as an element to it and is not about a happy-go-lucky adventure.
- Visual Marketing – if the cover appeals to a certain type of reader they may even be drawn into reading the blurb to get a better idea of the story.
- Visual Presentation – I have invested a large part of my time and creativity in the text. I have even invested money in a professional editor. However, at first glance, nobody can see how serious of an investment I have made both personally and financially. I feel that potential readers also need to realise that it is a serious project by a serious author, both well written, well edited and well presented.
- Personal Reasons – I’m an artist. I put my heart and soul into my creations from my portrait work to my writing. I want most suitable visual presentation of my work – my first . Something which portrays my creation in the correct light (or lack of).
So, who did I choose to create my book cover? Fiona Jayde Media. Absolutely stunning book covers and knockout results. Yes, there will be a book cover reveal at a later date so stay tuned…
In my humble opinion, beta reading is a highly important phase of the editing process and one which cannot be overlooked.
There are numerous benefits by having others read your work for you – provided that they are honest and critical. I have asked my diverse crew to be as brutal as they need to be, but I am also interested in hearing which scenes or characters spoke to them the most – and WHY!? I have five people – four of whom I am not related to and they are getting ready to “hand it to me” 🙂 next week. What can I say? I need to have honest feedback if my story is to grow. Obviously, I asked people who are fans of fantasy to be my beta readers as they are a small sample of my intended readership.
Areas which beta readers usually cover (or aspects which cause inconsistencies which annoy them) can range from plot, the setting, the narrative and style of writing, character, continuity, consistency and many more. Now, this does not mean that I am going to entiedit myre novel according to every criticism which pops up, but this does help me look for repeated criticisms and give me an idea about what may need changing.
The period which I chose to send out the manuscript was after the completion of the second draft – so that before Casey of Thoth Editing can do her final edits and work-over of my manuscript (which will then be draft 3) – she may now receive from me a manuscript which has already been singed by public opinion, if not baptised by fire.
Needless to say, I really do appreciate my beta reading crew. They are definitely due for “thank yous” in the novel’s credits as well as a signed copy of the printed version.
The blurb is my chance to introduce my story to the world in writing. It is so so so important and I must confess that it was probably the last thing on my mind regarding my novella, “The Redemption of Anair”
This is not meant to be an afterthought, as it is an essential piece of marketing, but perhaps for me, it was. I felt that I needed a story to blurb about before proceeding on with all of the marketing elements. Alas, somewhere between finishing draft 2 and looking for a cover artist, I realised that it was time to sit down and conjure up a blurb.
This is my blurb – at present:
There are those who would say that Anaìr Torgayl is unworthy of the office of Chief Warden. A philanderer, an alcoholic and an aspiring painter from a household in disgrace are not the qualities which his folk normally seek in a War Leader. But darker than the rumours which follow Anaìr are his deeds in battle and his actions in previous conflicts. Indeed it is Anaìr’s past experiences which bear partial responsibility as to why he behaves the way that he does and why he paints out his anguish. Surely, one would ask: “how can a man who has found no peace within himself possibly aspire to restore peace to his homeland?“
Yet when the odds are severely stacked up against the Solati people, it will take a steady combination of both courage, tenacity and creativity to stem the tide of invading Orvinarr warriors who have defiled the Sacred Motherland with their presence.
“The Redemption of Anaìr” is an expressive and vividly written tale which paints with words one man’s quest for deliverance.
It is an essential element to helping readers of a fantasy novel ground themselves in a new world – or so I am inclined.
When it comes to choosing media design for a project which I am passionate about; there was not question that I would need an artist who appreciates the genre. I searched, I scoured and I scrutinized until I came across Sarah Evelyn Art. Alas, I will only be uploading two pieces of the map, so if anybody would like to see more of it, then please buy the book 🙂
There is NO WAY that one can hope to self-publish a piece of writing without the support of a capable editor! Even if one wishes to submit a manuscript to a publisher, it is totally worth investing in an editor to go over your work one way or another.
I have chosen an incredibly capable and patient editor. My first draft was submitted chapter by chapter and it passed between us until I was satisfied that draft 2 was something – if a little rough around the edges – which I could show to other people (beta readers – which I will cover later) for mild burn, if not a baptism of fire by the readership and the reviewers.
Casey Fenich of Thoth Editing gets my vote for a number of reasons:
- Casey is Thorough – No stones were left un-turned in my manuscript; aspects of proofreading, bits which were inconsistent or didn’t flow, they all got marked and received a comment.
- Patience – This is my first novella, so I bombarded the poor editor with questions at the beginning. Still do sometimes…
- Great Business Etiquette – It makes life easier to deal with somebody who is polite, prompt and to the point.
- Good Grasp of the Story – It helps when the editor also understands the genre and also the nuances of the sub-genre. This means that my editor understands the tone of the narrative and the message(s) and feelings which I am trying to convey
- Communication – It is really important to have clear communication with one’s editor. I am more than satisfied with the way Casey explains changes and suggestions to certain aspects of the story.
- Affordable – I find Thoth Editing to be reasonably priced in their services.
This praise list can go on and on but I definitely recommend Thoth Editing, it is an amazing thing to see one’s manuscript brought to life and honed into a more concise story.