Tag Archives: art

Cover reveal: If Sin Dwells Deep

By auspicious happenstance, my 100th blog post coincides with another milestone: the completion of my next book’s cover.

Behold!

If Sin Dwells Deep will be published as a paperback and for Kindle on Oct. 2, 2018. The Kindle version will be available for preorder at the end of the month IS AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER NOW!

Here’s the back-cover text to tide you over until then:

Even good girls have secrets.

When straight-laced Allison sleeps, the rebellious goddess Syn wakes. Having a fling in the dreamscape may seem like harmless fun, but when a sadistic predator learns her true identity, the fantasy begins to bleed into real life.

If Sin Dwells Deep—a parallel novel to If Souls Can Sleep—exposes the hidden world of dream drifters and explores the war between gifted government agents and those who would use their abilities to corrupt life, death, and that which lies beyond.

Because I’m up to my elbows in pre-release book marketing tactics (which will likely include penning some guest posts), I’ve elected to use the rest of this article to highlight some of my favorite posts from this blog.

Without further ado, here’s my Top 10 blog posts…so far:

10. Celebrating a writing milestone? Listen up!

About three years ago, I created a soundtrack for a novel I was working on. The songs all—directly or indirectly—tie into the plot and characters of If Sin Dwells Deep. (Available soon!)

9. It’s a…business!

This short but significant post announced the birth of One Million Words LLC, my indie publishing company. The business, now 2½ years old, resembles a toddler today: lots of unexpected fun and requiring constant supervision.

8. How to make a person

No, this isn’t sex education. I once used this blog to share writing tips, and this post featured a series of interview questions to get to know your characters better and transform them from two-dimensional ideas to full-fledged human beings.

(Pro tip: I recently used these same questions to flesh out my new D&D character.)

7. Why sci-fi and fantasy?

I get asked this question a lot.

6. What every writer needs

Spoiler: it’s an audience. I followed this post up with three others related posts: What else a writer needs to succeed (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). While I think this series could be helpful to other writers, I’m including it here because it also gives readers a glimpse into a writer’s journey (and psyche).

5. The Good, The Bad, and The Ungrammatical

The odds are I’ll never make a video game about grammar, but what I love about this post is the reminder that writing doesn’t always have to be a serious and that writers should always have a dream or two in their back pockets.

4. ‘Who is your book about?’

I composed a “Meet the Renegades” blurb as far back as fall 1997, when I was drafting the first chapters of what would eventually become Rebels and Fools. That guide was meant for the English instructor reviewing my chapters for an independent study class. It was with great excitement that I introduced the rest of the world to Klye Tristan and the gang.

3. Friends and family of writers, beware

Another common question from readers: where do you get your ideas from? The answer: just about everywhere, including the people closest to us.

2. Why writers groups still matter

I wrote this treatise on the importance of writers groups more than five years ago, and I still believe strongly in the message. In fact, a fellow Allied Authors member and I tackled this very topic on the Read.Write.Repeat. podcast, which will air later this month.

1. Storytelling can take many forms

Predating my life as a writer, I told my stories by other means. Before the cast of The Renegade Chronicles made it to the page, they were LEGO minifigs. As a nod to my humble roots, I transcribed the characters from If Souls Can Sleep into the same medium, bringing my fiction full circle.

I’d like to thank all of my readers over the years. I hope you’ll enjoy not only my next book, but also many more blog posts to come.

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Exhibit will feature If Souls Can Sleep cover art

When it comes to event marketing, the more, the merrier!

In that spirit, I’m delighted to announce that my books will be featured alongside the artwork of some of incredibly talented individuals: my coworkers.

Among them is the cover artist for both the forthcoming “Ghost Mode” short story and my next novel. In fact, those who attend the artist reception Dec. 15 will get a sneak peek at the If Souls Can Sleep cover art.

Here’s more information about the event from the press release I crafted yesterday:

Four employees holding their works in front of a BrownBoots Interactive sign

From left: David Michael Williams, Samantha Nelson, Mary Christopherson, and Alan Hathaway.

BrownBoots colleagues will showcase their off-the-clock creativity at Tour the Town

Pottery, digital art, illustration and fiction will come together to create an eclectic exhibit at the next Fond du Lac art walk.

Four employees of BrownBoots Interactive, a full-service marketing and website development agency located in downtown Fond du Lac, will share their artistic endeavors and passion projects at the next Tour the Town Art Walk, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. The artists, along with their diverse display, will appear at the Riverwalk Art Center, 33 W. 2nd St.

“While providing our clients with stellar creativity is a big part of the day-to-day at BrownBoots, many of us also extend our talents to endeavors outside of the agency,” Alan Hathaway, president and owner of BrownBoots, said. “This exhibit is a testament not only to the team’s impressive scope of abilities, but also their aptitude as individual artists.”

Hathaway will display and sell his wheel-thrown pottery featuring an assortment of custom-formulated glazes. His works range from cups to vases to decorative bowls, all of which he formed and fired at his home studio in Eden, Wis.

Samantha Nelson, a web developer at the agency, will show and sell her illustrations, which cover several narrative ideas, notably wildlife and concept artwork. Her works span the gamut of pen and ink, watercolor and digital painting.

Graphic designer and photographer Mary Christopherson will contribute samples of her digital art that prominently feature photo manipulation, a technique that uses Photoshop to seamlessly combine multiple photographs to create a new image.

David Michael Williams, content specialist, will sign and sell copies of his sword-and-sorcery novels, The Renegade Chronicles, as well as present a sneak peek at the cover of his next book, “If Souls Can Sleep,” designed by Christopherson.

Riverwalk Art Center will host the Artists of BrownBoots exhibit through Jan. 19, 2018.

I’ll have more information about the release of If Souls Can Sleep—including links for preorders—in the days ahead. Sign up for my monthly newsletter to ensure you don’t miss out.

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I’m no elf, but maybe I can help with your seasonal shopping

Tour the Town logoHaving trouble finding a gift for the guy or gal who has everything?

Or a book for someone who has read everything?

Add a little more magic to someone’s holiday with autographed copies of The Renegade Chronicles, my sword-and-sorcery fantasy series. As a featured artist at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin’s downtown art walk, I will be signing Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters.

I’ll even include a personalized message to the reader in your life; just call me Santa’s little helper.

(Can’t make the event? The Renegade Chronicles is available year-round at online retailers like Amazon.com. E-book versions also are available, including a three-in-one collection. Learn more here.)

Tour the Town Art Walk

Friday, December 16, 2016
5 to 8 p.m.
Wood’s Floral & Gifts, 36 N. Main St., Fond du Lac, Wis.

If you already own any of The Renegade Chronicles, I’ll be happy to sign them. I’ll also have a few copies of all three novels for sale—maybe more than a few if I benefit from a Christmas miracle and my new order arrives before Friday.

Fantasy not your thing? Feel free to stop by and just chat. The art walk is free, so if you ever wondered what it’s like to be an author, I welcome questions. I might do a short reading from Rebels and Fools at some point in the evening.

You can support other artists too, including Alan Hathaway, a talented potter and very good friend of mine. See the full roster of artists, where they will be, and more info about Tour the Town here.

Here’s to happy holidays for all and an exciting new year!

Unsure whether The Renegade Chronicles is right for you? Check your compatibility here.

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‘Where does your book take place?’

Along with genre and characters, setting can be a deciding factor—or a deal breaker—when it comes to buying a book.

Oftentimes, location goes hand-in-hand with the other two. For example, if I’m writing space opera, one might expect to find characters of one or more alien species among the cast. Correspondingly, the setting would probably be an interstellar locale, perhaps a foreign planet or spacefaring vessel.

But over the centuries, genres have birthed myriad subgenres. So while a traditional Western would most likely be set in a specific region of North America within a set timeframe, science fiction can happen anywhere and (arguably) anytime.

Regarding The Renegade Chronicles—my almost-published (read: practically published) sword-and-sorcery fantasy series—I’ve already told you a little about what the books are about and whom they are about. Today, I’d like to give you a quick tour of a mysterious island in an unfamiliar world.

Map of Capricon

It wouldn’t be epic fantasy without a map, right? Huge thanks to Jake Weiss for scanning in my sketch and then making it look awesome! (Click to enlarge.)

Welcome to Capricon. No, not Capricorn. Just one R.

Where did the name come from? Following a bitter war between the human nations of Superius and Glenning, the Superian king (posthumously known as the Gambler King) decided to seal the sudden alliance by purchasing the island for Superius. It was a capricious maneuver to be sure—hence, the name.

But the Glenningers weren’t the first people to call the island home. The Knights of Eaglehand won it after a bloody crusade against the seafaring and bloodthirsty dwarves who lived there. Before the dwarves, elves called the island home, though nobody can seem to remember when or why they left.

There are also rumors of other inhabitants—vile, mythical creatures that disappeared eras ago…

At the time of The Renegade Chronicles, the island of Capricon is considered a province of Continae, a confederacy of human nations that includes both Superius and Glenning.

Confused? Don’t worry. All you really need to know is that Capricon is populated mostly by humans and is chiefly defended by the Knights of Superius.

Which is not to say there isn’t more to the island than meets the eye…

Readers of The Renegade Chronicles will travel the breadth of Capricon, from the west coast to the east and with plenty of detours in between. Here are just a few of the locations the rebels will encounter throughout the trilogy:

  • Port Town — Site of the magnificent Cathedral of Aladon, Port Town is ruled by ironfisted Crofton Beryl, whose own daughter leads the local rebels. A bit of advice: stay out of the sewers.
  • Temple of Mystel — The healers at the homey Temple of Mystel will help anyone who needs their aid, including Renegades, which doesn’t always sit well with the Knights of nearby Fort Miloásterôn.
  • Port of Stone — Once a thriving port in central Capricon, the Port of Stone was destroyed during the Thanatan Conflict years ago. It holds the answer the riddle “What is big and yellow and keeps out the rain?”
  • Wizard’s Mountain — The tallest of the Rocky Crags, Wizard’s Mountain harbors secrets both ancient and new, such as why has a would-be surgeon claimed it as his own and forbade everyone else from trespassing?
  • Fort Faith — The Knights of Superius have repopulated Fort Faith to curb Renegade activity in the area. Its young commander will face no shortage of challenges at what was supposed to be a sleepy assignment.
  • Rydah — Ruled by Lord Magnes Minus, the capital city of Rydah is a bustling center for culture and trade. It’s the perfect place to lose oneself among the crowds—and the perfect target for a foreign invasion.

As for the world itself, Altaerra is home to many different races, including humans, elves, dwarves, ogres, and a few other (expected) creatures. There are a few other species, however, that are native to Altaerra alone, such as the dreaded midge.

For which every other planet should be exceedingly grateful!

The Renegade Chronicles will be available in paperback and digital editions on March 31, 2016.

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‘Who is your book about?’

Even though “What’s your book about?” is the most difficult question for an author, a few others can be tricky as well.

Noel from The Renegade Chronicles

An early sample of “fan art,” courtesy of Stephanie Williams (née Steinmetz). Who is Noel? Well, he’s a midge. What’s a midge? You’ll just have to read The Renegade Chronicles to find out!

When I try to answer “Who is your book about?” I struggle because I have a lot of characters. With my soon-to-be published (read: almost published) fantasy series, I have a core group of companions who encounter quite a few allies and adversaries during their travels.

And a handful of other people steal the stage from time to time…

But while the trilogy covers a lot of ground (and a lot of lives), at the core of The Renegade Chronicles are the Renegades themselves — specifically, a ragtag band of rebels who have seen the sinister side of a seemingly benevolent peace treaty and decide to fight back.

Here’s a quick (and arguably superficial) summary of the stars of Rebels and Fools:

  • Klye — A former thief and self-proclaimed Renegade Leader, Klye Tristan doesn’t believe in the gods, but he’ll need a miracle to complete his mission.
  • Ragellan — A disgraced Knight of Superius, Chester Ragellan joins the Renegades to learn who framed him and why.
  • Horcalus — A fugitive from the Knighthood, Dominic Horcalus faithfully follows his mentor, Ragellan, though he hates conspiring with the rebels.
  • Othello — A forester accustomed to solitude, Othello Balsa says little but perceives much; his senses are as sharp as one of his green-fletched arrows.
  • Plake — A reckless rancher who constantly questions authority—especially Klye’s—Plake Nelway possesses an unquenchable thirst for excitement and ale.
  • Scout — An explorer at heart, Solomon “Scout” Aegis knows more about the island of Capricon than anyone…if he is to be believed.
  • Pistol — A pirate king who carved his way to the top, Pistol owes the Renegades a debt, but not even he knows how far that loyalty stretches.
  • Crooker — A lifelong buccaneer, Crooker is content to let others do the planning, but he won’t think twice about killing those who threaten his friends.
  • Arthur — A young runaway, Arthur Bismarc wants only to forget his past crimes but ends up committing new ones after getting caught up with the Renegades.
  • Lilac — A warrior woman with a clandestine agenda, Lilac Zephyr wields an enchanted blade that can effortlessly cut through stone, steel, and bone.

Before they can hope to stand up against their enemies—which include a paranoid governor, overzealous knights, several assassins, and a powerful spell-caster who believes the gods sent him to end the war—the Renegades will have to learn to trust one another.

Or die trying.

The Renegade Chronicles will be available in paperback and digital editions on March 31, 2016.

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And the winner is…

A month ago, I asked readers to vote for their favorite cover treatment for The Renegade Chronicles.

After tallying up the votes, which were cast via email, Facebook, this blog, and face-to-face exchanges, I’m delighted to report we have a clear winner. Which is not to say the other two concepts didn’t receive a fair share of votes. In fact, it became apparent early on that all three designs would make compelling covers in their own right.

Ultimately, the best cover must be the one that best reflects the story inside. Fortunately, the most popular concept also happens to be the most appropriate wrapper for my books.

Without further ado, here is the winner:

Book covers of The Renegade Chronicles

For the record, Concept 2 received 47% of the votes. Runner-up was Concept 1 with 29%, followed by Concept 3 with 24%. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

And a huge thank you to the talented Jake Weiss (www.jacobweissdesign.com), who not only came up with three excellent concepts, but also exceeded all expectations in his execution of the individual covers. I can’t wait see these books on my shelf and in my Kindle.

Less than two months to go!

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Putting the pretty on it

There’s nothing too glamorous about text on a page.

The beauty of words is that they paint pictures in the mind, but when you consider the typically black-and-white composition of lines, dots, and curves on an otherwise blank backdrop, well, words themselves are nothing to write home about.

Having worked in marketing for the past nine years, I’ve discovered there are few things as exciting as unveiling the visuals for a project. Forget the spreadsheets and other planning documents, the copywriting, and the technological components that may follow; the day a client sees her new logo or his new homepage for the first time is by far the most impactful point in the project.

I’ve been known to use the phrase “putting the pretty on it” when describing the evolution from mere words to engaging imagery. The moment there is color and shape and form, that’s when a project starts to feel real.

I’m no exception to the phenomenon, which is why I was so eager earlier this week to meet with the artist working on the covers for The Renegade Chronicles—and to preview three possible concepts.

I am delighted to share the fruits of his labor with you not only because the cover concepts make this whole enterprise feel “more real” to me (and, hopefully, to my future readers as well), but also because very soon, I will have to tell him which concept to finalize for Rebels and Fools and adapt for Heroes and Liars and Martyrs and Monsters (the other two books in the series). I need to choose the winner, but before I do, I’d love to solicit your insights.

In other words, please judge my book by its (prospective) cover!

How can you help?

Take a look at the potential packages for my forthcoming fantasy novels and answer these questions in the comments section below:

  1. Which of the three concepts would most likely prompt you to purchase the book?
  1. What tweaks, if any, would you make to your favorite cover concept?
  1. For each of the three concepts, what type of story would you expect to find behind the cover?

As always, I appreciate any and all feedback immensely!

TRC-cover-concept-1

 

 

 

TRC-cover-concept-2

 

 

 

TRC-cover-concept-3

And the winner is…

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