Rule Number Three

I can’t bring people back from the dead. It’s not a pretty picture, I DON’T LIKE DOING IT!

– The Genie, Disney’s Aladdin, voiced by the incomparable Robin Williams

 

One of my big worldbuilding challenges was reconciling the multiple “realms of the dead” in Norse myth:

  • Odin, Valhol and the Einherjar: These are the humans who die in battle (often b/c Odin betrays them), are chosen by his valkyrie and are then taken to Valhol to “train” every day in preparation for Ragnarok.
  • Freyja: Half of those who fall in battle go to her, half to Odin. No explanation in the myths as to why. Her chosen dead reside in Folkvangr and comprise her own army. The Vanir fight with the Aesir in Ragnarok.
  • Thor: Accepts the dead “peasants” into his “realm of the dead” (the name of which escapes me, atm)
  • Beneath the Waves: Those who die at sea can sink into Rán’s cold embrace. She’s a goddess of the sea and is married to Aegir, also a god of the sea. I’ve transformed these two (Rán and Aegir) in my fictional mythology and made them fundamental deities.
    • As an aside, and according to the History of English podcast, the words soul and sea derive from a common Germanic root word “siwas” meaning lake or inland sea.
    • In later Germanic (southern & eastern Germanic) the word became “siwelo” meaning something belonging to lake; deriving from a lake. And that word eventually became our word “soul.”
    • I don’t know why, but this etymology makes me think of mist swirling above a lake.
  • Helheim (Home/Realm of Hel): Hel is Loki’s daughter by Angrboda. Odin kicks her out of Asgard along with her two brothers (Jormungandr and Fenrir). Snorri says that she rules over the place where the “dishonored” dead go. Snorri describes her as half flesh color; half blue (blor) but according to Dr. Jackson Crawford, it’s not clear that Snorri means she’s split down the middle half & half blue-/flesh-colored.
    • As another aside, Dr. Crawford and the History of English of podcast, both (separately) discuss the origin of the word “hel.” It comes from the Indo-European root “kel” meaning to hide or cover. Our words cellar, conceal, helmet, holster, hole, hollow all trace back to “kel.” But since I’m not a linguist (yet?) I’ll stop there.
    • “Hel,” then, started out as a covered place — graves, barrows, under mountains, etc. Over time, this concept became “Helheim” which Snorri describes in the Prose Edda.
    • Crawford says that the Old English Bible used “hell(e)” to translate “infernus” in Latin; while the the Gothic Bible used “halja” to translate Hades.

So with all these different types of “realms of the dead” I had to figure out how I’d use them. And, as always, my goal was to remain as faithful to the myths as possible.

My first step was to give myself some elbow room. My entire fictional world is an alternate version of our Earth and its history.

Next, I made my world “pre-human” meaning that my Aesir, Vanir, Jotunn, Alvar and Svartalvar have yet to encounter us — regular humans. This opened up some really cool (imo) possibilities.

We also meet my major characters (Odin, Hel, etc.) at different places in their mythological lives (ie, our myths). So, my Hel is not yet Queen of Helheim. But, my Odin has sacrificed “himself to himself” upon Yggdrasil. At the start of BK1 he’s maybe half of the Odin we know. He develops fully into “our” Odin by the end of BK3.

With respect to reconciling the realms of the dead, the major stopping point for me was that Odin and Hel are enemies. I had to figure out why and how Odin would cede power over the dead to her. I think I’ve figured out a pretty good rationale there which, for spoiler reasons, I won’t go into here.

In BK1 it was sufficient to hand-wave at the relationship between Odin and Hel because it doesn’t really matter and she doesn’t appear on stage. But in BK2 she does. And the antipathy between her and the Aesir (and Odin in particular) becomes a big deal.

Another aspect to the whole consistent realms of the dead dealio involved integrating that afterlife into the magic system. I needed reasons for why Hel and Odin could do things. And I needed a system for what happens when people die.

Some of the questions I had to answer include:

  • Do the inhabitants of my world believe in souls/spirits?
  • What happens to the spirits of dead people? What happens to the physical body?
    • The Norse believed in the hugr (spirit) and the hamr (body/flesh). This belief is integral to my magic system.
  • Are there differences in what happens to the spirits of the dead Aesir, Jotunn and Vanir? What about humans?
  • Why is Odin able to summon and interrogate the dead?
  • Why does Hel gather to her the spirits of those who have not died in battle? How is she able to do that?
  • Why does Odin send the valkyrie to gather (human) souls? How do the valkyrie do that?
  • Why do Odin and Freyja divide those human souls between them?
  • We know all this from the myths — or some of it, at least — but I needed solid narrative reasons. I also don’t have all the answers yet.

And speaking of bringing the dead back to life, I’m having some fun with the Einherjar. In BK1 they are all living men and women. So, that’s one thing I’m hoping is going to set off alarm bells for all readers who Norse myth — i.e., wtf, these Einherjar are supposed to be dead zomg!? And for those who don’t know who/what the Einherjar are, I’m hoping that what develops is a big, inevitable surprise.

But hang on tight, ’cause I don’t deliver on any of that till BK3.

Finally, almost done.

After about six weeks of revision, I sent my book to my second editor this past Monday.

Finally.

Six weeks sounds impressive, but it was probably about 70 hours of work. Ish. I’m not really sure. Lot of other stuff going on.

And, of course, I grew so thoroughly sick of looking at the book that revising it became difficult. Multiple times I had to stop myself hating on it by saying: “she edited this already, she didn’t throw up on it, move along.”

There remains a great deal in the book that I’m not happy with. But, I’ve always felt like this about stuff I’ve written & rewritten (ad nauseum); I imagine most writers feel similarly.

I also decided that absent Fenrir-sized errors, it’s time to put this sucker out in the world. If peeps hate on it, well, so be it. Learning experience.

I also realized this past week that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve written anything genuinely new. Depressing.

So, it’s time to move on. There’s more story I want to tell.

 

An evil puzzle

Yesterday morning–a day ahead of schedule /cheer–I finished going thru all the line edits. The book’s still a mess, but the low-hanging fruit is all dealt with.

As I was going thru the book I made comments about time references. Not just to backstory events but also with respect to linearity within the book’s events. In a prior post I mentioned that my editor suggested combining scenes b/c some were too short and made the book feel choppy.

But, all of those scenes/chapters either happened simultaneously or flowed one after the other with respect to time. Until I started combining scenes. And, b/c I was more focused on fixing & writing new stuff prior to the line edit deadline, I didn’t go back thru and resolve all the timeline issues I created.

So, I gotta do that now.

The graphic above shows the new timeline I created. You can see from the “notes” column:

  1. Where the issues are
  2. Relative time references (must happen after, 2 days before/after, 6 nights until, etc.)
  3. Yes, I’ve hidden some rows & columns because spoilers.

Day 7, Ch. 31, Vaft, is a good example of what I meant when I combined scenes/chapters into one. The events in Ch 31 originally happened across several days…and they still do…but now it seems like they happen immediately after each other. And that implies a backward jump in time when the reader goes to Ch 32.

I know time jumps are common in novels and this probably won’t be an issue with the readers, but a) I’m not quite sure how to handle it and b) I don’t want anything to jolt the reader out of the story. More thought required.

Chapter 33 is an example of a different type of time issue. I’ll call this the “wtf is he doing for X days” problem. One of the major changes pre-line edit was to Vidar’s timeline. I made him more consistently active which (in part) meant moving some of his scenes earlier in the book and writing new ones for him.

But now there are logical gaps in what I need him to be doing. Why would he sit around for 2 days? How long does it take for him to get from A to B & how does that mesh with other scenes? I need the text to implicitly answer those questions should they occur to the reader.

Ch 66 is an example of how important travel times are . I’ve established that it takes Odin 3 nights to get from Gladsheim to Helheim; so 6 nights round trip. He leaves Gladsheim in Ch 66 promising to get back by Midwinter — ergo, 6 nights between Ch 66 and Ch 83. Everything thing else MUST fit into that timeframe and make sense…and everything did…until I broke it.

The timeline is never going to be seen by readers. But, if they choose to figure out how long the book’s events take then they should be able to puzzle it out from clues I leave. And that means making the timeline legit. I’m also completely anal about this stuff and cannot progress until I hammer out the inconsistencies.

I’m giving myself a week to fix the timeline. Once I’ve done that, it’s on to fixing the writing — particularly scene opening/closing hooks–since it makes no sense to do those until I’ve fixed the chapter order.

Quick Update.

I ain’t done.

This morning I reached Chapter Sixty-Three (of 93 total). About 10 days ago my proofreader offered to extend my deadline to April 3rd. After some dithering, I accepted her offer.

One main reason: More time is good. (But not too much.)

You think writing the book itself is work. You think the first revision is work. And the second. By the third, you’re reaching for the whiskey b/c every word you write is trash.

But the revision after an editor’s looked at it and shone a light on all the weak bits? /sigh

So what’s taking me SO long?

  • I’m literally going line by line re-reading and either accepting (90% of the time) or rejecting edits made.
  • Addressing comments made by my editor on various phrases, paragraphs, etc. I delete those comments once I’ve fixed them.
  • Postponing work on her comments depending on how much dedicated effort it feels like it’ll take. For example, I’m not touching any chapter/scene beginning or ending hooks until I’ve gone through the entire book. I leave those comments in (so I can find them again).
  • Making my own comments (I’m talking about Word’s “comment” function) on:
    1. Consistency & continuity: For example, Odin has two wolves (Freki & Geri). Initially both were the default male. Then, b/c wolf packs are matriarchal, one became female. About halfway thru that change, I switched which wolf I wanted to be female. Yes, I’m an idiot.
    2. Bad writing or writing I particularly dislike but can’t figure out how to quickly fix
    3. Obscure writing that even I don’t understand and/or remember what I meant.
    4. Time & timelines. Odin says he did something 2 nights ago. Is that correct? Different characters referencing the same backstory events–are their references consistent with each other? Do I want that event to be twenty winters ago? Does “twenty winters ago” fit with other events? This is a giant PITA.
  • Completely or partially rewriting some scenes and chapters.
    • Sometimes I’m cruising along accepting/rejecting and I hit a snag.
    • I tug on the snag and sh!t unravels. Then I spend three days rewriting.
    • Some of those changes are just b/c I didn’t like the writing. Some are b/c I didn’t like what was happening — action, setting, motivation
    • I think the scenes work better after the changes…but then I still need to go back over them again (so I leave track changes on otherwise I’ll forget what I did).

I’ll finish this round of review by March 5. No matter what. That’ll give me plenty (!) of time to focus on the items I postponed. I’ll have to prioritize that stuff — but that’ll wait till next week.

A little worried.

I’ve had my manuscript back for 10 days.

My book has 93 chapters.

I’ve revised through Chapter 20.

I need to pick up the pace.

Basic math says that I should revise 3 chapters per day if I want to finish by the night of Feb 27. Problem is, I haven’t been revising every day — work, family, recreation, sleep, the unexpected. Not to mention mental exhaustion.

Had I ignored my proofreader’s advice, I’d only have given myself two weeks to revise. Dodged that bullet.

It nicked me though.

Back to work.

Line edit’s back…

The graphic above gives a sense of what it looks like. Every single page of the manuscript looks like that. It’s glorious.

The past few weeks I’ve been:

  1. Working on the marketing blurb & author bio … getting close
  2. Finding & finalizing names for stuff
  3. Worldbuilding my fictional culture’s afterlife.
  4. Outlining and re-outlining Book 2, along with some scene writing when the spirit moved me.

It’s been tough really throwing myself into BK2 knowing that I’d have to interrupt that effort by diving back into BK1’s revision.

With this revision I need to work on a few things (as noted by my editor)

  1. Scene opening & closing hooks: I start too many scenes by “describing the stage” — showing what’s there, who’s standing where, etc. She recommended starting with action–which I did in some scenes, but not in all. Nailing these help propel a reader thru the book.
  2. Without even realizing it I’d written more than 300 “half-” constructions (half-dozen, half-slid, half a company…half-assed ;)). I never would have caught those on my own. So, I’m eliminating half of them. 😉
  3. Eliminate “stage business”: These are phrases like turning and looking. Her advice to fix this was to “Use interiority to show what the viewpoint character is thinking or feeling at that moment, or get the characters interacting with the world you’ve built around them.”
  4. Reduce “over-writing” / “purple prose”: I didn’t do too much of this, but where she noted those instances I actually LOL’d when I read them again. I doubt I would’ve noticed  these without her. Note that some writers’ styles involve “flowery” prose. Nothing wrong with that–but it’s not my style, so when I slid into “purple-osity” it was especially jarring.

Fortunately, there was only ONE plot point that I didn’t resolve sufficiently. Wewt! That said, I do have a bunch of continuity issues to iron out (which I expected). I also have to replace all the placeholders — mostly names for people & things. Not a big deal, thanks to search & replace.

On Feb 28 I send my corrected manuscript to my proofreader. She advised me to take at least a month to work thru the line edits (I’d only planned on two weeks).

I am SO glad I followed her advice.

Spears, shields and spells

This week I’ve finished developing a Norse-sounding military hierarchy for my books. It’s  loosely based on very early (BC) armies — Roman, Greek, Etruscan, and what little we know about how the Norse / Vikings fought. I also made a lot up 🙂

My base military unit is a pair of warriors: a shieldbearer (front line) and a spear-wielder (second line). Two pairs of these warriors are the next biggest “formation.” There are 10 pairs of warriors in a shieldwall (if they’re making a square). The length of the line varies by terrain/tactics as does its depth. Every warrior also carries hand-to-hand weapons: mostly axes and long knives (seaxes), but there a few swords here and there (mostly used by Jarls).

Pure archers are a part of each Aesir (and Jotunn) warband, but about half of my “spears” are proficient enough with bows that they can switch if necessary. Each warband also has at least one healer who has been trained at Baldr’s academy (my invention).

The Aesir also have baresarkers (berserkers) but they are very few in number — these are elite, magically empowered warriors who report directly to the Alfather or Almother. Several baresarkers figure prominently in my first book.

I’ve organized my armies into warbands. Currently, each one is ~105 people strong. It is led by a Hersir and there is a short chain of command down to the warrior who’s in charge of each wall. I’ve tried to account for all the other duties that must exist — signals/comms, cooks, guards, latrine, smiths, etc. There are no independent/pure archer or cavalry warbands (among the Aesir and Jotunn).

To make things easier (for me and my readers), I’ve assumed that the basic military structure is the same for Jotunn and Aesir — despite a few key differences. The Vanir and Alvar fight differently, though, as do the Svartalvar.

The Aesir have three basic military groups:

  • Garrisons: Comprised of older men and women along with those young boys & girls who are learning about military life before they are compulsorily enrolled in the army. In my fictional culture, everybody learns how to fight. Most don’t end up doing that professionally, though.
  • Army: The largest fighting body of Aesir, led by Tyr and Ullr. It is comprised of multiple warbands. Their main job is border protection and internal security along the roads. These warbands are on their way to becoming more specialized (e.g.,. cavalry only, archers only, etc.).
  • Einherjar “Those who fight alone”: This is my elite fighting force — and are an important part of the story. To become Einherjar a warrior has to distinguish him/herself on the battlefield. Over time, and particularly since Odin went wandering in my book’s backstory, the Einherjar have grown large and begun to sprawl. (My Einherjar are not (yet) those you know from myth.)

All three of the above groups use horses (everyone knows how to ride) to get from one place to another, but they typically dismount to fight. They will also use ships to get from place to place, when possible.

Jotunn warbands are called “vegr.” That’s the Old Norse word for “road” or “way.” When speaking of death, the Old Norse would often say “he/she is on the road to Hel.” That phrase translates to Helvegr — which I thought  would be a cool name for a military group. So, all the Jotunn warbands are called XYZ-vegr. Helvegr is the best of them all and it is led by Beli.

The vegr are roughly the same size as Aesir warbands (about 105 warriors), with a few important differences. Namely:

  • The Jotunn use shaman who double as healers. The Aesir don’t have the same level of access to magic as the Jotunn do. For reasons.
  • Jotunn shaman also picked up a couple tricks from the Alvar and Svartalvar and the magic they use which allows the Jotunn to control wildlife.
  • And since the Jotunn don’t have access to horses, their shaman have figured out another way to move about Utgard’s vast desolation.

The people in my books refer to magic as “seidr.” In actuality, seidr is a sub-type of magic, but it’s the most common type. Seidr is what Odin learned from Freyja. But, Odin knows other types of magic: galdr, necromancy, runes & shapeshifting to name a few.

Each type of magic allows the practitioner to do certain things, assuming they have a power source. I show that power source being used in multiple different ways and I show the POV running out of that power source. Acquiring more is an involved process that I show Odin engaged in about mid-way through the book.

Note: Odin and others, including the Jotunn, use one type of power source, but Freyja (and the Svartalvar) have figured out other ways to power their magic. This becomes a thing in future books.

Certain practitioners only use certain types of magic — e.g., Freyja only uses seidr — but Odin uses them all (he is the Father of Enchanters, after all). Some don’t have any magic at all, like Frigg, but she uses items created from seidr. Thor is a hybrid (over which I’ll pull mystery’s shroud), but the visible source of his power are three Svartalvar-crafted implements: hammer, gloves and belt.

Overall, my magic system has rules and my characters use magic to do things important to the plot. In my initial books, the characters all take magic for granted so I don’t spend much narrative time explaining it — just enough to make sure the reader knows what’s happening and what the rules are.

There’s a lot more I could write about the magic system & how I developed it, but I think I’ll wait on that until I get some commentary back from beta readers of the line-edited book. Gamers are really good at figuring out what works and what’s broken.

Oh, the places you’ll go

Worldbuilding’s a necessity in any novel. Sometimes it’s relatively easy — e.g., urban fantasy (The Dresden Files). Other times it’s complex — the Stormlight Archives.

I put my world into the complex category for several reasons: I’m new at it, I’m trying to do something really cool “behind the scenes” and b/c applying consistent cardinal directions to Norse myth was basically impossible.

A few examples:

  • Yggdrasil’s roots go to different places depending on which poem you read. In one it’s Hvergelmir, Urdarbrunnr and Mimisbrunnr. In another, the roots go to where the frost “giants,” humans and Hel(heim) are.
  • Hel(heim) is often referred to as being in (or below) the earth — but those who go there never go underground.
  • Asgard was in the same horizontal plane as Midgard and what I call Utgard (while all sources call it Jotunheim). But Snorri placed Asgard in the heights of Yggdrasil, possibly to make it like the Christian Heaven.
  • The Jotunn are described as living in the east, past Jarnvidr (the Iron Wood), but some Jotunn are said to live in the north while others come from the south.

In my initial efforts to be true to where the myths said places were, I had everybody moving between different realms where realms equaled “planes of existence.” That caused lots of problems.

Then I thought that maybe everybody could live on Yggdrasil itself — that Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, etc., were the branches of the tree itself. I still kinda like that idea, but since I’m a giant nerd I would’ve had to figure out how the physics worked — I’d have spent way too much time doing that instead of writing.

Then I tried making the different realms equate to different planets. That didn’t work either. (But my magic system will, eventually, enable interplanetary travel.)

When I finally decided that each “realm” would be a continent or region on a single planet, everything snapped into place — events, plot devices, locations, the magic system, etc. Some of those things even got better.

I do still incorporate all of the many places in Norse myth, but where I put them may not precisely correspond to where the myths say those places are. I’ve also kept the fantastical elements — Yggdrasil being the main one. It’s a real, gigantic tree and my characters do ride down it to reach the Norns.

Other landmarks include the following:

  • When Odin and Hermod ride to Helheim, they head north…but magic is used, thanks to Sleipnir, and they end up on a landmass that’s actually south of Gladsheim (they’re on a planet, so they’re basically going up, over and down again…but not really, b/c magic).
  • In myth, the river Ifing separates the gods from the Jotunn. So, I slapped it down between Asgard and Utgard. Then, when I needed a town between those two realms, I created Ifington.
  • The river Thund is said to flow before Valhol. But, I’d read a translator’s note (Bellows, I think) that said Thund is better translated as “bay.” Thus, the Bay of Thund was born (the characters just call it the Thund).  As an aside, the body of water pictured on my cover is the Thund. The land across the bay is southwestern Utgard. Oh and Valhol doesn’t exist yet in BK1.
  • I put Vithi — Vidar’s land — to the west of Gladsheim. The town of Háls (Hill) is in Vithi and that’s where we first encounter Vidar. The forest of Arnheim (Eagle Home), along with a shrine to Aegir, lie just outside Gladsheim’s western gates.
  • Gladsheim is supposed to be one of Odin’s residence, but I made it into the Aesir’s main city. The river Silfr (Silver) flows outside Gladsheim’s eastern gates. That river’s my invention — I needed a quick, practical way for the residents of Gladsheim to get to the coast.
  • The Plains of Vigrid lie to Gladsheim’s east, across the river Silfr.
  • Other important places — Alvheim and Vanaheim — are far from Gladsheim, but close enough for it to make sense that the Vanir would’ve perceived the Aesir’s arrival as encroaching on their land (hence the Vanir-Aesir War). They’re also close enough for Freyr and Freyja to fly to Gladsheim on their boar and cat-pulled cart, respectively. Note that the Alvar primarily live in both Alvheim and Vanaheim.

 

A few other things: There are lands to the far west of Gladsheim that have been settled by other Aesir (Odin’s brothers). What we would call Midgard, and its people, haven’t been discovered by the Aesir yet, nor have I discussed the other major players (the Svartalvar and the Sons of Muspell).

 

Having slogged through all this (assuming you did) it may seem like I assembled my world all at the beginning and then started writing. That’s absolutely not what I do; I just make it up as I go and I only stop to worldbuild when the writing stalls — because I can’t figure out what’s where, or I need ABC in a certain place, or X is too far from Y, etc.

Then, I pull out the notebooks and work it out. Almost always that involves changing things I’ve already established — which means rewriting. And, quite often, it also means that the idea I had — the one that I stalled on — gets replaced by a better one.

 

What a production

As my brain’s recovered over this past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about production time.

The “final” word count of my manuscript was 180,489 words. It took me four years to get to that point — about 18 months of which was revising & getting the first draft ready for a line edit.

Moving forward, my goal is to release one book every 12 months.

BK2 will take less time to produce, partly because much of it is already written — which is another reason why it took me four years. Basically, I wrote one great big mess of a “book” and then a couple years ago I split it into three. I then split that first “book” in half again. It’s like I’m killing a book hydra.

So to produce BK2 within one year of publishing BK1, I have to cut it down to a much more workable size — about 90K words. Which is kinda funny since BK2’s currently sitting at 65K words.

But, consider that cutting Hyrrokin from BK1 removed ~20K words — which were mostly added back when I revised Vafthrudnir’s sections. A lot of similar work will now need to be done in BK2 since multiple plot changes in BK1 have to be factored into BK2. Knowing that, I can totally see the current BK2 inflating way past 90K.

To bring this back around to production, I also have to factor editing time into my timelines. Right now it doesn’t matter because no one is expecting the book. That’ll change (right!? =P).

If I continue with my current editing plan — a line edit followed by a proofread — then that’s ~3 months of production. The cover takes a month, too, but that’s easily layered on top of writing / editing.

And, I have to factor in the time I’ll need to go through all the changes suggested by the editors. I have no idea how long that’ll take. For now, I’ve factored in four weeks to work on the line edits before sending the manuscript to the proofreader. Ideally, accepting those final proofreading changes will take a week. Maybe.

So….three months of pure editing (maybe 4?) means 8-9 months of pure writing. If I’m generous, that’s half as much time as I took “writing” BK1. But, that’s assuming 180K words. 90K should take 9 months (ish), right?

Another upside is that a 90K word book should take a bit less time to edit. So, maybe total editing time falls to 2 months rather than 3. Not bad.

Production cost is another aspect to all this. Editing ain’t cheap. I’m “splurging” now to learn how to write better — the idea being that *maybe* a line edit won’t be absolutely necessary in future books. We’ll see. Proofreading’s an obviooos necessity.

Regardless, a 90K book’s editing costs are ~50% of a 180K word book’s — which is better for cash flow. Yes, splitting one book into 2 means that I’m spending the same total amount on editing — but over a longer time period.

And with respect to marketing, advertising & sales, shorter books also mean that I get more:

  • Chances at revenue: I can’t price my 180K word book 2x higher than others in my genre. But, two reasonably priced 90K word books makes the per-book margin look a bit better.
  • “Impressions”: The best marketing/advertising is more books published more frequently. And more books means I can start doing different merchandising things — freebies, bundles, etc.
  • Books: Similar to impressions, a bigger catalog/backlist looks better than a paltry one or two. And, of course, books sales (can) have a long tail. If they’re good.
  • Cover art: Covers are cool — the more I can give away as wallpapers the better. And, my cover’s cost was a small percentage of my total costs. Not insignificant, sure, but I can leverage art into banners, ads, etc.

So as I’m learning, becoming an indie author is as much about the writing as it is the other half — actually publishing the dang thing. I kinda knew that going in, but now I *really* know it.

Here’s the cover! (take 2)

I grew up during the time of some of the greatest fantasy cover illustrators ever — Michael Whelan, Darryl K SweetFrank Frazetta doing the Conan stuff and John Howe (among others) who created amazing paintings for Tolkien’s works. Still more covers stick in my memory: the stylized covers of the Elric novels, the original art for the Black Company series, the original covers for Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun series.

For my cover, I wanted something cool, unique and ideally convert a browser into a clicker: “hey, that’s cool, I wonder what the book’s about?”

I think my cover does all that (I better think that, right?):

  • It’s clearly Viking related — burning ship & all that
  • The image in the flames suggests fantasy rather than historical fiction
  • The image itself (burning ship) evokes a recurring “scene” in the book while the back & foreground is a mostly accurate picturing of the landscape (some of it, at least)
  • The title alludes to one of the book’s central events
  • My (pen) name is clear & distinct (branding!)

I’ll probably post some more about the process I went thru finding a cover artist, etc., and then the actual design process. It was both harder and easier that you’d think.

In any event, I wanted to get the cover out there–because it’s cool! Not that this is a wallpaper version of the cover — the ebook cover will be a different format; the paperback cover will look similar to the above (but have spine copy, along with blurb & bio).


For those of you keeping score, my first attempt at posting my cover = total fail. Hopefully this one’s better. Time for a different blog theme, I think. Was planning on doing that his month anyway.