I've received a few comments about the naming conventions of characters in the first novel. So for anyone interested, this post is about how I designed them.
There are currently 32 cultures in the world Earthpillar that have distinct naming conventions. These are influenced by real world languages and proper names. For example, below are a few of the cultures featured in Lords of Deception and the Origins of Candlestone series, along with their primary influences.
Some influences are minor or heavily mixed with others, while others have strong ties to the influencing language. For example, these and most other Donovard characters should sound strongly French:
This doesn't necessarily mean Earthpillar cultures will share other cultural traits with speakers of those real world languages.
Beyond a general interest in linguistics, my motivation for designing a range of naming conventions that are consistent across novels is that I want the reader to be able to know or at least suspect--before a character even opens his or her mouth--where that character is from, just as another character might. I think this adds depth and realism, but also a useful tool given how crammed my books are with characters.
How do I keep it straight? I draw from a list of culture-specific rules and custom name menus while writing to help me keep track of these naming conventions, especially when the story spans multiple nations or continents.
My debut Lords of Deception is fully out in all formats and starting to bring in very positive reviews on Goodreads, NetGalley, and elsewhere. I appreciate these readers taking the time to post reviews, particularly Liviu Suciu (formerly of Fantasy Book Critic), who wrote:
“One of the best fantasy debuts I've read in a while…[T]he narrative force of this novel is…really hard to put it down…[H]ighly recommended and a top 5 novel of the year for me.”
I'm also excited that the next novel in this rapid release, The Depths of Redemption, is coming on December 8. It's quite different, written like a journal, but provides a critical link to the third novel which is written in the same style as Lords of Deception. That third novel will be released in February.
More to come!
At long last, my debut novel, Lords of Deception is now released! Learn more here.
E-book formats are available today. Unfortunately, paperback and hardback versions are still queued up at the printing company but will be available before November (hopefully as soon as a week from now).
A big thank you to my editors, Anne McPeak and Tricia Callahan, and numerous beta readers, reviewers, family, friends, and other supporters. I've spent several years getting everything just right, and I think it's finally there.
A release date has finally been set for my debut novel, Lords of Deception! That will be 12 October 2019. The book is currently pending a review by Kirkus, then it's off to the presses!
The Revolution Machine was published today! You can learn more about this Half-Tale here and purchase it here. Note: If you are an Earthpillar subscriber, look for an email soon with a discount code for $1 off the normal price!
I'll be publishing a second Half-Tale, The Fourth Messenger, probably by late March.
Enjoy the new tale, and the revamped website!
Now that editing has progressed on Book One, I've posted an excerpt for it here. Enjoy!
Also of note, you may have noticed the Novels and excerpt pages have changed. After discussing with my primary editor, I've decided to publish the third book (written chronologically) first. The other two books (formerly known as Book 1 and 2), will be published later as a double prequel to the new Book One.
Wow, nearly 19 months have passed since my last post. Clearly I'm not the type to provide even semi-regular updates on my progress. So, where are the books?
As mentioned before, I hired professional freelance editors, proofreaders, and concept artists to refine my work. It took time to find the right ones, work with them line-by-line on 3 novels and 4 short stories for several rounds, and set up the publishing, sales, and distribution process. So far so good.
The editing for the short stories is done, and the novels are collectively about 75% complete. I'm aiming to roll out the shorts in late 2018, and the first novel during early 2019. That's the goal at least.
After this, I plan to do one project at a time like a normal person...
At last, I'd like to introduce Loremark Publishing, my new company that will publish the world of Earthpillar. The company's website is still under construction, but it's a giant step closer to delivering these books into your hands.
Additionally, I've finally found an editor to help my writing shine. I hired her through Reedsy, which helps authors and publishers find high-quality freelance editors, designers, and other professionals. She has already started and I'm excited to be working with her.
For the remainder of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, we'll be devoted to editing and polishing three novels, three novelettes, and a few smaller projects. Then I'll be working with other pros to get the formatting, design, and illustrations just right. Stay tuned!
If you're still with me, thanks for sticking around. I've been preoccupied with the second draft of Book 3 and setting up a publishing company.
You read that right. I decided to take a middle road between traditional publishing and the indie route. Since these novels are not my day job, I have little desire to spend years pitching literary agents and traditional publishers, and even less motivation to fork over most of the profits for that privilege.
So, in addition to self-editing and beta readers, I'll be using professional freelancers to edit, copyedit, proofread, format, and illustrate the Earthpillar novels. This gives me the flexibility to follow my vision for the books and perhaps publish other authors in the future.
Details on the company and publishing timelines coming up next!
Today I finished the first draft of Book 3, earlier than expected. The characters demanded I keep up with them, so I just rolled along. The book practically wrote itself in ten weeks (excluding early development), thanks to my sabbatical.
What happens next? I'll let the draft marinate a while, followed by months of editing and critique from beta readers over the summer. Then I'll post an excerpt while I'm navigating publishing options for all three books. In the meantime I'm organizing notes for Book 4 and will submit related short stories to magazines for publication.
As always, thanks for following. Though I'm not revealing much yet beyond excerpts, I hope you're enjoying watching a budding writer's journey. I'm having a blast as I hit my stride!
I'm about three weeks away from finishing the first draft of Book 3. I nearly doubled my writing quota during the past week as the book is coming to its exciting conclusion. My weekly goal is to write ten chapters; I wrote 17 this week!
My writing goals originally focused on time put into a project, but obviously you can put in a lot of time with little result. I briefly switched to setting daily goals of words written, which is very popular among writers. But since I do all my first drafts with old-fashioned pen and paper, this method was tedious and estimates were always off.
It was hard to know how much progress I was making. I finally settled on a weekly goal of chapters written. This works for me because my chapters tend to be short. Books 2 and 3 have about 130 chapters, enough pages for a standard-sized novel. For me, knowing my progress propels me forward to finishing the project.
For anyone interested in small snippets from Books 1-3, I added a new page here [no longer available, see Twitter] for bits shared on Twitter site. Nothing grand, but gives you a taste of some scenes and characters. You can also find chapter-length excerpts here and here, and additional descriptions on the novels page.
Thank you to the new followers who have joined the website since my last post! I don't post often because I'm focused on writing, but I'll soon have a chance to revisit publishing options for all the material I've been hoarding, editing, and re-editing.
Now, back to writing...
I completely re-wrote the prologues and epilogues for Book 1 and Book 2. Danleri the historian has been replaced by a more interesting dialogue between characters that will appear in Book 3. Read the new Book 1 prologue here. Don’t worry if you liked the studious Danleri as he’ll make an appearance in Book 3.
Speaking of Book 3, I’ve drafted the first 40 chapters! Like all my books, they are short chapters but this is still about one-third of the book. So I’ve made great progress over the past month.
As always, thanks for following. Now, back to writing...
Today I return to writing Book 3. Four years ago I stopped after writing about 100 pages because I didn't want to tackle its complexity (four main characters) as we were expecting our first child. Then I was compelled to write Book 1 and Book 2 as prequels to Book 3. Now that I have two novels under my belt, along with two novelettes, several short stories, and an Earthpillar atlas, I'm ready to return to Book 3.
What atlas? I drew it while working on the short stories. I wanted to give scale to the continent of Pemonia and be consistent when writing about places separated by long distances and centuries of time.
For now the atlas covers 28 province-sized regions of Pemonia (only about half the continent) fitted together on a giant 8 ft x 7 ft heavy art paper map. Rivers and elevation changes are illustrated with Derwent tinted charcoal. It is a tool for my writing and a professional can improve it in the future, but you can view a sample on the Maps Page [no longer available].
Thanks for reading about the progress of my work. I'll pursue publishing options with more gusto later this summer. Then hopefully you will enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. For now, back to writing...
I mostly took a break from the novels over the past two months to write short stories. I have a novelette and five shorts currently submitted to online magazines for potential publication. A second novelette is currently being edited. All of these stories take place in the Earthpillar world.
A special thanks to those who began following my site over the past month. It’s gratifying to be able to start sharing some of my material while I continue querying literary agents and publishers.
Now, back to writing...
Greetings and Happy New Year! Now that two beta readers have finished most of the second novel, I’ve posted one of the chapters as an excerpt here.
Earthpillar is our planet Earth, formed and evolved differently. The laws of physics are the same (no magic) and all characters are human.
But the continents and the peoples are different, and once-extinct animals still live. Materials, especially metals, evolved with different properties. And humans developed alternate technologies--such as underwater breathing urns and landships that sail across fields--that are integrated into complex plots.
Earthpillar stories currently span about 10,000 years along the in-world timeline, from the primitive and medieval (Books 1-3) to the advent of steam power (half tale). Just like in the real world, ancient events influence characters thousands of years later.
If you like colorful characters and fantastical places but want to try something a bit different, you've found the right place. If you like stories told from multiple perspectives (think Game of Thrones), layered plots, vivid landscapes, multiple maps, extensive glossaries, and detailed character charts, then check out the excerpts and stay tuned as I navigate publishing options.
Greetings, I'm Chris. I've written fiction for as long as I can remember, but I always kept it under wraps because I didn't know what I was doing and never took it seriously. I entertained myself and that was enough, until friends encouraged me to take it more seriously.
For me, quality is more important than rushing to publish. I'm currently querying agents to represent the novels to publishers, and I'm submitting the shorts to online magazines.
I started this website and blog to talk about my work and ideas. It's a work in progress so please excuse the "under construction" parts. My focus is on writing, so posts will be irregular, at least for now.
Feel free to post your thoughts throughout the site, or contact me with comments, questions, or critiques.
Thanks for visiting! Now, back to writing...