Saturday, February 27, 2016

The IX Series - Worldbuilding Part 6

I know quite a few of you will recognize the ship above.
For those who don't, its the USS Sulaco, a Conestoga class starship and the 13th of her line - as seen in "Aliens". A craft operated by the United States Colonial Marines as a rapid-response military transport, possessing orbital bombardment and fleet support capabilities.

As you know, I'm a bit of a worldbuilder, and going into Exordium of Tears, I needed a spot of inspiration to bring the ships in that story to life. 
In particular, I wanted to devise something in my mind that summed up the Sulaco itself, whilst adding an element that was totally kick-ass for the book alone, and its main battleship:
the Avenger Class dreadnought, Shadow of Autumn.

So, what components would I incorporate into the battleship of the mind?

For that, I turned to a couple of shows I've watched from beginning to end on a number of occasions.

The thing that made me think of Battlestar Galactica, was its unique Crocodile-head design. It extends a concept I think is important - secure bulkhead compartmentalization, (with Operations, Flightdeck control, the drive section and engineering being partitioned away into distinct sections of the ship). However, I didn't really like the retractable hangar deck idea. As such, I turned to Babylon 5 and the Warlock Destroyer. 
I mean, just look at it. Ultra-aggressive or what? (yum yum)

Now, I know you won't actually get to "see" the Shadow of Autumn, per se. Nevertheless, I like to work from visuals as it allows me to scope things out in my mind. I know what goes where; who does what; how long it would take for crew to get from one part of the ship to others; where the armaments are situated, etc, etc, as it adds that solidity that might otherwise be missing, especially during battle scenes.

Here are a few of the preliminary sketches I made to start working from.

Remember, I do this to add foundation.
My more detailed, later sketches show where the menta accelerators are; the torpedo tubes; the missile launchers and silos. It details the size and capabilities of the drops ships, the EMT shuttle, the hangar decks.

After a month or two, I'd devised quite a lethal bit of imaginary kit, something I'd have craved to operate from when I was in the military: Something the book describes as 
"Three miles of lethal tactical divinity — personified by bristling guns and metal"

I wish I was a graphic artist, I really do, as I'd have loved to show you what I eventually settled on.

However, while perusing the art sites I like to look at - look what I found last week

As you will note, someone out there was thinking along similar lines, as certain aspects of the above starship (Especially the armored exoskeleton) are comparable to what I came up with.
(Great minds think alike)

So there you go - I hope you like this latest peek into the creative process that makes the IX Series special.

(And may I also take this opportunity to thank - David Kerin & Crouchy for their respective artwork too)

If you would like to find out more about the IX series, you know what to do.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The IX Series - Making Waves

Well, it's been a week since Exordium of Tears, the latest book in the IX series, was released. I thought you might enjoy a little round-up of what impact it's made.

The IX maintains its grip, holding the #1 spot in 13 categories, and a top five place in nearly a dozen more. (Pleasing indeed). 
The astounding thing is, Exordium of Tears has already moved into the top five in no less than six different slots.
AND - has actually reached the #1 spot on one of the Sci-Fi shelves.

Most excellent news.

Exordium started off really well, peaking at #22 in the first few days, and ranking in various other countries around the world. The IX seemed to follow along, reaching #9 in Canada. (So, "thank you" to the fans out there)
A healthy start indeed.

Now the print version of Exordium has started to roll out, we hope to see a difference to people like me, who prefer to hold an actual book in their hands...speaking of which...

I'm delighted to announce the Hard Cover for The IX is now available too.

All in all - The Ninth are surfing the waves of success in their far-flung corner of the universe.
I hope they make the most of it...The Horde intend to bring a riptide of hate their way sometime soon.

If you're not already a fan of The Ninth, 
just click on the links and find out why the IX Series will rock your world. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exordium of Tears
Cover Story

Last week, I discussed how the cover of The IX told you something about the story within.
This week, we’re going to get a hint about what you’ll find in
The IX – Exordium of Tears:

Before we start, here’s the blurb for Exordium.

Fight or die.
That simple yet brutal reality is the tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the fabled lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Cavalry Unit; and the Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Team – were forced to live by while the Horde menace existed. Believing that the threat is over, the survivors now yearn to settle down, start families, and reclaim the lives stolen from them.
But such aspirations might remain beyond their reach, for a shadow looms on the rose-tinted horizon of new beginnings.
The release of the re-genesis matrix has done much to foster a restoration of exuberance across Arden. Along with a resurgence in floral and faunal diversity comes the results of splicing the Ardenese and human genomes: transmutation. A metamorphosis of stunning magnitude that not only affects the living, but those still is stasis as well.
Recognizing the emergence of a new hybrid species, the Architect – the arcane AI construct tasked with the preservation of the Ardenese race – responds by unlocking previously hidden and inaccessible areas of the city. It also releases an archive of sealed state secrets. Such revelations are eagerly perused, whereupon a shocking discovery is made.
Prior to the fall, it was common knowledge amongst the Senatum (the highest levels of Arden’s government) that not all the rabid Horde had joined in the rampage across the stars toward Arden.
Realizing that the peril still exists, the newly reformed administration elects to respond in earnest. Existing resources are utilized, suitable candidates are chosen, and a flotilla of ships is sent out to secure, quarantine, and reclaim the outer colonies.
A mammoth and hazardous undertaking. And nowhere more so than at the planet from where the outbreak was known to have originated – Exordium – for there, the ancient Horde are not only supremely evolved and highly organized, but are capable of a level of lethal sophistication, the likes of which has never been witnessed before.
It is into this kiln of incendiary potential that the cream of Arden’s fighting forces is deployed.
Worlds are torn asunder, suns destroyed, and star systems obliterated. Yes, tragedy is forged, in a universe spanning conflict which proves once again that…
Death is only the beginning of the adventure.

How are some of these facets related in the cover?
Let’s take a look:
First of all, you’ll immediately note the setting is much darker. That’s because we’re addressing the discovery of a hidden menace threatening calamity. Our heroes are forced to respond, and it is evident not all of them will be returning home.

Then there’s the title itself. The IX – Exordium of Tears. Exordium means “origins”. This book highlights the beginning, the source of the sorrows our refugees from Earth have had to face. Do they have what it takes to address the genesis of all their fears? Look at the subtle differences from the last story.
Lean in closely and look at the “I”. Do you see how the letters SPQR have faded? That’s because those letters used to represent – Senatus Populus Que Romanus – (For the Senate and the People of Rome). That’s no longer the case. The letters are now etched into the fabric of the letter “I” itself, and into the character of the warriors who now defend Arden.
Yes, our heroes fight for their new home.
Serovak Pluserak Qen Rhomanax
(For Security Prosperity and Rhomane)

The outworking of the re-genesis matrix means the two civilizations are blending. That’s why the DNA helix is much smaller and declared in a similar manner within the “X”. And do you notice how you can’t see hints of the quantum gateway that transposed the refugees to Arden? However, something has replaced the transporter beams. Do you see it, cutting down from the top left hand part of the image? A laser beam. Why?
Here’s a clue. Look at the eagle. It’s been cast anew in iron. The words “Exordium of Tears” are forged afresh in steel. The 9th – which now includes all those brought from Earth on the ninth and final intake – represent the epitome of death to the Horde, for the Senatum intends to end the monsters’ existence in the crucible of battle.
They are going to war, and conflict abounds.
But who lives and who dies?
Is death really the beginning of the adventure?
You’ll find out, in an epic, action packed adventure that once again, pitches warriors together into a kiln where they have but one choice:

Fight or Die!

Once again, all thanks to Roy Mauritson for understanding the depths of my warped and fragile mind and rendering a stunning glimpse into my thoughts.

February 14th 2016 sees the Horde unleashed once again.
The buy link is to your right

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The IX - A Cover Story Waiting to be Told

Last time around, I discussed how each of my covers tells a story. Good news if you ever want to get a hint of what’s coming.
How so?
Well, let’s get a little reminder of the blurb used in The IX.

Roman legionnaires, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia.
A  US cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.
A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.
From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.
How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?
The IX.
Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.

Now take a look at the cover. What’s it telling you?

Bold as brass, the Roman Numerals and the letters SPQR tells you straight away the inspiration behind the story. The legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome, an entity comprised of more than five thousand men who walked into the mists of Caledonia circa AD 100 A.D. and were never seen again. But as the story evolves, other facets begin to stand out:
For example, the quantum gateway that snatches our heroes from Earth also shifts them through time. Do you note the elements relating to the passage of the centuries by the weathering on the stonework of the IX itself? It’s crumbling, and the silvered edging is tarnished to black in places. But how long has passed? Ah, will we ever know?
The quantum gateway I mentioned. Do you see it in operation? The blue-white prisms symbolized in beams of light that split the lens of reality as the mortality cipher locks onto its next victims. The lilac hue as the transporter begins its arcane process, shifting vast armies through light-years of space.

And have you ever wondered on the strange patterns within the thickest shaft of light? Well, that’s a representation of Ardenese DNA, the key to the future as the re-genesis template goes to work, creating a metamorphosis of wondrous scope.
But much more is revealed as the story unfolds, for our heroes are the ninth and final intake to be selected, Arden’s last hope in her hour of need. What’s more, some of our protagonists are dream walkers; spirit counselors who help guide our refuges through the trials and tribulations before them. Of note is the fact that our antagonists, the Horde, have their own equivalent of such shamans, Ix walkers. Yes, connections abound, and are all blended perfectly together in a cover that is as rich in meaning as it is in color.

All thank to Roy Mauritson for a fantastic representation of my thoughts.
So, baring my process in mind...Remember, the buy links are at the side of the page...

The IX

Exordium of Tears


I bet you can’t wait to move on to The IX – Exordium of Tears. It’s out on February 14th, but what clues will you get from the cover?

Aha…See you in a week. J

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Beginnings – New Series

As I mentioned last week, when I originally devised the concept that became The IX, I built it around the premise it would be a one-off story. So…how did it grow to become a series?

Believe it or not, the answer is as simple as it is complicated. Worldbuilding.

You see, in my preparation, I spent several months researching the histories and makeup of all the various units that would be involved, along with the history of the world where the story would take place. (Where in the universe it would be; what kind of sun it would have; the size and composition of the planet, and its continents; its flora and fauna, and of course, who the people were that would populate it).
Fortunately, I also gave the antagonists of our tale – the Horde – a history too. I think it’s important we authors do that, so – although we don’t go into infinite depth as the plot evolves – we nevertheless have something available that we can dip into to add a touch of spice here, a spot of seasoning there, you know, those little details that add to their races’ character.
Needles to say, by the end of my preparations, I had a great deal of material to play with. So much, in fact, that I knew I wouldn’t be including everything I’d accrued into that one story.
Okay? Enough said. I’m sure a lot of authors have faced this dilemma, and having a nice deep pot of material available is just the thing to ensure your story stays nice and meaty. Just as well, because when Janet Morris and agents read the story, they immediately saw value in making my “one off” into a series.

When they first mentioned this, I was obviously flattered to think they saw value in my work. But I was so shocked, that’s as far as it went. I’d been invited to contribute to the Heroes in Hell universe, my mind was on other things, I was busy, (blah, blah, blah) and didn’t actually treat those suggestions seriously. But, as time went on and the ‘suggestions’ became more insistent (hee hee J), I eventually began to realize they were serious.

So then I thought…B*##@r! What am I going to do now? Even worse, where the hell am I going to start so it blends smoothly into the already established events of The IX itself?
Thinking about how The IX began, and especially how it ended, I started to look back through my Plot Book, (A catalogue I compile for each novel, containing the names, descriptions, histories, character traits, phrases associated to each person, maps, sketches, etc etc,) – you get the idea…And eventually, I saw a wonderful opportunity to tell the readers a bit more about the Ardenese culture, and how their technological sophistication came back to bite them in the ass…and…and…

That’s all I’m going to say

The sequel isn’t due for a few weeks yet and I don’t like to give anything away. However, let’s just say, you find out a bit more about what makes the Horde tick. And a big hint is encapsulated within the title. The IX – Exordium of Tears. “Exordium” means origins, or beginnings. The origin or beginning of what? You’ll see.

However, if you want a sneak peek, all I’ll tell you is that you get a hint of what’s coming from the covers. What do I mean?

I’m very much into covers. No matter how good your story, if your opus magnum is sitting on a wall of shelves and looks like every other brick in the pile, it’ll blend into the mass and get overlooked. 

You need to make it eye-catching. It needs to leap out at you, slap you in the face, and say, 

It also needs to tell a story.
Tune in next week, I’ll run through the cover of The IX with you. Those who have read the story will be amazed by the details that have sat hidden right under your noses. 
(Or perhaps you already spotted those little details that make all the difference?)

Aha…See you then. J