Map of Saint Orak City

Thought I’d share a preview of one of the maps from Fatedancer today. Most of the story takes place in or around the city of Saint Orak, which is one of the most populated locations on the planet (Equivalent to NYC).

The map itself was quite an undertaking, and took close to seven hours to complete, since most of those building had to be placed in one at a time. Still, I think it was quite worth it—the whole thing really has a real-city feel to it, which hopefully transfers to the book as well.

As you can see in the image below, the city is quite dense right up to the walls, after which there is little in the way of civilization shown. While there are towns and other settlements that lie outside the walls, due to the constantly respawning monsters that are common both inside and outside the walls, most of humanity tends to favor defensiveness in their building choices. Thus, even farms out in the wilderness will usually have fences and armed patrols around their perimeters.

Inside Saint Orak itself, a plethora of guilds work collaboratively (sometimes) to keep the resident monster populations in check. This means that most citizens can live their lives in relative safety, but rarely venture outside the walls. When travel is required, going by sea is typically the preferred method, since monster incursions are usually far less frequent.

The city is divided into seven districts, although their borders and names tend to fluctuate over time. Trenches and Waydowns remain the poorest districts in the city, while Heights exists almost as a city-within-a-city, allowing the wealthier citizens to stay as near to the city’s best protections against monster attacks as possible.

Fatedancer Cover

So I thought I would do something a bit different than usual and share some of the in-progress images for the development of Fatedancer. MiblArt was particularly open about each step of the process, and I thought it was rather neat seeing it from concept to final product.

First, I sent them a general idea of what I was looking for (I won’t share the particulars because it contains minor spoilers). They took those ideas and provided a rough B&W sketch:

Next, after a few change suggestions, they provided the first rough color image:

A few more tweaks later, and the more substantial color image was complete:

At that point I was pretty satisfied with the image, so all that was left was adding some text and cover-afying it!

I think the final result came out wonderfully!

At Long Last… Fatedancer!

Well, it’s been a long road the last few months, but I finally have something new and shiny to share with all of you. May I present my latest work, a new LitRPG adventure… Fatedancer!

Amazon pre-order link for the interested.

A little bit about this story, it is set on a different world but same universe as my Bulletproof Witch series:

For one hundred and forty-three cycles, humankind has been the playthings of the gods. Monsters spawn in endless swarms across the countryside, dungeons full of treasure lure the unprepared to their doom, and adventurers squabble amongst each other in a constant battle for supremacy. Whoever holds the highest score when the cycle ends is granted immortality, but only if you can live long enough to seize the prize.

Luf Corent doesn’t care about dungeons or immortality, only with ensuring that he and his sister continue to survive for another day. Unfortunately, when you’re the lowest-ranked member of the weakest guild in the city, life isn’t exactly glamorous. Luf’s future doesn’t hold much beyond killing sewer rats and avoiding the attention of the guild’s more elite members.

However, when a twist of fate makes Luf the most sought-after person on the continent, he quickly discovers there is more to being an adventurer than just killing rats. In order to survive to the cycle’s end he’ll need the help of the man who almost won the last ascension tournament, but that help might just be more dangerous than the people who are looking for him. Especially when it seems as if even the divines themselves are taking an interest in this tournament’s results.

After all, when the gods play their games, it’s always humanity that loses…

So for those who might be wondering how this series came about, back in the middle of April I participated in a book sale organized by Bryce O’Connor over on r/Fantasy, which of course meant that I bought far more books than I can possibly read in one lifetime. Among the many other gems I stumbled across was a LitRPG story titled Adventurer Academy. After reading it I fell absolutely in love with the genre and had to try my own hand at it. The book above is the result.

What is LitRPG you might be wondering? It is a relatively new subgenre of fantasy, where worlds either take place inside video games or follow the rules of a video game. This book is one of the second kind, with characters leveling up as they adventure, and having a bit more of a hard-coded magic system than what I put into Bulletproof Witch.

While I probably won’t write any further LitRPG style stories set inside my main universe (called the Amalgam Universe or Amalgamverse), I’d like to keep dabbling in the LitRPG genre a bit. Assuming life every grants me the time to do so, of course.

In other news, progress on book five of BW continues as expected. My goal is to push on with both this and the sequel to Fatedancer (titled Conduit) for release in 2021.

After Six Months of Silence

Have you ever put something off for so long that the thought of completing the task actually becomes more unbearable than the task itself? That’s been me and this blog for the last few months. Time and again an opportunity to post some snippet of bit of news has come and gone, and I’ve found excuses not to do so. “Oh, it doesn’t matter, nobody reads this thing anyway”, “Whatever, this information wouldn’t interest anyone”, “Why should I take the time when I have so many other things to do?”

While there may be some truth to that (I often feel as if I’m yelling into a void when I post here. Not that that is a criticism to anyone who might be reading this; that’s just my general sense when posting on what is arguably a dying platform for communication), none of the above is an excuse for my silence. Even if this blog serves no other purpose than as a record of my writing experiences, I still need to try to stay on top of it. One day I might want to look back on these times, and then I’ll be glad for the record.

So, I come before you, humbled and ashamed: six months have passed, and I have been silent.

One might argue that there was precedent for this behavior. The world has been a strange place for the last six months, after all. Disease, shutdowns, wildfires, square-dancing hurricanes, the world itself sometimes feels like it’s falling into chaos. I’ve always found it easier to retreat inside myself in times of trouble, turn to the worlds of my own creation, because they’re safer, in a way—they’re under my control. So I have ignored not just this blog over the last few months, but many obligations. I haven’t been in communication with friends, I’ve been lax on many of my other platforms. Hell, even garden never got planted this year, and I usually love the quiet time outside. For some reason, going outside to dig and hoe just felt too exhausting. So much has for the last few months, and I can’t say COVID is to blame for that. Not entirely, anyway. I’ve just been… elsewhere, mentally. It took a while to clamber back up, and even longer to return to my usual avenues of interaction. By the time I did, fall was upon us, and the year is already close to over.

Not that I’m entirely without things to show for it. I did release the first Bulletproof Witch omnibus back in August, which not only includes the first four books, but also a short story I wrote last summer (“short” being relative; it’s still around 10,000 words).

I also finished writing another book during the summer, one that came from an unexpected place—the LitRPG subgenre. During lockdown I kind of fell in love with the stories and decided to try my hand at my own. Before I knew it I had a completed manuscript, and a plan for a quadrilogy (you can see this now listed in my updated Author Works section).

The first book is to be called Fatedancer, and should be out sometime in November. Sadly, I don’t have a link for it yet as I’m still waiting for artwork to be completed, but once I do I’ll come back here and post some pictures and links. Also, I guess I do have a map available to look at if that sort of thing interests you.

There are two downsides to this announcement, unfortunately. The first is that I’m going to have to push back finishing the second half of Bulletproof Witch by about a year (book five is still on schedule to release next June, I’m about a quarter done with the first draft already). After book five, I’m going to alternate between writing BW and this new series (called the Books of the Ascendent, or BoA henceforce). So book 2 of BoA should be out late 2021, and book 6 of BW will be out in 2022. Of course, that’s subject to change if I get the bug to finish writing one over the other, but I think I’m going to try and hold to that, especially because I have some plans with how the books relate to each other.

Both series take place on separate worlds with separate magic systems, but they are part of a shared universe. Eventually there may be some crossover between them. Very minor, but I do have something in the works. So, because of that, timing may be a bit more set for me than normal.

The other downside to finishing Fatedancer, though not directly related to it, is that my standalone work Greenfingers is now on permanent TBD status. Unfortunately, I had been hoping to pick back up on working on it, but several attempts to progress the story have gone nowhere. I’m just not in the right spot for working on it, I think, so I’m going to keep it as a side project while focusing on my other two main stories right now. I know that probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me, and an agrarian coming-of-age fantasy probably wasn’t going to be of interest to many readers regardless, but I’d still like to see it completed at some point.

Alright, that’s enough from me for now. I’ll be back with Fatedancer news soon.

Episode 4 is Live!

I’m happy to report the ebook for Bulletproof Witch 4 is now available on Amazon, with the paperback hopefully available later today or tomorrow at the latest (Amazon can be weird sometimes about the timing of these things). If you hadn’t seen my link for it in my earlier post, here it is again:

Going forward from this, I’m continuing my work on Greenfingers, although I may or may not have a side project that I’m trying to finish before that. I don’t want to say much more about that until it’s actually done, in case I end up tossing that one aside, which unfortunately happens more frequently than I care to admit. For every book I publish, three have been started and left on the wayside. Maybe I’ll get back to them all someday…

Also, I’m planning to release an omnibus of the first four BW books sometime in the fall. This probably isn’t of interest to anyone reading my blog, since I’m guessing you own one or more volumes already, but if you’ve been thinking about telling a friend to read my books, that might be a perfect time to do so. The omnibus will be cheaper than buying all the books separately, but won’t come with any of the interior artwork.

In more personal news, I’m still working my regular job at home from lockdown. One would think that not having to drive places or interact with people would leave me plenty of time for writing, but one would be wrong on that front. Between my children and trying to get 8 hours of actual work done on any given day, I’m feeling run through the wringer by the time 8PM rolls around. Plus now with spring coming on I have planting to start considering. Those squash won’t grow themselves, after all. Next few months will be interesting, to say the least.

Alright, if you made it this far, thank you once again for your continued support, and I hope everyone enjoys reading Death Rides at Sunset. Feel free to message me or leave a comment here about what you thought of it.