Monday, August 31, 2009

What Agents Want

So I had a great post I was going to write today about finding and working with the right agent. Then I came across this interview and went, "Here is pretty much everything you need to know." Imagine sitting down for dinner with four, young, exciting agents and asking them everything you always wanted to know about the industry. Well this is it. It ran February of 2009, so it's even fairly up to date.

Read it and let me know what you think.

http://www.pw.org/content/agents_and_editors_qampa_four_young_literary_agents

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to Visiting Schools

It's been over three months since my last school assemblies. But tomorrow I start up again. I'm really looking forward to visiting two elementary schools, a middle school, and doing a book signing at the Morgan library. But tonight it suddenly dawned on me. "Wait! Do I still remember my school presentation? Long 45 minutes if I don't. I'm hoping it's like riding a bike, but I'll let you know when I get back tomorrow."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Creating Fantasy Names

A few days ago I did a link to a movie trailer where a Sci-Fi author talks about how to come up with fantasy names. Jessica Day George (whose hair really isn’t big) sent me the clip because it’s hilarious and it’s a question we get asked a lot. The thing is, I got a ton of hits from people wanting to know how to come up with fantasy names. So what the heck, I thought I’d do an actual post on creating fantasy character names.

Creating names can really be as simple or complex as you want to make it. Terry Brooks says on his forum that he gets most of his names from baby name websites. “Most of the names I pick, probably 90%, are picked by going through the various baby names websites out there. I choose a name by associating it with its older meaning. When I find the right one, I know it immediately.”

That’s okay for “Earth” names. But what about names that are from different worlds, or different species?

Going around to Elementary schools, I got asked all the time about how to come up with fantasy names. So I came up with a fun and easy way for kids to create “cool” names. Basically you take a household item or common name and play with the letters until you find something you like. For example:

Radio
Tadio
Tadia
Tazia
Yazia

You get the idea. It’s nothing unique. But it works at a very simple level. Jessica gave me a lot of crap about this at the Provo Library event a few months back—with good reason. The truth is, there really is a lot more than playing with letters when it comes to naming a character. It seems like every author has their own approach.

The first thing is to make sure your names are consistent. Tolkien actually invented his languages first and then used the words in the languages to create the names. For example the Elvish name Eowyn means something like “horse joy.” Bormir means, I think, faithful jewel. You may not want to make up your own language, but you should notice that Tolkien also made sure that you could tell the origin of name just by hearing it. Consider these names from Kingdom of Rohan: Eowen, Eomer, and Theoden. Notice how they sound much softer than the Gondor names: Boromir, Faramir, and Denethor? Although apparently sometimes Tolkien liked a name so much that he changed the language or wrote a new story to explain how that name would fit in.

However, you also have to be careful about having names sound too similar to each other. Avoid names that start with the same letter: Tom, Trey, Terry. Also avoid too many names that have the same number of syllables: Tiffany, Bethany, Anika.

Brandon Sanderson has a great article on his website about how he creates languages and names. “When a reader runs across a name in the book, I want them to be able to instantly determine which country that name came from. However, the names can't be too similar, otherwise they will become a jumbled mess in the reader's mind.”

When I wrote Farworld, I wanted it to be fairly clear which names were Earth names and which were Farworld names. Farworld names are names like Kyja, Therapass, Rhaidnan, Olden. Earth names are Marcus, Chet, and Pete, as well as nicknames like Squint, and Beaver.

Dean Koontz talks about how he uses names to represent certain themes or moods. ““The names of characters are not always symbolic, but they are always important and need to ring true, and they have to resonate in a particular way in each story, supporting mood if nothing else.” For example he named a doctor who wanted to let one of his patients die, Jordan Ferrier–Jordan the river between life and death, and a ferry driver takes the dead to the other side.

Another thing to consider when you create names is the “feel” of the word. Different letters have different meanings depending on the language they are part of. Margaret Magnus, who wrote “A Dictionary of English Sound” talks about this on her website.

“For example, these are the common monosyllables that begin with /r/ and refer to running or walking.

Initial Position:
race, raid, range, reach, rip, roam, roar, romp, rove, run, rush.

Notice that these words all concern fast movement or movement over a large area or distance. These themes of high energy, high speed run throughout all the words that contain /r/. But the running and walking words that contain /b/ all begin with /b/ and concern departure:

All Positions:
back(off), bail(out), beat(it), blast(off), blow, board, bolt, book, boot, bounce, bow(out), break, brief, brush(off), buck, bus, butt(out), bye”

Based on this, if you have a character who is fast and powerful, do you want to make up a name like Rugnan or Bleag? In writing Farworld, I wanted the reader to feel like they were entering a world unlike anything they knew—where things could happen that didn’t fit fantasy rules they might be used to. As part of that I created creatures no one had heard of. Here again, I tried to make the sounds of the letters fit the type of creature. Zethar the frost pinnois is snooty. Even his name sounds snooty. The dark wizards are called Thrathkin S’Bae. If you knew a guy’s name was Thrathkin would you want him babysitting your kids? Galespinner sounds light and fast.

You also need to make sure and Google unusual names before you put them into your books to make sure they aren’t already famous from another book in your genre (unless you are giving a “nod” to another author. In the first draft of Water Keep, I came up with what I thought was a unique name. I’d never heard it before and I really liked the spelling. Raoden. But when I searched it I found it was the main character in Elantris. What are the odds? I hadn’t even read the book or met Sanderson at that point. In Land Keep, I called a group of people charged with political crimes Crims. Until I found out it was used by Scott Westerfeld in his Uglies series.

Babynames.com has some great suggestions for writers on creating names. Among them are:

• Make sure you name is age appropriate. Don’t name a second grader Agnes unless there is a specific reason given.
• Make sure fantasy names are pronounceable--especially if they are used a lot. No Xrnidth
• Try combining two common names to make a new one. Jennie and Linda become Jenda.

Or you can just let your characters make up their own names. Like this character from Land Keep.

“Who am I?” the man said, as though asking himself. “When most people ask who you are, they really want to know what you are. Are you famous? Are you powerful? Are you wealthy? Are you someone who can help them get what they want, do you stand in their way, or can you be dismissed out of hand?”

He looked left and right from one snail to the other as though watching an especially exciting tennis match. “Titles are quite useful that way, aren’t they? How about Commander of the Fleet? No, too forceful. Master of All Things Inconsequential and General in Nature? Too stuffy. Merciful and Benevolent Ruler? Too self-serving. High Executioner? No.” He shivered. “That won’t do. How about Her Majesty the Queen? I’ve always favored that one.”

Marcus twirled a finger beside his head, but Kyja gave him a quick elbow in the ribs.

“Actually, I was just wondering what to call you,” she said. “I’m Kyja, and this is Marcus.”

“You want a name? How unusual.” The man scratched a thatch of sparse, gray hair. This time, he actually did knock off his hat. But as it rolled from his head, he caught it with the tip of his left shoe and kicked it into the air, landing the hat right where it had been. “How about Zithspithesbazith? It’s actually quite fun to say and allows you to spit freely on whoever you say it to.”

“I don’t think I could pronounce that,” Kyja said, unable to stifle a giggle.

“No? Why don’t we stick with Z then? It has a certain letter-like quality to it.”


Or you can go to a site that will come up with fantasy names for you.

Fantasy Name Generator lets you pick from things like funny names or scary names
Seventh Sanctum will generate anything from a cat being to a pirate ship
Or The Forge which lets you tailor a name to your exact specification

So there really are as many ways to come up with names as there are to come up with stories. But the important thing is to give some thought to your characters names. It’s one of the first things readers will have to judge them by.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prologues are Like Onions

I love creamed onions. Little ones about half the size of a golf ball. My wife makes them every Thanksgiving, mostly at my request and I scarf them down. But even though they are one of my favorite vegetables, I wouldn’t bring them as a side dish if I went to a friend’s house for dinner. That’s because not everyone likes creamed onions. In fact, most people I mention creamed onions to give me a funny look—like maybe I’m talking about something really odd; say chocolate zucchini mousse with potato chip crust or something.

That’s the same way I feel about prologues. Most writers who have spent much time around me think I don’t like prologues. I’m definitely mean to them. I call them names, pick them last for kickball, occasionally even stick their sentences in the toilet and give them swirlies. So you can understand why people would get that idea.

The truth is, prologues and I are actually good friends. I always, always, read them in books. I have used them several times in my own books. I have used them in both of my Farworld books (although I called the one in Water Keep, “Chapter One” and the five I spread throughout Land Keep “Interludes.” I believe they are almost required these days for epic fantasy. So why the hate fest when prologues and I are out in public?

Let’s start with the beginning of a novel. When most beginning writers finally start the story they’ve been waiting their whole life to write, there are certain things they tend to do. I call it “setting the table.” They know they have a great meal (story) coming, but before we are ready to eat (read) we need to get our plates, silverware, seating assignment, etc. In a story these settings come out as background information. What does the setting look like? Is it an ocean villa? A dense jungle? A world where everyone dances, or sings, or does magic? Who are the characters? Why are they there? What do they look like? If it’s a new world, we need to know that the village is located at the banks of a rushing river that originates deep in the bowels of a forested mountain populated by dark creatures that sit around fires making evil brews. If it’s a mystery we need to see the bad guy strangling an innocent. If it’s historically-based we need to see the main characters ancestors.

Right? I know this is true, because I talk to beginning writers all the time, and I browse local bookstores and read books by authors who I know have new books out.

But what does the reader want? Immediacy. Action. Intrigue. They want to get sucked into the story so completely that they can’t bear to put the book down for a minute. Of course, even most beginning authors know that a book needs to begin with something interesting. So when they read their own beginning, they have to admit it really isn’t all that gripping. What to do?

The right answer here is, fix the problem. Gut the first chapter. Take out all the flashbacks, infodumps, flowery descriptions, history, etc. Get rid of the whole first chapter if you need to. Start where the story is so gripping that any reader would have to keep reading. So what if they don’t know where the story is going? So what if they might be a little confused at first? So what if they don’t know why the main character wakes up in a jungle or how the plane crashed on the island, or even that he is a doctor at first? If the story is gripping enough, they will read on. They will find out. That’s your goal as an author. And as a reader, you know that you love books where you are thinking, “Okay this is cool, but what’s going on here?”

The easy answer is to throw in a prologue. Tim Travaglini, editor at Putnam spoke at a writers conference I attended last year. He called prologues and flashbacks lazy writing. I’m not sure that everyone understood what he was saying. My take on his comment was that many writers realize they have the problems mentioned above in their first chapter. But instead of fixing the problem, they try to band-aid it.

A friend of mine asked me to look at his first chapter a couple of months ago. Since we are friends I felt that I could tell him the truth. His writing is very good, but his first chapter sucked rocks. Nothing happened. There were lots of thoughts, back story, information—even a little heavy-handed foreshadowing. But zero story. When I pointed this out to him he thanked me. A week later, he sent me a very slightly altered first chapter. But to fix the problem, he added—get ready—an exciting prologue. Arghhh!!!!!! This is why I tear my hair out when writers bring up prologues. A prologue isn’t a fix. It doesn’t change the fact that your baby is still ugly. It just puts a little eye shadow on it and calls it good.

“What’s the problem?” you ask. The prologue is exciting enough. People will open the book, read the beginning pages, get hooked, and keep reading. That’s like saying a crappy movie beginning can be fixed by an entertaining animated short before the feature starts. Your book is still starting in the wrong place. If it won’t stand on its own, you to get back to work and fix it.

But what about prologues that give background information necessary to the story? Maybe what happened two-hundred years ago? That is so far back that it has to be a prologue. So what happens if the reader skips the prologue and misses the vital information? WE don’t skip prologues of course, because we are good readers. But poll after poll has shown that lots of readers do skip the prologue. So they’ll never see your “vital” information. Or what if you have the opposite problem? What if your first chapter is exciting, but your prologue is not so much—because it’s giving all that background information? What happens if a good reader picks up your book in the store starts with the prologue and puts it back because the story isn’t gripping enough?
Trust me, I speak from experience here. Eight years ago I wrote a high-tech thriller called, Cutting Edge, under the name Jeffrey S Savage. It was published by a medium sized Utah press. My first chapter was all the bad things I just talked about. The second wasn’t much better. I was a beginning writer. I hadn’t attended any writers conferences. But I recognized the problem just enough to create a really cool prologue with FBI agents discussing something really dark and exciting.

You know what happened? The book did get published. And it did sell. But over and over people said, “After the first couple of chapters, your book got really good.” Critics caught the problem right away and pointed out—rightfully so—that the prologue was unnecessary to the story. If I could rewrite that book, the first thing I would do is rip out the first two chapters. The second thing I would do is trash the prologue.

So what’s the moral of this story? That prologues are bad? Nope. Like people, prologues can be bad. But they can also be interesting, funny, charming, witty, and even useful on occasion. So do try this. Write your book without a prologue on the first pass. Make sure that all the information necessary to the story is in the book without a prologue. Then, when you are completely done with writing a book which can stand on its own, carefully consider how a well written, exciting prologue might add to the story. You can then write your prologue (if you still want to) guilt-free, knowing that it doesn’t matter of people read the prologue or not. The book will still stand on its own.

Here’s a quick example from an idea I’ve been playing with lately, called Demon Spawn. It’s a YA adventure with dystopian and sci-fi elements. I won’t post the whole first chapter because it’s quite long, It may not be the best example in the world, but it's mine so I can publish it without any copyright issues. What I want you to look for is how the reader discovers things, like where the story takes place, what the characters are, and what’s happening, through the action of the story. This book will not have a prologue.

* * *


Welcome to Hell, please keep moving. Have your identistamp ready for inspection. Welcome to Hell, please keep moving . . .

The speakers started booming their repeating message when I was still six blocks from the immigration station and I nearly bolted out of my skin. How could it be that late already? The J-trans would arrive before I got there; I’d be kicked out of academy on my first day. I broke into a terrified sprint—searching the sky for silver tracks and listening for the rumble of approaching engines—before realizing Cinder was standing perfectly still thirty for forty feet behind me, laughing. Her black eyes shined with wicked humor in the early morning darkness.

“Oh, girl, that was great. You should have seen yourself. Priceless.” She clapped a palm to her mouth.

One by the one, the tentacles of panic unwrapped themselves from my brain and I realized the J-trans couldn’t be arriving yet. Although the messages continued to batter the air, thousands of feet overhead the cavern roof was still hidden from view. It would be at least another hour before the stone began heating to a faint dusky red that would eventually blaze to orange. The air that would be broiling by mid-day was actually cool enough that I felt chilled through my snug leather uni.

“You knew that was going to happen didn’t you?” I said, waiting for my heart to stop racing. Cinder was my best friend, but at that moment I could gladly have wrapped my hands around her throat and shaken her until her pointy little teeth rattled like dice.

Her tail twined itself around her waist as if trying to hold in the giggles that slipped through her fingers. “Your eyes got all buggy. Your mouth went wahhh! I swear if your horns weren’t connected, they’d have shot fifty feet straight into the air. Funniest thing I’ve seen in weeks.”

Turning away, I stomped toward the station. I was sure I’d see the humor in it all later, but right now I was so nervous I hadn’t dared to eat breakfast. The last thing I needed was to think I was late for my first day of duty.

“Wait, Blaze.” Behind me the sharp click-clack-click of cloven hooves echoed off the densely-packed apartment buildings on either side of the street as Cinder ran to catch up with me. “I’m sorry,” she said, trying to stop laughing and failing miserably. “It’s a tradition. Every newbie freaks out the first time they hear the speakers start up.” She put a hand on my shoulder and I allowed her to turn me around.

“You could at least have warned me,” I grumped. “When I heard the message, the only thing I could think of was explaining to my parents how I’d been kicked out of academy my first day on the job.”

Cinder nodded and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I know, I know. I was the exact same way when it happened to me three months ago—sure I’d read my clock wrong or something.”

“Why do they start the message so early?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest to keep warm.

Cinder shrugged and we began walking again. A brief gust of wind caught a foil coffee cup and sent it dancing into the unsteady circle of illumination cast by a buzzing lamp pole. Across the street a fist-sized blue imp darted out of a crack, sniffed the inside of the cup, and dragged it into the darkness.

“Who knows? Maybe it starts when the J-trans leaves Judgement. Or maybe the halos just want everybody to know they’re coming so we have plenty of time to drop down on our knees and get ready to worship at their golden feet.”

Instinctively I glanced over my shoulder to make sure no one was listening. “One of these days you’re going to get in real trouble talking that way.”

“Huh.” Cinder stuck out her tongue as if nothing scared her. “No one around here but humies.” To prove her point she shouted, “Hear that, everyone. All you halos can kiss my shiny red butt!”

I couldn’t help grinning in spite of my nervousness. “Hate to break it to you, but your butt’s not all that shiny.”

Two stories above us a light went on and a pale white face pressed itself to the glass. Cinder unclipped her move-along from her belt and triggered a sizzling bolt of blue fire into the air. “Go back to bed, humie.” The face darted from sight and the light went out

“See, I told you nothing—”

Cinder’s voice cut off in mid-sentence as a hulking figure appeared out of the shadows. A pair of bright white lights pinned both of us to the soot-covered brick wall. “Drop your weapon, demon spawn,” a deep voice commanded.

Cinder’s move-along fell from her limp fingers, bouncing off the cracked sidewalk with a metallic clatter and rolled into the gutter. Her face went from pink to red as the blood drained out of it—her eyes so wide they looked like bottomless black pits.

“You too.” The spotlights moved to me and I had to squint to keep from being blinded.

“Don’t think so,” I said. I held out my hands, palms up. “Guess you’ll just have to take me in, big bad demon.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Great Review of Water Keep on Fantasy Book Critic Site

Hey all, heading out for one last weekend of camping, so I post again on Monday. But Kirk Shaw, a good friend and great editor, forwarded me this review of Water Keep that Cindy Hannikman just put up at Fantasy Book Critic. These are the kinds of things that make you sing and dance all day as an author—when someone really “gets” your book. Have a great weekend and I’ll try not to sink our new six person raft!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fantasy Names

The charming, witty, and lovely, and large-haired Jessica Day George, pointed out this hilarious movie trailer to me a couple of days ago. We especially liked the part where he teaches the students how to come up with fantasy names, because we get asked that a lot. I like combining his endings with common household items. For example, Tosteranous.

How about you? What cool fantasy names can you come up with by combining common household items with his endings?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Goodreads, Lost, & Chapters

I’m going to be all over the board with my blog today, but the good news is that if you don’t like one topic, you can move onto the next.

Goodreads:

Last week, a friend and fellow author forwarded a funny exchange between the author and a reader who ripped his book on a Goodreads review. The exchange was actually very lighthearted and humorous for both the author and reviewer, but it spurred a discussion on other reviewer experiences that were not so lighthearted. In fact, some were downright spiteful by the authors whose books were reviewed.

As an author, I love Goodreads. I know some authors can’t stand to see bad reviews of their books. I’ll admit, I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I read a really bad review. But at the same time, I would never in a million years give up the chance to see good, honest feedback. Goodreads provides not only ratings, but lots and lots of personal feedback from the people I am trying to appeal to. I am a Goodreads junkie. On Amazon, I have about twenty reviews. On Goodreads I have over a hundred and many more ratings.

As a reader, I also love Goodreads. How cool is it to be able to see thousands of people rating a book you might not have read? And these aren’t just any people. These are my kind of people—our kind of people. People who not only read a lot of books, but care enough about them to go on-line and list and rate what they’ve read. These are people who talk about books the way most people talk about sports or movies. I LOVE these people. It makes me so happy that I’m not the only one who feels this way about books.

So what’s the problem right? I love Goodreads as an author and as a reader. The thing is, I don’t love Goodreads as an author who is also a reader. Why? Two problems. First, when I review a book—especially a contemporary book—I am reviewing my co-workers. I am placing a star rating on people I may run into at a conference or in a league or on an on-line board. I read a national YA book the other day that I really didn’t like. But in a roundabout way, I know the author. I’ve never met the author before in person, but a friend of a friend, kind of thing. And, assuming that author is a Goodreads junkie like me, that author might see my poor review, notice I am an author too, and remember me when we bump into each other. (Ouch!)

Which brings me to my second problem. I want honest reviews. I know of many, many authors who get a bad review and immediately go to their friends and ask for good reviews to be placed. I personally HATE that. Not that the authors want good reviews. We all do. Or even that they ask their friends for good reviews. But that the review process is now being corrupted. We are rigging the game. It would be like a sports star asking his friend to let him score an extra touchdown because he got blanked the week before. Even without the issue of me reviewing other people’s books, I worry that if authors regularly respond to Goodreads reviews, readers might start to be afraid to post honest reviews. As much as I don’t want bad reviews, I do want honest reviews. I learn a lot from reading the negative and positive reviews of my books and others. It makes me a better writer to see what some people don’t like.

So the questions is, do I remain a Goodreads author? It’s great to make friends, have discussions, post my blogs, do contests, etc. But are people less likely to review a book honestly of they see the author is also a member of Goodreads? Are you less likely to give a poor review to an author is a member of Goodreads? If you are an author, how do you feel about reviewing books by other authors you know?

Lost:

Okay, this is going to make me look like a total dweeb, but I am not a fan of the TV show Lost. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying I dislike it. I’m saying I don’t watch it. At least I didn’t watch it. James Dashner and Jessica Day George would kill me on the spot if news of my dark secret got out—so don’t tell them, okay? There is a reason I never started watching Lost. If Lost was a book or even series of books, I would have read them at once. A book or series has a set lifespan. The author chooses how long the series will be and should know in advance how it will end. A TV series is not like that. It can end any time the network decides viewership is too low. Or it can go on as long as people keep watching. I don’t want to get caught up and hooked only to be left hanging or dragged along after the series should have ended.

With all that said, I am now a Lost junkie. I discovered Hulu.com and watched the first episode. And like any other addict, I see all those other episodes just calling to me—almost commercial free—and I click. Since most of you who are Lost viewers have seen all the episodes I am just now discovering, and those of you who haven’t watched it probably never will. I feel like I can review the series without giving away spoilers.

Having watched the first episode through the eyes of an author, I am impressed. Most people would think of Lost as a plot driven show. People are stranded on an island with some really freaky stuff going on. Even I knew that, and I hadn’t seen a single episode until last week. But where do we start the show? Through the eyes of a doctor who I assume will be the protagonist. He wakes up disoriented in the middle of a jungle. He runs out of the jungle to find a beach filled with burning plane parts and crash survivors. For the next third of the show. We meet different characters through a series of action scenes. The pregnant woman. The mysterious couple who are only looking out for themselves. The slow-witted but nice guy. The aging musician. The helpful lifeguard and his snotty girlfriend. The love interest. The man with his son.

We get to see just enough of each charter to place them and generate some interest without getting completely confused. In fact the writer goes out of his or her way to not introduce very many names very early. I love that the protagonist is out there saving everyone, and it’s not until he feels things are under some control that we learn how bad his injury is. Authors take note here. We didn’t see the plane crash at first. We didn’t know exactly what was going on. We started in the middle of the scene and expanded from there. The very fact that we didn’t know what was going on kept our attention. Next, we focused on characters. If we don’t know who to care about, we won’t care. But we did it through action scenes that were showing us who the characters were, not telling us.

Not until we knew the basic cast (with plenty of other players we will meet later I assume) did we see something huge moving through the jungle actually knocking down trees. Yes, the show is about weird stuff going on, but it only matters because we care about the people the weird stuff is happening to. Finally, once we knew the cast and saw that something weird was going on, we sent the protagonist and the protagonist’s love interest into the jungle. By separating them, we can focus on who the writer wants us to focus on.

I’ll watch more this week and let you know what I think, so if you are a big Lost fan, don’t tell me how full of it I am because this or that happens in the next episode. But feel free to tell me what your reaction to the first episode was. Or if you are not a fan yet either, hope over to Hulu and watch it on-line with me.

Chapters:

I promised last week I would post the first two chapters of Land Keep. So here they are. I considered telling you why I started the way I did, just like I reviewed the beginning of Lost. But I think I will let you give me your feedback, before I tell you why I did what I did. Enjoy!

(Click on the fullscreen button to make the document more readable)

Farworld Land Keep, first two chapters

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Cover and Two Winners

Hey everyone, thanks for your great comments on the inside illustrations. I can't tell you excited I was to see them. Okay, well, I could, but it would make me sound like a small girl with lots of weeping, and "Oh my gosh"'s and possibly a little weeping.

I agree with pretty much all your comments.

I love the horse in #1. It looks exactly as freaked out by the creatures as I wanted it to in the book. The creatures are snifflers by the way, and they are nasty little things. The Keepers of the Balance are a new group of villians in book two. You'll be seeing a lot of them.

I don't want to give away too much of the book by telling a lot about the second picture. But those of you who thought you saw the land symbol are correct. That and those things that look like leaves? Not really leaves at all.

#3 really does look like a photo don't you think? That's Kyja driving her second Earth machine in this book. How much fun do you think that is? I especially love that of the several states they pass through, Brandon chose to draw the one that is "The Land of Enchantment." Nice touch.

#4 is probably my personal favorite, just because of how it ties into the story. Some of you really made some incredible assumptions just based on that picture. It is indeed the statue of Tankum, the warrior who helped save Marcus, in front. And there is a very exciting conclusion that takes place in terra ne Staric. But that's all I can say.

Next, I promised to pick two of the people who commented and give them each a signed bound manuscript. As you can see from the picture below, my two youngest sons--and Mickey Mouse--randomly picked two names. The names are (drum roll)

Stephanie Humphreys

&

Bookworm 1520.

Send me your mailing addresses and I'll get those right out to you!

If you didn't win. I'll be giving away two more copies through my newsletter. If you haven't signed up for it, send me an e-mail at scott at jscottsavage dot com, and I'll add you to the list. I'm also going to do a story contest over at my writing forum www.readfarworld.com/forum.


And last but not least, here is the cover of Land Keep, and the wrap around artwork that will make up the front and back cover. What do you think?




This is the front cover. That's right pigs fly in this book!




And this is the artwork that will wrap all the way around back!

Friday, August 7, 2009

End of Summer Vacation and Land Keep Pictures

How’s your summer going so far? Getting in all the plans you made when school was letting out or are you trying to shove in everything last minute? A little of both at the Savage household. I spent most of June finishing Land Keep and July was edits and work on a couple of other projects. But we’ve managed to squeeze in quite a bit of play anyway. Nothing like not being able to use the kitchen table for three days because you, your wife and your two sons still at home are in the middle of a long-running RPG game. We also introduced our youngest to LOTR with an all day marathon. Next week we squeeze in a couple of days of camping at a gorgeous 10,000 foot elevation campground called Mirror Lake, and a day at Lagoon (the local amusement park, not, you know, a muddy bog or something.) Should be a great way to go out, since school starts for our kids the week after next.

So what’s happening with Farworld? Glad you asked. Because it just so happens I have pictures! These are the four inside illustrations. And here’s an extra bonus. Tell me which one you like best and why, and I’ll pick two readers to receive signed bound manuscripts. I’ll choose from the responses on Tuesday morning when I hopefully post the final cover artwork.
Part 1 -- Keepers of the Balance &
their "pets."


Part 2 -- Marcus and Kyja reading

Part 3--Marcus and Kyja hitting the open road


Part 4--The statue of Tankum in front
of Terra ne Staric