Free Bookmarks and a Book Signing

Phew! There’s been so much going on this week that I totally forgot about the Friday blog post!

Free Bookmarks

This weekend I’m having a Memorial Day flash sale! For every book purchased, you receive a FREE bookmark. You can choose one of three different pictures (book cover, Nyx, or Jet) and you can choose if you want a wrap-around or a regular! Don’t miss out!

Go to www.epaigeburks.com/contact and let me know which one you want and how many!

 

Book Signing

On June 24 I will be having my first book signing event! I’ll be out at Misfit Toys in The Heights in Houston. If you’re local or are in town, stop by and say hi or get your book signed!

Promo for MT Anniversary

Also, Misfit Toys is celebrating their one year anniversary! I’m told there may be live music and food! So stick around and do some local shopping and enjoy the party!

 

Other News

I’m making Return to Royalty a hardback! That’s right, it will be available in ebook, paperback, and (soon!) hardback. The hardback will also feature a map of Gexalatia! Keep an eye out for it! And check out the Dust Jacket here for a preview!

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Finding an Author Community

Something that’s always been difficult for me is finding a community. As most authors are, I’m pretty introverted, and this makes face-to-face interactions difficult sometimes. I get anxiety when I see people that I recognize, and sometimes I’ll go out of my way to not have to talk to them. I’ve always understood that finding a group of other authors to commune with was necessary, but I didn’t realize how connected it would make me feel until I realized that I’d accidentally stumbled into a community all on my own.

My first community was online.

The first place that I actively sought out other authors was Facebook. I joined a couple Facebook groups, and it was very exciting! I was very involved and I was so happy to have a place to discuss our craft. Unfortunately, as we all know can happen with online meeting places, things began to go south.

It soon became apparent that there were two types of people in the group: the new people who hadn’t written anything and needed to do their own research, and the people who had written things and had been through the process and were bitter about how ignorant the newbies were. Soon I began to see the dark underbelly of the group, and how ugly people could be to one another.

I think hiding behind a screen and a keyboard makes people more willing to be nasty to others, and I think that’s very unfair. Some people need the truth, but most people don’t need to be trashed for their efforts. We shouldn’t be competing against one another, we should be helping and pushing and encouraging. Seeing the opposite of this really soured me to the whole group, although I was fortunate enough to meet some really awesome people in the process. I made some connections, which ultimately led to me being asked to be part of a new podcast.

My second community built itself accidentally.

Last year in September, my sister and I had a table at a local comic event. We didn’t do very well, but I happened across a group of ladies who were selling their books. I ended up striking up a conversation with them, and learned that they were all members of the Houston Writer’s Guild. We traded books and I followed them on Facebook. We’ve loosely kept in touch over the last few months, pretty much only through following their doings on Facebook.

However, this vague relationship culminated last weekend at Comicpalooza. Because I’d kept in touch with these ladies, when I saw them at Comicpalooza, they recognized me! I even had one yell at me from behind her table, where I couldn’t see her, because she was so excited to see me. That was an awesome feeling!

I began to realize that I had accidentally networked myself into a small community, with the potential to join a larger community if I ever want to join the writer’s guild. It’s a very strange feeling to realize how many friends you have in your industry, especially when it seems like our work is so solitary.

What does this mean for you?

Author communities are great, especially for beginners. It’s always great to have wiser, more experienced authors to look to and to direct your questions. However, that being said, you should always try to do your own research. It’s very demanding of another person’s time to have to try to explain every little thing to a new author, and it can cause resentment. This obviously is not the proper way to handle the situation, but anyone who wants to step into a field they aren’t familiar with should do some reading first. There are many blogs and YouTube channels out there that talk about how to start and what you should be doing, including this series from Infinity Flower Publishing.

I would also encourage you to find a community in your immediate area. Find a local group that meets, a guild, or organization that works with authors. You will find resources for editors and designers, as well as meet some amazing people and be invited to do some amazing things. You’ll pick up lots of leads for selling your books and have someone who can help you if you get stumped.

It also feels good to be part of a community! 🙂

 

 

What communities do you belong to?

Maps Part 2!

A few weeks ago, I touched on maps for my story. Early in the week, I happened across a post by a member of the Facebook writers’ group I’m in and saw some wonderful maps that another author had been working on. She’d been using GIMP, which I’m not familiar with, but her maps were GoRgEoUs!!

So, feeling inspired, I decided to revisit my map of Gexalatia. I actually ended up with way more than what I anticipated when I started!

My first step was to find a map generator.

I have to be honest, I suck at imagining what my world will look like. It’s something that I’m struggling with, but it’s really cool that there are tools like this, which are actually intended for role-playing games, but can also be used for book concepts! I especially like this website, because it gives me a lot of options and I can build my own maps and character designs using the presets. It also gave me an option to see a random map, and that’s what I did until I found a map that was pleasing to my eyes!

Map

This is the map I chose. All that was left was to find my countries of Ymber, Siccita, and Fornax. I zoomed in a bit on the middle and found the area that most closely looked like how I’ve imagined it and it’s geographic features. I edited the map where it needed it to fit with certain elements, like where there is water and such.

The second, and hardest, step is labeling!

Actually putting the map together was very time-intensive. I spent two hours or more the first night putting it together in Photoshop. I made some mistakes and saved the wrong file, and had to go back and re-do it the next day, but since I’d already done it, I knew where to put my pieces. It still took time, but less than it had originally.

Photoshop is a great tool, and I highly recommend that every author should learn to use it! It can take so many things and make them amazing.

These are a few of the elements I used to make my map:

 

Structures

This is one of the menus that is available on the map generator website. I simply screenshot it and cropped the parts as I needed them to put on my map.

Mountains:

These are pretty self-explanatory. I used them to build my mountain ranges, which there is one major range on the border of Siccita and Fornax.

Mountain 2

Mountain 3

Mountain

Rivers and Roads:

This was pretty self-explanatory as well. These pieces were designed to be rivers, and I added color to them on my map to make them blue. When I used them as road pieces, I cropped them together and left them brown.

River 1

River 2

River 3River 4

River 5

Castles, ruins, and villages:

These were really fun because they gave life to my world. I used them to mark where important cities and ruins are. The last piece was actually a plateau piece, but I used it to denote Paries’ Wall, which divides Ymber and Siccita.

Castle 1

Ruin 1

Village 1

Village 2

Wall 1

The Finished Product

Siccita, Ymber, Fornax 2

And there is a first look at an actual map of where my story will take place! As you can see, I used pieces as they were intended and as they fit my needs. Don’t be afraid to do the same with your designs! Get creative and think outside the box. It sounds cliche, but if you can imagine it, you can make it happen!

 

Have you worked on your maps lately?

Stone Angel

Cover

The constant plop of water into a pool had been the only sound in centuries. The grating of a door was a welcome surprise, rousing me from a self-induced slumber. Light fell across the cobblestone floor as the door gave, two shadows forming in the dim light.

“Is this the right place?” A man’s voice filled the cavern, echoing across the cobblestones and the walls. He lifted a hand to wave in front of his place. “It reeks.”

“Silence, boy,” the second commanded. “I warned you of coming to this place.”

The first sighed in irritation as he followed the second across the floor. The ceiling arched high above them into a dome, making their hushed voices echo around the room.

“Yeah, Jay, I know,” the first said. “You said the damn statues would be listening.”

I felt it then, an involuntary shift of muscle, a rumble from deep in my chest filling the room. The very walls of the cavern vibrated with the sound, sending a skitter of rocks down to the cobblestone floor. My mind was shifting from the thick darkness of sleep, filled with their words. Did they know me?

“Ben!” Jay snarled, wheeling on his partner. “We’re here for the gems, so keep your mouth shut.”

Jay was an old man as he stepped closer to the dais where I was frozen. His gray eyes shifted over the make-shift altar, seeking out his treasure. I cared not for his reason of coming. The altar was a farce, designed to lure men such as these. The true prize was the sunlight beaming through the door.

I felt the rumble well inside me again as the young one, Ben, stepped closer to me. He glanced around nervously as the walls began to shake and echo, but then he turned his eyes back to me. I struggled against the frozen feeling in my limbs, wishing to break free of this tomb.

“Eh, look at this, Jay,” Ben said, stepping up cobbled steps to be on eye-level with me. “This is that symbol that Eyran carries.”

Jay shook his head, a frown set into his face. He pulled a tool from his pocket, fighting to dislodge the gems from the altar. “Shut up, Ben,” he snapped. “Let’s get these and get out. This shit gives me the willies.”

Ben frowned, but leapt down from the steps.

Eyran. The name rang like bells in my ears. I fought again to free myself, feeling the rock that encased me shift. Neither of the thieves seemed to notice as my shell began to give way. Cool air began to rush in, filling my lungs, invigorating me. That was all I needed, the scent of the sunlight beyond the door fueling the wild desire to break free. I flexed my iron wings, feeling the rock shatter away as I launched myself from the dais and toward the cobblestone.

The men yelled behind me as I flapped, sending a gust around what used to be a temple. My mind was focused on the sunlight in front of me, and it filled my senses as I crashed heavily through the door. I slammed into the ground, looking up.

The temple had once been surrounded by a mighty stone palace. Now, though, I could see it was tall ruins. It rose up above me, the morning sky peeping down through cracks in the ceiling. The stone looked brittle and weather-worn. As I rose from where I was kneeling, I could hear the men behind me crying for help. When I’d crashed through the door, the temple had begun to crumble, blocking their exit.

Slowly, I turned toward the rubble. I shrugged my shoulders as the wings folded along my back, stepping forward to heave a large rock away. I narrowed my eyes as I saw a face appear.

“Please!” Jay begged. “Don’t leave us here!” His gray eyes were panicked. “Please, I’ll put the gems back!”

I leaned forward, placing a hand on the stone. “I care not for those gems,” I said. My voice sounded strange to my ears. I hadn’t spoken in thousands of years. “Tell me where Eyran is.”

The old man gasped in fright. “What do you want with him?” he asked, fear in his voice.

I laughed, feeling my tongue drift across fangs. “He and I have a score to settle.”

“We’ll take you to him!” Ben suddenly appeared, his green eyes frightened as well. “We know where you can find him.”

I titled my head, considering his offer. I supposed there was nothing to lose. I straightened, reaching for the boulders that were blocking the entrance. It took little effort to remove them and free the two men. Once they were safely in the light, the young one fell to his knees, gasping for a breath.

“Thank you,” he gasped, groveling before me.

I scowled at him, feeling the sharp teeth digging into my lip. “Do not kneel before me,” I said sharply. “I am no god.”

Ben rose slowly, his eyes full of fear still. “What are you?” he asked, his voice shaking.

“One of the Sacred Order,” I said shortly. “Neither man nor beast.” I nodded my chin. “Now take me to Eyran.”

The two men turned, motioning that I should follow them across the hall of the once-great palace. There were stairs that led to the temple, and they were crumbling, white-washed stone. They were smooth in places where the rain had graced them. The men’s footsteps were heavy as they climbed down, sounding like clod-hopping mules. It was mildly irritating, but no matter as I followed them. I watched as they clambered down to the cobbled palace floor, scurrying quickly toward the exit.

As soon as my foot struck the surface of the smooth stones, however, a jolt shot through me. Fizzing magic burned my veins, and I gritted my teeth. All around us stone warriors began to form, causing the men to freeze in their tracks. I paid them no mind as the first warrior moved toward me rapidly, swinging a massive spear.

With ease, I swung my hands, feeling the hilt of silver blades form against my skin. I sliced easily through the stone man, watching him crumble to the ground. Several more followed in his stead, each one easier than the last to destroy as my body remembered the feel of weapons and the dance of blades. Their singing was a music that filled my ears as they cut down enemies, leaving a pile of rubble on the floor of the palace. As the last one fell into dust, the burning in my veins ceased.

It didn’t help to ease the scowl from my face.

“What the fuck were those?” Ben demanded as I sheathed my weapons.

“A precaution,” I said shortly. “I was never intended to leave this place.”

We soon crossed the threshold of the palace. I raised a hand to shield my eyes, blinking against the bright light of the sun. I hadn’t seen it in millennia, and it scorched my eyes. Surprise flooded me as I beheld the world as it was now.

Beyond the desert that kept my tomb hidden, an oasis sprouted. It was vast, melting from spiraling trees into objects that reached for the heavens. They glinted powerfully in the sun, like the finest cast steel. I was momentarily paralyzed as I took in the wild uncertainty of this new world.

“This way,” the old man called, breaking me from my reverie.

I blinked, seeing him and his companion climbing into a metal beast. “What is this sorcery?” I demanded as I walked toward it.

“It’s a van,” Ben said. His eyes shifted over me uncertainly. “Eyran is in the city.”

I narrowed my gaze at him. There was no way I would climb knowingly into another prison such as this. “Where in the city?” I demanded.

He pointed toward the oasis. “At the Spyre.”

I turned my head, focusing my gaze across the landscape. Even from here, a tall monolith jutted into the sky, taller than the rest. Across the top, the word Spyre was scrawled. Without another word, I leapt into the sky, unfolding my massive wings. They cut through the air with ease, propelling me ever closer to my target. There was nowhere for him to hide from me now.

In Honor of May 4th!

Fire spouted from a crack, illuminating the dry, dead earth around us. Light flashed brightly as my saber collided with my opponents’, sparks filling the air. I whirled quickly, parrying his blows, matching him step for step. I knew he was tiring, the flash of his red saber slowing. Finally, I had the upper hand.

I dodged his attack, lifting my hand quickly to form a fist as I yanked my hand toward my body. It was as if an invisible rope was tied around his leg as it flew out from under him, causing him to crash to the ground. The handle of his saber bounced across the dirt, rolling lamely to a stop.

I stood over the man before me, watching as the hood of his cloak fell away, revealing a fear-filled face. “My master will come for you!” he said desperately, his breathing heavy.

I offered a grin, lifting my hand. The handle of his saber was cold as it flew into my hand. “Do you know who I am?”

His eyes narrowed as he sucked in a panicked breath. “They call you Angel.”

I nodded my head in approval. “Then you must know my mission,” I crooned, watching him easily.

Defiance flashed across his face, a desperate attempt to stay alive. He lifted his hands, but I was swifter, catching him in a Force-grip. I stood quickly, pushing him away from me. He was dragged across the crumbling rock as I pushed him toward a thick crack, where the burning lava was erupting. I lowered my hand as he dangled dangerously over the fire, gasping for a breath.

“I will never understand the ways of the Light and the Dark,” I mused as I watched him. “The Jedi use the Force for good, using piety to keep their souls clean, while you,” I looked down at the red saber in my hand, “You Sith let your emotions fuel the Force and use it for vengeance.” I lit his saber, watching the red light erupt from the end, sizzling in the air. “You believe that you are enemies; that the Light must battle the Dark.” I grinned, lifting the silver handle in my opposite hand.

“What you do not realize is that there is a much stronger enemy.” I lit the green blade, pressing the burning swords together. Sparks flew from where they touched as I stepped toward him.

“What are you?” he demanded.

I titled my head. I had considered this often. I once tried to believe that I was a machine for good; that the power I wielded would lead me to the Light. But I never truly felt the Light, just as I never truly felt the pull of the Dark.

I watched as he winced as I held the sabers to either side of his neck.

His confusion was brief as I flicked my wrists, the burning light slicing cleaning through his flesh. I paused for a moment, breathing a bored sigh as I stared at his lifeless body. It was nothing for me to release my control of him, watching him fall into the burning life-blood of the planet below.

I slowly tucked both sabers into my belt. I was not bathed in Light, but I was not forged in Darkness. My power stemmed from somewhere in between, in a place that I knew I would never escape from. A place called Apathy.