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!


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:



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.


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


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?


My Interview with Write and Author!

This week has been totally crazy. I’ve been super busy, and yesterday was a bad day. We lost one of our horses yesterday… 😦

So for the blog, I just want to remind you guys about the contests that the deadline is April 30th, as well as some other stuff from the Wednesday News Post.

And I also wanted to share my first interview with website Write and Author!

Author E. Paige Burks

Write and Author is interviewing E. Paige Burks, author of Return to Royalty.

E. Paige Burks, budding author of The Heart of the Guardian, is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Journalism.

Her book, Return to Royalty, won the 2016 Author U Draft to Dream Award in the Young Adult category and has been nominated for USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When she is not writing fantasy and love stories, she enjoys Mexican food, singing out loud, cuddling with her cats, and taking long naps.

E. Paige Burks lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, four dogs, three cats, three horses, and a single bird named Ricki.

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

I pay less attention to details and more attention to just telling the story. A lot of my earlier pieces were very wordy and flamboyant. After having attended college to be a journalist, I learned to write in more direct and succinct ways, which has really helped with the flow of my books.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I’ve had the fortune of having a professional editor look at my manuscript as part of the prize I won for Return to Royalty, but in the future I plan to pay someone to do it. I realized I missed a lot of things that the editor and proofreader caught because I know what it should say and not what it actually says.

Have you ever let any of your books stew for months or even a year?
Yes! Return to Royalty was started in 2007 when I was 17 years old. As I’ve gotten older and learned more about life, it’s made writing much easier. Return to Royalty has had many different versions and my MCs have worn many different hats over the years, but I think they’ve finally found the right niche.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Cover is absolutely the most important piece of your book. If the cover doesn’t make a reader want to look at your synopsis or thumb through the first chapter, then it’s not doing its job. There is a lot of psychology that goes into how a shopper’s brain works, and it’s interesting to me that it starts with something so basic but so crucial. I think titles should reflect the work and be a draw as well, but they’re not as important as the cover. You know, first impressions and all that.

Do you attend literary lunches or events?
I attended a conference in Denver, CO last year. It’s the first one I’ve been to and was a really great learning opportunity. I’d love to go to more in the future.

How do you market yourself and your book?
I use lots of social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress. A lot of indie authors have trouble engaging their followers, which seems counterintuitive. If you like my page, why don’t you like my content? But I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I have also used Instafreebie to give away free copies of my book The Heart of the Guardian and I would consider that a success. I had 100 copies downloaded! I’ve just recently discovered the heaven-send that is Hootsuite. It controls when the things go where so that I don’t have to! I really like that. Frees up my time from having to post from one platform to another and forgetting about others.

Why do you write?
I write because I can’t not write. Writing and living in my imaginary headspace has become so much a part of me that it would drive me crazy if I were to ever try to stop! My characters are just extensions of me, but they feel more real than that to me. I read once that the difference between creative-types and mental patients is that creatives know they’re imagining things! From the inside it’s hard to describe and from the outside it’s hard to fathom.

How often do you write and what is your process?
I write as often as I can. I tend to have periods of time where I am more active than others, and I’ll spend weeks and months, and hours upon hours of the day, just obsessing over my ideas. I can’t be at peace until they’re written down. Then, I usually take a break and spend several weeks or more not writing at all. I don’t think that writing should be forced. You have to replenish your creative well every so often, whether it’s by reading, watching TV/movies, music, whatever. Only then can you produce anything. It’s great to practice daily, if you can, by journaling or doing writing prompts, but I don’t force myself to do this. Writing should never be a chore.

What writing advice can you give?
This seems opposite of what I said above, but write as much as you can! Write when you don’t feel like writing. Sometimes that’s the only thing that will break down any roadblocks you might encounter. Also, share your writing and don’t be afraid to ask for critiques. We can never get better if we don’t first accept that we’re not perfect. If you think your writing sucks and should be hidden forever, you’re probably doing something right. People who tout about how great their writing is are usually not very good. Just remember to be humble when you receive praise and kind when you receive criticism.

Can you create a short writing prompt?
It was a dark and stormy night, but bursts of lightning were flashing across the darkness. You blink, thinking the storm is playing tricks on your mind. A rift is beginning to open, splitting the sky.

Return to Royalty
by E. Paige Burks

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange.

Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents.

It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia?

Return to Royalty is still in the productions phase. It will be sold through IngramSpark, where it will be featured on their homepage for a week, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

E. Paige Burks

Well Hello There #Myfirstblogpostrevisited

I was tagged by the amazing Tolkien-fiend E. E. Rawls to participate in a blog hop! It’s my first one ever, so yay!


I had to dig way back into the archives, almost seven years ago, to this little guy:

Well Hello There

Hi! I have never had a blog before, so this is going to be an adventure for me! I will try to post something fairly regularly, however I cannot guarantee that it will be every day. Mostly look for story tid-bits and excerpts. I’m sure actual blogs about my life will be very boring. Happy reading!!

That’s it. That was my first ever post. My how things have changed!

In 2010, I was still in college at TAMU and had just started dating the love of my life and my future hubs. Neato, right?

As an author though, I was struggling. I was busy with school, didn’t have a lot of time to write, and overall frustrated and worried about my future and where I would end up. If now-me could back and tell past-me that things would turn out fine, that would have been majorly helpful.

Today, I’ve written 60 (WOW!) posts and I’ve finished my ten-year book, and even had it published! Past-me could have never fathomed that. Past-me wouldn’t be able to believe that I’ve been to Colorado for a writer’s conference, won an award at that conference (!), started my own business, and am now involved in my book in ways that I didn’t even know existed.

I guess the lesson here is that YOU CAN DO IT!

It took me seven years to get to this point, ten years to write my book, but I’ve learned so much along the way. And I’m still young! I’m just now putting the effort into making my dreams work. Like it says in this Fifth Harmony video, “DREAMS DON’T WORK UNLESS YOU DO!”

Now it’s time for me to choose the next victims, er, participants for the blog hop!

Joynell Schultz

Amelia Jacobson

Lara, The Book Heathen

Monique Desir

Book Adventures

Don’t forget the rules!

Obvious rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag…um…ten two twelve five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

Completely silly rules that E. E. Rawls made up that I liked (so I kept them!):

  • Drink a glass of wine, bottle of beer, cup of coffee, mug of herbal tea or whatever floats your boat after you hit “publish”. (In other words, toast yourself. Go you!)
  • Read the post out loud in a Mickey Mouse voice.

Let’s talk about Cover Design.

This week is going to be a little light. I’m writing this on Tuesday night because by the time it hits on Friday I will be heading to a cruise ship! Yay!

So instead of a usual post, I’m going to share a video that I did as part of a web series for my publishing company called NOW WHAT? This is part three, but you can find the rest on Facebook and YouTube.

Leave a comment on what you think! What’s your experience been with covers?