I often see people posting questions on Social Media concerning writing advice. It seems everybody has their own idea of what it takes to be an author, but one thing I feel is missing is the act of writing itself. And by writing, I don’t mean research, I mean actually putting words down on paper, or a computer, or a phone etc.
You wouldn’t expect a person who has never played hockey to become an NHL star or an inexperienced driver to become a NASCAR champion. At a fundamental level, you can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write.
I’m not saying you will produce a masterpiece the first time out, but everyone has to start somewhere. Write for the joy of it, or write to get ideas down. It doesn’t matter if you write poetry, short stories, or multi-book series; write what you’ve always wanted to write.
Nothing says your words have to be permanent, and in this age of digital publishing, anything can be edited later, providing there’s something to edit.
So write, and perhaps someday you’ll find what makes you proud to call yourself an author.
Until next time,
I recently had someone ask me where I get all my ideas for stories. The simple answer is that I make them up, but in reality, they’re snippets of individual ideas tied into a common storyline. The Heir to the Crown series started as a Fantasy Role-Playing(RPG) Game (think D & D), though the books have expanded on that considerably.
The Frozen Flame, on the other hand, was mostly made up from scratch. It started with a simple idea that two mages from opposite schools of magic (in this case, fire and water) would somehow find a way to combine their magic to produce an even more powerful effect. Athgar and Natalia had been minor characters in another RPG campaign but underwent a significant revision before making it into the books. Thus, the family was born, and the concept of Athgar’s inner spark being unleashed by the Orcs was all new.
As for Power Ascending? That also started with two background characters, Ludwig and Margaret, though I had to change her name to Charlaine since I’d already used the name Margaret for someone else in the Heir to the Crown series. Once again, the two characters were considerably revised, but the basic concept, a lord becoming king and a Temple Knight rising through the ranks, remained intact.
What’s next? My major series will keep me busy for the next couple of years, but don’t worry, I’ve plenty more ideas to explore in the future.
Recently, we were filming some videos for social media, and I pulled out issue number one of Dragon magazine. At that time, it was called The Dragon, but it would go on to be a staple among players of Dungeons and Dragons.
It followed on from an earlier magazine, The Strategic Review, of which I also have a few copies, though they are far less impressive when it comes to content. Dragon magazine was issued monthly, beginning in 1976, and the last issue, topping off at a whopping #359, was published in September of 2007.
Dragon was relaunched as an online magazine by Wizards of the Coast (the new intellectual property owners) until 2013. A new digital version called Dragon+ launched in 2015 and continues to this day, though it is now bi-monthly.
I’m all for progress, but there’s just something magical about flipping through an old magazine!
I have read fantasy books for many years, and although I love the genre, I often find I’m more interested in how someone became the best warrior in all the land instead of reading about them slaying evil minions. With that in mind, the Heir to the Crown series reveals the backgrounds of these intrepid souls before their adventures at the peak of their careers, giving the reader insight into what motivates them.
It also served to fill in their characters for me, as a writer, with far more depth than a few simple biography notes would have done. In fact, I wrote the Mercerian Tales stories with the primary objective of letting me explore those characters in more depth. Stories of the Past gives a little more insight into each main character with details that would have either felt insignificant in the earlier books or dragged out the main storyline too much.
After introducing Albreda, I felt I had to explore her character; thus, The Call of Magic was born. Then The Making of a Man came about because Baron Richard Fitzwilliam is such an important influence in the lives of so many characters. Without his presence, Gerald would never have become the warrior he is, nor Beverly, the renowned knight. Fitz deserved his own story, one which explains how he became the man he is.
Will I ever give the heroes of the Continent the same treatment as those of Merceria? I have some ideas on that, but for the moment, I’m concentrating on my three current series, with the occasional Cyric story thrown in for good measure.
I may also have ideas for new series, but I won’t go into that in any detail. Suffice it to say, I’ve planned out my writing schedule for the next few years.
Until next time,
While I was working on Vortex, I needed some new Orc names. Thanks to the Internet, these are not hard to find, but the problem becomes choosing one that’s not too similar to those I’ve already used. To prevent this from happening again, I combed through all my series and created a document containing the name of every single Orc in all of my series.
This file also lists which series the name comes from, their tribe, and a general description, such as shaman, hunter, etc. I also identified their gender since the name isn’t always helpful.
In naming Orcs, I’ve tried to use a few standard practices. One such example is to give siblings similar-sounding names. Hence, we have Shaluhk and Laruhk, or Grazuhk and Uruzuhk. Note that I like to use the letter ‘h’ to give the names a more exotic look. The ‘h’ is almost always silent, by the way.
I then listed all the tribes, titles, and even unique Orc names for things, like customs or the words used to describe outsiders.
Of course, now that I’ve done this for Orcs, I suppose I will have to do the same for the other races of Eiddenwerthe!
Until next time,
When I was working on the outline for Maelstrom (The Frozen Flame, Book Four), I wanted the story to overlap with the events of my other series, Power Ascending. Having just completed writing Temple Captain, it was easy to tie the stories together as it occurs in the Duchy of Reinwick. This area is featured prominently in the history of Ludwig Altenburg, appearing in both Warrior Knight and the upcoming Warrior Lord books.
As a result, I have an area rich in local history, not only derived from my own history of Eiddenwerthe, but from the events of a previous book. Does that mean you need to read Temple Captain before you read Vortex? Not at all, but you may get more out of it if you do.
One of my intents in writing all my series was to introduce a dynamic world where the actions of individuals have a lasting impact on the world at large. I could have simply written a book and explained the region's entire history. However, I think it’s far more interesting to witness the events as they happen.
Until next time,
One of the things I like about writing is the idea of threads tying different series together. I’m in the middle of writing Vortex (The Frozen Flame - Book 6), and this story, more than any other, is directly influenced by the events of Temple Captain (Power Ascending - Book 3).
It was quite intentional and shows the effect one person’s actions can have on the world at large. In this case, Temple Captain Charlaine changed the entire political situation in the north, which Athgar and Natalia (The Frozen Flame) are now discovering for themselves ten years later.
There’s much more to come, of course, but you’ll have to wait a little longer to see how Ludwig makes his mark on history, when Warrior Lord goes live (Power Ascending – Book 4).
Until then, suffice it to say there’s a major shakeup coming to the land of Eiddenwerthe!
Many aspiring authors begin by writing just one book, a story that starts and finishes in a single volume. Then there's me. I wanted to tell a larger story about a kingdom's rise to greatness. There are plenty of books about such places and heroes who are already skilled at swordplay, but I wanted to tell how they got to those heights. Thus, the Heir to the Crown series was born.
From the very beginning, the characters would grow and evolve. How did Anna become queen, and why does she rule the way she does? Why is Beverly so good with weapons, and how did Albreda become the most powerful mage in all the land?
I also saw the plotline developing over many books—fifteen, to be exact. The first saga, consisting of the first five books, tells how Anna became the Queen of Merceria. The second saga, books six to ten, reveal the consolidation of her power and the rise of Merceria and their allies as a powerful military force. The last saga, books eleven to fifteen, will expand their horizons, bringing them into contact with the kingdoms of the Continent.
All of this also ties in with my other series. The Frozen Flame deals with the eventual re-emergence of Therengia as a military power in Eiddenwerthe, while Power Ascending covers the rise of two of the most influential leaders in all the Petty Kingdoms: Charlaine deShandria, Temple Knight, and Ludwig Altenburg, eventual ruler of a military dynasty.
Not to be forgotten are the Chronicles of Cyric, about a Temple Knight of Saint Mathew who acts as an investigator for his order. Though his stories are, for the most part, smaller in scope, his influence is felt not only in The Frozen Flame but also in Power Ascending.
And all because I didn't want to write a stand-alone book!
Until next time,
I've just started writing Into the Forge, the working title for my next Mercerian Tale. It concerns the exploits of Herdwin Steelarm and Kasri Ironheart, two characters taken from the pages of the Heir to the Crown series.
This time they're not marching to war. Instead, they're going on a more personal journey to the place of Herdwin's birth—the Dwarven stronghold of Stonecastle. It seems the past has finally caught up with the master smith of Wincaster, and now he must deal with the repercussions.
Ah, well. At least this time he has Kasri along to help him out.
With Triumph of the Crown releasing on the 22nd, I’ve been spending some time outlining future installments of the series. Triumph marks book ten out of fifteen volumes, but more importantly, it brings a large story arc to its conclusion.
Heir to the Crown was always imagined as a “Grand Trilogy”, consisting of three long story arcs spread over a total of fifteen books. Of course, that doesn’t include the Mercerian Tales. The first story arc concerned the rise of Anna from lost little girl to Queen of Merceria.
The second group of five, starting with Burden of the Crown, began the next installment, that of securing the throne against foreign threats. Naturally, that’s an oversimplification of the plot, but you get the idea.
Now, the third set of stories is all about…sorry, I can’t reveal that just yet. You’ll have to wait and see.
Until next time, Happy reading!
Paul Bennett, Writer of Epic Fantasy Adventures.