The second book of The Burning Sands is now available! The story of Brego, a desert nomad and escaped slave, continues, along with his companions: Apa, a disgraced magi on the run from justice, and Khag, the kind-hearted orc. The story picks up a short time after the end of Blood of the Desert, and we find our trio of unlikely friends settling into a new life among Brego’s people, the Taerwyn, in the Great Sand Sea. However, an unexpected raiding party of orcs turns an idyllic night into one of fire and strife. In the ashes, they find the chieftain’s son, Timik, has been abducted by the orcs. In search of the boy and answers, they set out Into the Red Wastes.
War looms on the horizon, and the chaos centers around the fate of one boy. Timik, son of of a Taerwyn chieftain, has been taken by the orcs of the Red Wastes.
As his people prepare for battle, the Taerwyn nomad Brego sets out across the unforgiving desert to find the boy with his two brothers-in-arms: the Cressian magi Apa and the orc warrior Khag. They hope to find the boy and rescue him to prevent further bloodshed and discover what sinister plan led to his abduction. However, they may discover things are not as simple as they expected as they journey into the Red Wastes.
Genres: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, High Fantasy Tags: Desert, Bronze Age, Nomads, Orcs, Action Adventure Length: Novella (Approx 125 pages)
Great news for members of Kindle Unlimited is that not only is Into the Red Wastes available to read for free on the service, but the first book, Blood of the Desert, is also now available on Kindle Unlimited for the first time! For those without Kindle Unlimited, the first book will be temporarily free for everybody starting tomorrow, from December first through the fifth! If you haven’t read the first book yet, now is the perfect time to venture to the desert world of Erimos.
“I was thrilled at the level of world building that went on in this book. The setting is every bit as I imagined it would be with a dashing title like that, and the characters jump off of the page and into you head like you’ve known them all your life.”
“I could not put this book down. I finished it in one sitting. If you like a great, fast read, this is for you. The characters came alive, and their adventures have you wishing for more.”
Brego, Apa, and Khag’s journey will continue. Keep an eye out for more news about the third book in the series, Empire of the Scale, in the future!
Flame in the Palace by Seluna Drake, Book One of Lady of Avalion: released today!
Avalion is a kingdom of magic and mystery. It is a land of rolling hills, lush forests, flowering meadows, and towering mountains. Imposing castles, sprawling cities, and grand manors lie at the heart of its five duchies. Around these, the landscape is dotted with roadside inns, small towns, and humble villages. Each duchy is unique, specializing in different trade goods and occupying distinct geographic features that set them apart both physically and culturally from one another. At the heart of all this is Ilona, a sweeping, bustling city anchored by a magnificent, towering royal palace. While the island kingdom seems a unified monolith, undercurrents of political machinations fueled by jealousy and greed threaten to tear it apart.
Flame in the Palace by Seluna Drake launched today! I wanted to take some time to help spread the word about this wonderful story and share my own journey through Avalion.
I must be honest; I am biased when it comes to Flame in the Palace. Seluna Drake hired me to edit this book, and over the course of our collaboration on the project, we became good friends.
However, I would not be putting my professional credibility on the line if I didn’t think this book deserved the attention. Also, I’ve gushed about other titles I’ve edited when the author has publicly acknowledged my involvement, such as with The Quest for the Golden Plunger by Jackson Dickert or They Stole the Earth by D.W. Hitz, so my friendship with Seluna Drake has also not created a unique situation in regard to Flame in the Palace.
All that said, I’m too close to the book to write an unbiased review, but I didn’t want that to stop me from sharing my journey through Avalion.
As mentioned, Avalion is an island kingdom. The setting is a medieval fantasy world filled with magic, but it is unlike many of its kin. It is low fantasy in many regards, with no elves, dwarves, or goblins. There are rare instances of fantastical creatures, and a solitary minotaur features early in the book. Magic is a closely guarded secret of the nobility, a thing of mystery and wonder to most.
Noble houses lord over the five duchies of Avalion, and the king rules from the central palace of Ilona. The books protagonist is Myria, a humble maid working at her grandmother’s roadside inn near the town of Everhaven, in the duchy of Fairthorne. She is an estranged member of House Bramble, the lords of Fairthorne, and cousin to the duke. Little does she know that this strenuous tie to the nobility will soon thrust her to the center of a web of political intrigue and romance.
The main thrust of the plot in Flame in the Palace is the custom the royal family uses to arrange marriages for their heirs. Prince Leor, soon to be King of Avalion, is in need of a wife. Thus, as is customary, each of the five ducal houses sends an eligible suitor to compete over a summer of contests and social events, ranging from state dinners and ballroom galas to a joust and other adventurous challenges. Duke Bramble, having no eligible daughters of his own, must turn to his cousin should they wish to participate.
Myria has little desire to enter the theater of politics, but upon meeting Leor, she is smitten by the charismatic prince. Her cousin the duke promises to save her grandmother’s financially struggling inn and the only home she’s ever known, and she is promised access to the arcane secrets so jealously guarded by the nobility.
Thus is the fiery, fiercely independent Myria taken from the familiar comforts of the Morning Glory tavern and the surrounding Talking Tree Forest to be plunged into a world of political intrigue. Along the way, she gets to know the other members of her family and is mentored by her aunt, the dowager widow Olympe. She also must contend with her rival suitors, some with whom she forges bonds of friendship, others from whose machinations she must guard herself.
Chief among these new friendships is Emiri, the court mage of the royal household and close friend—nearly a brother—to Prince Leor himself. As Myria contends for Leor’s favor in hopes of one day becoming queen, she also studies under Emiri to learn the secrets of the nobility’s magical ways.
While Avalion is full of lush forests, sparkling rivers, and soaring palaces, there are shadows in the cracks that threaten the foundation upon which this peaceful kingdom is built. And as Myria peels back the layers of these mysteries, she finds herself at the center of an existential crisis for the entire island nation.
I wish I could say more about Flame in the Palace, but I don’t want to spoil the journey for you.
I normally am not a fan of romantic tales. I stick to fantasy that concerns itself more with battlefields than ballrooms, but Flame in the Palace struck a chord with me. I found myself enthralled by the large, wonderfully well-rounded cast of characters and the detailed, varied, and immersive environments. As Myria travelled across the kingdom, I felt like I was along for the ride. When she felt sparks of love and pangs of loss, I felt them as well. I dove deep into this story and was forlorn when I had to leave Avalion to come back to our reality. I’ll be returning to Avalion for the second book, hopefully sooner rather than later, and I am confident the sparks kindled in the first book will grow to a raging inferno in the second.
Get your copy of Flame in the Palace today! I am confident your will enjoy your journey into Avalion!
Seluna Drake is a high school English teacher who writes and independently publishes a variety of fantasy novels, poems, and potentially narrative-based games. Most of the time she passes as a chaotic creative who spends way too much time on video games and not enough time talking to her therapist.
After escaping a life of slavery, Brego crosses the wastelands fleeing slavers and bounty hunters. Allying with an assortment of misfits, he must fight his way across the badlands to reach his people’s home in the Great Sand Sea. As he seeks to shed the iron bonds of his youth, he searches for something he has never known: a home. In the process he finds something he never expected to find: a family.
I have made it known for a while now I’m working on revising all my books and issuing new editions. Some are wondering what kind of revisions I’m working on. I’ve been asked if I’m changing the stories a few times, so I thought it might be insightful to share a little of what I’m working on.
First and foremost, I want to be clear I’m making no major changes to any of the books. The goal of the revisions is simply to polish things up. So if you already have a copy, there’s no need to get the new edition (unless you want to collect ones with the new covers!).
Right now, I’m working on finishing up The Hunter’s Apprentice for its upcoming release on February 19th. Here’s a look at one paragraph from the book that’s a good example of the changes being made. First, the text from the second edition:
Gareth and Miles both waited for further explanation, which was not forthcoming. Finally, Nikolai realized that they were waiting for him to say more. “The ground beneath the cliffs is rich in salt from the sea. The entire city, actually, sits atop salted soil. The bodies buried by the first settlers here were probably set to rest directly in the soil, and the salt would have preserved their flesh and kept them from rotting away. Some centuries old cemetery, actually, is the ideal place to find subjects for such experimentation.” At this, Nikolai almost sounded excited by the prospect.
And now, the revised text for the upcoming third edition:
Gareth and Miles both waited for further explanation, which was not forthcoming. Finally, Nikolai seemed to realize they were waiting for him to say more. “The ground beneath the cliffs is rich in salt from the sea. In fact, the entire city sits atop salted soil. The bodies buried by the first settlers here were set to rest directly in the soil, which has preserved their flesh and kept them from rotting away. Some centuries-old cemetery is the ideal place to find subjects for such experimentation.” Nikolai seemed excited by the prospect.
This paragraph has more changes than most, but that’s why I chose it as an example. I may go several pages with no changes, or tweak a comma here and there, or run across a paragraph like this that needs some hammering.
As you can see though, there’s no changes in the substance. My focus is polishing things up.
I hope this helps clarify things for anybody who was wondering, and might be insightful even if you weren’t! I’d like to say this is finally the last time I’ll be going through these, but who knows what the future might bring. But I have to say, I’m very pleased with the progress being made right now!
The third edition of Seahaven, book one of The Ravencrest Chronicles, is available today. With a fresh round of editing, new formatting, and all-new cover art and design, this is the ultimate edition of the highly-popular, fan-favorite first outing of Gareth Vann, master thief of Seahaven!
Gareth Vann is an renowned thief in the city of Seahaven. The rugged scoundrel is mostly concerned with coin and drink, but has an altruistic streak he tries to hide. He never intended to be a hero, but when Gareth becomes the target of a pair of vampires, he finds himself trapped in the middle of a conspiracy that reaches all the way to Castle Ravencrest itself. To protect those he cares most about, Gareth must reluctantly hunt the creatures of the night the only way he knows how: From the shadows.
Writing tools is a term often applied to the intangibles of our craft; our knowledge, skills, and techniques which are applied in the process of developing outlines, hammering out plots, and spinning prose to amaze our readers. I want to talk today about the more tangible writing tools at our disposal: Pens, notebooks, laptops, and software. Most notably, I want to discuss one particular piece of online software that has revolutionized how I approach an important part of writing science fiction and fantasy: Worldbuilding. Today, I want to talk about World Anvil.
A quick disclaimer: Although my publishing company (Kyanite Publishing, LLC) interacts with World Anvil on occasion, I am in no way being reimbursed by World Anvil, its owners, or its associates in return for writing this article. I am doing so of my own accord in hopes of sharing useful information with the writing community.
What is World Anvil?
World Anvil is a website (www.worldanvil.com) founded in October of 2017 by Janet Forbes and Dimitris Havlidis. It is a place where authors, table-top RPG (role playing game) dungeonmasters, and hobbyists can develop, maintain, and display fictional worlds in a wiki-style system. Work produced on the website remains the sole property and copyright of the author, and it may be publicly displayed or kept private depending upon that author’s preferences. The end-results can vary greatly depending upon how many of the myriad of features each individual chooses to employ, ranging from simple text documents to fully customized and formatted articles with images, links, and interactive maps.
The Kingdom of Brisland, from my own World Anvil project: Istaria.
From the Notebook to the Forge
I started my own journey down the rabbit hole of worldbuilding some time in the early 1990s, in what some may consider through the lens of nostalgia the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons. The second edition AD&D rule set had just been released in 1989, and new settings such as Dragonlance and Dark Sun were inspiring many of us young would-be authors to craft our own unique settings to explore within the game.
Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. The resulting world may be called a constructed world. … Constructed worlds can be created for personal amusement and mental exercise, or for specific creative endeavors such as novels, video games, or role-playing games. — Definitions.net
And thus did the spiral notebooks, three-ring binders, and hand-scrawled maps on graph paper begin to pile up. What began as a hobby became an obsession, and soon there were boxes of notes detailing everything from geopolitical turmoil to the mating habits of certain local waterfowl. As time passed and I adapted to our new digital age, I was certain that there would soon be a better way to accomplish these tasks. Thirty years passed, and despite options such as meticulously organized directories of documents, programs like OneNote, and even Scriviner (and anybody who knows me knows that I swear by Scriviner for writing my manuscripts!); I had yet to find a system that surpassed the utility of the good old spiral notebook and three-ring binder. Then I discovered this website called World Anvil, created by worldbuilders for worldbuilders with one thing in mind: Worldbuilding.
Stoking the Fires of Creativity
I was intrigued, to say the least. I had recently taken the deep dive into serious professional writing of fiction and I had several settings that I was maintaining simultaneously. Moreso than these, I had an epic fantasy project outlined that I knew would require a massive amount of worldbuilding, and I was prepared to fill another cardboard box with notebooks to achieve this goal. That was right about when I discovered World Anvil in October of 2018.
The site was a year old, and it was growing. I found it through a YouTube channel called Tale Foundry that had partnered with them for a writing competition.
The competition was to develop a world and set up the basics behind a story, and then Tale Foundry would write the story and read it on their channel. I was hooked!
“Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Yes…yes, we do.
No, I didn’t win. I did get a shiny participation badge though; the first of many. I realized at this point that this site was much more than a tool for worldbuilding: It was a home for it. There was interaction, scheduled events, rewards, and a growing community of like-minded individuals all rallying around the World Anvil website and team. And as I explored other authors’ works on the site, I discovered that they were producing some amazing content! I was inspired to do the same, and I was pushed to do so with more quality than I had ever considered putting into my worldbuilding before.
“That’s all great,” you say, “but what about the website itself? Is it a useful tool?”
It is indeed! In addition to everything mentioned above, the actual layout and system of the World Anvil website is not only a useful way to produce, organize, and display information; but the templates built into it offer built-in prompts that made me think of things about my worlds that I had never considered before!
Would I have thought of this if I was detailing it in a notebook? Probably not, but World Anvil reminded me to do it!
Breathing Life Into Your Setting
“But, B.K.,” you say. “I don’t do a lot of worldbuilding for my books. My stories are all character-driven, so I don’t have to keep extensive notes or detail minutiae that I will later need to reference and use in my writing. This sounds great, but it’s not something every writer can use. Why should I be interested in what World Anvil has to offer if I’m not a worldbuilder?”
What was the name of that gas station Jodie stopped by on the way to the lakeside cabin, where he had that conversation with whatshisname about that party down at whosiswhat’s house?
So, every writer has had that moment where they’ve had to scroll back three chapters in a manuscript to remember the name of some minor character or detail of a location. At the very least, World Anvil can be a place to keep notes like this. Admittedly, there are other options, but it’s worth a look.
If you’re not a worldbuilder or considering writing epic fantasy or hard science fiction, and you’re still reading this: Thank you for hanging in there! Don’t worry, this next part is for you!
Okay, so you don’t write science fiction or fantasy. Or, maybe you do, but you don’t develop sweeping and expansive settings for your books. Honestly, I’ve written several pieces that have bare-bones worldbuilding and focus more on character and plot, so I totally admit there’s some projects that simply do not need something like this. But, just because you don’t create entire civilizations down to what color is socially acceptable to wear after the annual harvest festival doesn’t mean that you won’t potentially get some use out of this.
And this is where I’m going to veer off the superhighway of worldbuilding and get down to what any fiction writer can relate to regardless of genre: Characters.
It has been said time and time again that there are three main facets of any story: setting, plot, and character. And, it is well known that character is the most important part of this equation. One need only do a cursory search online for writing tools (the tangible sort), and they will find a plethora of character sketch worksheets, questionnaires, and guides for developing rich and believable characters.
I argue that World Anvil has built into its framework everything you need.
The character template on the website has spaces for the usual questions, from physical characteristics to personal history. But it delves deeper and has fields that beg to be filled in; asking about personal taboos, mental quirks, physical mannerisms, life goals, and pretty much everything else you will find on the best character sketch worksheet, and then some.
In addition to this, World Anvil just launched a new aspect of the website called “Heroes“. I’ve played around with the new features briefly, but I’ve found so far that this is the most involved character creation utility I’ve ever seen. Moreso than this, it’s also a social network for characters! While you need not interact with others, or even make what you develop visible to the public, the potential of being put on the spot by other author’s characters talking to your own might make you dive deeper into the mind of that oh so important aspect of your story.
Brego, protagonist of Blood of the Desert, now has his own social media profile? And he’s emo?
The number of fields to fill in on the advanced profile in Heroes outweighs even those in the character template in the main World Anvil structure. It’s definitely geared more towards short-form profiles rather than long biographies, but for many that’s as far as we ever get anyway. In addition, you can post thoughts from your character’s point of view, out of character posts such as the quote from Blood of the Desert shown above, and even journal entries. Want to have your character keep a journal of everything that happens while writing the book — either for later release, promotional purposes, or just to keep track? Here you go…thank me later.
World Anvil membership is free, and one can access the majority of the features offered without any monetary commitment. There are also several levels of “Guild Membership” that unlock different tiers of features, such as removing ads from the site or enabling a larger number of worlds that you can develop. I have been a guild member since November of 2018, and I plan to continue to be a member indefinitely. I am nothing but overjoyed by the services offered, the community, and the staff of World Anvil. Speaking of community, I should not neglect to mention that there is a very active Discord server with thousands of active users, weekly Twitch streams, a YouTube channel, monthly contests, and two large annual events all hosted by World Anvil. I digress to my point above: More than being a writing tool, World Anvil is a community.
I hope you have found this interesting, enlightening, and perhaps even a bit entertaining. I invite you to check out World Anvil and Light Up the Forge!
As always, there’s a lot of exciting things going on in the B.K. Laboratory. I wanted to share a little of what is planned for the rest of the year and beyond, and some news about a change in direction for me as an author.
Before we get into what’s coming next, I think it would be best to take a quick look at what has come before. Last year I was plugging away at what should be a fairly long science fiction novel. I decided one weekend to take a break to avoid burnout, and wrote a dark fantasy novella.
Then I wrote another, and another, and an anthology, and a cyberpunk novella, and a heroic fantasy novella…. In the meantime, I had also started up a company and began a career as a publisher, not to mention launching my own literary magazine with the help of my business partners.
So, that weekend off turned into a year of crazy levels of productivity, but alas my novel was still simmering on the back-burner. I think this was the best thing for it, since I’ve learned lot about writing and editing over the course of the last year.
Which bring us to now. After receiving reviews of my various novellas, there’s been one common trend:
My biggest critique? I wanted more.
I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for part 2.
I wish the next book was out already.
I look forward to Book 2 of the trilogy!
My only complaint is born merely of anticipation. I want more!
As much as I love being able to tell all these different stories, it is important to me that my readers be happy too! In the interest of that, I’ve rearranged my commitment to the publishing company to free up more writing time, and will be shifting my focus away from novellas and to full-length novels.
This first brings us back to the science fiction novel on the back burner: What Once Was Home. I’ll be committing most of April to finishing this manuscript and hope to have the revised draft to my editor by mid-May.
The other big change coming from this is that the project I was currently focused on – Parting the Veil – is going to be delayed. It was coming out this summer, but it will now have a release in the fall. This is not only because of the time being spent on What Once Was Home, but also because I’ll be making Parting the Veil a novel instead of a novella! The outline for the story already has a lot going on, and as a novella it was going to have to be a very streamlined plot that didn’t delve too deeply into certain things. The potential for a novel-length story is definitely there, so I’m going to make that happen.
Now, there were quotes up there from readers anticipating the next book in a series or trilogy. Not to worry! Between these other projects, and contiguous with them, I’ll still be working on my novellas. The focus will be on delivering highly anticipated sequels, and I will not be starting any new series until these are out there. Among these projects are Companions of the Stone Road, the sequel to Warriors of Understone; and Night Life, the sequel to Night Shift.
All of these projects and more should be completed before the end of this year, and I’m looking forward to many more exciting things in 2020!
Warriors of Understone has received another review!
M.E. II has rated it 5 stars on Goodreads.
Warriors of Understone is an excellent new novella crafted by the skilled hand of B.K. Bass. I was immediately immersed into the detailed society and caught up within the caste structure and setting completely. Each character spoke with their own unique voice and pursued a grounded agenda. Their interactions wove seamlessly into a rich tapestry of visceral reality.
Everything had a real and immediate feel to it. The story carried me along at a breathless pace, building up to a satisfying finale that I wouldn’t dare spoil for you. I devoured the entire work in one sitting, unable to put it down until I was finished. That, more than anything will tell you how deeply I was caught up in the tale. I was impressed by the detail of character and the depth of setting that Mr. Bass put into so few pages. It’s rare for me to encounter a novella that has such a solidly epic feel. I had the same, deep satisfaction at the end as if it had been written as a multi-book series.
B.K. Bass is a master world crafter and this work shows his skills at their best.
My latest interview with J.D. Kellner of The Wet Ink Project is online!
Find out more about the creative process and inspiration behind The Ravencrest Chronicles, Warriors of Understone, and some deep philosophical questions such as “Who would win in a fight between Legolas and Gimli?”