Ebon City: Death and the Maiden

Ebon City: Death and the Maiden
Illustration by Chandra Pandhita. Commissioned by Leo Featherstone © 2013.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Crossroads Update

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've decided to go back and do more extensive revisions to my first novel to give it a less trope-reliant plot. So far, it's been relatively easy to just cut out and rearrange old scenes, write in new ones, and then edit the old material so it's all consistent. I've just finished Chapter 1, and I have to say, I'm weirdly enjoying hacking up my old novel and stitching it back together like some fantastic Frankenstein monster.

A few months back, I posted revised sample chapters for Ebon City: Death and the Maiden, but have since taken them down after realizing I was going to reboot Death and the Maiden and convert it into Ebon City: Crossroads. I plan to post the rebooted sample chapters in a month or two, and hopefully, within the next six months, I'll start recruiting beta readers to review my rebooted manuscript.

I'm also going have my publisher Xlibris "retire" my original novel and remove it from publication, but previously printed copies will still float around on Amazon and eBay. When Crossroads is ready for publication, I plan to publish it through CreateSpace and IngramSparks. These self-publishing sites are vastly cheaper (CreateSpace is straight-up free) and I'll receive higher royalties.

Illustration by Chandra Pandhita.
Title Logo updated by John Nugroho.
Commissioned by Leo Featherstone © 2013.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Figuring Out Your Genre: Not a Romance?

I'm attending the Imaginarium convention in Louisville, KY, and earlier today, I went to a panel on paranormal romance. During the panel discussion, I was advised that, because of certain characteristics of my Ebon City series, my genre is not actually romance. Individual novels in my series could be labeled romance novels by themselves, but the series as a whole doesn't fit the criteria for romance, because certain novels I have planned will either focus on plots that don't revolve around romance, or they will focus on romance but break the conventions of the romance genre that were described to me today. My series would more accurately be described as an urban fantasy series that just has elements of romance in it. Go figure.

I'm actually a little bummed out by this. I know the romance genre gets a lot of flack, but it's a genre I really love. Unfortunately, the panelists I listened to today indicated that each genre comes with certain expectations, and if you label yourself a particular genre writer, and then break the expectations of that genre, it can turn your reader base against you. So from this point on, I will refrain from labeling myself a romance writer. If you wish to pursue a writing career and are interested in a particular genre, be sure to find out what the expectations of that genre are before you start identifying yourself with that genre.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

BIG DECISION! "Ebon City: Crossroads"

I’ve been working on the revised edition of Ebon City: Death and the Maiden for a while now, and I’ve grown very dissatisfied with the plot’s framework. When I first started writing Death and the Maiden, I didn’t plan to pursue writing seriously. These novels were initially just going to be a “hobby” while I looked for a “real job.” Now things have changed, and I plan to pursue writing and illustration as a serious career path. But I didn’t write Death and the Maiden with the serious mindset one needs to tell a good original story.

The first draft of Death and the Maiden was written for my own enjoyment, and the components that were most important to me were the characters and the setting. I had been dreaming up these characters and this world ever since I was a teenager (ugh, now I feel old), and I didn’t really care what happened in the story. Because of this, I slap-dashed my way through the plot and relied way too heavily on overused vampire literary tropes.

As a side note, the website TV Tropes will ruin your life!

The more I worked on the revised edition, the more these worn-out clichés bothered me. I’ve been getting a lot of interesting ideas lately to change the framework of Death and the Maiden. These ideas would undo some of the clichés in my novel (not all of them, but some), and introduce new exciting story elements. Or at least they’re exciting to me.

I know some of my readers are going to enter the world of Ebon City through the first edition of Death and the Maiden, and having two versions floating around will probably confuse these readers. So I've decided to give the revised edition a different title, so readers will recognize the difference between the non-canonical Death and the Maiden, and the revised canonical edition, Ebon City: Crossroads.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Back to the Grindstone

School year came to an end last month, and unless my advisor was mistaken about my math requirement, my application to graduate should go through. So I'm back to editing my first novel, Ebon City: Death and the Maiden.

I'm starting with the first chapter once again and working my way through, making a few changes here and there, some changes minor and others not so minor. When I left off two years back, I had pretty much finished Chapters 1 through 8, so I should breeze through those fairly quickly, but I still have a lot of work to do on Chapters 9 through 13. Originally, I was going to try and maintain the same universe as the first editions of the novel, that way people who read the original editions wouldn't be confused by inconsistencies when they started the second book, Ebon City: Bloodline. I've since decided to tweak a few things with my novel's mythology. For example, the vampire powers have been redistributed among the generational hierarchy (e.g. Third Scions can now conjure ice) and the vampire terminology was tweaked (e.g. Initiators are now called Anointers).

I'm going to release the first few revised chapters of Death and the Maiden over the next three months (one chapter a month), though I'm still trying to figure out how to do that in a way that doesn't look cumbersome. When I copy and paste a whole chapter into my blog, the subsequent blog entry is so long, I worry some readers may find it too much to take in and skip the blog entry. I'm thinking I may divide each chapter up into multiple sections and release each section a week apart instead. However I handle it, expect the first chapter or first section of Chapter 1 in the next few days.

Happy Summer, everyone!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Art School Progress

I haven't posted in quite a while, but I have some treats for you guys. As I mentioned in my previous blog entries, I'm currently earning a BFA in studio art with a concentration in illustration and graphic design. I'm in my last semester, and will be graduating this May. I wanted to share some of the digital art pieces I've done, which were featured in my BFA exhibition last semester. The first one is a finalized version of my sketch of Ezekiel from an earlier post. Here's the original sketch.

Illustration by Leo Featherstone © 2015.

I was planning on finishing this piece in a painterly style, but due to time constraints, I could only do it in a cartoon style. Still, I think my cartoon style has improved since I started out, and I do like this piece . . . although I'm now noticing that the buttons on Ezekiel's jacket need to be lowered slightly.

Illustration by Leo Featherstone © 2015.

I did manage to finish five very nice painterly style digital art pieces, two of which are illustrations of my main characters Ezekiel and Angela, shown below. I'm debating on whether or not to feature the other three on this blog, because they reveal plot ideas I have for future novels. If you really wanted to see them, you can check them out in my deviantart.com portfolio. I don't think they'll spoil any major plot lines.

The class assignment for this next poster was to create a theatre add, which fit greatly with Ezekiel, because he's an opera singer in my novels.

Illustration by Leo Featherstone © 2016.

The assignment for this next poster was to create a surreal or dreamlike illustration. I decided it was a good opportunity to conceptualize Angela using her fire magic. I haven't yet decided if the gown and cloak she's wearing is a personal style choice as a solitary practitioner, or the official ceremonial garb of her coven.

Illustration by Leo Featherstone © 2016.

Hope you all liked these art pieces. Now that I'm in the homestretch in my art program, I'm looking forward to getting back to my novels, and starting up my freelance illustration business.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Art School and Writing Update

I wish I could say that my rewrites have progressed significantly since my last update, but they haven't. I really wanted to finish revising Book 1 of Ebon City last summer, but I was sidetracked with personal issues. Then classes started up again, and I just couldn't find the time or energy between class projects to focus on writing. I managed to get about twenty pages rewritten and proofed by my editor, but twenty pages over a five-month period is pretty disappointing.

On a happy note, I'm making good use of my art classes. As seen in my previous posts, I've done a couple of character designs for the second book in the Ebon City series, and for my final project in Intermediate Illustration, I'm going to do a digital painting of my main character Ezekiel. Here's the initial sketch for the painting.

Illustration by Leo Featherstone © 2015.

Digitally painting this piece is going to be tricky because I've only ever used photoshop and a tablet to do cartoony illustrations, never paint before. It's my hope that one day I'll have the skills necessary to illustrate my own book covers, and maybe even do interior illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. I had to commission other artists to do the book cover illustrations for the first and second books of Ebon City, because the cartoon style I'm used to just doesn't work with the tone of my books. I really want to nail down the skills necessary to illustrate in multiple styles, not just for my own series, but so I can be a professional illustrator for other authors.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Character Spotlight: NICOLAS

Another character who will be introduced in the second book of Ebon City. This was my second project for my illustration course this semester.

Nicolas (Comte Nicolas Corin Montagu)

Most vampires are young and beautiful, but Nicolas is one of the few revenants “unlucky” enough to be turned in his elder years. He must now walk the earth forevermore as a seventy-year-old man, retaining all the aches and pains he suffered in life. It’s difficult to enjoy eternity without eternal youth, but rather than wallow in his perceived weakness, this grandfatherly vampire makes the most of his immortality, carrying himself with the same charm, grace, and seduction as his more youthful brethren.

Character Design by Leo Featherstone © 2015.

Traditional Evening Attire:

-Black tailcoat with silk lapels
-Black high-waisted trousers with silk stripes on sides of pant-legs
-Black opera pumps with grosgrain bows
-White marcella shirt with wing-collar
-White marcella waistcoat
-White marcella bow tie
-White kidskin gloves
-Black silk top hat
-Black cashmere opera cape with red (traditionally white) silk lining

Additional Outfits:

-Three-piece single-breasted suits (#1 and #3)
-Two-piece double-breasted suits (#2)
-Bowler hat (#1)
-Fedora (#2)
-Spat shoes (#4)

Additional Notes:

As a vampire, Nicolas has fangs, pointed ears (usually hidden with his hair), claws, hairy hands and feet, and a small vestigial tail. When he becomes excited, his skin turns white, and his eyes turn red. When he’s angry, the same occurs, but his pupils also thin into snakelike slits.