Tim Frankovich

Writer's Blog & Home of Warpsteel Press

Dinosaurs: Stories in Stone

Since I was old enough to have small toys I wouldn’t eat, I’ve loved dinosaurs. Before Star Wars, before GI Joe, I had dinosaur toys. In fact, one of the greatest presents I received as a child was this playset:

(Side note: this set is now going for $200 on eBay! Why couldn’t my 5-year-old self take better care of it?)

My earliest source for information and understanding of dinosaurs was this book:

(The height of scientific understanding!)

This book has a copyright of 1959 (but it’s the 1975 edition!), so you know it’s super-modern with all the latest discoveries and stuff! Until I was able to read for myself, I bugged my parents into reading it to me over and over.

But there was one entry in the book that I wanted to hear more often. And once I could read on my own, I always turned to the pages with the entry on Tyrannosaurus rex. Why? Because, unlike the rest of the book that contained detailed (and today laughable) scientific information, the T-rex entry contained a STORY. It wasn’t much of a story, but it featured a battle that captured my imagination: Tyrannosaurus rex versus Triceratops!

(Behold the dynamic dinosaurs!)

Do a Google image search for “tyrannosaurs and triceratops” and you’ll find this titanic struggle illustrated dozens, if not hundreds of times. It’s been done in art, movies, and stories since we first discovered these two iconic creatures. Why? Paleontologists would suggest it’s because t-rex is the apex predator and triceratops represents the ultimate defense, or something like that. But let’s be honest: it’s because it’s cool. Teeth versus horns. Vicious carnivore versus noble herbivore.

All of this to lead up to this weekend, when a friend on Facebook shared this article: World’s first 100% complete T-rex skeleton found locked in battle with a triceratops.

For a dinosaur nerd like me, this is awesome. It really happened! I’m so excited!

For a storyteller like me, this is awesome. This is a story, captured in stone. Monsters once walked our planet, and engaged in mighty combat that shook the earth around them. It spurs the imagination in all sorts of ways.

Dinosaurs were my first monsters. Before dragons or anything else, I imagined stories about dinosaurs.

I’ve always wanted to write about dinosaurs. They show up in almost all of my early attempts at fantasy novels (many of them talking!). I have a long-range plan to bring them into another book series in a few years.

For now, my boyhood imagination is very happy. My adult imagination is just as pleased. Tyrannosaurus versus Triceratops. The battle of epochs.

NaNoWriMo update: I’ve written an average of 1786 words per day for November. I’m almost at 40,000 for the month, right on track to finish 50k. Until All the Gods Return is approaching the halfway mark. Keep track with the widget to the right.

The Fractured Void Review

Outside of reading and writing, my favorite pastime is tabletop board games. And my favorite game is Twilight Imperium. It’s a massive epic of negotiation, trade, politics, and space ships shooting at each other. A four player game will probably last five hours minimum. A six player game can go all day (or night)… Some people complain about this. I see it as a feature.

Why? Because like all my favorite games, Twilight Imperium tells a story. And when we’re loving a story, we don’t want it to end.

Recently, Fantasy Flight Games, creators of Twilight Imperium (and many, many other games), started a new push to expand their own brands. They do a lot of licensed material with Star Wars and Marvel, etc., but some of their best stuff comes from these universes they’ve invented on their own. Like Twilight Imperium. So they’ve been launching new expansions to the games, working on role-playing modules set in those universes, and even commissioning novels.

Licensed novels written about an existing universe are nothing new. You can easily find dozens of novels based on Star Trek, Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and just about any other fantasy or science fiction property you’ve heard of. Novels based on Twilight Imperium are interesting, though, in that there are no movies, TV shows, or cartoons in existence already (but we can hope).

The game itself is chock-full of lore (or world-building, or whatever you wish to call it). Players choose between seventeen different alien civilizations to start a game (seven more in the expansion). Each one of those civilizations has various in-game special abilities, starting units, and so on, but on the flip side of those large game placards is an extensive history of that civilization.

Consequently, when FFG hired Hugo-award-winning novelist Tim Pratt to write the first novel in the Twilight Imperium universe, he had a lot to work with. So… how did he do?

The Fractured Void is a space opera (it even says so on the cover!). In other words, it’s closer to Star Wars than Star Trek. Less “if we reverse the polarity on the tachyon beams…” and more “fire everything!” In other words, not a lot of really detailed explanation of the “science” in the science fiction. And that’s just fine.

It’s a fast-paced adventure that pauses every so often for a bit of an info dump. Those info dumps, while somewhat necessary, are sometimes delivered a little bit too blatantly. “Well, I did hear from a cousin’s friend once that…” On the other hand, for fans of the game itself, those info dumps are some of the most entertaining bits, because we get to read more about these alien civilizations that we enjoy playing in the game.

The story includes all sorts of space hijinks, like you might expect. Prison breaks, heists, and so on. There’s surprisingly very little actual space combat (which could also be said for the game itself). The plot line consists of a lot of “Oh, we need to rush over here for this reason,” and “Oh, wait, now we must rush to this place for this other reason.” Yeah, you’ve seen it in the Star Wars movies and similar fiction.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just… all right. The most enjoyment I got from it was comparing it with what I know of Twilight Imperium. For anyone who’s never played the game, it would be… all right, I guess. 

My biggest nitpick is one I have with a lot of modern speculative fiction: why would people (aliens, for the most part) in a distant galaxy or our galaxy thousands and thousands of years in the future… use the exact same curse words we do today? It makes no logical sense and yanks me out of the story every single time. It’s a pet peeve. Maybe it won’t bother you. In addition, a common trope used with the primary antagonist was a bit annoying.

My biggest thrill was seeing how the finale of the novel ties in with the story of the new expansion to the game, Prophecy of Kings. Yep, I’m a nerd.

SALE!!

I was going to wait until Black Friday time, but… why should I?

Until All Curses Are Lifted, the first book in the Heart of Fire series, is now on sale for only $.99! That’s right. Less than a dollar to get hundreds of pages of epic fantasy!

What are you waiting for? Go check it out!

My Credo

Reminder…

VIRIDIA IS NOW AVAILABLE

Today is LAUNCH DAY for Viridia, the first book in a new series, Dragontek Lore! The ebook is now available on Amazon. The paperback AND hardback versions are available from Barnes & Noble and other sites. (Amazon paperback/hardback versions should be available in a day or two; you can preorder them.)

This series is accessible to all ages, but it’s primarily aimed at teen readers. Much shorter than my other books, fast-paced, lots of action. Give it a try!

For more information, check out the book page. You can read the first four chapters and order it from various outlets.

Read Chapter Four of Viridia

Only five days until release! While you’re waiting, here’s chapter four of Viridia. Shaken by his interrogation, Beryl confronts Rick… which leads to another confrontation…

Why start a new series?

With the upcoming arrival of Viridia, I will have two book series going on simultaneously. Readers might naturally wonder about that. What is wrong with this guy? Does he have no commitment? Will he ever actually finish anything? To explain, I need to get into some details about the reality of being an independent author, as well as some thoughts about the writing process.

First, as an independent author, I have to work extremely hard just to try to get noticed by readers. There is a ton of competition out there, and it’s very easy to be completely overlooked. Because of questions of quality control, editing and so forth, many readers have become very picky about the authors they choose to read. If an author only has one or two books out, they’re more likely to be ignored. But if an author has a lot of books out, it gives readers the idea that if they give this author a chance with one book, they’ll gain a lot of reading enjoyment. As such, many independent authors work hard to get a large number of books published as rapidly as they can.

Viridia was already written several years ago. I had to do some rewriting, editing, and proofing, but the primary work was already done. Getting it together after the publication of Until All Bonds Are Broken wasn’t that big a deal. And by doing so, I get a third book out faster and start to look more like a serious author.

Viridia also may serve to expand my audience. It’s a very different type of book. Whereas the Heart of Fire series is epic fantasy on a large scale, Viridia (and its eventual sequels, the Dragontek Lore series) is fast-paced young adult science fantasy. Many readers will be able to enjoy both, but some will only enjoy one or the other.

Second, it’s hard work to write epic fantasy. My brain needs a break from it every so often. Viridia‘s style is much easier to write (but not simplistic!). This both gives my brain a rest from one type of work, and stretches it in a different direction, improving my overall skill.

So the plan going forward is to alternate books in each series as I continue both. I’m writing the third Heart of Fire book now, Until All the Gods Return. When it’s complete, and while I’m editing/proofing it, I’ll start in on the sequel to Viridia (currently titled Incarnadine). Once that’s done, I’ll shift back to the final Heart of Fire book. After the third Dragontek Lore book… we’ll see. I have many, many book ideas. I hope you stick around to see them!

COVER REVEAL & Pre-orders!

Viridia awaits… but not for long! Coming October 7! Pre-orders are NOW AVAILABLE. (Cover artist: Austin DeGroot)

When Beryl uses his cybernetic implant to help a mysterious refugee escape the police, he finds himself leading a revolution.

Fueled by hatred of Viridia, the green dragon, and hunted by the draconic head of the police, Beryl and his friends conceive an audacious plan:

Kill all six of the immortal dragons who have ruled over humanity for a thousand years.

But killing even one dragon is impossible. Even if they succeed, thousands could die in retribution. 

Will Beryl’s hatred and rage be enough to overcome the odds? Or will it take something more?

Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K8G7KV6

Chapter Three of Viridia now available

You know the drill by now. Chapter Three is up and ready for you!

Beryl is taken to meet Troilus Green… who is not a nice person at all. (But possibly my favorite antagonist I’ve created.)

Viridia, book one in the Dragontek Lore series, releases October 7. Come back on Monday for the cover reveal!

Read Chapter Two of Viridia!

Viridia, book one of the Dragontek Lore series, launches October 7. You can now read chapter two right here. Beryl’s refugee friend explains himself, but may not be doing as well as he looked.

If you missed chapter one, read it first!

As always, the mailing list gets this stuff first. Later this week, they’ll get chapter three AND the first look at the cover! What are you waiting for? Join the list!

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