Tim Frankovich

Writer's Blog & Home of Warpsteel Press

Author: Tim Frankovich Page 3 of 5

What It’s About

After the cover reveal yesterday, the number one question I received was: “What is the book about?” (And also: “When can I get one?” – answer: Very Soon.)

Until All Curses Are Lifted is a fantasy novel. If you’re a current fantasy reader, it’s easiest to compare with Brandon Sanderson’s work. If you’re not a current fantasy reader, then, uh… Lord of the Rings. It’s like The Lord of the Rings. 🙂

The back cover copy tells a little, but here’s a slightly longer version:

In the realm of Antises, the moral laws are enforced by magic. If you steal, assault, rape, murder, etc., then you immediately face the consequences with a curse. But when this system was created, the lords of the land exempted themselves. Instead, the curses for their actions fall on their children.

Marshal is one of those children. Cursed since birth because of his father’s sins, he lives an outcast’s life with his mother. But then his half-brother shows up with news: as the oldest son of the lord, Marshal will inherit the lord’s vast magical power. His half-brother wants that power for himself and will do anything to get it. He sends a terrifying assassin to kill Marshal and his mother, who flee for their lives. Their only hope is to find a way to lift Marshal’s curse.

But curses do not change. No one has ever escaped from one. No one.

At the same time, a young woman named Seri arrives on the island home of the Conclave of Mages. Her dream is to become one of the Master Mages, the first woman to do so. Yet even as she arrives, a violent earthquake shakes the island. The magic that holds the world together is weakening. No one is entirely sure why.

As Seri begins her training, a shocking murder disturbs things further. Someone is killing the Masters. And the ground shakes again.

Seri discovers a unique ability that helps her uncover more about both mysteries than she ever dreamed. But she’s powerless to change things.

Both Marshal and Seri are unaware of other powers that are observing them, and the way in which all these problems are connected.

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Cover Reveal

Here it is! The final cover for Until All Curses Are Lifted!

More importantly, the book will be available next month!! (Exact date still being finalized.) Stay tuned!

In the meantime, just look at this awesome cover. Just look at it!!

The cover was designed by Rofiatul Adawiyah, and I’m absolutely thrilled by it.

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Publication Update

All of this NON-writing part of being a writer is making my head spin at times. I keep discovering even MORE new things I have to do in preparation for publication. (At least, if I want it to go right…)

So here’s what is happening right now:

  1. The cover is finalized. It looks fantastic! I’m trying to decide the exact day at which I’ll reveal it. Ideally, it would be when pre-orders are available, but I’m not sure I can wait.
  2. Starting up a mailing list very soon™. It will include a free short story download.
  3. An artist is working on my map page.
  4. I’m finalizing the interior layout & design.

Finally, I’m looking for reviewers. So if you have a blog or review site (or you’re just a famous writer yourself!) and are interested in epic fantasy, let me know!

And then there’s my regular job, and trying to find time to write on the next book, and maybe getting a little exercise, and…

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The Business of Being a Writer

Who knew?

When I dreamed of being a published author, I always imagined sitting at a keyboard, pouring out stories, then sending them away, sitting back and relaxing. (I also imagined money, but that’s another topic.) The truth is somewhat… no, greatly different.

Because I’ve chosen to handle publishing myself (for which there are many reasons I will outline more thoroughly someday), the business side of publication is huge. In order to have any hope of success when my book launches, I have to learn all about websites, social media advertising, Kindle Direct, Ingram Spark, ISBN numbers, mailing lists, imprints, and so very, very much more.

A couple days ago, I had to learn about SSL – Secure Sockets Layers. (It’s a website security thing.) I just want to tell stories! Why do I have to know about SSL and SEO and ISBN and all these other acronyms?

Because in order to successfully sell my stories, I have to sell much more. I have to sell myself AS a writer. I have to run my own business, and everything involved in that. It’s unfortunate, but true. Even those who publish through traditional publishers will often find that they have to do a lot more than they were expecting, in order to help market their products.

It’s frustrating, confusing, and… exciting. Publication is getting closer and closer. And while I have to jump over hurdle after hurdle to get there, I believe the end result will be worth it.

Thanks to all of you who are taking this journey with me. I’m thrilled that in the next week or two, I will be able to reveal my book’s cover to you. And then… then things will really get interesting.

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Pardon the Virtual Dust

I’m in the process of updating this website, switching the host, and a lot of other boring technical stuff. I apologize for any weirdness along the way.

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What did you DO?

You may have occasionally heard writers talking about their characters surprising them. Or that their characters did stuff they weren’t expecting, or weren’t supposed to do. To the average person, this may sound insane. I thought it sounded insane too, until it happened to me. But let me walk you through the process and maybe it will make a little more sense.

A few days ago, I was writing the second chapter of my new work in progress. My female protagonist, Seri, ran into a very bad situation. As I began writing the scene, I had only a vague idea of how it should proceed. I knew that this event had to happen, and I knew that there would have to be consequences. But the details of it, especially the parts involving magic, had not fully formed in my mind yet.

Side note: this is why I can’t really define myself as a plotter or a pantser (seat-of-the-pants writer). I do both. I had plotted this scene, but left the actual details to come out when I was writing, which is exactly what happened.

As I wrote, I developed the details. Based on the rules of magic I have established for this world, I reasoned out the exact way the scene should play out. Halfway through, I realized this would also serve to reveal some huge details about the full nature of magic in this world. That’s cool. Moving right along.

Seri is faced with this situation. She can let it go now, or… oh. You see, as a writer, I’ve fully developed Seri’s personality, motivations, and so on, over the course of the previous 130,000 words. Anything she does now should follow logically from what’s been established. And clearly, based on all that, she would not let this go.

Knowing this in my brain, I continued writing, just following what would logically play out, based on Seri’s personality, and the rules of this world I’ve established. Her actions had consequences. When the scene was all over, I sat back and whispered, “Oh, Seri. What did you DO?”

This changes her entire character arc for the book. It alters some major scenes I had planned later on. And it gives me something entirely new to develop when she meets certain other characters.

I could have chosen not to write this chapter that way. I could have kept her from taking this action. It would have been easy. But it would have contradicted either her character or the world’s rules. And readers would have noticed.

This is what I mean when I say a character surprised me. Logically, it’s not a surprise. It makes perfect sense. But I did not see it coming. I guess that’s more of an author’s blind spot than anything else, maybe? At any rate, it certainly makes writing interesting.

In other news, the publication road continues. Yesterday, I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors. This is another (important) step on the road. The resources and advice this group provides are immensely helpful. Check them out!

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Things Are Happening

I have officially completed the final proofread of Until All Curses Are Lifted. The manuscript itself is as finished as it will ever be (unless a beta reader suddenly brings up a major plot problem or something).

So what’s next? Well, as I mentioned previously, I’m looking for a cover design. But that’s only part of it. Self-Publishing is basically launching a small business. I have a lot of other details to work out. It’s also not cheap, if done right.

In the meantime, I’ve officially started on the second book in the series, Until All Bonds are Broken!
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Here we go. I’m committed to this process. Let’s see where it takes us.

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Quote for the Day

“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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Writing Update

I’m at a very slow stage in the writing. I’ve completed all the revisions and editing that I mapped out, and sent the new manuscript off to a final beta reader. I’ve also printed out a new

copy and am going through it word-by-word, doing a final polish.
My next step will be commissioning a cover. I’m considering several options for this, but am open to hearing about other possibilities, if anyone has suggestions.

After that, we’re looking toward actual publication, probably using both IngramSpark and Amazon KDP Print. This is very exciting, but also intimidating. There is a lot of work to be done in the background.
I’ll blog more when I have something more to say, review, etc.

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The Hero of Destiny heeds the Call to Adventure (a tabletop game review)

My life truly began the day I took my vows as a squire. I worked hard, and my bravery was noted by all those around me. When the invaders came, I stood alone to defend my homestead. This act of valor won the loyalty of my bitterest rival, who from that day on followed me. He became my sidekick, if you will.

I knew, long before anyone else, that my destiny would be a great one. For I was pure of heart, enlightened even, resisting the darkness wherever I found it. That darkness is everywhere, even within corrupt officials who tried to frame me out of jealousy. I resisted their arrest and fled into the wilderness, where I encountered the monstrous wolf that had tormented our region for years.

After slaying the beast, I returned in triumph to my home, wearing the wolf’s pelt as my trophy. In time, I became a leader of men, charging into battle ahead of them all.

And then the Warlord came, with his dark forces, his innumerable minions swarming across our land. In my darkest moment, I saw our king slain and I resorted to the only means I saw of obtaining victory. I sacrificed my own troops in battle so that I could get close enough to the Warlord himself. We dueled at the very gates of the city, back and forth for over an hour as the battle stilled about us. 

I emerged victorious, slaying the man who had wreaked such havoc across our land. As his dispirited armies fled, I took my place in the palace and claimed the crown. For was I not… the Hero of Destiny?

IMG_1788.jpegThis is but one of thousands of possible stories you can create with the game Call to Adventure. It’s a simple game, but full of excitement and delight. As in the story above, you can soar to the heights of glory as a Hero of Destiny, or be driven to despair as you take the dark path of the anti-hero, perhaps even becoming a Cunning Villain yourself. Or weave a course somewhere in between.

At the beginning of the game, you choose three base cards for your story: your Origin, your Motivation, and your final Destiny. You are dealt two of each of these, so you can choose which you would like to pursue, and find interesting combos. For example, for Origin, you might be dealt Acolyte and Hunter; for Motivation, you might choose between Bound by Honor or Lone Wanderer; and your Destiny could be Paragon of Light or Hand of Vengeance. Which will you choose? That’s entirely up to you. You could note that the Hunter Origin works well with Hand of Vengeance in mechanics and will help you pursue a points victory. Or you might just decide that Bound by Honor makes so much sense, story-wise, to become a Paragon of Light, regardless of the whole “points” thing.

Because that’s part of the beauty of this game. Yes, you can “win the game” by scoring more points than your opponents. Points are awarded based on triumph and tragedy cards, experience, hero or anti-hero cards, and icon set collections. It’s fairly easy to rack up a good score, especially if you’re actively trying. For players who are all about exploiting card combinations and winning at any cost, the game may fall a little short.
But for those who are playing for the experience, the game is brilliant. Winning is desirable, but secondary to the goal of pursuing an intriguing story.

To create your story, you choose from a tableau of cards arranged in front of the players. These cards consist of either Traits or Challenges. Traits are fairly easy to obtain, but are usually based on abilities you already possess. Those abilities are also what you will use to conquer the Challenges. Dungeons & Dragons players will immediately recognize the abilities – strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence & charisma. Taking on a Challenge to Prepare for War, for example, would require strength and/or dexterity. Dealing with an attacker in a Street Fight, could require constitution and/or charisma (because you might talk your way out instead of just brawling). 

(I won’t get into all the details of the mechanics. You can find those in other reviews, videos, and the updated rulebook available as a download. The original rulebook, sadly, does leave something to be desired.)

In addition to the base game, you can also play solo versus a specific Adversary card, or even team up in cooperation against an Adversary. I’ve tried both, and while I enjoy the solo play, I much prefer the competitive over cooperative for multiplayer.

My gaming group is very eclectic in what kind of games they like. If you map each of us on the Board Games Motivation Profile, we are all very different. It’s amazing we can find games that we all enjoy, more or less. So far, Call to Adventure is one of those games. In the times we’ve played so far, I haven’t heard a single complaint about any aspect of the game. That’s about the highest praise this group can offer. That, and the fact that two of them want their own copies now, since mine won’t always be there for them.

Every game has been different so far. I do, however, concede that eventually I may get too used to these cards and it might get a little old. Fortunately, that seems to be in the distant future right now. Two expansions are on the way. One is based on Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, and the other on Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. These will add many new cards and mechanics based on the specific storylines, magic systems, and so on of those books. While I’m excited to see what those have to offer, I must confess that after playing the game, I would actually be happier to have more “generic” cards like those in the base game. These cards are filled with fantasy tropes that are highly familiar to those of us who have read Tolkien, Jordan, and so many more, or have played other fantasy-style games, whether RPGs or tabletop. I would love to have even more of them.

As a writer myself, I love to compare the interplay of these various tropes, watching how the combine and gaining new ideas myself for future stories. It’s educational about the art of storytelling, even while it’s fun!

Maybe this is not the kind of game that appeals to you. It doesn’t have a ton of strategy. It’s definitely no Twilight Imperium (one of my favorite games of all time). But in this case, story/theme trumps strategy for me. I love it. And I can’t wait to play again.

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