The feedback from the test readers on The Lost Book of Anggird is in, and it's awesome. Lots of love for the book, and also some good suggestions for making it even better. So I'm mulling all that over, and in the meantime I'm going full-in on finishing up revisions on Chosen of Azara and getting it ready for release in June.
Chosen of Azara is set in a world that I started making up years ago. I don't remember how long ago, and I don't think Chosen is even the first story I set in that world. "A Cure for Nel," one of the stories in the collection of the same name, is set in the same world, as are the two longer short stories I wrote in March and some other unfinished novels/story fragments.
I do remember how I started developing this world. I was bored one day, so I bought a box of crayons, the box with 64 different colors and a built-in sharpener. You can buy boxes with even more colors than that now, but at the time that was the deluxe box. Then I got out a big piece of cheap kid's drawing paper and started drawing this landmass. I wanted it to have deserts and hills and mountains and rivers and swampy areas and a large inland sea and all kinds of cool stuff. Mostly, I designed it around Sources, which I imagined as natural features that served as sources of magical power. A Source can be a hill or mountain, a cave, a place where two rivers flow together, a water spout or rocky ocean cove, an ancient tree, a spring or lake, a fjord, or any other kind of distinctive natural feature.
And I named it SourceWorld. Which is descriptive, but not very organic - that is, it doesn't sound like something that the people living there would naturally call it. It's an externally-imposed name. So I got out my word-making-up-fu (checked the word-origins section of my huge old American Heritage dictionary and mixed some stuff from that together with some names I came up with on a fantasy name generator) and ta-daa, Estelend was born.
The idea with magic in Estelend is that naturally-occuring heavenly and earthly magical powers are combined and flow through the Sources. Where the Source is, what kind of natural feature it's located in, and what sort of people gravitate to that Source all affect the kind of power it is, good, not so good, useful for healing or prophecy or other stuff, and so on. Certain people are born with an ability to take in Source-power and use it. Other people who aren't born with the ability can have it forced into them. A very few people are born perfectly attuned to the power of a certain Source, and their lives depend on having constant access to power from that Source. Bringing together a person and a Source that are incompatible, or committing certain acts within a Source (such as bloodshed) can taint or even destroy the Source.
So I started marking in the Sources, and the countries, and figuring out allies and enemies and the different characteristics of the people and places on this huge continent, and how the magic works, and stories started to grow. I don't know if you can really call them a series, since they are all stand-alone, with different characters in different places, but they definitely go together. Chosen of Azara was posted on an old website I had for many years, and now I'm excited to be able to write and share more of the stories that my world of Estelend has given birth to. (Kanyev the Source-Fixer has been waiting impatiently for his day in the sun for a long time now. I promise, buddy, your time is coming.)
There's a quick introduction to the world of Chosen of Azara, "A Cure for Nel," the tales of Haveshi Yellowcrow and Latan the Scholar, and more. Oh, and if you have a fantasy world, you have to have a map, and here it is. This is an improved drawing I did based on the original, and doctored up in the image editing program I had two computers ago. I don't seem to have the dingbat any more that I was using to mark cities, so as I add more cities I guess I'll have to find something else to mark them with. But that's ok. Better to have a world that continues to grow and develop than to have it become static for lack of a dingbat.
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