Urdaisunia Book Extras #2
Here's another sneak peek at Urdainsunia, the map. This will also be included in the book, but it's fun to have it online too. It's not the best map ever; as I've said, I'm an independent author with no production budget other than what I spent to license the cover illustration, so I can't afford to pay someone who actually knows how to draw to do a map for me. But, all things considered, I don't think it turned out too bad.
Urdaisunia Book Extras #1
The first of the Urdaisunia book extras is now posted, the Cast of Characters. (This list will also be included in the ebook and print editions.)
In books with more than a few characters, I always appreciated having a who's who to refer to, especially if there are complicated family relationships, which Urdaisunia has. Also lots of gods - you'll notice on the list, I've separated out the gods who actually make an appearance or are mentioned by name from all the others. There are a lot more from the list I could have mentioned by name in the novel, but I figure the twenty or so I already have are enough to keep track of. The rest are included because you can tell a lot about a culture by the gods it worships, plus I put a lot of work into making up this list. A lot of the names and gods are either taken more or less directly from Sumerian mythology, or heavily inspired by it. (The Sumerian influences on Urdaisunia are another topic for another blog post.)
Enjoy this extra sneak peek into the world and people of Urdaisunia!
I'm pleased to report that I finished the copyedits of Urdaisunia today, a whole week ahead of schedule! I'm feeling a little more confident about a mid-February release date, though it might be a little optimistic to think I can do the proofread and the ebook building by then. This week I'll work on the map and the Who's Who; watch for those to be posted here on my site too.
The big revision pass on The Lost Book of Anggird is nearly done, too. I'm shooting for Thursday or Friday of next week, and in the meantime I'll be rounding up some test readers for it.
What else is going on? I mentioned the Daughter of the Wildings series as being a future project. It actually isn't all that future--Book 1 is already a complete first draft, and I'm planning Book 2 and just about ready to write it. Since I hate it when the next book in a series takes forever to come out and also when the author seems to lose their way in the middle of the series, my plan with Daughter of the Wildings is to have all five books in first draft before I get into revisions and start releasing them. That way I can keep the whole storyline and continuity under control, and readers can begin reading the series knowing that it's complete.
Also, I forgot to mention last time that I'm also planning paperback editions of my books. So if you prefer paper over ebooks, you won't be left out.
Finally, I signed up on Spotify, and learned they have a feature where you can put a Spotify playlist on your blog or website. So, yay, playlists! I get a lot of inspiration from music as I write, and thought it would be fun to share some of the music that goes with my stories. You can enjoy them without listening to the playlists, of course, but if you want some mood music to go with the reading, or to get a feel for the mood of the book, you can check out the playlist. So watch for that, too.
Where are the books?
OK, so I have an author website, an author Facebook page, and pictures and descriptions of my books. So where are the books?
Right now, here's where things are on my writing/production schedule:
Urdaisunia is the first book scheduled for release. Right now I'm typing in copyedits. When this is done (early next week), I'll let the manuscript rest for a few days while I work on the book extras--the Who's Who and the map. After that comes the final proofreading, and then the formatting and conversion into ebooks. There are a number of ways this can be done, from running a Word file through a converter (results not guaranteed to be of good quality) to paying a conversion service to convert your file (better results but costs money). Being an independent author with zero production budget (what budget I did have, I used to license that wonderful cover illustration from Dreamstime) and the desire to give my readers the best ebook possible, plus also being slightly out of my mind, my plan is to do the coding and conversion by hand, as per The eBook Design and Development Guide by Paul Salvette. The book's author provides copy-and-paste code on his website, which (hopefully) will make the process faster and easier. I'm planning a couple of days to get the whole thing done; it should go faster on subsequent books, once I know what I'm doing and have my boilerplate all set up.
Once the book is ready, I'll get my accounts set up at the various stores (if I haven't done so earlier), then hit the upload button. And, ta-da! Books for sale! Though it may take a few days for them to start to actually appear as buyable items on the sites.
So, all told, I'm looking at about mid-February for the release of Urdaisunia.
The next book up for release is Chosen of Azara. I had this posted on my old website for years, and I'm pretty happy with it. I'm still going to run it through Holly LIsle's How To Revise Your Novel process, just as a quality check, but it shouldn't need too much work. This will be followed by the copyedit, proofreading, getting the map ready, formatting, conversion, and upload. I'm hoping for a May release.
The third book in the lineup is The Lost Book of Anggird. I thought this one wouldn't need much work, because I've already revised it about elebenty-seven times, but I started taking it through one last revision, using the How To Revise Your Novel process, and found a number of serious problems. So it needs a lot of work, plus it's a much longer book than the others. I'm almost done with the major revision pass, then it'll go out to test readers for six weeks, then another revision pass based on the feedback from the test readers, followed by line editing, copy editing, proofreading, etc. I want to say about a September release, but that might be a bit optimistic.
I'd also love to get Sarya's Song out this year, but I'll have to see how it goes with these first three books. There's a big learning curve to this whole self-publishing thing, especially if you aim to put out the highest-quality product possible, and I'm learning as I go. Both my writing work schedule and my publishing work schedule are still in flux as I learn how to distribute my time and do all the different tasks involved. I don't want to over-promise and leave whatever readers I may have disappointed, but I also don't want to allow myself too much slack, or else I'll just lollygag along and never get anything done.
Once these four books are out, I'll focus on the Daughter of the Wildings series, which is a very cool project that I'm very excited about. And you should see my inventory list of finished drafts, partially-finished drafts, story fragments I want to write, and ideas, all lined up and waiting to be written and released into the world!
Why a Desert?
So, why does a fantasy writer have a photo of a desert as the header image on her blog? (Gorgeous photo, isn't it? It's of Wadi Rum, or the Valley of the Moon, in Jordan. The photographer, whose work can be seen at stock.xchng, has taken photos of deserts all over the world.) [Update: since replaced with a new picture, but still of the desert.] Where's the enchanted forest, the elves and dragons and fairies?
I've lived almost my whole life in a desert area, and have a love/hate relationship with the desert. On the one hand, I love green and trees and rivers with actual water in them and seasons, and I hate the heat. Hate, hate, hate it. On the other hand, there are green and trees and water and season in the desert, they're just a lot more subtle, and you have to learn how to see them. The desert can be spectacularly beautiful, or spectacularly ugly, at first glance, but as you observe it more, you uncover more layers and depths. Things are hidden here, buried, waiting until conditions are right to come out in the open. We may not get spectacular fall foliage (though if you're down by the wash, you'll see some beautiful yellow cottonwoods), but you can tell it's autumn by the color of the light on the mountains.
Though the desert might look barren, it's actually teeming with unseen layers of life. Plants and animals have adapted to the unforgiving conditions, to take in what's available when it's available and conserve as much as they can, to defend themelves, to wait patiently through the heat and drought until the cool of evening, or the cool of winter, or the rainy season, to come out and show themelves. Humans, also, have managed to survive in the desert for thousands of years. Some civilizations still exist, others lasted for hundreds or thousands of years and then died out or suddenly disappeared.
The desert has secrets, and power, and history, and beauty, which unfold themselves to those who are open to seeing it. Desert scenery varies widely, from endless stretches of sand to thick growths of cacti, desert trees, and wildflowers. The challenges it presents for survival are unique, and the cultures that grow from it are uniquely adapted to the demands of life in the harsh conditions. When you look at it that way, what more magical setting could there be for fantasy? Or one so rich in possibilities? But it doesn't seem to be all that common in fantasy novels, perhaps because a lot of fantasy is still based on a medieval-Europe-type setting. This isn't univerally true, though, and seems to be changing more in recent years. A few novels that I can think of right off hand that take place, at least in part, in a desert setting are The Tombs of Atuan (Book 2 of the Earthsea series) by Ursula K. Leguin (one of my childhood favorites), Empress (Book 1 of the Godspeaker Trilogy) by Karen Miller, and two of the four novels I've read so far in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson: Deadhouse Gates and House of Chains.
In my own writing, I also frequently use desert settings. Urdaisunia is entirely set in a desert land, and significant events in Chosen of Azara and The Lost Book of Anggird also take place in desert areas. I can't envision these events taking place in any other environment. There's just something about them that demands the harsh environment and layers of mystery of the desert. Although not all of my novels feature desert settings, if I had to think of a landscape that most nearly represented my writing, it would be the desert.
Okay. So what about the elves, fairies, and dragons?
Well, for some reason, they never seem to make it into my novels. But that's another blog post for another time.
Hello, and welcome to my worlds! I'm Kyra Halland, fantasy author, and I'm excited for the chance to share my stories with you.
I've been writing since late 1989 or early 1990. At that time, when I finished my first novel, I dabbled in the traditional publishing process a bit, and though the feedback I got wasn't too discouraging, I quickly realized that this process just wasn't for me. So, for many years, I kept my writing to myself, or posted it for free on a small website I had, Worlds Apart, which few people ever looked at. But now, with the rise of e-books, print-on-demand, and the ease of publishing independently through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other outlets, I've found the perfect opportunity to put my stories out into the world where other people can read and (hopefully) enjoy them. As of this writing, I plan to release my first independently-published novel, Urdaisunia, in February, with two or maybe even three more novels to follow this year, and even more to come after that.
This site is mainly directed at readers, with release and purchasing information, background info and other fun stuff about my novels and short stories, and things to read right here for free. I'll share a little bit about my creative process, background on the worlds and characters, the playlists I listen to to set the mood for my stories, and other things that have inspired my writing. Also, for the occasional writer who might stop by, and since I believe everyone should try writing a novel at least once, just to see what it's like, I'll make a post every once in a while on writing.
I hope you'll take a moment to look around the site, and that you'll find something you like. And please come back again soon!
I am Kyra Halland, author of tales of fantasy, heroism, and romance.
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