All of my books take place in the same “universe.” What I mean by that is all of my books take place in and around our earth, but a parallel version. This sounds kind of strange, but it’s a very popular concept used in speculative entertainment (books, TV, and motion picture). The MARVEL cinematic universe is a great example. The adventures of the Avengers take place in and around earth, our earth, albeit a very different version. My books follow this same model, and I’ve provided a visual to help explain that, a sort of timeline.
While the Everflame series, and The Dean Machine have almost nothing to do with each other, elements of those stories come together in a new storyline that is The Hands of Ruin series.
The first and most obvious example of this is the introduction of Echo Valkzdokker in The Hands of Ruin: Book One. Echo was the main heroine of The Dean Machine, and The Hands of Ruin, in part, explains what happens to Echo after her departure from the hive. Her story is intertwined with the main characters of The Hands of Ruin and she has a prominent role in both Book One and Book Two.
The second example is the mythology of the Everflame series living on in the land of Ferren, a place featured prominently in The Hands of Ruin. In fact, the four tribes of Ferren are named for characters that fans of the Everflame series are likely to recognize (Whiteclaw tribe, Zehnder tribe, Andor tribe, and Tiber tribe). Below is an excerpt from The Hands of Ruin: Book One that describes two characters walking into the Temple of Origin, a sacred place in Ferren that celebrates the past history of the Everflame series.
• • •
The men walked into an expansive entrance chamber, with glass windows in the ceiling that bathed an ornately sculpted fountain in sunlight. It looked as if the rays of the sun were sent down from the heavens for no other reason than to shine on the fountain. Endemall was not going to admit it, but Gildwyn had been right. The Temple of Origin was impressive, and he found himself closing his open jaw for fear of looking wonderstruck.
“The fountain is sculpted in white stone and is hundreds of years old,” Gildwyn told Endemall as they walked through the main room. “I assume you recognize the likenesses of the Ancients.”
Endemall nodded, still silent in a reverence he hadn’t anticipated. The great sculpture was beautiful, a statue of three of the four ancient creators of man. Tenturo the griffin and Bahknar the dragon were standing back to back, while the beautiful mermaid Chera sat at their side, delivering water into the fountain from her gracious hands. Endemall knew all these deities from the stories of his youth, but he had never been as mesmerized by them as he was now.
However, the beauty of the fountain was nothing in comparison to the majesty of the gigantic mural painted on the far wall behind it. As the men passed the fountain and the sun’s rays now fell behind them, Endemall sighed audibly at the mural that extended up the entire thirty-foot height of the wall.
“You weren’t kidding, were you, Nye?” Endemall was floored.
“I assume you recognize the scene the mural depicts,” Gildwyn said.
“Of course.” Endemall was like a child at the foot of his heroes. “That’s the moon god, Densa, in his battle against the Great Tyrant, and above them is the sun god, Evercloud. My father used to tell my brother and me that story of old Earth almost every night before we were sent to bed. It’s like that mural was painted right out of my imagination.”
• • •
The final example of how my stories come together in The Hands of Ruin might be the most exciting for fans of the Everflame series. I don’t want to give too much away, but in The Hands of Ruin: Book Two we see the return of a major character from Everflame. It may seem farfetched given the amount of time that has elapsed between Everflame and The Hands of Ruin, but keep in mind that Ferren is a place filled with a mystical substance called zulis that Masters wield in amazing ways. Zulis can be used for good, and it can be used for evil. It can be used to destroy, and it can be used to resurrect.
Please check out The Hands of Ruin, and I hope you enjoy!
The Hands of Ruin: Book One is available for FREE on kindle, nook, iBooks, and kobo
The Hands of Ruin: Book Two is also available from the same retailers.
1. I will, with almost 100% certainty, never write another novel under the title of Everflame. In that respect, the Everflame Series is completed.
2. Everflame and The Dean Machine are parts of a larger story that will be told in my next series of novels. They are connected in that they each take place in the same universe. The Everflame Series is a story of this universe’s ancient past, and The Dean Machine a story of its future.
3. Characters from both The Everflame Series and The Dean Machine will have major roles in this new series I will be writing.
Stay tuned for more information about this new project, and clues as to which characters will be along for the next adventure. In the meantime, make sure you are caught up with the story in the Everflame Series, and The Dean Machine.
Amazon Kindle has a neat little function where readers can highlight passages in their favorite books and everyone gets to see what they like. (Don’t I sound like a hundred-year-old man marveling at the magic of the Interweb?) From time to time, I look at these highlights. I find it interesting personally to see what it is I’ve written that others find highlight-worthy, but more importantly, I pay attention to it to help my future writing.
I do want to strike a chord with people when I write. It’s always been my ambition to write something that a person can find some meaning in, whether it prompts a person to think about the world in a different way, or if it simply echoes the way someone already feels about life. So, I thought I would write a blog post that details the things that are striking a chord with readers of the Everflame series. Who knows, maybe your highlight is in here?
Highlights from Everflame:
“You are a mystery my son, like a cloud that continues forever. No one can see through to what lies on the other side.”
“We all have the ability to judge our own hearts, and we should all have the courage to do so.”
“That’s the funny thing about truth. Give it enough time and it’ll see its own way through.”
“Strange are the ways of the mind, and stranger is the fuel of emotion.”
“The Everflame is a symbol, Tomas. It has no power. It’s just a reminder of something we all have, our spirit. And it is to this spirit that we are accountable, not to an all-powerful tyrant, not even to ancient creators, simply to ourselves. By making an oath to the Everflame, I am merely making an oath to all that I am. If I break that oath, it is I who suffer the greatest loss, and nothing can change that. All these men who barter with their Holy for forgiveness should ask themselves, first, for this forgiveness. They would not find it so easy to come by. We all have the ability to judge our own hearts, and we should all have the courage to do so.”
Highlights from Everflame 2: The Burning Man:
“Every day, every hour, every minute. We choose right or we choose wrong. We are not defined by our past and we are not defined by our future. Only our present.”
“No being can be good or evil. It is actions that are good and evil.”
“Everyone has darkness inside of them. Every being on this Earth has the potential for great good and great evil. We all must fight to keep the darkness from consuming us, keep it from burning inside.”
“People are afraid of the unknown. It’s the most powerful fear I’ve ever seen. The sad thing about it is that it prevents most of the world from opening their eyes to the things that are right in front of them.”
“Everyone needs a reason to protect that which is good in the world. Without it, the darkness can convince you that the world isn’t worth your efforts.”
“I want so desperately to know good from evil. What if the difference is only a matter of perspective?”
“A young boy asks his father why all of the other children are afraid of the darkness. The boy’s father replies simply that the other children are afraid because they cannot see in the darkness and there might be dangerous things that they cannot see. The young boy smiles and laughs at his father’s answer. Don’t the children know? Asks the boy. They cannot be seen in the darkness either.”
Charles believes that the purpose of every human being is to find one relationship and devote themselves to it completely and totally. He said that one should treat it like an artist’s masterpiece. Charles said that the masterpiece is called love.
“He is a man who has the knowledge to see the world for what it really is, and the wisdom to let it be.”
“A flame will keep the darkness at bay, but only as long as it burns.”
“Heroes never live to tell their own tales.”
Highlights from Everflame 3: War Cry:
“The best decision is not always a matter of right or wrong, it depends on reason and purpose.”
The world cares not for heroes. It will bend and break their will through the maddening chaos of its existence. It will drag their dreams across its sandy crust, crushing hope beneath the weight of its rocky bones. The world cares not for heroes. It destroys them.
Suicide is the will to change and therefore cannot be an acceptance of defeat.
“There is suffering that comes from hope, but because of hope, suffering can never defeat you.”
A moment often comes to pass that defines the nature of an individual. It is a moment where the world forces you to bend to its will or suffer the consequences, a moment where it becomes painful and clear that there is no victory to be had over the will of the world, but to continue the fight, undaunted, is within itself a prize. To fight for one more minute of life; to fight for one more perfect moment in a world that does not easily afford such things; to fight for those who have given to you their all.
“It is my burden! You wish to see it laid out in front of you?... Fine… you shall have it. You ask me if I love you, no. Love is a word and a definition and a thing that has been given limits. What I feel because of you is all; it is everything. Reason has no place within my heart because my heart is full of you. You are my motivation, my faith, the blood that lives within me. Everything I am is for you and you alone… I know my desire is futile, and I do not care. I will walk this world alone for the whole of time and I will carry this in me forever… and every step taken… will be for you. There is no other way for me.” With tears falling from her eyes, she rushed forward and kissed him as hard as she could. Her arms wrapped tightly around him and as they did, his defenses fell and he returned her kiss. He surrendered to her and for the first time in his life, his heart knew a pain that was joy.
“It was not long ago that I realized that love is not an unknown adventure in a far off land, love is a warm blanket waiting at home.”
I will build myself. I will become. Every waking moment I possess will be a moment I spend working on me.
“There is good in this world. There are things I’ve found in this world that are precious to me, because they bring light into my darkness; they chase away my darkness. I know now that my life is about those things. My purpose is to fight for those things, fight for the things that fill me with light, and fight against the things that threaten them.
Highlights from Everflame 4: As The Darkness Waits:
Among equals, there is no such thing as treason. Treason only exists in the hands of those with power, and they may only use it against those who are without.
But what is the use of wisdom when one has a sword? What use is freedom when one fears treason? And what use is life when one has honor?
We are all following dreams and visions; we who are cursed and graced by this fire called hope. However, I will not be a slave to dreams and visions; I will lead myself. I am strong and I am a singularity. I am a builder of self, in wisdom, body and spirit. I have the faith to believe in and cast judgment upon myself. I will stand the line between the light and the darkness. I will master myself for as long as I am lost in the gray.
They walked onward for escape, not for hope, but escape can never come for those who walk with hell in their heads.
We are not good or evil, we just are, and it is only our actions that can be defined.
Dreams have always been an integral part of my creative process. I dream vividly, at length, and regularly. For a time during my youth, I imagined that everyone dreamed in the same way that I did. It wasn’t until open dialogue about dreaming, with friends and family, that I discovered dream patterns can be very different for every individual. I was stunned, frankly, to learn that some people don’t even remember their dreams when they wake. The thought was strange to me, mostly because my own dreams were so lucid, regular, and often left a deep impression on me. There have been many days of my life where the previous night’s dreams have affected my mood throughout the entire day.
When I was younger, I suffered through something called Incubus Attacks (though I didn’t know what they were at the time). An Incubus Attack occurs when there is discord between the sleeping mind and the sleeping body. The results can be quite terrifying because, essentially, you can dream when your body is awake.
These episodes didn’t happen erratically, and spontaneously, during the day. It’s not as if I had a form of schizophrenia. Incubus Attacks usually take place in the time when your mind is transitioning to sleep, or transitioning awake. It’s as if the world of dream bleeds slightly into the conscious world.
I was four years old the first time I can remember having an Incubus Attack. I had awaked in the middle of the night, and for one reason or another, left my bed. I looked out the window and saw, at a distance, Grover. Yes, Grover from Sesame Street. Grover turned, looked at me, and then began running toward my window, screaming and flailing his arms. Naturally, I began screaming, and my parents found me crying below the window in my bedroom.
I experienced many Incubus Attacks in my youth, but not all were so lively. Mostly, I would feel something touching me that wasn’t there, or I could hear someone yelling at me that wasn’t there. These specific attacks would usually occur as I transitioned to sleep.
The last graphic Incubus Attack I remember took place when I was fifteen. I woke in the middle of the night and sat up in bed. I looked into the corner of my room and found an orb, glowing and floating about four feet off of the ground. As I watched it, it shot a red laser beam toward the foot of my bed. I got out of bed and walked over to the light switch, which was at the other side of the bedroom, all the while keeping my eye on the orb. When I turned the light switch on, the orb was gone. I was alone, standing in my bedroom, wondering what was happening to me. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I came across the term and realized that I had been having Incubus Attacks as a child.
Though the attacks stopped, my spirited dreaming did not. I would have to say that I have always had rich dreams on a nightly basis, with rare exception. However, it wasn’t until I began writing that I found a way to make my dreams work for me. In fact, the first two chapters of Everflame were from a dream I had. In the dream, I was Evercloud, the helpless child. I was prisoner to the events going on around me, and I can remember having some distinct connection with the bears that controlled my fate. The dream didn’t detail everything that I’ve written in those chapters, but I can still recall the memory of the mountain and the flame to this day.
As an adult, the types of dreams I have are what I call video game dreams. I’m usually in some life or death situation, where the circumstances are very fantastical, and I have to find some special object, or defeat some evil foe. Very often, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. I suppose I didn’t have much of a choice but to become a fantasy adventure writer.
The book I’m currently working on, The Dean Machine, has a lot of influence from my dreaming as well. The impetus for the book was a real-life event that affected me deeply, however much of the plotline comes directly from my dreams. I can remember being the main character of The Dean Machine, Dan Delacor. I can still feel the panic that overtook me as I ran from the great wall of Yellow City, running as far as I could from the clutches of the evil Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. I can remember, quite vividly, the confusion of wandering with my little dog, Dean, not knowing where we were. I can remember the sickness in my stomach as I discovered that I was… well, I won’t ruin it for you. Besides, the book is not finished, and who knows what I might dream up tonight.
And I suppose that’s the truth of my writing, and the source of my imagination. I have no method, no tactics, and no brainstorming techniques. I dream. I simply lay my head down and immerse myself in the unknown. I’ll try to keep you apprised of what I find.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 10/31/2014
What if Everflame became a movie? It’s a question I’ve thought about. (I’d be lying if said I hadn’t). Whenever you read a book, you imagine what the characters look like, and sometimes, you imagine a famous actor or actress is playing the role. When you are writing a book, it’s no different. You develop your character, and in your mind’s eye, you know what the characters look like. There are even times when you see a performance that reminds you of a character you have written. So here are some of my ideas of who would make great Everflame characters, and at the end of this blog post, I’ll choose my favorite choice from the fan forums.
Note: I totally agree with the idea that movies of this type should be cast with relative unknowns in the world of acting. It allows the fantasy to become just a little bit more real, and in many cases, it’s necessary in movies that can be otherwise unbelievable. Mark Hamill is Luke Skywalker, and Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter. We never had to see them in a role prior to those iconic roles, so it became easier to accept them as those characters. When you see Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, it’s harder to suspend disbelief. (Sorry Mr. Jackson). Ideally, I would want Evercloud, Densa and Iolana to be cast with unknowns, but for the purpose of this blog post, we’re not going to stick to that ideal. The nature of this blog post is to be fun. So, here we go.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 8/7/2014
Years before I began the Everflame Series, I fashioned myself as a musician. I was a singer/songwriter with a yellow and black Gibson, fronting a band that played at bars and house parties along the New England seacoast. Although my contribution to music came to a fast and uneventful end, my love for music and its influence on me have never wavered. Below is a list of twenty songs that I listened to a lot while writing the Everflame Series. I encourage you to listen to them. Feel free to guess what parts of the series each song influenced and leave your ideas in the comments.
1. Just Like You Imagined – Nine Inch Nails
2. Dust Bowl Dance – Mumford & Sons
3. Not With Haste – Mumford & Sons
4. Roll Away Your Soul – Mumford & Sons
5. I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
6. La Mer – Nine Inch Nails
7. The Way Out is Through – Nine Inch Nails
8. The Day the World Went Away – Nine Inch Nails
9. A Warm Place – Nine Inch Nails
10. Right Where it Belongs – Nine Inch Nails
11. We’re in This Together Now – Nine Inch Nails
12. King of Pain – Police
13. Eye in the Sky – The Alan Parsons Project
14. Army of Me – Bjork
15. Awake – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
16. Furr – Blitzen Trapper
17. All These Things I’ve Done – The Killers
18. Take a Bow – Muse
19. The Night – Rob Dickinson
20. The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/10/2014
I have received comments and questions from readers in regard to some of the names that I use in the Everflame series, and I thought it might make for a good blog post to divulge how I created certain character names. Names such as Tomas and Ben Floyd have no real meaning behind them, they just happened to be the names that popped into my head at the time I was creating the characters. Names such as Evercloud have meaning, but are also explained in the books. “You are a mystery, my son, like a cloud that continues forever. No one can see through to what lies on the other side.” Yet, there are names that I chose for certain characters that were chosen with reason and purpose that the books don’t necessarily explain with clarity. You may have guessed at why I chose certain names, (if you have some knowledge of Latin, the meaning of a name like Lithlillian becomes obvious) but I figured I’d take out the guesswork on a few names for you. So, here… we… go.
The Daughters of Earth and Sun
There is no great mystery involved in how I named these characters. However, I was looking for more than just simple feminine names. I did want names that sounded feminine, but that were also grounded in meanings associated with the earth aspect that each daughter represents.
Harena – the word is Latin and means “grains of sand” or “a sandy land.” As I’ve already said. There is no great mystery as to why I chose this.
Dendrata – dendro- is a Greek prefix meaning “tree.” I simply changed the end of the word to make it sound like a woman’s name.
Nivalia – nivalis in Latin means “snowy.” Again, I made a slight change to the word.
Tallulah – is of Native American origin, and the meaning of Tallulah is "leaping water."
Aella – Means "whirlwind" in Greek.
Lithlillian – litho- is a prefix meaning “stone.” (Are you seeing a pattern here?) I thought Lithlillian sounded melodic.
Selva – selva is Portuguese and means “tropical rain forest” or “jungle.”
Amber – Amber is a semi-precious gem formed of fossilized tree resin, and the name may refer either to the gem itself or to its color. In the Hindi language, Amber is derived from Sanskrit, and means "the sky."
Other notable language derivatives:
King Aplistia – aplistia is Greek for “greed.”
The Kingdom of Nefas – nefas is Latin for “wickedness.”
Have any questions about other names in the Everflame series? Leave a comment and I promise I’ll answer your question.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/27/2014
I began writing the Everflame series in 2008 and didn’t finish As the Darkness Waits until somewhat recently. Spend six years doing anything and you’ll get attached to it. I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to hear that writing the last bit of the Everflame series was hard for me. I don’t mean it was hard in the way that I didn’t know just how to end it, after all, I had known how I wanted the series to end since I began writing it in 2008, but it was hard in the way that ending a long relationship is hard. You are really leaving a part of yourself behind as you move on, for better or for worse.
It took two weeks of dragging my feet before I wrote the last chapter of As the Darkness Waits. I was masterful in my procrastination. It really was like a break up, I was avoiding it purposefully. I would recite the words to the mirror, convincing myself I had it right. I thought about it incessantly, even when I needed to be concentrating on other things. It consumed me as I ignored it, and I knew it wouldn’t let me go… until I agreed to let it go.
As I wrote the final words I felt pain. As bizarre as that sounds, it would be a lie not to admit it. I stood from my laptop, walked away, and stared out the window. I was free of Everflame, I was free of the characters, I was free of the land I had created, but I had torn a part of myself away for the prize of that freedom.
Days pass and you feel oddly as if you are in some sort of mourning. I was irritable, sullen and withdrawn. I quickly realized what writing meant to me, and what Everflamehad meant to me. Would I be able to get that back? I knew when I ended Everflame that I had also ended something of myself, but I had always assumed that it would be a part of me I could let go, a part that I could survive without.
My assumptions were incorrect. Yet, Everflame was done.
So I scanned over my new project; my new story; my new source. Could this new story fulfill the role in my life that I so obviously needed? Could I immerse myself into this new world and into these new characters with the same passion and purpose that first inspired the flame?
I’m happy to report that it can. I’m happy to report that I will.
I am 5000 words into the newest chapter of my life, and though I will take my time, cherishing everything that it gives me through the process of creation, I cannot wait to one day share it with everyone. The Dean Machine keeps my heart safe… stay tuned.