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World of Eldath: Magic, the Blessed, and the Learned

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Many scholars throughout the years have attempted to discern exactly what magic is and where it came from.  Its effects have been studied by the School of Magical Arts, the Conclave in the Sevenlands, and even the Minsdurim Academy, upon occasion.  There are multiple books on the subject, the foremost among them being Garland’s Song of the Fabric of Creation.  Still, at the time that this report is being written, this scholar has found no invention, scientific method, or even a magical device that can test the essence of magic and tell us what it really is and where it came from.

The accepted view by most laymen is that magic is the “fabric of creation” or the “material of creation” left over from when the Gods forged the world.  Such a simplistic explanation can be credited to the Epics of the Gods and the mythology that most religious texts perpetuate.  The general idea, explained by a Devlan Devotee, is that Evmir shaped the world and everything we see from a magical base material.  The phrase so often repeated is that he  “commanded the world come forth from the ether”.  When asked exactly what magic is, or what the “ether” is, most religious explanations fail to satisfy, as they so often do.  If one wants to learn of magic, one must go to a wizard.

According to representatives of the Conclave of Wizards, children who are born with an inherent connection to magic, referred to as “Blessed”, begin to show signs of the power between the ages of seven and fourteen years.  This range is not as accurate as it could be; the Conclave admits that some children may go for years using magic undiscovered by their scouts or their parents.  The manifestation seems to correlate directly with the children aging into sexual maturity, though there have been cases which seem to show no correlation.  Sometimes trauma has been shown to be a direct factor as well, though those cases are rare.  Findings from the School of Magical Arts directly support the information from the Conclave.

Magic is described by wizards as having an empathetic nature.  It apparently responds to emotions felt by magic users, and those emotions can either intensify, confuse, or entirely null the effects of their intended spells and evocative castings.  By their own admission, the use of magic can be a very dangerous undertaking.  Wizards have been known to lose control of their powers and kill themselves–or others–because of the emotional factors at play, though the Conclave assures me that such things are rare and easily controlled and prevented through proper training.  Strenuous mental discipline is the best deterrent, according to those who traffic in the use of magic.

Magic apparently responds to outside stimuli as well.  It has been shown to resonate differently with different materials, such as brass, stone, various gems, and even water.  Mathematical and geometrical formulas seem to evoke a response from magic, as do certain shapes in nature, the most common of which is the circle.  This scholar had heard rumors of a great circle constructed in the bowels of the Conclave called the Crux, but any reference to it, or request to see it, was met with denial.

The most interesting magical reaction seems to be with music.  Apparently musical tones have an intense effect on magic, and the Conclave has studied the phenomenon for a long period of time.  They have found that the most interesting reactions seem to come from entire compositions of music rather than individual tones, as if the music produces an emotional response from magic, as ridiculous as that sounds.  The theory seems to hold water when compared with the earlier knowledge that magic responds to emotions from those who use it.  The two phenomenon seem to be intertwined somehow, though sufficient time and effort would be needed to study it further.

Magic seems to be able to perform almost any action the wizard can imagine, though the boundaries of such power are blurry and undefined at best.  Most wizards seem to operate on their own preconceived notions about nature, and such a thing can be a serious deterrent to studying magic’s full potential.  Some of the more mundane uses for magic, such as moving large objects or producing a small light from nothing, can be as simple or as complicated as the mind of the wizard wielding the power.

This scholar personally listened to two different explanations on how one would move a rock with magic.  One wizard preferred to simply seize the rock with his “Kai”, as he put it, and move the thing a small distance.  He explained that in his mind, he pictured carrying the stone in a large, invisible hand.  The second spoke of an invisible force holding the rock to the ground already, and he simply pictured himself coaxing the force to let go for a small amount of time while he moved the rock.  The results were the same, though the methods were clearly different.

Wizards do seem to have a limited amount of endurance for using magic.  Each person would appear to have a different threshold for holding a certain amount of power, and it has been determined by the Conclave that every wizard grows slowly stronger over time.  Exposure to the power also seems to lengthen the lifespans of all wizards, though it is said that most older magic users retreat from society in order to better commune with the strange energy.  It is also said that wizards heal faster than normal people, and are more resistant to disease, though the factor by which this happens is minimal.  It has been demonstrated to this scholar that magic also cannot heal any ailment with reliable results.  The two things may be connected, and that subject may warrant further study in the future.

It is possible for those born without the ability to touch magic to gain it through careful study and training.  In the Sevenlands they call those wizards the “Learned”.  The differences between Learned and Blessed magic users stop at the method by which they gained use of the power.  There appears to be no correlation between the method of training and the final ability and strength of any wizard in question.  This would suggest that physical properties and breeding do have some effect on these phenomenon, though those effects have yet to be studied.

From A Treatise on Magic and its Effects, by the Magister Sir Umril Genhardt, of the Tauravon Archive.  Written in the year 1066, archived in 1067.

Hope you guys enjoyed that little tidbit about the setting.  I’ll be uploading little blogs like this to help flesh out the story for you guys, as the World of Eldath will be an ongoing setting for stories long after the Seven Signs is finished.  More news on this to follow, and I’ll talk to you guys soon.

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Child of the Flames

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The Seven Signs, book one. Coming in 2016

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog.  I recently started school again, and my life has been pretty hectic since.  If I’m not working on overhauling The Seven Signs, I’m writing something in APA format.  The neat little schedule I worked out for myself while finishing The City Under the Mountain was pretty much thrown out the window.

So, what have I been doing, you might ask?

I’ve been working on what will be the new Big, Bad Book One:  Child of the Flames.

What’s changing?  Well, let me try and explain.  During The Sentient Fire, I really felt like I could have dived into the story a little more than I did.  There were a lot of things happening behind the scenes during the first book that I never illuminated, so I’m illuminating some of them.

Also, Shawna’s part in the story is getting more of an overhaul.  Earlier today I finished writing the opening scene to the book, and it’s about ten times more exciting than before.  A large part of the first book was her flight from the Red Swords, yet she got little “airplay” in the original book.  She’ll get more this time around, and you know it’s going to be bloody.

I may have mentioned my original intention to give the book a stylistic polish, and that will be happening as I go, as well.  It’s weird returning to this story so many years later.  Sometimes I read parts of it and cringe at the writing, but I guess that’s the way it goes with art.  You’re never really happy with it, but it is kind of fun to go back and rewrite some of the parts to give them a little more punch.

So far, January is still a good date for the release of the overhauled series.  As the date gets closer I’ll keep you guys updated, but as of right now I’m sticking with that.  Don’t forget to like, subscribe, follow, and all of that.  Check me out on Facebook if you’re so inclined, or follow me on Twitter.  To get the updates as they come straight from the source, join my mailing list, the Conclave.

Talk to you guys soon.

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The Future of The Seven Signs

Planned for January 2016

Planned for January 2016

In the wake of releasing The City Under the Mountain, I wanted to take a moment and talk with you guys about the future of the series.  I’ve blogged about this before, but I wanted to reiterate, and share the updates with you guys.  This is what The Seven Signs will look like.

I’m planning for a release date of January 15, 2016 for the entire overhaul of the series.  I’m not setting that in stone just yet, but that is what I’m working for.  Keep in mind, these five books are 90% done already.  The biggest rewrites will be done to the earlier books in the series, with the heaviest work in book one and decreasing from there.  Mainly that’s because new prologues/epilogues have to be crafted, and there’s a few parts that need to be fleshed out.  I was going to revise it anyway, so I’m going to start where anyone should–at the beginning.

Yes, The Oath of the Blade is done–it’s already in the editing phase.  I thought long and hard about letting it go regardless of the state of the earlier books, but in the end I decided that the best thing to do would be to get everything done at once and have it over with.  The most important thing is the quality of the books, as I’m sure you’d all agree.  For that matter, Book Six–as yet untitled–is 75% done, too.

The Seven Signs will start with Child of the Flames which will be FREE everyday, all the time.

The Knife in the Dark, Book Two, will be $2.99.  Unless you’re a Conclave member, then it’s FREE for signing up.

All other books in the series will be $2.99, and there are nine books planned at the moment.

On another note, yours truly starts school on Monday.  I’m pretty stoked about it, and the Creative Writing department at this school is supposedly one of the top ten in the country.  Over the next few years, my writing is going to get tempered into something better than before, and I’m really looking forward to learning at such an auspicious institution.

Auspicious, heh…that’s right.  I used “auspicious”.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and to sign up for The Conclave.

~D.W.

The City Under the Mountain is Here

The City Under the Mountain | The Seven Signs II--coming August 15th

The City Under the Mountain | The Seven Signs II–Available now!

That’s right–The City Under the Mountain is here, and it’s available for purchase right now.

I was going to wait until the 15th, but why wait?  I uploaded everything at about 3am this morning, after having stayed up all night getting everything ready.  I was going to hold back the announcement, but I’ve been getting emails from readers asking about where to get it.  Also, I got the notification that it was accepted into the Premium Catalog, so it will most likely be available on all major retailers by the end of the day.  In short, I can’t hide it any longer.

Right now you can get it HERE for Smashwords, and HERE for Amazon.

I would really appreciate honest reviews, as nothing else helps a book gain traction more than an honest review.  Stay tuned for all the D.W. Hawkins news you can stand, and don’t forget to join the Conclave, my mailing list.  It’s a great way to stay informed about all upcoming releases and get free stuff.

On to book three…

Something Serious

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Tonight I’m going to get a little serious with you guys.  I’ve recently received an email from a reader who expressed an opinion to me that I took issue with.  It wasn’t really a negative book review–I’ve gotten a few of those, and they’ve always been constructive and helpful, overall–it was an email personally written to me.  The sentiments expressed in the correspondence echoed a lot of opinions I’ve seen floating around social media and YouTube lately, and in light of a few articles I’ve read on Reddit about this sort of thing, I wanted to say a few things about it.

First of all, I replied to the email sent to me–this is not addressed to anyone in particular.  Now, on to the meat and taters…

There seems to be a culture of what I can only describe as “cultivated offense” in today’s society.  There are so many blogs/videos/books/articles written about how (x) person finds (y) offensive, which makes the purveyor of (y) a racist/sexist/whatever.  Sometimes this sort of thing is warranted, as in official policies, etc.  What is confusing me lately is that this attitude seems to be infecting artistic expression.

Whether you’re speaking of video games, books, movies, or music, there seems to be a veritable army of people ready to take up pitchforks and loudly proclaim artists to be the worst kind of hateful people in our society.  “Where’s all the black people in the new Star Wars trailer?” or “Video games are oppressive to women and GTA promotes misogyny!”.  So many people have problems with so many things these days that it’s hard to keep track.

“Your writing promotes traditional gender roles and sets women back decades.”

Ouch…and d’huh?

I wanted to try and set the record straight about this, because I see a rising tide of angry people wishing to purge anything genuine from the arts.  First of all, I certainly have never–not once–thought of myself as a misogynist, or a racist.  My writing is not intended to promote any sociopolitical ideals related to race or gender, gay or straight, or any other label people want to place on themselves.  I write Epic Fantasy.  It’s about as non-inflammatory as one can get, or I thought it would be.  These days…maybe not.

Yes, there is rape in my books.  Yes, there is murder in my books.  Hell, people eat dead bodies in my books.  Doesn’t mean I want to promote the idea of eating dead people, and the same goes for rape, murder, or anything else that turns up in the pages of The Seven Signs or anything else I write.

When I write something like a murder, or imply that someone is in danger of being raped (I’ve never actually written a rape scene…I mean, gross) it’s because I want to demonstrate something.  I want to put my characters in danger, I want to give them some adversity to deal with, some hard choices to make, some pain to ingest.  I mean, without the adversity, the story would just go like “Shawna smiled at her father and lived happily ever after.”

Nope.  Not in my world.

For me, the whole point of Shawna’s storyline is her overcoming the pain at the death of her family, giving the proverbial finger to the powers that want to take what she has, and kicking the asses of the people who have done this to her.  Her storyline is exactly about a woman in a male-dominated society who nonetheless manages to be kick-ass anyway.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if you just want to read Shawna as a classic trope against women…well, that’s your prerogative.  But it certainly wasn’t about that for me.

As you guys will find out soon, there are a few more female characters that are going to enter the story.  ‘Cuz I like writing them, and I’m going to keep doing it.

Authors need the freedom to put things on display.  Art imitates life, as the saying goes, and all of these things–rape, murder, child molestation, etc–exist in our society today.  I didn’t invent them, and I’m certainly not going to stop writing bad things into my stories.  I won’t apologize for offending anyone with my writing, because my writing is not intentionally offensive.

I also will not water down the bad things that happen to the characters in my stories, because that would make it suck, plain and simple.  I know the majority of you guys don’t feel that my writing is offensive–otherwise you wouldn’t be here–but I wanted to clarify this just in case this issue comes up again.  It is not incumbent upon me to advance anyone’s political cause in this world by changing the stuff I write about my fictional world.

And for the record, I’m actually a Humanist.  The only “anti-” anything you can describe me as would be “anti-ignorance”.  Shawna, Nalia, Bethany, and Allisondra aren’t meant to advance anything.  In the story, they’re just people dealing with adversity.  Just people, not statements.

You guys will find out about Nalia and Allisondra on August 15th.

I hope I didn’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but I had to get that out.  Don’t forget to like, subscribe, share, etc, and I will talk to you guys soon.

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The City Under the Mountain–15 August

So, let’s get right down to it.  I sat down to write today to let you know that the second installment in The Seven Signs will be here soon.  Here’s the deal:

It’s called The City Under the Mountain, and it’s coming out on August 15th.

To clear things up, I couldn’t very well call this next book The Awakening Storm when it no longer fit the story…so yeah, all the books are getting new titles.  It will happen slowly, don’t worry–I’ll keep you posted.  I also posted the new cover for The Sentient Fire.  

Like, share, subscribe, tweet–spread the love.  Don’t forget to sign up for the Conclave, my mailing list, and get all the news first, plus free stuff.  See you guys soon.

~D.W.

The City Under the Mountain | The Seven Signs II--coming August 15th

The City Under the Mountain | The Seven Signs II–coming August 15th

New cover...oh yeah...

New cover…oh yeah…

Major Changes Coming

Over the last few months, I’ve been working furiously to finish The Awakening Storm.  Also, because of my long hiatus from writing and the self-publishing world in general, a lot of the technical stuff that goes along with maintaining a writing career had staled and gone out of date as well.  It’s my own fault–I’ve basically shot myself in the foot.  So I’ve also had to systematically go through every aspect of my online presence and business front, and change a lot of that around, too.

Some of you may have noticed my website, book covers, and information changing like the seasons lately.

After many long conversations and some hard thinking on my part, Iv’e decided to make some major changes to my label.  Hopefully this doesn’t alienate what few readers are still around since my past success, but let me attempt to explain and bring you around to my way of thinking.  In the end, this will be better for all of us.

First off, a bit of hard truth from me to you, and to myself.  When I published The Sentient Fire, it wasn’t ready.  It was a long way from being ready.  Some of the chief criticism I get from the story is that it’s massively long–and that’s true.  I wrote that book because I thought everyone was writing tomes of 350k+ words–in short, I had no idea what I was doing.  I showed up on the scene and dropped it at the feet of the world.  I was 22 when I started that book, and 31 when I typed the last word.  The man who wrote the first one hundred pages was vastly different than the one who finished it, and it shows.

Luckily it did pretty well–but it was definitely luck.

Here’s what I have done by releasing something so big:  One, I’ve vastly widened the period of time that passes between each book release.  Most novels are around 80k words or so–mine sits at about 348k, which is about four and a half times that size.  I’ve heard that for some people The Sentient Fire was around 17,000 Kindle pages!  Let’s be honest–I’m all for a long story, but one book that size is a little ridiculous.  Instead of writing one book at a time, I’ve basically been hammering away to produce three at a time.  That’s definitely not the smartest way I could be doing this.

And The Awakening Storm just hit the 300k+ mark the other day.

Two, I’ve made the print version of the book impossibly big, which means impossibly expensive.  Even adjusted as it is now–to give me the absolute least amount of royalty possible–the book comes in at $25.  Even I wouldn’t pay that much for a paperback, and that fact also just doesn’t make any sense.

If I had been smarter about the way I’d gone about publishing The Seven Signs, there would be five books currently on the market, and the sixth one would be over halfway done.  Instead of waiting years between each book (medical issues notwithstanding) there would be about six months between each release.  You’d have 2/3rds of The Awakening Storm in your hands now.

Plus, it is much harder to find professionals to work with you when you have one massive book.  Editors and narrators basically have to take a huge risk on you, and that’s a tough business decision to make.  Both of those professions requires hours of work for each “hour” produced, so you’re asking for much more of their time–which basically means much more of their money.  Finding someone good to work closely with–the way you want to do with an Epic Fantasy series–is nigh impossible.

So.  Here is what’s going to happen.

Starting immediately, both books–The Sentient Fire and The Awakening Storm–will be split into trilogies on their own.  The Seven Signs was planned for three books at around 350k words apiece, so now it will be nine books at around 120k words apiece, but probably closer to 150k.  Still long, but also within the range of a normal-sized book.

I will focus first on getting the first two parts of The Awakening Storm ready to publish, since they’re already written.  That means that you’ll have the next book in line in your hands in a few weeks–definitely earlier than I’d planned.  The next one in line will be ready to go as well, and it will be released after.

During that time, I’m going back through The Sentient FIre and revising it into three stand-alone books.  What that means for you is that if you’ve already purchased it, then you have it.  However, the newer version will be expanded somewhat–I’ll probably have to add about 30k or 40k words to each section in order to make them stand on their own–so there will be new material there.

Once those are done, I’m dropping them all at once, like Netflix and House of Cards.  The Sentient Fire will remain where it is until the books that are replacing it go live, at which time I’ll be pulling it down.  I don’t have titles as of yet–I’m just referring to them as TSF I, TSF II, etc.  So by the end of this year, instead of two books and two possible audiobooks, you’ll have six books with extra material, audiobooks much more likely, and an all around better product in each one of them than The Sentient Fire was.

And you won’t have to wait so Gods-damned long between books seven, eight, and nine.

So, here’s what it’s going to look like when the smoke clears.

The Seven Signs will be nine books long–the first five of which you’ll have by the end of the year, maybe even six.

The first book in the series will be free–and if you sign up for my mailing list, I’ll give you the second one free, too.  I like to give free stuff to my mailing list.

Each subsequent book in the series will be $2.99.

Some of you may not like this decision, but I think it’s the most fair thing for both of us.  This way the wait is shorter, the books are more manageable across multiple platforms, and I’m also not writing over a million words into books I can’t sell.  A guy’s gotta eat.

If you’re still looking forward to any of my writing, don’t forget to join my mailing list and get all the news straight from me, and sweet deals all the time.  I care about my readers, and I hope you guys understand this decision.  If not, well…I hope to win you back one day, but this is the way it needs to happen.

Thanks for sticking with me so far.

~~D.W.

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What the Hell is Beneath the Burning Sky?

Beneath the Burning Sky

Now available on Kindle for FREE until 6 July

So, this morning I had what you might call a moment of intense panic.

I always do, before publishing or running a promotion.  I spend days poring over everything, trying to fix all the problems, streamlining things, and generally pulling my beard out.  I can be very intense when it comes to my writing, and I tend to get wrapped up in things.  The last four or five chapters of my book usually go in a couple of weeks–and my readers know that means hundreds of pages.

I’m the kind of writer that can’t really produce much on a subject or story that doesn’t mean something to me.  So whenever I start a promotion and I start to see downloads happening, I have this moment where my brain does a little back-flip and I think “Ye Gods, someone is actually going to read this thing.”  I doubt my every decision that led to me putting it out there.

What is Beneath the Burning Sky and The Sageward Exordium?  Well, you might call it Military Fantasy.  Or, you might call it Science Fantasy…or maybe Military Science Fantasy.  It’s not quite Steampunk and it’s not Contemporary.  To tell the truth, I have a hard time putting it into a category that can describe it in essence.

Bear with me while I attempt to describe the setting.  Imagine the world of The Seven Signs around 600 years into its future–a time perhaps comparable to WWI.  Things have evolved considerably, including magic and those who use it.  Magic has weaved itself into technology, and vice-versa, and this strange marriage has created a truly unique setting to tell a good story.

There’s also a huge conflict going on between two opposing factions on the continent of Alderak.  War has been raging for an entire generation, and as we all know, war is a huge driver of innovation.  Something of an arms race has ensued, and both sides are scrambling for advantage.

Beneath the Burning Sky is the story of one soldier and her experiences during a pivotal battle of the conflict.  It’s the first installment in a prologue of stories that will lead up to the release of a new series.  The Sageward Exordium is the prologue, and is itself a series of short stories.

You’re writing a series of prologues?  Yes, as crazy as that sounds.  When I came up with the ideas for the upcoming series, the first thing I did was sit down and start fleshing the idea out.  Once I got to the point where I needed to put something on paper, I realized that the prologue to the actual book would be huge, considering the backstory that needs to be told.  In short, it would be as large as an every day novel on its own, so that’s why I decided to put the prologue out as a serial.  The Sageward Exordium is the prologue–it’s just in serial format.

So you’ve described the setting, but what is The Sageward Exordium truly about?  Well, the Exordium itself is just the bedrock for a larger plot arc.  But taken with the series it precedes, I would say that what the story is really about is war itself and the larger effects it has on those who wage it.  Each installment in the serial will tell the story of one of the main characters and what happened to them on the same day, during the same fight.

I wanted to tell a good war story, and I wanted to do it in an exciting way.  But, as a veteran myself, I know the real-world effects that war has on people.  I’ve seen some of that in real life, and so I wanted to tell a deeper story than one of blood and glory.  It will certainly have plenty of that, but there will also be larger implications at hand, and deeper emotional ramifications for the characters in the story.

How many installments are there in The Sageward Exordium?  Right now there are five planned installments, but I reserve the right to add another as they come to me.  I’ve written a number of very interesting characters, but the project is still in the infancy stages at this point.  I plan on putting a new one out every four to six months during the times when I just can’t stand to write another chapter of The Seven SIgns (haha).  The Exordium has to be planned to coincide with the larger series it will precede, so it can be slow-going at times.  It’s a story that speaks to me on a very deep level, though, so I have a feeling that it will be huge.

The Seven Signs is pretty big.  Will the new series be that large, as well?  In a word–bigger.  The rough plot line I’m working with now puts me right at about five books, though those books won’t be quite as large as your basic Seven Signs book–which come in at about 340,000 words.  These will be around 150,000-200,000 apiece.  Which is still huge, I know.  The Seven Signs is Epic Fantasy, which is supposed to be huge.  The new series, though, may be chopped down a bit.  It all depends on what happens during the developmental edits, too.  So stay tuned!

I hope that answers a few questions about Beneath the Burning Sky.  As always, don’t forget to like me on Facebook, check out my website to join The Conclave–my mailing list–and follow me on Twitter.  Much love to all of you, and I’ll talk to you soon.

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Independence Day Weekend FREE Promotion

Beneath the Burning Sky

Now available on Kindle for $0.99!

Starting on the 3rd and ending on the 5th, Beneath the Burning Sky will be free on Amazon.  What better way to celebrate our history than by reading a military fantasy?  On top of the BBQ and beer, of course.

So look for Beneath the Burning Sky this weekend on Amazon, and get your copy here for FREE.

Don’t forget to sign up for The Conclave on my website, look me up on Goodreads and Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.  Like, share, and all of that nonsense.