A Behind the Scenes Look at The Light of Eternity – Available Now!

A Behind the Scenes Look at The Light of Eternity – Available Now!

To celebrate the release of The Light of Eternity to paperback, I spent some time Monday looking back at the initial creation process. I covered such topics as the original idea, the covers and the music I listen to while I’m working. Today I want to take a look at the planning stages and the character creation process, as well as mention a few interesting facts related to the first book. If you missed the first installment, you can find it over here!

How much planning goes into each installment?

Ever play one of those hashtag games on twitter? One of the most common questions is; do you plot or do you pants? For my big projects, I’m a dedicated planner. I make a list of my ideas and try to fill any major blanks. I update that outline after each draft to make sure it matches the direction the story is taking and make note of future edits. It saves me a lot of time and effort – especially if I need to rearrange the narrative’s order.

But I don’t outline Eternity’s Empire. I wrote a brief sketch of the first five chapters, and ended up following it only loosely. I like writing from the seat of my pants sometimes. It keeps the project fresh by allowing me to dive straight into the writing. It’s not that I find planning restrictive – I don’t. But I do occasionally enjoy the freedom of pure creation without knowing ahead of time where it will lead.

I do tend to make a mental outline for each segment of five chapters. I like to have a basic list of expectations and an end point in mind. Most of the time I hit the end point, but the story doesn’t take the route I expected. And usually the next set of chapters manifests in a completely different form than I anticipate; which means the story is constantly changing and evolving.

Of course, this does present challenges that are easier to deal with when you make plans in advance. For example, after introducing time travel and teleportation to the universe, I had to come up with reasons why the characters didn’t use these abilities to solve every problem quickly and easily. But overall, despite the setbacks, discovering this story as I go has been tons of fun!

Classifying the genre – and why it’s hard

One of my biggest marketing struggles is properly categorizing my books. You’d think it would be easy, right? I write science-fiction and fantasy stories, so they must go somewhere in there.

The trouble is, sci-fi and fantasy are broad categories, and the more specific you can be with your designation, the easier it is to get your books to the proper readers. Eternity’s Empire started primarily as a mythological story that takes place in the modern day. So I labeled it as Mythological/Faerie Tales and Urban Fantasy.

But I’m not sure it remains in either of those categories as the plot advances. While I strive to keep the story grounded in the mythologies that spawned it, the urban fantasy setting quickly gave way to a more traditionally fantasy setting. But even that gives way to a massive space empire, rooting the story more in Space Opera territory than anything fantasy-related. And while I did see that coming, it revealed itself a lot faster than I anticipated. And as I begin penning the fourth installment in the series, there’s evidence it might even lean toward Space Western by the time it’s done. Which is only going to make pinning its final category that much harder.

I’m perfectly happy writing cross-genre fiction. It’s always interesting to see where the lines and boundaries blur, and what writers can do when they don’t constrain themselves with traditional genre limitations. But, on the flip side, it has made this series increasingly more difficult to market. (If you think you know where it fits best, drop me a line in the comments and let me know!)

Getting a clear picture of the characters

The biggest hurdle for getting started with this series was determining how each of the characters should look and dress. Originally, I wanted each character’s outfit to be important (like the Sailor Scouts that spawned them). That theme didn’t carry beyond the first few chapters because constantly describing what a person is wearing gets repetitive and tiresome, especially if the outfit is always the same. But it was still important to make sure each character had a distinctive look.

Since my art talented is limited, my good friend and fellow author Beth Alvarez suggested I run each character through an avatar generator to get a sense of what I wanted them to look like. That sounded like an excellent idea, so I set about looking for various mythological doll creators. In retrospect, it might have been easier to do all the characters in the same one. But I wanted each character to feel culturally authentic.

Thora and Aphrodite were easiest because Greek and Norse mythologies are fairly popular. The mythological doll generators I found heavily featured the elements I was looking for.

Not only did I want each character to look culturally authentic, I wanted them to bear some kind of armor that marked them as warriors. The idea of magical girls in cutesy outfits and skirts has never bothered me, but I wanted to make it clear that these were guardians and their armaments were designed to be used in combat.

For Aphrodite, I chose a Greek-style chest plate and for Thora I chose both a chest piece and a Valkyrie helm (not to mention her sword which completes the ensemble.)

The endless quest to get things right

Ganga and Amaterasu’s looks were much harder to pin down. The main problem with Ganga wasn’t so much finding an outfit I wanted to use; there were plenty of avatar generators for that. I wanted her to have four arms, but couldn’t find an avatar generator capable of depicting that. I eventually ended up fiddling with photoshop to get a visual I could work with. Her warrior armor ended up being bracers; as a healer, I didn’t think she’d need much more.

I never did find a way to make exactly the outfit I wanted for Amaterasu. Instead, I ended up piecing her garb together from several different options. I chose a more stylistic breast plate for her. I also made sure she was dressed in pants instead of a skirt, since they suited her personality better.

Aeternitas presented the same problem. The look I chose for her was closer to a traditional medieval princess, but I wanted her to have some kind of practical armor as well. Most avatar generators don’t really let you go for princess and warrior at the same time, so I mostly had to use my imagination for this one. Luckily, the garb I picked for her has lent itself well to cover images.

So while none of my attempts to capture these characters worked out exactly according to plan, they did give me enough of a reference to carry me through.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek behind the scenes at the making of Eternity’s Empire. See you in November for book 2!

Pick up your copy of the paperback today!

An ancient power is about to awaken.
And with it, five ancient goddesses.

The special archaeological dig in Antarctica was supposed to be a path to redemption for Erica Brown, a chance to escape university conduct probation and looming threats of expulsion. But a chance to explore the dig’s prized temple ends in disaster when Erica damages the site’s most valuable artifact.

Now she and her friends are haunted by strange visions and hunted by mythological creatures. Worst of all, no ancient goddess chose to work through Erica. Her next misstep could be a death sentence and she’s powerless to help her friends.

United by their plight, the girls struggle to make sense of the situation while preventing further catastrophe. Can Erica discover her hidden strength in time to solve the mystery?

Fans of Sailor Moon and Stargate will enjoy this clever mythological mashup. Grab your copy today!

This book contains chapters 1-5 of the Eternity’s Empire saga (Crystal Shrouded Goddess, Light of Eternity, Curse of Chronos, Dance with Death, and Dark Rituals), previously published separately.

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