Thanks Assets!


I had a wonderful afternoon visiting with the children of Assets School on Oahu. They invited me to come speak as a guest author about my book, The Cradle of the Gods. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences of writing and self publishing. They asked some great questions and really impressed me. Two copies of the book were donated to their library and the sign out sheet was filling up when I left. Thanks, Kids. What a great way to end this holiday on a high note!

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Exciting News!


creativiaWith August’s arrival, it completes a full year since I took the plunge and self published The Cradle of the Gods. What an exciting experience and I have learned a lot through the process. After a few months of heavy marketing, some good reviews and decent sales, I returned to what I enjoyed most, writing.

I hoped to have the second book, The Time of the Stonechosen, out by now, but like most stuff in life, things never work out quite the way you imagined. The good news is I’m shoulder deep in writing the second book and loving it. The better news is I can now spend even more time on finishing it! I have signed with Creativia, a small publishing company, and turned over all the time consuming marketing stuff. Miika Hannila and the rest of the great people at Creativia are in the process of taking TCotGs and giving it a shiny makeover.

I have discovered that I am not alone on this weird wacky writing roller-coaster, there is an entire gang of even weirder wackier writers sharing their writing through Creativia and now I get to be one of them!

I’m excited. You excited?

 

Dwarves of Allwyn


Finngyr#2In Cradle of the Gods, the first book in the Soulstone Prophecy series, I only needed to hint at the world outside of the Cradle. This allowed me to focus on the characters and only develop the setting as the need arose. But, with the second instalment of the series, Time of the Stonechosen, the characters are leaving the Cradle and exploring other parts of Allwyn (The world). Specifically, one of the primary antagonists from book one, Knight Justice Finngyr the dwarf, returns to the capital city. This required a lot more world building on my part.

I am most interested in writing a story, so I don’t want to become lost in world building to the point I am no longer working on the story. Even now, there is a voice in the back of my head tapping on my brain and pointing out I could be working on my next chapter.

But, unless I get these details down on paper, there isn’t going to be any consistency to return to while typing away. I found once I have a piece of the underlying setting locked down, there is a satisfying click in my head which allows me to focus on the story.

I want an interesting background for the setting without feeling the need to get my “Tolkien” on and detail out a timeline since creation or create a new language in hopes I’ll someday hear Liv Tyler speaking it at ComicCon. Give me a sec, just got goosebumps.

So, I’m want to flesh out the Dwarves of Allwyn. I’m still going to use a wide brush and make broad strokes on things, but this should be enough to help me flesh out my individual dwarven characters and more specifically any conflicts they encounter brought on from the setting.

Note to self: Some things I want to avoid is an entire culture of stereotypes, races that are solely ‘good’ or ‘evil’, or focusing too much on background to the detriment of the story.

The Soulstone Prophecy happens at a time when an exiled god, Haurtu, is trying to orchestrate his return. You can read the synopsis here if you haven’t already read the first book. Even better buy the first book. Go on, I’ll wait.

Anyway, I wanted Daomur, the god of the dwarves, to play a huge part in who they are. Thus, I chose to make the primary government a Theocracy in which Daomur is recognized as the state’s supreme civil ruler. Now, even though this is fantasy and I could have Daomur sitting on a big chair and spouting off rules to live by, I’m not going to do that. Boring. I have chosen to have the God In absentia, (reasons to be revealed in Time of the Stonechosen) and have him govern the dwarven empire via religious institutional representatives, replacing/dominating the civil government.

So, I need a rigid church structure. I had already created a portion of it in Cradle of the Gods, the Knights Justice, those members of Daomur’s clergy travel the empire and cull (kill) those humans who show signs of being a potential instrument in Haurtu’s aforementioned return. But, what about the rest of society? What about commerce or the judicial system? They should have their grubby little hands in there, too. Most importantly, I need them strewn with conflict I can use in the story. Nothing is perfect, I need some cracks. I want the High Priests of Daomur to be political advisors, not run the government, but also have overruling say and be referred to in all things. In other words, meddlers.

So, here are the three Holy Orders of Daomur as I see them right now:

 

Ritualists of Daomur

(Temple of Law) Titles: Initiate, Novice, Adept, Priest, High Priest

Standard church clergy. Responsible for overseeing ceremonies and advising on the law. Work closely with government. Currently the largest of the three temples, keepers of the Book of Hjurl, the words of Daomur. Their secondary role in society is to interpret laws. Some refer to them as the Lawgivers, but this is an insult to the Ritualists since they only help interpret laws already passed by government (At least that is what they want society to believe)

 

Artificers of Daomur

(Temple of Art) Titles: Apprentice, Journeyman,  Master, Grand Master

Worship Daomur through creation, building and enchanting. This sect will work with tradesmen and craft guilds. Responsible for the creation of the Underways. The empire is connected by these long tunnels. Every settlement has a bastion/stronghold in which a passage connects. The passages are a tribute to Daomur, their creation being a thing of pride to the Artificers. Apprentice Artificers constantly roam the tunnels, maintaining them and collection tribute from all who use them. They also enchant items dwarven society uses, from glowstones to the weapons and armour used by the Knights Justice. They also build to excess, the bigger the better.

Knights Justice of Daomur

(Temple of Justice) – Titles: Page, Squire, Knight, Knight Captain, Lord Knight

Warrior sect specific to the culling of humans. They are a declining sect, their numbers few. They work closely with the military. They refer to the power of the Ritualists and Artificers and depend on them for support. Their job is not seen as important as it was in times past as dwarven society has forgotten the lessons learned from before the Great Purge.

So dwarven society in Allwyn will be a society of laws. I established dwarves are not as emotional as humans in book one.  They are stubborn and once set to something, do not change directions easily.  Honour and ritual are very important to them. They experience all the same emotions as the other races, but it is considered socially unacceptable to show emotion. All dwarves were taught from an early age that emotions cloud judgements. Daomur’s laws are to be weighed in a clear mind. Even open expression of emotion is considered rude behaviour.

Family hierarchy is important.  So, they use Patronymic naming (ex. Getchkin son of Glern) At least until they reach adulthood and can establish themselves and their place in society. In the same vein, acknowledging their betters through bowing, the deeper the bow the higher the station.

As the antagonist race of the story, I want the reader to understand the society, even relate to it, but I also want them to chafe at its rigidity. I want it to be a tightly wrung spring that will eventually snap under the very laws that are suppose to hold it together. The story is ultimately about finding balance and this should make for a fine underpinning to the main story.

Would love to hear thoughts.

Get Cradle of the Gods Free


FinalCradleCoverI need reviews! There I said it and I’m not ashamed. Hey, I’ll even give you a coupon for a free ebook download of Cradle of the Gods if you pinky promise to give me a review on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. Just email me at tqm@thomasquinnmiller.com and ask me for the free review coupon. I’ll send you the code and the link to download the book.

If you have already read Cradle of the Gods, please consider taking a moment to write a review. It doesn’t have to be a dissertation. It doesn’t have to be five stars. It could be one star if that is how you feel. I can take it, I have my therapist on speed dial. All I ask is that it is an honest review.

Time of the Stonechosen Dice Game


I attended the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds this past November to promote my first book in my Soulstone Prophecy series. To help draw attention and pass the time at the booth, I created a dice game based on the Soulstone Prophecy story. We play tested the game and tuned the rules during the two days of the festival. We received a lot of good feedback on the game and even had a couple inquiries about purchasing it. I had promised  at the time that I would post the rules up online. Well, here they are, along with a photo of our prototype. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Time of the Stonechosen Dice Game

Time of the Stonechosen Dice Game

A thousand years ago, a war among the gods nearly tore the world of Allwyn asunder. Haurtu, god of learning and wisdom, turned on his fellow gods and tried to consume them. It was only by combining their powers that the gods were able to defeat and imprison Haurtu.

But a prophecy was discovered in sacred dwarven texts. Haurtu would return and finish what he began. It was written in the Book of Hjurl, “through his creations, his links to Allwyn, the Hungerer shall return.” Of all his creations, it was the humans who were most numerous. It was humans who were most prized by Haurtu. The God Wars were over and the Great Purge began.

Now humans are almost extinct. Dwarven overseers test their human charges each year, looking for signs of the Hungerer’s return. Those humans who fail the Rite of Attrition are culled from the population for the good of all.

Soulstones provide a link between humans and their banished god. The Soulstones bring great power, but also great danger. The Dwarves are dedicated to preventing the return of Haurtu. A human wielding the power of enough soulstones could fulfill the Soulstone Prophecy and release Haurtu.

The Time of the Stonechosen as come!

Welcome to the game, “Time of the Stonechosen”. Players: 2-4 Ages: 6 & up

The game is played in two phases: Seeking the Soulstones & Time of the Stonechosen

Seeking the Soulstones

Start with nine Soulstones and a figurine representing the dwarven Culler in the center of the board. Take turns rolling a single die – the highest roll determines which player goes first. Re-roll any ties. This is the player who will go first for both phases of the game. Play then proceeds clockwise from the first player.

On their turn, each player rolls three dice looking for doubles or a total of nine on all three dice. When a player rolls doubles, they may take one soulstone from the center. If the Culler is in the center, they place the Culler in front of them.

Soulstones: For each soulstone a player has, they may re-roll a single die to try and get a double or try and roll a total of nine on their three dice.

The Culler: If a player has the Culler, they may not use their soulstones to re-roll dice.

If a player rolls a total of nine on their three dice they may choose to move the Culler to any other player who also has at least one soulstone or back to the center if there are no other players with a soulstone.

The player moving the Culler on a roll of a nine also takes a soulstone from the player who had the Culler. This is the Dwarves’ tithe! If the Culler is in the center, they may take a soulstone from the center and not draw the attention of the Culler.

If a player rolls a double and a total of a nine they may choose to treat the roll as a double or as a roll of nine, but not both.

If a player rolls three of a kind they pull two soulstones from the center, if available. But, such a display of power can not go unnoticed! They also take the Culler no matter where it is in play. If there aren’t enough soulstones, the player only pulls the single soulstone from the center and does not draw the attention of the Culler.

If a player rolls triple threes (a triple and a total of nine) they pull two soulstones from the center, if available, and moves the Culler to any other player with at least one soulstone or to the center. If there aren’t enough soulstones in the center the player may take the second stone from any other player.

Once all the soulstones are gone from the center the game moves to the final phase – Time of the Stonechosen. If any player does not have at least one soulstone, they do not proceed to the next phase, but instead are out of the game.

Time of the Stonechosen

Starting with the first player determined by the initial roll, each player rolls three dice looking for the highest dice total. Each soulstone that player has can be used to re-roll one die unless the player also has the Culler. The Culler prevents a player from using their soulstones.

A player with soulstones and no Culler can choose to use their soulstones for re-rolls on their turn or wait to see what other players roll. Of course there is a risk that another player will roll a nine and send the Culler to them.

Rolling a nine during the Time of the Stonechosen still moves the Culler and allows a soulstone to be taken from the person the Culler moves from. A person with the Culler who rolls a nine can move the Culler and immediately use any soulstones they have for re-rolls. In the event of a tie during the Time of the Stonechosen the first player to roll the number wins and the game ends!

The Perfect Pitch!


You know, it’s funny. You tell yourself, “I’m going to write a book.” You never tell yourself, “I’m going to write a book and then spend all my free time learning how to market it.” There is a lot of advice out there on selling your book. I’m attending the first London Author Fair next week and was lucky enough to land one of the coveted PitchUp slots. I’ll get fifteen minutes to pitch my book to a literary agent. No pressure. So on come the pages (and pages) of advice on how to write a killer cover letter, the perfect pitch, and the succinct, yet oh so deep, summary page. All the while, all I want to write is the next chapter in book two, Time of the Stonechosen. First world problems, huh? Well, I thought I would share my 300 word pitch for Cradle of the Gods. Let me know what you think.

“A thousand years ago, a war among the gods nearly tore the world of Allwyn asunder. Haurtu, god of learning and wisdom, turned on his fellow gods and tried to consume them. It was only by combining their powers that the gods were able to defeat and imprison Haurtu.

But a prophecy was discovered in sacred dwarven texts. Haurtu would return and finish what he began. It was written in the Book of Hjurl, “through his creations, his links to Allwyn, the Hungerer would return.” Of all his creations, it was the humans who were most numerous. It was humans who were most prized by Haurtu. The God Wars were over and the Great Purge began.

Now humans are almost extinct. Dwarven overseers test their human charges each year, looking for signs of the Hungerer’s return. Those humans who fail the Rite of Attrition are culled from the population for the good of all.

In time, truths became history, history became myths. Those humans who survive until today know little of the God War and the time of the Great Purge. Their simple life and subjugation at the hands of the dwarves is accepted by most as their lot in life, a necessary evil to protect them from themselves.

In a small hamlet in one of the outlying human settlements, on the edges of a great dwarven empire, Ghile, an awkward young sheepherder, prepares to take his manhood test and his first Rite of Attrition.

But a visit by a sorcerer and his apprentice triggers a series of events which thrust Ghile into the Soulstone Prophecy. Some will come to his aid, while others will seek his demise. For Ghile to survive, he must fulfill the prophecy and release an insane god. The time of the stonechosen has come.”

Knight Justice Finngyr

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Knight Justice Finngyr

This is a sketch I did in pencil. It is of the dwarven Knight Justice Finngyr from my book, “The Cradle of the Gods”. It is part of the new cover design I’m currently having made for the hard copy release.