Yesterday, another excerpt went life on Karin Rita Gastreich’s blog. It was nice to meet yet another person with a surname originating in the German language. 😉
And I’d like to apologize. I had meant to post yesterday but completely forgot to schedule it. I couldn’t do it in real time either because I had the house full with birthday guests. We celebrated the 19th birthday of my eldest daughter and I didn’t have much time for online stuff. Thus, the post comes now, and it’ll highlight one of the most important people involved in this novel: the cover artist.
Corona Zschüsschen, Dutch illustrator and graphic designer
Corona comes from Enschede (if you like her art, she’s available for international freelance work and her prices are reasonable). I stumbled over some of her art when I was looking for things to pin to my Pinterest boards, and I immediately liked her drawing style. Since I was having major trouble getting a shutterstock picture to work that I had originally planned on using (but the resolution was crap, every detail looked pixelated), I contacted her. She was lovely to work with. So here she is in her own words.
Why did you become an artist? Was it a childhood dream? My first childhood dream was to start a cat-shelter. I even wrote a letter to my 20-year old self when I was 10, outlining my plans and ideas! While I really love cats (and I have 3), that never happened. I moved around a lot when I was young. Drawing was something I could do anywhere, anytime. I had always loved illustrating, but I never thought I could become an actual artist. Sometimes I still can’t believe I am. I have to remind myself. 🙂
What’s your greatest obstacle in creating?
It’s me. Illustrating can be very mood and inspiration depended. I think it must be the same when you’re a writer. Sometimes inspiration comes at the most impossible of times. Or I can make a lot of different versions of something knowing they simply won’t work. It can be very frustrating! But all the different versions are still part of the journey. As long as I like the destination, it’s all worth it!
What makes your art different?
I don’t know how different I am… though of course no artist is the same. I have found artists whose style looks similar to mine, or sometimes the subjects or thoughts behind an illustration can be the same. I’m not bothered by that. I tend to branch out to a lot of different styles, because I like to adjust my art to the subject. What works for one book cover may not work at all for another. I also like to know as much as possible before I start illustrating. For example, with designing characters, I want to not only know how they look, but also their motivation and background story.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you are creative?
You mean for me as an illustrator? It was about 4 weeks ago when I found out one of my illustrations is going to be used for for very VERY big ‘thing’. But I can’t say anything about it. I’m contractually obligated to be silent about it. I can’t even show the illustrations. I want to shout it from the roofs, hahaha! Also, every time I receive an e-mail from a potential client my hart rate spikes. I can’t sit still before I answer the mail.
What was the biggest challenge with my cover?
The best thing about working with a writer is that they often know exactly what they want, even if they don’t! So the challenge was to get the idea that was in your head onto the cover. Being able to read some chapters of the book really helped. You were very specific and I really like that. You knew what you wanted. I hope I have fulfilled your book cover wishes 🙂
Who is your favorite Indie artist?
I guess any artist that’s not affiliated with a publisher could be considered independent. But most are a combination of both. One of my favorite contemporary illustrators is Loish (Lois van Baarle). I’m so jealous of her skills. Her character designs are stunning and magical. Her illustrations are incredibly pretty. Another illustrator I really like is Yasmin (chubbytentacle.com), her style is so much fun. I can’t help but smile when I see her illustrations.
Who is your favorite traditional artist?
I really like John William Waterhouse. I can stare at those paintings for a long time. I also enjoy the work of Berthe Morisot, a female impressionist painter. I have a lot of respect for the female painters in history. Often their pursuit of art wasn’t taken very seriously. Though I can’t identify with the era they lived in. There have been people in my life who don’t see how being an illustrator can be a actual job.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I can only pick one? 🙂 I am quite happy with my life as it is now. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get here.
Yesterday, Mathew Reuther, a fantasy crime writer using considerable more gore than I do, posted an excerpt from my novel on his homepage. Also, one of the most successful Indie authors from Germany published my guest post on Mixing and Balancing Genres on his site (German only).
Today, German book-blogger Katja posted my guest post “Developing Swordplay” in German on her site (this has also been posted in English). She read the book and liked it a lot, so she’ll be writing a review in a few days.
Like with everything, a blog-tour has also times when things don’t go as planned. Thus, the post planned for yesterday on author Roy Huff’s homepage went missing and I don’t know why. As soon as it shows up, I’ll let you know.
People on my list already know this story (list members get early access to a lot of stuff and some exclusivity and special offers), but I want to share it with you too. Here is an introductory snippet for Moira (in German it’s been posted on Kathleens Bücherwelt in today’s tour stop). The English post for the day is about names in worldbuilding. Check it out here.
Moira wriggled on the chair in front of the principal’s office. Her hands felt strangely empty. Up to this point it had been very comforting to hold on to her application papers. What should she do with her hands now?
The door opened and the secretary looked out, the gray bob over her haggard features blending in with the mint colored walls.
“You may come in now.”
Moira’s heart began to beat faster, and the palms of her hands grew wet. What if her application was declined? This was the only chance she was going to get, and it was a miracle already that the Academy had invited her for an interview. She forced her trembling legs to get up and follow the secretary along a narrow corridor with many doors. Not one of them was labeled, but she assumed they led to the teachers’ conference rooms. At the end of the corridor, the secretary showed her through a big oaken door into a gigantic room. It was so different from what Moira had expected, she stopped and stared at the expanse. Big windows on the far side allowed the sun to light up the room, blurring it into a bright nothingness. White walls emphasized the feeling of being out of this world. On the left side of the door stood two comfortable looking chairs and a low table with two cups, a coffee pot, and a plate with cookies. It was the only furniture in the room.
Moira’s gaze searched for the Academy’s principal but aside from her, there was no one in sight. Even the secretary had left. Feeling small and insignificant, she walked to the seating arrangement but didn’t dare to sit down. Patiently, she waited.
“Please, make yourself comfortable.” The principal’s voice she knew from a previous parlebol call filled the room before a dark shadow appeared beside her and condensed into a portly man with a big, curled mustache.
With his wide, black robe and the beak-like nose, the principal reminded Moira of a rather plump raven. She curtsied and stammered a greeting before her legs gave and she settled into the nearest chair. Did he always appear like this? Would she ever get a chance to get used to this?
He sat too and filled both cups with coffee, leaving it to her to add sugar or milk.
“You seem rather young to be sitting here.” Stirring his own cup, he leaned back and studied her. “I understand that you skipped two classes, and I must say, I was impressed by your grades. They’re the one reason why I decided to take a look at you. You’d be a great addition to the Gendarmerie Générale. So, why do you insist on joining the Gendarmerie Magique?”
“I’ve been working very hard to be considered.” Moira hated to feel so defensive. She knew she was lacking in magical skills. “My parents have both been very successful officers, and it’s been my dream for as long as I can remember.”
“Not all dreams come true.” The principal drained the cup and set it down. He got up and stepped into the middle of the bright room. “Convince me you’re good enough for the basics. With a deficiency like yours, you’d be a liability for your colleagues.”
Moira swallowed. Did he mean she was supposed to do magic? Here? She followed him, marveling at the fact that her legs were still supporting her. The closer she got, the more the principal blurred. When she reached the middle of the room, only his face was still sharply defined, the rest merged with the whiteness.
“If you find my bureau, I will sign your acceptance paper,” he said and vanished completely.
Dumbstruck, Moira stared at the place where he had just been. Surely it wasn’t so very difficult to find his office? She turned toward the door, but it had vanished together with the principal and the furniture. Everything around her was white and blurred into a mist in the distance. She picked a random direction and walked but nothing changed. Drat. How was she supposed to find anything if she was stuck in the middle of a bright, white mist?
This clearly was a test, and the only qualification that needed testing was her magical ability. Since the principal had said he was only looking for the bare minimum of skills, it couldn’t be too difficult. She probably only needed to use a simple Guide-Moi spell. The problem was that she couldn’t even do first grade stuff. She’d tried often enough to know it wouldn’t work. So, she had to find a way that would lead her to the principal’s office and make him believe she used magic. Fine. The GM-spell was simple and straightforward. People using it looked like sleepwalkers. Moira closed her eyes and let her arms dangle as if using the spell. She turned a full circle, hoping for something, anything that might indicate the direction the principal had left. When nothing presented itself, she opened her eyes again but didn’t move her arms. Surely she would be watched closely.
Surprised, she discovered that the windows were still there. A fine web of golden strands ran over their frames. She had seen this kind of webbing before. It indicated active spells. Well, it was nice to know that the whiteness around her was some sort of spell but it didn’t really help, or did it? She walked toward the windows, the only point of orientation she had in the fog. Against her expectations, she was able to get closer. Soon, she stood in front of a windowpane twice the height of her bedroom at home. Outside, she could see the Academy’s running arena. Several students were training. For a split second, her longing to be one of them became so strong she thought her heart would burst. Biting her lip, she turned away from the window. A thin, blue line led from the window into the mist and vanished in the distance. This hadn’t been there before.
Moira hesitated, but only for a second. It was the only hint she could see, and whether it would lead her to the principal or take her out of the Academy and shatter her dream of joining the Gendarmerie Magique was irrelevant at this point. She couldn’t stay here, so she had to follow the blue line. A fifty-fifty chance was always better than no chance at all. With a sigh, she set out, still letting her arms hang limply at her side as if she were using a GM spell.
The floating blue ribbon led her ten steps away from the window, and then angled sharply to the right. Another seven steps took her to a door. Gently, she touched the surface. Yes, it was a real door, solid oak, like the others she had seen in the Academy. She knocked, and it swung open silently, revealing an office stuffed with books and dark oak furniture. The eyes of several teachers and the principal turned to her. Warmth spread through Moira’s belly. All was well.
P.S.: Please excuse any misspellings and grammar errors. If you want more of these, join my list.
You can find the schedule here and the giveaway here. I linked the posts that are already available so readers who join us at a later point will still be able to find them.
Today, Roger Eschbacher (yup, German name but not German born Indie author) allowed me to tell you how I came up with the story and why it simply wouldn’t stop growing. So what – stories do sometimes grow. And if they do, there’s no stopping them. Enjoy!
Sabio Marten is probably the most intelligent person on the Gendarmerie Magique. Aside from doing his work and inventing new gadgets to improve crime scene investigations, he teaches in Salthaven’s university. Here is one of his lectures for freshmen of Investigative Crime Detection (Sabio insisted I use his original papers including his graphics so I won’t get things muddled). Please keep in mind that the information presented is difficult, so if you don’t get it, don’t worry. You can eat your greens without understanding the details of how plants create matter from sunlight and magic.
Lecture on Photomagysynthesis by Commissaire Sabio Marten Basic Magical Theory – Transcript
In my opinion, Magical Basics should be obligatory for all university courses. It isn’t. Thus, I’m all the more grateful that so many of you attended this course. Let’s dive right in.
I’m sure all of you know the basic formula of Photomagysynthesis. However, I’m better safe than sorry. Photomagysynthesis is the process plants, from tree size to the smallest algae, use to turn sunlight, magic, water and carbon dioxide into sugar while giving of oxygen. For those of you chemically challenged, specialists would write it like this:
6 H2O + 6 CO2 + magic + light –> ΘC6H12O6 + 6 O2
Just to make sure you understand this correctly, the numbers of hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and carbon (C) have to be the same on either side of the arrow. The Θ indicates the magical enhancement. For those of you who don’t know, most sugars have a ring like structure of carbon atoms with hydrogen and oxygen atoms attached. In enhanced sugars, the magic curls up like a ball and sits in the center of the ring of carbon.
With the basics in mind, let’s look at how plants do what they do. Surely you’ve all heard of cells. All plants have cells with green organelles called chloroplasts. These contain so-called thylakoids. Those are membrane-bound compartments inside chloroplasts that look like piles of green coins stacked on top of each other. Their membranes contain molecule-complexes which absorb all colors of light except green. By the way, that’s the reason why plants are usually green. Only a few organisms use predominantly molecules reflecting red or yellow, and they don’t do Photomagysynthesis. They create unenhanced sugars. Their process is called Photosynthesis which is part of every basic biology lecture, so I won’t go into details here.
To make the molecule-complexes very effective, they have antennas using chlorophyll and other light absorbing molecules. Each antenna holds two to four hundred molecules absorbing energy and is referred to as a Photosystem. So, the membranes of the thylakoids hold everything necessary for the first step of the Photomagysynthesis, the light reaction.
During the light reaction, the chlorophyll molecules in Photosystem II use the sunlight’s energy to give off electrons that are then snatched up by a chain of electron transporting molecules. Every molecule in the chain uses up some of the electron’s energy and triggers the combination of Magie Sauvage with ADP and Phosphor to ΘATP. Yes?
Student: What is ADT and ATP?
Oh, you really want to know? Don’t say I haven’t warned you. ADP’s full name is Adenosine diphospate and ATP accordingly Adenosine triphosphate. You can imagine the molecule as a lorry for transporting energy to places where energy is needed – say for growth or movement. It’s just that ATP-molecules don’t keep, so life had to find a way to store energy for longer than the normal ATP-lifecycle. That’s where the sugar comes in. And that’s why we need to know about Photomagysynthesis.
Now, to get back its electrons, the chlorophyll steals new electrons from water inside the thylakoid. That action breaks the water molecule. This process is called the photolysis of water. The oxygen atoms combine into O2 and travel out of the plant. Lucky for us or we couldn’t breathe.
light reaction part one
They leave behind hydrogen atoms that are missing an electron – and a lone rider like that is called… correct… a proton. The protons are transported out of the thylakoid by an enzyme that works like a one way revolving door. As the proton is pushed from the inside of the thylakoid to the outside, the enzyme creates more ATP, this time unenhanced. To fill up the void left by the protons, new water streams into the thylakoid through the membrane, thus keeping the photolysis going.
creation of ATP and transport of protons out of the thylakoid
At the same time, the electrons that went through Photosystem II and the chain of electron transporting molecules reach a second photosystem. Photosystem I re-charges them with sunlight, and hands them to a second chain of electron transporting molecules. At the end of this chain, the electrons are used to combine two waiting protons with a stuff called NADP… what? No I won’t tell you the full name this time – go join a biology class…
As I said, two protons combine with NADP and Magie Sauvage to ΘNADPH2+. This molecule is like a shopping cart for protons. It takes them to the place where the second step of the Photomagysynthesis takes part. Here’s a graphic presenting the whole light reaction at once.
full light reaction
Now for the second step – The molecules produced during the light reaction are used to build sugars out of carbon dioxide. Since the second step isn’t directly dependent on light, it is often referred to as light-independent or dark reactions. But because it uses molecules from the light reaction, it still is indirectly dependent on light, so the expression is misleading.
The second step of the Photomagysynthesis is called the Calvin cycle, named after a poor guy who spent half his life watching the grass grow. It takes part in the Chloroplast but outside of the thylakoids, and it starts with an enhanced five-carbon-sugar grabbing a carbon dioxide molecule. The newly produced six-carbon-sugar splits up into one enhanced three-carbon-sugar molecule and a normal three-carbon-sugar molecule.
The normal three-carbon-sugar molecule grabs more carbon dioxide molecules and uses ΘATP and ΘNADPH2+ from the light reaction to recreate the initial five-carbon-sugar in several steps. It’s a form of recycling to make sure the plant doesn’t run out of five-carbon-sugars.
The second, enhanced three-carbon-sugar merges with another of its kind. The result is what we commonly refer to as sugar. Since it was built from two enhanced molecules, it is also magically enhanced with the magic caught in the center of the ring structure.
This sugar is then transported out of the chloroplast and distributed to wherever in the cell it is needed, or it is put into storage. When the enhanced sugar gets digested, the magic inside the molecules has been significantly altered by being balled up. It is set free as Magie Générale.
Herbivores or omnivores like us keep part of the enhanced molecules in their metabolism. Carnivores and omnivores receive their share of Magie Générale from what remains in the food chain. Are there questions?
Student: So I get more magic when I eat more greens?
Unfortunately not. It has been proven that the limiting factor for the amount of magic a human can hold is not related to the amount of plant matter consumed. There’s no need to become a vegetarian if you’re not so inclined.
Student: Is there a way to make someone’s magic stronger? What does limit the accumulation of magic?
The limit is defined by a genetically predetermined threshold that differs for every individual. Research suggests… No, I think I’ll better stop here. This is not about Photomagysynthesis any more, and I don’t think the university would be happy if I held you captive for one of my rants. Thank you for listening today, and I hope to see you again when I talk about our relationship with nerls, next week. Good bye.
(editors note: Did you understand all that? Where did you stop? I did tell you he’s a geek, right? Let me tell you a secret: so am I – I love this stuff!)
Today, the first volume of my first ever Fantasy series went life, and I feel like bubbling over with joy. I don’t know why but it took me nearly a month to get everything in place. Formatting seemed to take forever. I wish I could afford to get someone else to do it for me. Sigh…
That said, I simply love the way the book turned out, and I’m really looking forward to sending out a couple of print copies (although shipping will take a while since the books will be delivered to me here in Germany first and then get sent out again).
So without further ado, here’s “Swordplay”, the first volume in the “Gendarmerie Magique” series.
Swordplay – A Gendarmerie Magique Novel
About the Book
CSI with magic but without the gore
Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn’t part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.
For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up
At the moment, I’m running a Giveaway on Goodreads for my next release “Swordplay”, the first volume in the “Gendarmerie Magique” series. The book will be released on January the 31st, and you can win a copy right here already. What are you waiting for?