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Category Archives: Trolls

The Ben Wootten Cover Saga Continues…

Greetings Chronicles of Covent® readers! Above is another world famous design Ben Wootten completed for the iconic Lord of the Rings movies, the legendary Nazgul, or more commonly known as Ringwraiths. I apologize for the lack of updates, but the cover for Path of the Magi was delayed due to unforeseen events outside the control of Mirror Images Publishing. Ben Wootten was hard at work on the cover in the early spring, but events occurred in his life that required some emergency time off. Of course, as important as the cover was to me, real life needs trump art covers. Begrudgingly, I accepted and explained I understood, wishing him the very best. I’m glad to say Ben is doing much better now, but this left the project in a state of flux for several months.

In the meantime, I embarked on a personal quest to find a replacement artist of Ben’s caliber, hoping to take our artwork to the next level. This began three frustrating months of tireless searching, which sadly yielded too few results. As result, I had no answers and no answers meant no blog updates. However, time has proved to be the healer of all wounds. Ben and I have recently reconnected. He is back at work and has taken the project back up. He has completed a couple extreme rough draft variations, of which I shall show off here. Please keep in mind this is a work in progress.
This is the first draft we received, more an extreme rough of the cover, but already even in simple blotchy inks you can see the extent of Ben Wootten’s gifts. The scene is truly epic, the fiery mountains of Doruggdoom is the setting. Plumes of black smoke rise from the black basalt, volcanic mountain range choked with fire and brimstone. Lava flows down the mountainsides snaking and pooling into lakes and rivers of terrible hot burning magma. This is where the climax of Path of the Magi takes place.

There are no roads in Doruggdoom. The homelands to the winged race of Drakor, or dragon men, as you may have read in other novels have no need for such land based conveniences. Their legendary tower cities rise up like gigantic spires of death from the jagged mountain peaks. Each tower is a superstructure housing thousands of dragon men. The hordes of Drakor swoop down from the Dragongates suspended hundreds of feet high from the tower cities, patrolling their dark lands and capturing prisoners in nets to be made slaves or sacrificed on the black altars.

There is no escape from the tower cities of Doruggdoom, with no land based gates or lacking many common stairwells, it is said escape from Drakoran slavery is impossible. The tower cities are also virtually impregnable. Footed in the mountain peaks, any siege forces face an impossible uphill battle to the tower cities, with no gate to lay siege. Tens of thousands of soldiers have lost their lives trying to attack such terrible pillars of construction.

As you can see here, we went with more a portrait look on this draft of the new cover. A classic fantasy cover, this concept portrayed three of our heroes: Davril, Edronius and Festan. Many of you may have recognized Festan La Faun, Merrymaker Extraordinaire and Minstrel at Large, as he calls himself. For those of you who have been asking about this Faun since his cameo in Shade I: Waiting Game, yes, Festan is a far more important character than the small comedic role he played in Shade’s first novel. Festan’s antics and tendency to see the world through rose petals adds a lot of fun to our first adventure novel and shows the dark consequences of living too carefree in a dark and dangerous world.
This is a second option for the cover. In this draft we decided to go for a more action-oriented approach. Given the Drakor are swarming our heroes, it does seem a little strange that the companions might pause for a Kodak moment. This option adds a bit more danger and suspense to the cover. It also ties the entire scene together from the back to front cover a bit more organically. I love the Drakor swooping down to strike Davril’s raised shield and Edronius’ pose, once the magic is added, will certainly heighten the sense of action and adventure.

Now let’s learn a bit more about Davril and Edronius themselves. Besides a few small parts, magic has played a very minor role in our other novels published so far. Magic has been more a tool of a hero or a weapon of a foe, but we haven’t delved too deeply into the arts of magic in the world of Covent just yet. Magic is at the heart of the struggle in the Triloriad™ itself and has vast effects on our lands. We’ll start exploring the beginnings of the vast mysteries of magic in the Adventure Series, learning more and more with each new novel. Much of the detail is disturbing and shocking, building until eventually it hangs over Covent like a threat of nuclear proportions.

That’s all I’ll say for now. Edronius is a red robed mage. Schooled in all the arts of both the light and dark magics, he represents the balance of magic. He has a full arsenal of spells and combination magic at his disposal, although his personality is a bit wild and rebellious. Edronius is good at heart, but thirsts for adventure, a trait which his best friend Davril both loves him for and grows wary of. Edronius grew up near the coliseum in Doljinaar where he spent a lot of time play fencing with gladiators. His father was a famous trapper who traveled the lands capturing impressive beasts for the games. Edronius journeyed with his father on many of these hunting expeditions developing a constant need to put his boots to the road and strike out into the world.

Davril, on the other hand, likes more order and predictability in his life. A son of a Doljinnarian soldier who fell in the line of duty, Davril is well disciplined. An expert swordsman trained at the same infamous magic tower as Edronius, he mixes his blade with magic. Davril is a kind of a warrior mage with a good head on his shoulders, but he is also a powerful caster. A natural leader and levelheaded filter for Edronius’ crazy ideas, the pair have formed a powerful combo. Expect to learn far more about the depths of magic and its consequences on our world in future Chronicles of Covent novels.

To learn more about Path of the Magi, read on our website. Samples to be put online soon! More updates to come as Ben Wootten’s cover progresses. In other news, Kindle is running a sale on The Last Field of Honor, Book One of the Elf Wars Trilogy. For a limited time it is on sale for only 99 cents! The linkage is here. Now to decide on which cover design to go with. Mmmmmmmm. Decisions. Decisions…

 

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Shade III: The Weeping Grounds Book Cover Reveal

The Chronicles of Covent is proud to present the official cover art to the highly anticipated Shade III: The Weeping Grounds. Our new artist Rob Joseph has loaded this cover with as much grit, mood and just plain attitude we’ve always wanted to see in our covers. We hope you appreciate Shade’s anger and intensity on this cover as much as we do.

Shade III: The Weeping Grounds is a rare story. The infamous Unseen Assassin has allowed himself to be captured by the Slavelords of the Black Ring. He is forced to endure unimaginable pain and harsh treatments in order to reach the high-profile marks that lie at the end of his dark journey. Shade is playing possum in the most dangerous gamble of his life and yet not even he is prepared for the trials and tribulations that await him.

From the release of Shade I: Waiting Game, we’ve often been asked by fans and reviewers the purpose in making Shade so invincible? Covent is a world teeming with many memorable characters, at all stages of walks in life. Shade starts out at the peak of his career and is the world’s top assassin. He was meant to appeal to readers who love a good bad @$$ character who walks into a bar and takes out everyone. We started Shade here by design.

J. E. and I were great fans of these kinds of characters in our younger high school days. However, these kinds of high testosterone-pumped portrayals in modern film, rarely have time to deal with real life fallout and consequences that comes with this kind of living. Shade’s over-arching story will delve deeply into the cold hard callous life of an assassin, the increasing burden of blood guilt and the high risk living that teeters on the edge of destruction.

Shade stands atop a mountain of his own accomplishments. He has no other place to go but down. The question remains how many times he’ll be able to get back up again after he is brought to his knees. Shade II: Kingsblood challenged him harder than any trial he had ever faced before, but he was able to overcome. In Shade III: The Weeping Grounds Shade is encountered by forces so powerful and beyond his control that he is faced with the demoralizing horror of his own helpless mortality. How Shade will deal with these forces will be a big part of the continuing Shade saga. And so without further ado here is the full color cover for Shade III: The Weeping Grounds.

To read more about the exciting upcoming release and whet your appetite with a free sampler. Click here:

 

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Shade 2: Kingsblood Official Book Release

***BOOK RELEASE ANNOUCEMENT***
Shade Tale II: Kingsblood is finally available for sale in print and all major e-book formats!

Shade 2 Front Cover High Rez

 


Shade has returned to his asylum in Jile after single-handedly ousting the ruler of the Kurn underworld. He did not find the challenge he had thirsted for, but deep in the shadows of the nation’s colossal capital a far greater danger brews. An assassins’ war…

Shade is on a colliding path with the challenge of a lifetime. A contract has been written soon to be sealed in the blood of kings. A guild of assassins creeps out of the shadows of mighty Doljinaar, eager to collect on the royal bounty.  Shade is sent in counter and so he must reach down deep inside himself to find out whether any good still lives within him.

The time has come for the world’s darkest assassin to make a stand, but will he stand for good or for evil? And what will Shade do when he at last meets a worthy rival face to face?

Don’t miss the book our reader’s group is calling “twice has good as Shade 1” and “a new level of craftsmanship”

Get your copy today!
http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/shade2.html

In celebration of our new release, Shade Tale I: Waiting Game has been reduced to 99 cents on all major e-book formats!*

*Please note offer applies to all major formats except Googlebooks. Sadly, Mirror Images Publishing has no control over pricing on Googlebooks.

 

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Happy Holidays from the Chronicles of Covent…

Greetings blog-readers! I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone happy holidays!

Just a few short announcements. I know I had promised Shade 2 would be released at the end of 2012, but it seems Christmas has snuck up on me this year. The book is on the last few chapters of its final proof and I am so excited about Shade’s sequel. I really feel this story shows so many deeper dimensions of Shade’s soul and puts him in a far more interesting role of an anti-hero. There are also so many strong characters introduced in Shade 2 that will play major parts in Shade’s life and he finally finds the worthy adversary he has been thirsting for…

That said I made a promise last year to my wife that I wouldn’t let a book release get in the way of the holidays. Everything was on track this year until that Frankenstorm Sandy hit in late October. Bad Frankenstorm! I spent the last two months working double shifts in servicing the superstorm. I came off of catastrophe storm assignment a few days ago, but in order to complete the book release before Christmas I’d have to eat up all my family time.

As many of you know my wife is pregnant with our second child and my four-year-old, Everett, has been in need of some serious daddy time. We are very excited about this new little addition to our family! Looks like my son is getting a sequel… ; )

The good news for Chronicles of Covent fans is that the release of Shade 2: Kingsblood may be put off until next year, but next year is just around the corner! I am so close it kills me to hold off on the book’s release, but that means you will see Shade 2 appear on the market early 2013! Look for the official release announcement in very, very, very early 2013! Website updates and promotions to follow!

Thanks again,
J. L.

For now whet your whistle on this free sample of the first couple chapters of Shade 2 available for download at ChroniclesofCovent.com

 

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The Brand is Growing…

The Brand is Growing…
I’m very excited to announce I’ve holding the first proof of Shade 2 in my hands! It’s pretty cool to be holding not one, but two Chronicles of Covent books in my hand. Sorry I haven’t been blogging much, but I’ve been tied up working Hurricane Sandy over the phone, so I’ve been quite busy working storm hours. I have been pouring over this proof copy in the evenings however and on my Kindle, which technically means I’m now onto proof 3.

If you can bear with me for one blog, I thought I’d make this blog more about Covent news rather than a terribly clever blog update. That said I’ve got a lot of exciting news and am developing a new strategy for next year that should see a better balance between blogging and the official ChroniclesofCovent.com web updates I promised last year. Although, I enjoyed the blogs I think they distracted me a bit from all the official CoC.com web updates I had originally planned. I think a massive content fantasy website could really walk hand in hand with our books and hasn’t been done before on a large scale.

That said I also believe in blogging. It’s a great way to have get clever, show off content, interview guests and get your name out there. I’ll still be doing blogs, however, I’ll probably stick with once a month so I can continue to pump out books and official ChroniclesofCovent.com web updates. Except far more official ChroniclesofCovent.com web updates next year including characters, races, creatures and more.


Updates! Updates! Updates!!!

We’re excited to announce that the first round of Shade 2 updates had gone live for Characters and Races on ChroniclesofCovent. We have added over 50 new characters and 10 new races to the website. Expect Shade 2 updates to Factions, Races and Places over the next few months. Please forgive a few typos. I’ve had to focus my late evening proofing sessions on the next book, which you can’t fix after it goes to print so website is priority 2. You will notice we had to move away from the fancy flip format pages on these pages. Sorry about that, but loading time was getting worse and worse with all the new entries, especially on Characters. However, going to simpler HTML will allow me to make far more updates myself without waiting forever on our web guy.

New Artwork!
You’ll also notice a lot of new artwork on the official homepage. Some artwork was made by our cover artist Thom Scott, but several other artists submitted Chronicles of Covent artwork to us as well. We realize that some of these art styles don’t totally mesh on the website, but we’re excited for the interest. By representing all of the different artist submissions we’re received is a great way to show off some of the excitement that is buzzing around our new brand and also help artists fond enough to support us to promote themselves. We welcome any other artists wishing to send us more art from our world. We are now listing artist credits in the description of each Character, Race, Faction, Creature or Place. Stay tuned! More artwork to come!!!

So When Is Shade 2 Coming Out?
Shade 2 is reaching its final stage in far more pristine condition than our original release of Shade 1. I’m hoping to release the softcover, PDF and Kindle edition next month, that’s December 2012! The iStore, Nook and Googlebooks versions will probably be available in January as it seems these vendors take twice as long to put the book on the virtual shelves. We are discontinuing hardcovers as this format has not been supported by sales. We are very excited about Shade 2 since our reader’s group has been saying it’s twice as good as the original. Shade 2 is also a bit longer than the original, clocking in over 200 pages. We can’t wait to get this new book in your hands!!!

Stay tuned for a far more active ChroniclesofCovent.com this coming year!!!

 

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Not Sold on the Wii U (Part 2 of 2, Yes I Kept it to 2)

Sorry blog-readers part two of this blog has been so long in coming. I’ve been immensely productive on our book series. I completed two full proofing runs of Shade II, seven more chapters of Elf Wars, three totally new chapters of the finished book one of Adventure Series and even six full chapters of the completely overhauled Triloriad. As result, the importance of my ranting on the Wii U felt small by comparison. That said, let me jump back on the whine wagon.

Ok, ok, onto my hardcore concerns…

The Big N Always Trying to Outdo the Big N
There is no doubt that Nintendo has some of the strongest video game franchises of all time and makes some of the best games in the world. I just don’t understand why they can’t just embrace a technology they made last generation and simply pour all their energies into making epic Mario, Zelda and Metroid in glorious high definition. I do not want to play another Zelda game without Skyword Sword motion control! I don’t care if link’s menu now appears on a little screen on my controller. I want to wave my sword around like Link!!!

Right now I feel like Nintendo is its own worst enemy. The Big N is infected with a major case of “out-do-itis”. Instead, of releasing a major epic Nintendo franchise at launch I feel like they’ve spent too much time trying to come up with the next revolution in gaming. The E3 coverage was highly disappointing because Nintendo didn’t unveil what everyone was really waiting for…a high definition Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda or another mega launch franchise. Instead, we get Nintendoland. Whoopie! I can now shake my blocky controller like a Japanese tourist with my grandma in high definition! Again, why am I not playing Mario or Zelda with traditional Wii controls in glorious high definition?

Of course, I will acknowledge that there is a time and place for motion control. Some Wii games got too gimmicking trying to incorporate actions that simply can’t be done naturally with a Wii controller. Like kicks or headstands or cartwheels or bellyflops, but the Classic controller, classic NES style among other control schemes provided a wide array of options. Right now Zombie U is one of the only Wii U games that looks like it has some good ideas on how to incorporate the Wii U controller. That said, my biggest turn off is that I’m going to have to aim this clunky Wii pad or an analog stick at the screen to shoot zombies. I’m a Japanese tourist again…say cheese, zombie!

Alas, I’m getting back to controls again. Sorry, I’m grabbing a hold of the blog wheel and steering toward my other Wii U concerns. There, back on track…

Lack of Third Party Support
My biggest fear is that Nintendo’s latest toy will distract Third Party Support from making some truly awesome high definition motion control or point and shoot games. Third Party Developers already shied away from the original Wii because as one of their toothy programmers put it, “Nintendo just took two Gamecubes and stuck them together with a roll of duck tape.”  Ok, so Wii U has some power under the hood. So developers can finally make some hi-def games, but the last thing I want them to do is to try to incorporate the new controller into everything just to please Miyamoto. Then if third party sales don’t come in because we tried to mold the game to the controller instead of the controller to the game, they’ll back off the Wii U entirely.
Third Party Support was such a glaring issue on Wii I don’t think I’ll be able to run out and buy a Wii U before I see how well they support the Wii. This puts me in a one to two year post launch window for even thinking about buying a Wii U. Pretty much all the groundbreaking third party games were made on Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 because, and I cough, the Wii’s graphics sucked! Even though the Wii outsold both the PS3 and the 360, it was largely ignored by third parties.

Lack of Online
Another of my biggest complaints for the Wii was the HORRIBLE online experience. While the 360 was rocking a far more customer friendly Xbox Live, I was still stumbling around trying to enter Friend Codes. Worse, Wii didn’t even get a fraction of the online options available on other systems. Entire game expansions, free downloads and customization options GREATLY enhanced many of the game releases on other systems. People were playing and replaying the games they loved through new downloadable content and I was still trying to type in that pesky friend code!

I’d hate to admit it, but I am still a wrestling fan. Yes, I know it’s fake, but for some reason I am drawn to the flashy muscle-headed soap opera known as professional wrestling. Sometimes even more than watching wrestling, I enjoy a good highly customizable wrestling game where I can make my own feuds and have greats clash across impossible intergenerational lines. WWE on Wii not only had worse graphics, but it also ALWAYS left out a lot of content that was included on PS2 and 360 counterparts of the same game. It also had NO customization options outside what was included on the disc itself. It had no downloadable packs to download new wrestlers. It had no way to download other gamer’s CAWs (nerdy way to say player created wrestlers). It had no way to upload custom music so my Goldberg or NWO CAWs could actually come out to their real life theme music. Ugh!

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that I’m not going to run out and buy a Wii U like last time. I appreciate that the Wii controllers are still compatible with the Wii U, but I’m going to wait and see if programmers bother to still make games for the truly innovative motion control scheme. If Nintendo ignores the original Wii controls, I will ignore the Wii U. If third party Wii U sales fail because they spent too much time trying to make games for Nintendo’s latest gimmick, I will ignore the Wii U. If third parties cannot compete on Wii U due to Nintendo’s super franchises (I have play a thousand times), I will ignore the Wii U. If I cannot download packs or CAWs or upload custom music to my Wii U wrestling game, I will ignore the Wii U.

Nintendo, this lifelong Nintendo fan’s loyalty now rests in your hands, so try not to blow off your fat foot with that new clunky Wii controller…

To find out more about us check us out at the www.chroniclesofcovent.com. Next blog will be Covent centric and the entry after that will be an Author Interview with my special guest, Michael Patterson, the author of a killer new super-hero title called Freak.

You can check him out here for in the meanwhile…
http://www.amazon.com/Freak-Michael-Patterson/dp/1453666192/ref=sr_…

 

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Not Sold on the Wii U (Part 1 of 2, Maybe 3 Week Rant)

Kishrub & Zulbash on the Wii UI thought I’d take a break from our regular content that revolves around our insanely overblown fantasy world and talk about something off subject. As all of my friends know I’ve been a loyal Nintendo fan since the original console. I have been loyal to every Nintendo console owning every single system from the original NES to the Wii with the exception of the Gamecube. I have owned no other system but the Playstation 2 which I bought used post generation and an imported Japanese Turbo Duo back when I was into Japanese Anime. I got out of videos games for what I call the “Too Many Buttons” Generation, but I found the Wii to be so innovative in its simple and fresh approach to gameplay that Nintendo won me back to the fold.

Now don’t get me wrong. How can one go wrong with a High Definition Wii? I mean after all the Wii’s outdated graphics did not stop it from being wildly successful. Boy does Wii Sports look bad on any decent flat screen TV, but it was fun. The new high definition graphics should make these clumpy polygons a thing of the past and I’m sure Nintendo will deliver some of their franchises in jaw dropping 3D definition at last! Seeing a high definition 3D Mario or Zelda should be every Nintendo fan boy’s dream, so what am I complaining about?

I’ve been reviewing news presses, launch announcements and E3 coverage, but I find myself lacking any initial excitement over the new system. It’s not the graphics or the lack of a MAJOR Nintendo launch title that is putting me off. It’s just I don’t trust this blocky DSi turned controller Nintendo is touting around as the next major video game revolution.

Controls were exactly why I hesitated so long to buy any gaming system in the “Too Many Buttons” Generation. I remember trying Starfox at Walmart and walking away in disgust because the Gamecube controller just was a button too much for me. I fear that Nintendo’s next effort to redefine the industry is a break away from the ingeniously simple customizable Wii controls and a return to a caveman beating himself over the head with an awkward stone tablet.  Duuuuuuuh, how dis work?

I have other concerns, but let me get to them one at a time. Here goes. What’s wrong with the Wii U?

The Shape
Look at this thing! The shape feels all wrong to me. What is this a motion controlled brick? I could not think of a more awkward motion control device. I have a hard time wrapping my imagination around a brick. There were so many natural items the original Wii controller and nunchuck could create together. What am I supposed to do with this thing? Shaking in frustration. What is this an Etch-A-Sketch? Oops I shook the remote when I meant to push a button. Mario just jumped into a pit!

Let’s compare the new so called revolutionary Wii U controller to the original truly revolutionary Wii controller. Look at the sleek long design. It fits very naturally in one’s hand. Oh, I can imagine that shape as a sword or a bat or a tennis racket. Really, all I have to do is swing it like a sword or a handle? Brilliant! What’s this nunchuck thing do? Oh, wait I get it. I can run around with it. Or put up my fists and box. Feels good to throw punches. Goodbye “Too Many Buttons” Generation!

And on top of that it has point and shoot capability? Just point at the screen. Oh, like a gun? Yes, just like a gun. You mean I don’t have to sweep an awkward dual analog stick across the screen to shoot targets? No, you just point and shoot. BRILLIANT! Now I don’t need every first person shooter in the world, but let me tell you playing Metroid and Goldeneye on Wii caused me to NEVER, EVER want to play another first person shooter without Wii controls again.

But now we’re back to this. Mind you its’ not a Gamecube controller, but it’s a glorified DSi controller in disguise. I appreciate what Nintendo has done for the industry, but why do we need to reinvent the wheel every generation? Is there ever a time when Nintendo’s cutting edge efforts ever cut off their foot? This new peripheral is going to drag attention away from the control schemes I really like and go back to playing Gameboy with motion control one hay-wired.

It’s Not Simple

Duuuuuuuh, what we do with this thing? This pad makes me feel about as stupid as Kishrub and Zulbash. It makes me want to wrack my brain over it. Part of the initial appeal of the original Wii was that it was so simple. People just picked it up and used it. It made even casuals instant converts. Now Nintendo you want me to hand this thing to my grandma? Are you nuts?

I can just imagine the look on her face. The “what in tarnation” have you handed me look? I might as well hand her my multi-function TV, amp, VCR, DVD remote back from the 80s. Look grandma its motion control with dual screens. Grandma stop looking at the Wii U controller screen, you can’t see where you’re driving. No grandma don’t shake the controller, you’ll speed boost into a tree. Grandma please don’t stand on the controller. It’s not a Wii Fit board.

This doesn’t sound fun to me or her at all. I’ll feel like I’m telling her how to program the VCR all over again. It’s just not simple. I don’t think casuals are going to embrace this devise like they did the Wii because it feels far less natural, because it’s basically a big awkward object and I don’t think casuals are dying to see Wii Sports in high definition. That’s why Solitaire and Minesweeper have been popular for years. Casuals just want simple straight-forward games.

I have several more hardcore gamer reservations, but I’ll save those comments for next week. I’ve gone on this tirade long enough for one week. Stay tuned for Part 2, and maybe even Part 3, of my rant. I guess I’ve got a whole lot more bottled up inside…

If you’re wondering who we are. You can find out more about us here: http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/

 

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