Check This Out: Warlord of the Forgotten Age

Hello! Happy 2018!

One of my favorite ways to celebrate a new year is to host a giveaway. With that in mind, on the blog today is the awesome Charles Yallowitz.

Those of you who have followed me for a while have seen many posts featuring Charles’s books from his Legends of Windemere series. Well, today he’s here to talk about the final novel in the series: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. Let’s celebrate with Charles by talking with him about this milestone in his series.

Cover by Jason Pedersen

   
El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Charles: 1. I was born premature and required two blood transfusions before I could finally go home. Been told that my head was shaved to allow for the wires and sensors they put on me. Part of me wonders if this introduction to the world is why I have such a visceral fear of needles. It’s to the point where trying to give blood can result in me fainting.
2. Pizza is my favorite food and I use it as a reward for hard work. I don’t get it for myself when I’m working on a project. Once I’m done, I pick a day where I go to the local pizza place and get a few variety slices. My favorite is a Rigatoni Ala Vodka slice.


3. According to my parents, I was given a Gonzo (The Muppets) prototype plushie when I was a kid. The story goes that a family friend in the business suggested they test their upcoming plushie line on me. She showed me the toys, but I was upset that there was no Gonzo. This led to me getting a Gonzo toy a few weeks later with a cape and this soft plastic nose. I chewed that part up a lot and always shared my gum with him, so any value was pretty quickly destroyed.
4. I used to have a habit of watching an anime called Neon Genesis Evangelion when I was depressed. To explain, I get blue and down periods a lot if I’m under a lot of stress. No real urge to do anything and I can’t find a real source of the gray mindset. So, I’d put this anime on, which is strange because it can get really dark and depressing itself. Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t really a happy, pick-me-up series, but I kept watching it for some reason because it made me feel better.

El Space: In completing the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson said on his website:

I’ve reached the end of the journey and set down my burdens. It’s wonderful, relaxing, and solemn all at once. I love the Wheel of Time. It’s also great to be done.

What are some of your thoughts at the conclusion of your series?
Charles: Wow, I feel like I need a cool quote like that now, but I keep feeling like I’m at a crossroads instead of an exit. Legends of Windemere has been a part of my life for so long that it feels weird knowing I no longer wake up to working on it. Yet the survivors can show up in other adventures. I spent a lot of time planning future series. I keep saying that it’s bittersweet when I write about it, so that’s definitely the best word. Is it great to be done like Sanderson said in his quote? I wouldn’t say it’s great, but I definitely feel proud about making it to the end of such a big adventure for both my characters and myself. Guess just like with the champions, I have to accept the ending and move on too.

El Space: Your series began almost twenty years ago. Looking back at your initial vision for the series, did it come out the way you envisioned it? Why or why not?
Charles: Since this was based on a D&D game, the vision was always a little fluid. Yet the initial version is very different from what I came out with. Merchant of Nevra Coil, The Mercenary Prince, and Path of the Traitors weren’t part of the original idea. Those stories stemmed from me seeing some characters who were interesting, but underutilized. On a more detailed level, the character relationships stayed pretty much where I expected them as far as the champions themselves. I stumbled onto various secrets and surprises as I wrote, which changed the vision and world building slightly. Mostly, it involved how magic and various cultures worked since this series was also designed to set the stage for future series.

    

Covers by Jason Pedersen

I always wanted to have a lot of action, humor, and entertaining characters to draw my readers into the world. I think that’s stayed relatively stable while the pieces have changes and morphed over time.

El Space: Without giving any spoilers, which character(s) was/were the most surprising to you in their development? Why?
Charles: All of my characters have thrown me curveballs from time to time. But the reigning champion has to be Kira Grasdon. It might be weird to pick a supporting character, but the surprising part of her development is that she had any in the first place. Way back when, she was a nameless blonde in the background of Beginning of a Hero. Then she got the name Linny and became a mouthy character in one chapter. At some point, I decided she would be better as a decoy for something and gave her more scenes. Things rolled with her proving to have more sparks with Luke than his original lady love from the game and the entire Bor’daruk culture was created around the newly dubbed Kira Grasdon. So, she’s a nameless figure that managed to grab more and more attention in every edit until she became an essential player. The series wouldn’t be what it is now without her even though I know she’s ruffled a lot of reader feathers over the years.

Kira illustration by Kayla Matt

El Space: Who will you miss writing about the most? Why?
Charles: Luke Callindor will probably be missed the most. He was my character in that D&D game, so there’s a closer bond between us than with the other champions. It was always very natural for me to write his scenes and dialogue, which might stem from me being him for so long. There will be a few other characters like him in other series, but Luke could be considered my first surrogate. That and I always felt like I could do more to him than the other characters without feeling as much guilt or getting in as much trouble.

         

Luke illustration by Kayla Matt; cover art by Jason Pedersen

El Space: What advice do you have for newbie authors who’d like to try their hand at a fantasy series?
Charles: Since we’re talking about series specifically, I would advise that new authors put a lot of attention on continuity. World building is very important to fantasy, so you need to make sure your magical systems, cultures, monsters, and everything else are consistent. It’s hard to keep track of after a few volumes, so developing a system of notes is highly recommended. Readers are very quick to point out inconsistencies in the world, so never be afraid to go back in the series to make sure you’re keeping things the same.

El Space: What will you work on next?
Charles: My next series is going to delve into the world of the Dawn Fangs, which are the day-walking vampires of Windemere. It will reveal their origins and the vampire civil war that ensued between them and the old worlds. Right now, it’s looking like nine books at most, since this is going to be another foundation series for Windemere. Aside from War of Nytefall, I have a one-shot spinoff of Legends of Windemere that I plan on publishing next summer. So, I’m planning on staying fairly busy, even if I take it a little slower in January. Maybe just focus on outlines during that time.

Thanks, Charles, for being my guest!

Looking for Charles? You can find him at his blog, Twitter, Facebook.

Warlord of the Forgotten Age can be found on Amazon. But one of you will win a copy of this book. Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winner to be announced on January 15, 2018, along with the winner of another book you will hear about soon!

Warlord of the Forgotten Age cover and author photo courtesy of Charles Yallowitz. Legends of Windemere cover art by Jason Pedersen. Character art by Kayla Matt. A Memory of Light cover from Goodreads. Rigatoni ala vodka pizza image from gfcookiesxo.blogspot.com. New Year image from happynewyear2018photos.net. Finale image from grandbanktheater.ca. Neon Genesis Evangelion image from taringa.net.

Check This Out: Legends of Windemere (Part 2)

Welcome back to the blog. Glad you’re here. Help yourself to a beverage. With us is the cool and clever Charles Yallowitz, here to continue the discussion of his series, Legends of Windemere. Charles also is a poet, so I’m sure he appreciates the alliteration I just used. 😀 If you’re a first timer, you  might want to check here for part 1 of the interview with Charles.

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And of course, there’s a giveaway. Two of those who comment today will win the first three books of the series. But first, let’s talk to Charles.

El Space: How do you decide how much back story to include in each subsequent book of the series?
Charles: Since I write in present tense, I can’t do a narrative that goes over what previously happened. I have to remind readers about prior events through character dialogues. This creates a basic overview of the back story from the perspective of the continuing characters. I try to touch on the big events of the past and bring them up if it makes sense. For example, there is a betrayal in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower and it gets brought up from time to time, either by remembering the deceased character or somebody brings up the traitor. The trick to carrying over back story in present tense is really to make it appear natural within the course of a conversation. If you can’t fit it in, then don’t do it. You can either wait for an opening to appear or create an earlier conversation to bring it up.

Luke_Cross_SwordsEl Space: Which character is most like you? Least? If you were a character in your series, what powers would you have?
Charles: Luke Callindor [left] will always be the most like me, but he’s in much better physical condition. We share the same ability to become frustrated, and we think in ways that can confuse people. He does it in battle while I do it in my writing. The character that I’m the least like is probably Sari, since the one I’m really not like hasn’t shown up yet. Sari has a level of flirty confidence that I’ve never had. There’s a true sense of freedom that I get from her whenever I write her scenes.

In Windemere, I would train as a warrior, because I love swords. I don’t know if I’d develop any powers, but I would love to have Luke’s ability to see sound. It’s a small power that I randomly rolled in the game [Dungeons & Dragons] and kept for the book. His sound sight has turned into such a versatile ability that it’s become my favorite to use. This answer just turned into “I would be Luke Callindor,” didn’t it? My second answer is that I’d learn illusions and use them to tell stories in taverns and festivals.

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El Space: You have several female characters. What are the challenges of writing across the gender line?
Charles: I’ve never really thought about the challenges when writing my female characters. Their gender is only a guideline to help me remember pronouns and a few habits. I think a challenge for many is to make a female hero strong and feminine. There’s this habit of making a woman in fantasy either fragile with femininity or tough as nails with a more masculine attitude. The term butch gets thrown out there a lot, but I think it’s better to say that they’ve been androgenized. It’s very much about balance and pulling out the right aspects of a character for the right situation.

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Kira and Trinity

Nyx_GlowingOne thing that I have gotten in a little trouble for is that I don’t shy away from my female characters getting injured. I’ve read a lot of fantasy where the women will come out of a battle either unscathed or a little banged up, while the men are nursing some pretty bad wounds. I couldn’t see many of my female characters doing this, especially Nyx [right]. This has led to a few scenes where Nyx takes a beating while doling out enough destruction to avoid being called weak. So it is a risk to have a female hero who gets hurt in the same way as a male hero, because it touches on a sensitivity of some readers. The trick is to not do it often, not overdo it, and make sure it has a point for the plot instead of only gaining sympathy for the character.

pile_of_booksEl Space: I agree with that! Now let me ask you this: How has indie publishing changed since you first started? What advice do you have for an indie publishing newbie?
Charles: I haven’t seen much of a change since I’ve only been at this for a year. Amazon seems to come up with new promotions and rules every few months, but I think that’s part of the evolving system.

My advice to new indie authors is simple:
(1) Keep writing! Cliché, but true. I’ve seen a lot of indie authors stop writing and then wonder why people forgot about them.
(2) Connect with other authors to get support and talk shop. Many authors have paved the way for other indie authors. They know about the formatting, marketing, and other aspects of the business. Also, you never know what a new indie author will stumble onto and share with a veteran.
(3) Never publicly react to negative reviews, because that will make you look unprofessional. If it really bugs you, then find a friend or another author to vent to through emails. Just make sure they want to hear you rant first.
(4) Some people will tell you that this is a competition between authors. Well, it isn’t, because we’re all in the same boat. You will get farther and help the overall indie author community by sharing knowledge, joining blog tours, and supporting other authors. With every successful indie author, the choice to self-publish becomes more accepted as a viable path.
(5) Have fun. I don’t really have to go into detail here, do I?

El Space: Great advice. What authors inspire you?
Charles: Many authors inspire me, so it’s hard to pick a handful. I actually take a little from everything I read and watch, but I’ll try to give some kind of list. There’s the fantasy greats of Tolkien, Lewis, Saberhagen, and Le Guin. I love the characters written by John Flanagan in the Ranger’s Apprentice Series and Rick Riordan’s various series. To name a few others, Orson Scott Card, Edgar Allan Poe, Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist), and Mel Brooks. As you can see, I’m all over the place with my inspirations. It’s a miracle I can write a coherent sentence.

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El Space: How many books do you anticipate for your series? What are you working on now?
Charles: Legends of Windemere will have 15 books and another book will be done to clean up a potential loose end. After that I will have to decide on the next series to work on, but I’m probably going to start in on my vampire series. The Windemere vampires have an interesting history and that series is going to be a lot more brutal than what I’m doing now. I currently have two WIPs at this moment. One is preparing Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune for a March release. I’m waiting on cover art and final edits to be done. I’m also writing Legends of Windemere: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue, which is the 7th book of the series. I figure I’ll be able to relax around book 15.

Thanks, Charles, for hanging out on the blog with me! I’ve enjoyed your visit!

Looking for Charles? Head to his blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad, or Twitter. Legends of Windemere can be found at Amazon. Two of you will win the first three books of his series. Comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winner to be announced on March 7.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cover art of the Legends of Windemere series by Jason Pedersen. Character art by Kayla Matt. Legends of Windemere covers courtesy of Charles Yallowitz. Other covers from Goodreads. Sword from knife-depot.com. Books image from onkaparingacity.com.

Check This Out: Legends of Windemere (Part 1)

Hello. You’re watching PBS, and this is Masterpiece Theater. Okay, maybe it isn’t the real Masterpiece Theater, which features Downton Abbey and Sherlock. But I’m pleased to welcome authors who have written their own masterpieces. With me today and tomorrow is the wise and prolific Charles Yallowitz, author of the epic fantasy series, Legends of Windemere. Woot! You might know Charles from his blog of the same name.

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Three books of this series have already been published.

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Aren’t those covers awesome? Kudos go to the cover artist: Jason Pedersen. Also, throughout this post are characters from the series, illustrated by Kayla Matt. The next book in the series is Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune. Here’s a synopsis:

Nyx still has nightmares about casting the genocide spell in Hero’s Gate. Every night her heart is gripped by the sensation of hundreds of goblins dying by her magic. By the request of Lord Highrider and Duke Solomon, she is returning to fix the damage she caused. With Luke Callindor and Sari by her side, Nyx is ready to face the vengeful goblins and opportunistic thieves that plague Hero’s Gate. Yet, there is a darker threat that was born from her violated magic: The Krypters.

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Cover concept art for Legends of Windemere: Family of the Tri-Rune

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss a series giveaway at the end of the interview. For today, Charles is waiting, and I have questions!

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Charles: (1) I did fencing in high school and college. (2) I find it impossible to sit still when talking on the phone. (3) I went to college for a B.A. in Writing Arts without a backup plan, which is not recommended. (4) One of my previous jobs was Store Manager at a Hollywood Video. Unlike my time as a substitute teacher, I can tell the retail stories without crying.

El Space: Ha ha! I had the same major as an undergrad. How did you get started writing fantasy? What attracted you to the genre?
Charles: I began as a fantasy reader when I was young, because I loved the idea of magic and fighting with swords. It was so different than what one could easily find, so I felt unique for knowing about these things. This led me into Dungeons & Dragons as well as a short-lived Lord of the Rings club in seventh grade. We had to learn some Elvish and make our own weapon, so I was that level of nerd as a kid.

92806The writing of fantasy began in high school after I read The Book of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen. It was closer to comic book superheroes at the beginning, because I was focused more on characters than the world. Eventually, I branched out to create my own fantasy world, because I was attracted to the idea of designing something that people could explore. On Earth, my readers knew the locations and the science behind things. On Windemere, my readers are discovering the cities, creatures, and magic that would be seen as common to those who live there.

One final thing that drew me to fantasy is that it held my imagination more than any other genre. I really had to let my mind go to visualize what was going on in the books I was reading, which I saw as fun. A goal of mine is definitely to create the same level of escapism for anyone who reads my books. Hopefully it helps them relax and enjoy themselves.

Luke_Cross_SwordsEl Space: Did you have a series in mind before or after you wrote the first book—Beginning of a Hero? Please walk us through the process of developing the series and your magic system.
Charles: Beginning of a Hero is based on a college Dungeons & Dragons game where I played Luke Callindor [illustration at right], so a series was always planned. I simply didn’t have any idea exactly where it was going for a while, because I wasn’t the one running the game. Eventually, I was told the main plot and worked the rest of the series into it. The game ended long before the story did, so I reimagined a lot of things. After I wrote the first few chapters of Beginning of a Hero, I saw that things occurring in a game don’t always translate to a book. Supporting characters are flimsy, villains get no scenes, and it’s rare that the group is split up for their own plotlines when you are in a game. This required that I deconstruct the original idea and rebuild it as something more literary.

Lich_Glowing_HandsAs for the magic system, I had some extra time to figure that out. In Beginning of a Hero, the only casters were the Lich and Aedyn Karwyn. The Lich [illustration at left] is a necrocaster, so he operates differently by manipulating the life energy of others. This eventually got changed to the concept of auras. Aedyn Karwyn is a priest, so he gets his power from his faith in a deity. It wasn’t until Nyx [illustration below] debuted in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower that I had to sit down and figure out how she does what she does. I came up with the idea that everything in Windemere has a magical aura due to the realm of magic crashing into the physical plane and merging with it. This means a caster is using their own life energy to create spells, and they’ve trained their body to regenerate that energy at an above average rate. They use various focuses like words, ingredients, and gestures to give some order to the trade. Well, most do because Nyx is something else, which gets revealed around book 5 or 6.Nyx_Glowing

El Space: You have quite the cast of characters. How do you decide which character gets to be the star of a book? What are the challenges of working with an ensemble cast?
Charles: I try to give everyone even time, but the main plot of the book tends to decide on who is going to take center stage. I try to give each character a time to shine in every book even if they’re not the focus. Still, some get more attention than others. I can say that Luke Callindor and Nyx will end the series with more spotlight time than the rest of the main heroes. This is because the series started with Luke, and Nyx has a deeper connection to their main quest than the other characters. She’s been training for the upcoming battle since she was a toddler, so it’s difficult for her not to take a central role.

The biggest challenge with an ensemble cast is making sure a character doesn’t fall into the cracks between the others. The best example I have now is Sari, an orphaned gypsy who debuts in Allure of the Gypsies. She was in the spotlight for a while, but it’s becoming more difficult to give her a subplot beyond the romance that she has going. This means something will have to be done to put her in a position of focus. To do this, I’m going to have to divide the group for a book or two. Many times an ensemble cast needs that “fracture period” to give characters who are going stale a chance to refresh.

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Fizzle and Fritz and Bessaria

Gotta stop here today. Tune in tomorrow for more “Masterpiece Theater” L. Marie style. Can’t wait to learn more about Legends of Windemere? You can find Charles at his blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Twitter. Better still, head to Amazon!

Legends of Windemere cover art by Jason Pedersen. Character art by Kayla Matt. Legends of Windemere covers courtesy of Charles Yallowitz. Other covers from Goodreads.