Audiobook production begins

People have asked for ‘Empress’ on audiobook. Finally, after nearly two months, I found an interested narrator and production has begun. Jack, the producer, thinks the book will be completed by the beginning of June. I listened to his audition and loved hearing my words come to life.

I will post a sample once the recording is complete.

Update. I have the Review Audio Sample. The sample is available on SoundCloud, if you access it from a computer the link below should take you right there. If you are accessing from your phone you would need to download the app and sign up for an account (it’s free). Please take a listen and let me know what you think.

Making of an Empress Audio Sample

The Middle Ages and Homosexuality

One of the biggest topics I address in ‘Making of an Empress’ is the Middle Ages view on homosexuality. It is well known today what the Church’s stance is on homosexuality. The belief of homosexuality as a sin is well documented in the pages of the old testament. In the Middle Ages, life was the Church. Rulers bowed down to the leaders of the Church, followed its commandments and condemned those who broke the Church’s laws.

If one researches the topic of homosexuality in the Middle Ages, you would see many different acts compiled in the definition. It was not merely the act between two men (or women). It included solitary acts as well. I would figure many would be guilty of homosexual acts if we still lumped any dumping of “seed” to equate to homosexuality.

Before the fall of the Roman Empire (which began the period known as the Middle Ages) sexuality was not something the ancient Romans put much thought into. It was just not talked about. The Middle Ages changed the view on the topic and issued punishment for committing such acts.

In the height of the Middle Ages if one was found guilty of an act of homosexuality he was punished with castration. If he did not learn his lesson his second offense would result in the loss of his “member”. A third offense resulted in burning at the stake.

There is proof, however, of many kings and queens who were known homosexuals, of course, they were never brought up on charges. I wonder if the most powerful rulers of their time were practicing homosexuals why then did nothing to try to change the views and punishments on the subject.

King James I of Scotland (who is famous for his version of the bible) was a suspected homosexual. Many of his time would refer to him as Queen James. It has been said he was a male chauvinist, perhaps it wasn’t that he hated women but simply he loved men. It is said he oversaw some of the translations of the original text of the bible and made sure words that could be interpreted as either gender were labeled as male, thus making the man the dominate gender.

Edward II of England was another king whose desire for male companionship was widely known. Again, as a king did he not have a responsibility to legitimize his own relationships?

In Making of an Empress, Stelaphina takes on the view of homosexuality. Her beloved cousin, Rupert, is a suspected homosexual. She sees nothing wrong with the love he desires but knows the Church forbids such unions. She fights to make homosexuality legal, obviously a forward thinking woman for her time. There is much opposition from the elder Imperials and the Church. It is a battle she is not willing to concede defeat and continues until others agree with her position.

I have to wonder if the monarchs of this world had the strength to fight for who they loved what our world might be like today.

Self-publishing Frauds

My book didn’t take me long to write, the edits are what took long. I wrote the book over the course of about 3 weekends, averaging about 30,000 words at a time. The review and editing process took about another month to complete but the finished product, I believe is pretty polished. Don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming to be a great writer or even a good writer but I do consider myself a writer. I know my book isn’t perfect and I will have my share of harsh critics. I am okay with that because I believe in my book and what I have put forth to the reading community.
When I decided to self-publish I worried about the stigma associated with the term “self-published”. It seems there are those “writers” out there who throw a bunch of words together and call it a book then self-publish via Amazon. These “writers” don’t go through the necessary steps to ensure the quality of their work. I am convinced they are simply trying to make a quick buck and this infuriates me. I am proud of what I created. I made sure it was reviewed and any issues corrected before I released the book. These “writers” simply don’t put in the time and effort; they believe their story will allow readers to forgive their poor grammar, spelling errors, confusing storylines, and any other issue a reader might find within their pages.
Now I am not in the habit of degrading other writers, I believe those who self-publish should support one another. I cannot; however, support a “writer” whose work is so abysmal that I felt shame for him/her while reading their “masterpiece”. I came across such a “writer” recently. She couldn’t understand why no one was buying her book. I agreed to take a look at it and provide some feedback. Now those who know me, know I do not mix words; I am blunt and to the point. I found her book on Amazon. The cover was nice, the blurb was okay. I opened the “Look Inside” feature and began reading. The second sentence had improper verb tense, okay I can overlook that. It does take you out of the story but it just began so no big deal. I continued to read and just don’t understand what this “writer” was thinking. She mixes verb tense in the same paragraph; even worse within the same sentence. The sentence structure was horrible, I couldn’t believe this woman believed her book was ready to be released. I got through about 3 pages when I just couldn’t take it any longer. I mean I will give stories a chance even with all the issues so evident.
She admitted she self-edited the book (mistake number one). She said she wasn’t proud of the book and she hadn’t told anyone she wrote it. I was amazed. When I finished my book and shouted from the rooftops. I had completed a manuscript that I was proud of, how could she not do the same. I knew why she couldn’t do the same, she knew her book was horrible (and I don’t use that term loosely). She knew the book was not suitable for reading but released it anyway (mistake number two). She is the reason self-publishing has a bad reputation.
I pointed out the issues and also noted the book read as if it were written by a child (harsh maybe but that is me). It sounded childish due to the words she used as well as the poor use of verbs (and incorrectly). Example she gave the name of the main character, the verb name should have been named but no it was name. Really, didn’t we all learn in like first grade how to conjugate verbs? A “d” makes a huge difference. Her sentences were structured as if my nine year old niece had written them; though actually I think Autumn would have done a better job. The book was an insult to anyone over the age of 6, but this was a Young Adult fantasy. She took this all very personally, as I figured she would. Of course, I was a bully and not qualified to review or critique her book. I advised her that anyone that reads her book is qualified to critique it and they will, harshly. She had the kindle listed for 5.99, what (I figured the book to be about 100 pages in length)? My book then should be listed for twice that because I put the time in to editing the book.
I wish Amazon had a better policy for policing books listed for sale. I mean there are few books that are released completely issue free, it happens, but this book was so overrun with errors it was distracting. Books like this hinder the success of books of a higher quality because the general public associate “self-published” with lower quality and it is simply not true.
Anyway, rant over. Thanks for listening!

I want to be a figure skater

My father, a huge sports fan and participant was overjoyed when his only son told him “No, I don’t want to play baseball or basketball, I want to be a figure skater.”

Now, I am not saying figure skating is a “gay” sport but when your father played hockey, baseball, and basketball, it isn’t his dream to see his son in a letard. I have the utmost respect for figure skaters, it isn’t an easy sport. I competed for a few years.

Growing up I heard the dreaded f word a lot from my father, grandfather, uncles – all of the men in my life. I also remember hearing the hate in their voices when the subject came up. This caused a lot of conflict in me when I was young. School was a source of torture for me as well, it seemed the other kids knew I was gay before I did. I was in a world where I was supposed to be ashamed of who I was. My male family members said it was wrong, my church said it was wrong, and my peers said it was wrong; therefore I must be wrong, defective in some way.

When I finally came out at age 16, my one uncle stopped talking to me. At family gatherings it was like I didn’t even exist to him. This was difficult because after my father left he was the closest thing I had to a dad and now he had left me as well. In my senior year of high school someone had carved “Fag” into my locker. I can’t even describe the shame I felt when I approached my locker that day and saw it. The kids around me were laughing, I didn’t find it amusing. The school approached me with a bill for repairs. If I wanted to receive my diploma I would pay for the repairs. I remember saying okay keep your f’ing diploma, so ended my high school career.

I battled the demons placed within me by others for years. There were periods where I felt I didn’t deserve to live because I was damaged, everyone said so, therefore it must be true. My struggle hasn’t always been successful, many times the voices of those who focused so much hate on me won. At least I allowed myself to think they won but truth be told something in me made me realize I was better and stronger than they wanted me to believe.

Rupert Turlington, a character in my book, is gay. He becomes the focus of Stela’s desire to change the social standing of homosexuals. The people of Hulsteria and really all of Saaveth see homosexuals as deviants. There desire to love is punishable. The laws are all based on the beliefs of the church, much as it is in our own world. Stela challenges these beliefs and questions how a God who is supposed to be known as loving could possibly promote hate towards love.

Writing this book has helped me understand my own feelings on who I am. I am very religious but I don’t believe God hates me because I love someone of the same gender. I think of the passages the hate spewers never seen to quote “Judge not so that ye shall not be judged”. Isn’t hating someone a form of judgement and as such are we not setting the bar for our own judgement when we stand before Him? “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, most are of the mindset “hate both”. Religion should bring about love and tolerance, not hate. Why is religion used as a vehicle to allow hatred? It is contradictory to what religion is all about.

I am friends now with many of those who made my school aged years hell. Some have apologized for the anguish they caused me back then, saying they were just kids. That isn’t an excuse for your hate. Hate isn’t hereditary, it is learned, somewhere you were taught that different is bad. Don’t say sorry I was a kid, admit you were homophobic because you learned to be homophobic. Yes many tell me know that they have many gay friends and their views are different but it doesn’t change the scars that you inflicted on my psyche. I always gracious accept the apologies but often wonder why they feel the need to apologize? Own the hate you had or possibly still have but are now ashamed to admit as an adult, when you can’t use ignorance as an excuse.

Sorry this post turned out so personal, it was just something I had to get off my chest. Realize when you hate, you not only hurt the person you hate, you also hurt yourself. So even if you don’t stop hating because it is wrong, stop hating to stop hurting yourself. Hate only attracts more hate, where love has the potential to attract more love if we let it.

Update on books

I have received all the covers for the first four books of the series. I need to get on writing the remaining three books.

I had listed ‘Making of a Warrior’ for presale but have decided to remove it at this time. I believe this book will take me longer to write than the first. I will be following on the recommended steps to release so my timeline will be adjusted a bit. While the release will be delayed I believe the delay will result in a better book being released.

Once ‘Making of a Warrior’ is done, I will begin the next book in the series ‘Making of a Magister’. This book I believe will also be a challenge and will be filled with all sorts of magic, so those who love true fantasy should enjoy this book.

Book four will be ‘Making of a God’. The book will go back to when the first man stepped foot on Saaveth. It will explain creation and the start of the great families of Saaveth, the founders of the four realms.

Goodread Giveway

I have set up a Goodread giveaway for Making of an Empress. Five Copies will be up for grabs. Head on over to Goodreads and enter for your chance to win.

You do have to be a member of Goodreads to enter but the site seems pretty cool, if you are an avid reader. Just join then head to giveaways and look for Making of an Empress and click enter. That is all you have to do. Winners are selected by Goodreads and not me.

Goodreads

Kindle Release

I am about one and a half hours away from the release of ‘Making of an Empress’ on Kindle. I am more nervous about the Kindle version then I was about the paperback. I am excited to see what the Kindle version does for my book.

It is enrolled in the Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited, so if you participate in either of those programs you can get the book for free.

Making of an Empress – Release

Good afternoon. I am happy to announce that Making of an Empress has been released on paperback. The Kindle version will be released tonight at midnight. If you have pre-ordered it should be available for download to your device anytime after midnight.

I released the paperback on Sunday (March 12, 2017). I have two reviews already completed by those who received advanced copies. The book premiered on the Top 100 New Releases – Fantasy at #43 and has been on the chart everyday since release at various positions. If you ordered the book, please remember to leave a review once you are completed. Reviews really help a book to be more successful.

I am excited to start this journey and see where it takes me. It is exhilarating to be able to share my stories with you. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Thank you for your support.

Rothmar Palace

Rothmar Palace is the home of the Empress and is located in Helmsley. Helmsley is a city within the county of Welshpool in Jascaessau. The palace was built during Declan I’s reign. The Imperial capital was first situated in Xodon in Uhl, Declan’s home. In the year 75, Declan decided to move his family and the capital to Jascaessau. He believed the island nation would provide more protection for the Imperial crown. He began the building of watch towers along the coast of the island, an early warning system.

Rothmar was originally a simple palace of local stone quarried from the island. The stone was dark blue in color, the mortar was a simple mixture of mud and ground stone. The original building of the palace consisted of the Great Hall, kitchen, four bedrooms and the dungeons beneath the palace. The Great Hall would also house the servants that served the palace when not being used for meals or other events.

Declan had a large wall built to encircle the palace. The wall was situated at a great distance from the palace. The extra land allowed tents to be set up for the armies of the realm.

Edward I added the apartments of the Lord, these were the living quarters for the Imperial family. Edward believed the Imperial family needed to be removed from the rest of the palace. He had a separate stairway off the main corridor that led to the apartments. The apartment area consisted of eight en suites. Each apartment contained a sitting room, a bedroom, and a garderobe (bathroom) with a balcony. Two suites were on each floor of the expansion. The lowest members of the family had their suites on the second level while the Emperor’s suite and the Crown Prince’s suite were on the fifth level.

A garderobe was a primitive toilet, a simple wooden seat over a crude metal bed pan. There was a servant assigned to each apartment just to keep the garderobe clean. The room was filled with sweet smelling flowers which were changed daily. The flowers helped to disguise the waste odors.

The garderobe also contained a large wooden “tub” used for bathing. The water for the bath in cooler months would be brought up from the well located outside the kitchen and heated in the fireplace in the apartment. In warmer months the wooden tub could be moved out onto the balcony of the garderobe to warm the water and bather. Bathing wasn’t a daily activity due to the time it took to prepare the bath.

The rooms that once served as bedrooms during Declan’s reign were turned into studies for the Emperor, his wife, and the Crown Prince or Princess.

Edward also had servant homes built along the east wall. Edward didn’t believe the servants should call the palace their home. The servant’s homes were simple wooden structures. The homes consisted of a large room which served as the dining room, sitting room, and bedroom for the home’s occupants. A second home was built above each to accommodate all the staff. The staff homes did not have fireplaces, Edward feared it would be dangerous. Staff meals were prepared in a special dining hall that was constructed in the area of the staff homes.

During Abigail’s reign she added the barracks built for the Imperial Guard. The barracks were built along the front walls just inside the gates leading to the courtyard.  A dining hall for the guard was also built in the same area where the guard would take their meals.

Abigail also added the Imperial salon off the Great Hall. She set it up as a place to gather her thoughts prior to entering the hall to hold court. It was her personal sanctuary, a place of peace before facing the people of Hulsteria.

Carlisle I added the guest apartments, opposite the Imperial apartments. The tower was five stories and consisted of three rooms on the second through fifth floors. This addition also had a separate staircase. The first level of the tower housed two garderobes for the guests to use. Carlisle had this tower built to offer boarding for the women with whom he was involved. There was a walkway constructed between the Imperial apartments and the guest apartments, which allowed the mistresses to easily access Emperor Carlisle.

Oliver I, son of Carlisle, added two towers to the front of the palace to house the staff that served the Imperials directly. Each tower had 15 rooms. During Oliver’s reign a fire broke out in the original kitchen, it was contained to just the kitchen but the room was destroyed beyond repair. The kitchen was demolished and rebuilt away from the palace to prevent any damage to the main structure.

Additional buildings were added over the course of other Imperial reigns to create the palace that is home to Stelaphina.

Audiobook

I have had several people ask if ‘Making of an Empress’ would be available in an audiobook format. I am pleased to announce that I am working on an audio version.

I am in the beginning steps of the process, so it will not be released with the other versions. I have submitted information about the book and an audition script for prospective narrators. Hopefully, I find an interested narrator. Paying for the narration comes with two options, I selected to split the royalties with the narrator so this may make it a bit harder. Most narrators prefer to be given a set payment instead of splitting royalties but as I am self-publishing my funds for such a project are limited.

If the book does well and I haven’t found a narrator, I could use the royalties from sales of the book to fund the audiobook.

I will keep you all posted on the progress of the project.

Thank you.