Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books were my first look at another world.
I was a kid. I remember opening the The Fellowship of the Ring and finding a map of Middle Earth right before the story started. I knew I'd found something special the moment I saw that glorious map.
Here was a new world, all drawn out and labeled. The names were strange, but evocative -- the Misty Mountains. The Shire. Mordor. Mirkwood. The artist had drawn in forests and swamps, roads and ruins. Every tiny detail added mystery to Middle Earth. That map demanded the world be explored. I can still remember thinking 'these places must be real.'
I spent a few moments pouring over the names, the art, the lived-in feel of Middle Earth. Then I dove into the book, eager to find out just what sort of world lay ahead.
Funny how a map of a place that never existed could wind up guiding so much of my life. I learned to love reading. I read -- a lot -- and eventually decided to create my own fictional worlds.
And many years later, here I am, still thumbing through books in hopes of finding a new map to an undiscovered world.
For a guy who loves maps of fictional worlds, I've done a poor job of including them in my own books. None of the Markhat novels feature a map of Rannit, or the ruins of the devastated Kingdom. Mug and Meralda's Realms have also gone sadly without cartography -- until now.
Sure, I posted my own crude map of the Realms a month or two ago. It wasn't a pretty map because I'm a lousy artist.
Fortunately, there are talented artists who can draw maps, and today I'm pleased to show you a map of the Realms created by Jessica Khoury, owner of Lizard Ink Maps.
Without further delay, the official map of the Realms!
That, my friends, is a bona fide map. It will be included in the new book, which I promise will be out soon. Honest.
Sea monsters, cogs and gears, mountains and trees and marshes. I love this map, and I hope you enjoyed seeing it too.
I'm also sketching out a map of Rannit's narrow, twisting streets. That's tough going because I mention a lot of places in the books, and sometimes pinning down locations is an exercise in jumping from title to title to see how what route Markhat took going from his office on Cambrit Street to get to One-eyed Eddie's, for instance, or the crematoriums. But I'll get it all figured out and one day a map of Rannit will be born.
If you ever need a map drawn of your fantasy setting, give Jessica at Lizard Ink a yell. As you can see, she does beautiful work.
Publishing Kerfuffle Update
Last week I mentioned that a trademark troll was sending out cease and desist letters and getting books yanked from Amazon based on their dubious trademarking of a single English word. This week, I'm happy to report that the RWA (Romance Writers of America) had a small talk with Amazon. As a result, all the books previously yanked were restored, and no other titles will be pulled because they contain the trademark troll's special word.
The trademark itself is under scrutiny, and it appears that it will be revoked.
Bullet dodged -- again.
I upgraded the ancient video card in my PC, and after a few tense hours convincing the hardware and some exceptionally cranky drivers to shake hands and play nice, I can now generate renders in one-fifth of the time my old card required, or better. Simple single-figure scenes that took 40 minutes if I was lucky now take 5. Bigger scenes with backgrounds and props are done within a half-hour. I can also bake corn dogs along the video card's exhaust port, which is nice.
Here's a new image of Meralda, in a new setting. Is this setting a hint to the contents of the next book? You bet it is!
And here are a couple of random test images as well.
The background isn't done in the following image, but I do like the tools.
Book Mock of the Week
Finally, a re-imagined magazine cover.
Time to get back to editing Every Wind of Change. One last obligatory book plug -- if you haven't tried The Markhat Files series yet, here's a link to the first title.