Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Map-making Quandaries

It's easier to dream about creating maps than it is to actually build them--so many options!

I've recently learned that I can create maps using GIMP shareware, so I've been dabbling with possibilities here:
Love the clear colors and outlines!

A basic parchment-hued landmass surrounded by aquamarine seas. I love this color mix and the way the program defined the continent's edges. But I'd have to draw my own mountains, roads, boundaries, rivers, and landmarks.

I also reloaded my old CC3 software and upgraded it for a modest fee. and by the end of the day, had only this to show. 
Less is More ...

I'm returning to the drawing boards tomorrow--watch for revisions! Aaaand ... back to the beginning! :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unexpected Inspiration

Recently, my dear husband and I finally took a belated anniversary trip--only two years late--up into Colorado's mountains.

From my seat in the train
We planned to ride in a wonderfully restored 1890s coal-burning, narrow-gauge locomotive and check out the beautiful southern-Colorado landscapes, while I did some fact-checking on my 1890s manuscript, The Blessing. But plans often go astray, so why should our mini-vacation plans go smoothly?

We arrived at our hotel and checked in, only to realize that our train reservations weren't for the next morning, but two mornings away. We're on a budget, so we debated. Should we return home and drive up again tomorrow? Or should we toss aside our budget for once and spend an extra night in the mountains?

Of course, we were sensible. We booked an extra night in the mountains at an eclectic, creaky old hotel (an adventure all by itself) then took a deep breath of mountain air and made uncharacteristically light-headed plans.

Fresh deer tracks
We headed for the nearest scenic destination: Colorado's famous Sand Dunes. Real dunes, with altitude. And my idea, because there are no beaches in land-locked Colorado, and I NEED occasional doses of water running over sand. This day's therapeutic dose of water-and-sand goodness came with a few Colorado touches.

(Ignore my previously broken toes and check out those fresh deer tracks--woo-hoo!)

As well as inspiration for new writing adventures.

Below flood level. For now.

Within yards of the deer's hoof-prints, I found a rushing mountain-dune stream that carried my imagination straight into future books! A hunting blind ... for hungry travelers. A river escape for fugitives in a wilderness.

So many possibilities ....

Time to write!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Brewing Up New Ideas

Calming? Not exactly.

NOTE: Don't be deceived by the tranquil pink tea in my cup. It's Angel Falls Mist tea, which inspired the revered tisane Serena brewed just before her epic clash with *unnamed villain* in Queen

[Post Begins]
This evening, I completed the first draft of book one in The Forsaken Empire series. Finally! Celebrate with me!

It's been an unexpectedly tough write--one of my longest ever--and I'm counting on considerable trimming and polishing during my second draft. The manuscript currently measures a hefty 133,358 words. Yes, it's a new personal record that deserves to be shaved down to a manageable size.But I'm pausing for tea and a day off.

To allow ideas to brew.

Not only do I need to think through the cuts and revisions I've been pondering, but I need to consider a possible prequel novella that sneaked into my dreams just before I woke up two days ago.

Do I seriously want to take on a novella in the midst of a new series? Would you?
Hence the tea and a day off.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Forsaken Empire Origins

Recently, I was searching for copies of my original files for The Genesis Trilogy (see previous posts) when I came across copies of my first book, my apprenticeship book, laboriously stored on 3.5-inch "floppy" disks. Who remembers those compact floppies and the original floppies? Ancient history, right?

Deservedly so.
Forsaken Empire Origins

Four 3.5 compact disks held my single precious manuscript in backup, just in case our PC crashed and offered only the heart-stopping blue screen of writing death. Actually, I might be guilty of using as many as 12 disks to back up my massive tome. Excessive? Perhaps. However, because my research involved reading more than 300 books I'd either purchased or borrowed from the regional library when the fledgling worldwideweb couldn't provide answers to my authorly questions concerning all things medieval, the prospect of losing my work induced nightmares.

Nowadays, my nightmares involve storing info in The Cloud (aren't thunderstorms possible?) as well as emails and random thumb drives--all more convenient than my vintage 3.5 compact disks. Even so, these 3.5 inch babies make me smile. After all, they hold the framework for my current Forsaken Empire series. Thankfully, I've managed to protect my PC's files for more than two decades, because .... I no longer have a computer capable of reading these shiny little disks.

Does anyone still use these?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Genesis Trilogy Ebooks now available!

At last! The Genesis Trilogy is updated, re-edited, and officially re-released under new covers! I feel as if I've welcomed kids home after they've taken a long journey--and what a journey it's been. 

The Genesis Flood

The Heavens Before, He Who Lifts the Skies, and A Crown in the Stars have been translated and published in Dutch, Thai, Ukrainian and Romanian, as well as large-print, far exceeding my hope and prayers. 
Nimrod (Nimr-Rada)

Currently, the new covers are available only in ebook format, but I'm working on paperback versions and hope to release audio versions within a year--as time/tech issues/budget allows. The ebooks are available through Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, Scribd, and other sellers.

The Tower of Babel
It was a joy and a privilege to have Moody Publishers sign on for these books fifteen years ago, and it's a delight to re-introduce the second editions now. 

Thank you, dear readers for loving and recommending the trilogy to others. 

I'm blessed to share this amazing publishing journey with you. 

Kacy (and R. J.)

Monday, May 01, 2017

Genesis Trilogy Publishing News

As many of you know, I write fiction under my own name, Kacy Barnett-Gramckow, and my (most likely) better-known pen name, R. J. Larson.

Bear with me, R. J. Larson readers--I'm stepping into Kacy-mode to share some news.Moody Publishers has returned rights to me for The Genesis Trilogy, which includes The Heavens Before, He Who Lifts the Skies, and a Crown in the Stars.

What does this mean? Well, it's the publishing world's version of having your kids return home after a LONG and fascinating journey. They show up at the door with a ton of laundry, expecting to relax. Being a mom, however, I'm encouraging them to keep their work ethics in shape, and to tackle that laundry!.

The Heavens Before, 1st edition
Because reversion of rights from publishers rarely includes the right to use the books' original cover designs, I'm currently designing my own. In other words, over the next few months, I'll be sending my bookbabies out again, repackaged and re-proofread. They'll look a bit different, but still pay homage to their first editions in style and storyline:

 For example, here is the original version of The Heavens Before, a novel inspired by The Genesis Flood:

Below, is the new cover for the revised/repackaged edition:
I'm encouraged--the Blogger program evidently realizes this is the same book; it just attempted to merge the covers' captions together.

The Heavens Before, 2nd edition

Are they similar enough to avoid confusion?
Dear Readers, what do you think?

Blessings, Kacy/R. J.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Keeping Secrets From Characters

 Ancient verses hold links to their own pasts.

While writing Legends of the Forsaken Empire, book 1, I've realized that I'm keeping secrets from my characters.

The mysterious, dangerous manuscript they've translated holds hints, links to their families' pasts, and their own spiritual heritage.

My characters haven't a clue.

Ela and Scythe, from Natalie B.
Their world's Dark Ages and the chaos following the empire's collapse has completely obscured all knowledge of the wondrous lands and creatures their ancestors took for granted.

Readers of the Infinite series will open Book One and within the first chapter, they'll know long-vanished secrets pertaining to my new characters' heritage.

Should the secrets remain hidden? 


Being a history fanatic, I've often wondered which ancient events from my research books were witnessed by my ancestors.

I haven't a clue.

Should my characters learn about their ancestors' lives?

Or should I take a page from real life and allow them to face events armed with their own resources and whispers of the past hidden within their own dna?

Who knows?  


I'm trying to decide.
Somehow, allowing readers of the Infinite series to open book one and chance upon clues, granting them knowledge about my characters is appealing.

Time will tell. ;)


R. J.                                        

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt Stop #16

Welcome to the Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt where we are helping the Kinsman people find a new home. If you’ve just found us, be sure to start the adventure at Stop #1, which is Jill Williamson’s blog.

Collect all the clue words in order so you can enter to win the Kindle. If you want to enter to win the second Kindle, you’ll have to take a quiz at the end, so take your time and read each post carefully. The main prizes in the hunt are open to international entries. Individual author contests, however, might have different rules, so please read the parameters on each site. You have until Sunday night, February 19, at midnight, Pacific time to finish.

If you need help, or get lost along the way, click here for assistance.

The war in Leira kept the Wilek, Trevn, and the kinsman party from getting too close to the area. They backtracked some, and headed east, around a deep crack in the earth that reminded them on their homeland. The ocean came into sight in the east, but before they could reach it, they arrived at Stop #16, Adar-iyr, featured in R. J. Larson’s novel Judge, the second installment in the Books of the Infinite series, continuing the story of Prophet’s Ela of Parne. Sidenote! Prophet, the ebook, is free this month on Nook, Kindle, and most online retailers! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Koorong, and more!

Watchman of Adar-iyr~~Bonus Scene for the Books of the Infinite series! 


Should he try to forget the dream? 

Jemmy shivered and gently scooted past his snoring grandfather in their makeshift shelter of reeds and palms. Poppy Hal would wake soon and talk about going into the city to scrounge for food. But, why? Fishing and gleaning the beach was safer. Sure, fish and sea-greens weren’t filling as proper bread and meat, but one day, Poppy would go into the city and never return—unless they threw his body out of the city gates to clean the streets.

Adar-iyr was cruel-bad. Worse than Jemmy could ever remember, and Poppy Hal vowed he remembered too much for a boy of eight. He remembered every kick and curse from the ruffians in the city’s streets. Every vicious and desperate person he’d met within those walls. The weeping widow, the laughing thief, the beaten child, the sold-girl with the empty gaze, and the hissing sword that had cut down his parents last year, leaving crimson pools seeping into the streets’ pavings. Poppy said it was no use to remember the man who’d swung that sword. Why bother when Jemmy and Poppy’d never receive justice? That day, the dying day, he’d try for the rest of his life to forget.

Yet, should he also forget the dream when it offered hope bright as a sunrise? Adar-iyr clean, shining, and peaceful … Impossible. No prophet could save Adar-iyr. Not even the famous prophet, Ela of Parne, who’d brought down the kingdom Siphra a few months back. Why would she bother? Why would anyone care to save Adar-iyr? The city’s own god, Nereus, ruler of the sea, certainly didn’t care.

Jemmy walked down to the beach. Sand, cold and loose, sifted between his brown toes at every step, sending chills up his rag-covered body to his scalp. Same chills as every morning since he and Poppy Hal had taken refuge on the beach after the dying day. Nothing had changed since his dream last night. Except—

Pale, sunlit sails caught Jemmy’s gaze, dazzling as his hopeful dream. A ship. Anchored just beyond the far edge of Adar-iyr’s long beach. Had a prophet arrived as he’d dreamed?

Men, tiny in the distance, walked toward Jemmy, glints of light playing off their weapons and gear. No girl-prophet walked with them. But ….

Jemmy ran toward the men, every panting breath a prayer. “Please! Please!” He reached the men and wheezed out a greeting. “Please! Is one of you a prophet?”

The lead man, whose face seemed more trustworthy than any in Adar-iyr, shook his head. “No. Sorry. My people and I are looking for a safe place to live.”

Jemmy's rasping breath caught painfully in his throat. They’d no more safety than he and Poppy? The city would kill them or turn them all bad. Tears threatened Jemmy’s vision. He wobbled, blinked hard, and shook his head. He had to tell them the awful truth. “You gotta go. If your people stay, some of you’ll be killed.”   ~~R. J. Larson, author of The Books of the Infinite series.

R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals and is suspected of eating chocolate and potato chips for lunch while writing. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two sons. The Books of the Infinite series marks her debut in the fantasy genre. Visit R.J. at: www.rjlarsonbooks.com

Here’s a closer look at Prophet, book one in the Books of the Infinite series.
Ela Roeh of Parne doesn't understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She's undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she's much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne's elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite's prophet, Ela knows she will die young.
Free ebook on Nook, Kindle, CBD!

Yet she can't imagine living without Him.
Determined to hear the Infinite's voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite's word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets Kien Lantec, a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

You can order Prophet, Judge, and other books from the Infinite series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD or at your local bookstore! 

CLUE! Write down this clue: will

The next stop on our map is Stop #17, World City, on Morgan Busse’s blog.

Before you move on, R. J. Larson is giving away an e-copy of any of the Infinite books to three lucky winners. To enter, click on the Rafflecopter form and follow instructions. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Thanks for visiting my blog. Enjoy the rest of the scavenger hunt!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

What if ... ?

Two great words for brainstorming. What if ... ?

The instant those two words emerge within the author's thoughts, or within the storyline, all boundaries break and every character or potential character is released from all constraints, becoming mysterious, unstable, and liable to suffer unexpected fates.

Even if the story is half-written and the characters were previously well known. Therein lies my dilemma as I write this evening and tomorrow. My main character has just turned to her mentor and uttered those two fateful words. "What if ... ?"

All bets are now off. Dear characters, no matter how much I love you, and no matter how long I've thought you were perfect, your days might be numbered.

Unless you're the king or one of his minions. By your own histories, you are saved.

Blessings! It's time to write!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Setting a Mood

Decisions, decisions.

I'm almost to the halfway point in the first draft of Legends of the Forsaken Empire, and as I've been working today, I've been toying with the current scene's mood. Right now, the characters are regathering after a period of considerable turmoil and some serious soul-searching. There's chaos and heartache ahead. After all, this is a fantasy-realm family saga inspired by actual events from our own history during the high-middle ages--an era that isn't exactly known for endless frivolity.

Now is the time to make sweeping changes in characterizations and mood. But do I really want to change the story's mood when it's so close to the truth? Should I merely soften the edges a bit while my characters are sharpening their swords? Perhaps bring in a few characters akin to Shakespeare's clowns? Perhaps. Or should I fear that the clowns might suffer tragic fates, being so near to the chaos that's about to unfold?  Do we want the clowns to endure the chaos as well?

Lots to ponder, which is the perfect excuse to procrastinate and let the characters take the reins and drive the story within its preset boundaries.

Blessings, and rest!

I'm returning to the story to study those characters again.