For generations, the Wyr of Onus saw, in their visions, the corrosion of the Chain that binds all worlds together. They saw the coming of the Rot and the beginning of the dark times. Then, one by one, their vision was snuffed out–they died, leaving none to see the vagaries of the future.
NINE DAYS LATE, we return to Spiralchain MAYSTRAVAGANZA! Our special, month-long celebration of Spiralchain awesomeness has come to an end, but you are still owed one last treat! Let’s get on with it…
For the final MAYSTRAVAGANZA, may I present…
A NEW SHORT STORY (Freebie)
As promised to the amazing Kickstarter backers that helped to bring Boltsender into the world, I present a new short story! Event Planner is the tale of Ervin Jaske, former head scientist of the Army Post Road Installation and his world’s foremost expert on the Spiralgate.
We haven’t spent any time with Ervin since our last check-in with his world, back in Shadowbender. What does an expert in Spiralgates do when he has no access to his life’s work? What, exactly, has billionaire financier Sierra Veil been up to? And most importantly, how did two important events from Boltsender impact Ervin and his world?
The answers to all of these questions, and more, can be found in the story, linked below. It is a short (10 page) check-in with a man who just wants the universe to make sense… and the forces that conspire to both make that so and to unmake it all.
Warning: Event Planner contains SIGNIFICANT spoilers for events depicted in Boltsender. It is best to avoid reading this story if you have not yet finished Spiralchain Books 1-6!
Read Event Planner (Short Short Story) now!
Once more, we return to Spiralchain MAYSTRAVAGANZA! Our special, month-long celebration of Spiralchain awesomeness is a great way to enjoy the calm before the storm in the world of Spiralchain writing, and that makes it the perfect time to celebrate some of the amazing things we have in the pipeline for you!
Each Sunday in May, we’re sharing a new Spiralchain goodie. Whether it’s a sneak peek, an announcement, or a freebie, you can be confident that it will be something that will help expand our magnificent little universe in a new direction.
For this week’s MAYSTRAVAGANZA, may I present…
GATEMAKER AUDIOBOOK (Announcement)
Back in October, the AMAZING Kickstarter backers for Boltsender did the impossible–they smashed our funding goal in such a way that they made it possible for me to commission the recording of an audiobook version of Gatemaker!
Having an audiobook presentation of the series has always been a dream, but as you surely know, we are a small crew. The logistics and the startup costs just seemed too prohibitive to turn this dream into a reality. Couple that with the fact that our first forays into hiring a narrator yielded some less than stellar results, and I was a very crestfallen author.
Enter Justin Kolehart. Justin’s name may be familiar to some of you–he’s been a member of the ChainGang (the Spiralchain advanced reader team) since its inception back during the Mindshaper drafting days, and he is, without a doubt, one of the world’s premier authorities on the characters and worlds of the Spiral. He’s also an audiophile and a dear friend, and when things started to look most dreary for the future of the audiobook project, he stepped in and volunteered to take a swing at it.
His work has been nothing short of amazing. He’s been plugging away at this project for half a year and says that it’s been a lot of fun tackling this project. He’s excited for people to have another option for experiencing the storytelling of the Spiralchain series, and with that in mind… we are excited to announce right here, right now, that Gatemaker will be available through Audible in June! We can’t yet commit to which day in June, because of details beyond our control, but SOMETIME IN JUNE OF THIS VERY YEAR! Of course, the Kickstarter backers will get theirs first–just one of many perks of joining us for our annual pre-order pilgrimage (coming in October).
Take your very first listen to the audio with this quick sample!
If you want to learn more about Justin, follow him on Twitter @JKolehart !
Welcome back to Spiralchain MAYSTRAVAGANZA! Our special, month-long celebration of Spiralchain awesomeness is the perfect way to enjoy the calm before the storm in the world of Spiralchain writing, and that makes it the perfect time to celebrate some of the amazing things we have in the pipeline for you!
Each Sunday in May, we’re sharing a new Spiralchain goodie. Whether it’s a sneak peak, an announcement, or a freebie, you can be confident that it will be something that will help expand our magnificent little universe in a new direction.
For this week’s MAYSTRAVAGANZA, may I present…
A MAP OF ONUS (Freebie)
Some of you who have liked Spiralchain Series on Facebook may have seen my old map sketch of Onus, the principle fantasy world that sits squarely in the center of the action of the series. I am not a great artist though, and several of my attempts to turn my maps into something fit for human consumption have ended in tears.
Enter Bree Hill. Bree is an illustrator of my acquaintance who, once upon a time, was a student of mine at North High School in Des Moines. While those days are long behind us both, we have kept in touch from time to time, and I reached out to her earlier this year to ask if she would be willing to tackle a map of Onus for me to share with you all… and she said yes!
Our hope is for Bree to work on maps for each of the worlds (though Core and Nur are, for lots of good reasons, low on our priority list) over the months ahead. This was Bree’s first map project, and she agonized over getting it just right. I think it turned out great! If you are interested in any more of her work, you can check out her site here!
I have some plans for these maps as they get done, but for now, here’s a copy of the map of Onus (as it appears in Gatemaker–certain world-shaking events from later books are not incorporated into the map so that it remains spoiler-free). Thanks for joining us for this week’s MAYSTRAVAGANZA!
Welcome to Spiralchain MAYSTRAVAGANZA! What is this made-up word, you ask? Why, it’s a special, month-long celebration of Spiralchain awesomeness! Why May? Well, truthfully, it’s because May is the month BEFORE heavy drafting starts on the next book in the series. It’s the calm before the storm in the world of Spiralchain writing, and that makes it the perfect time to celebrate some of the amazing things we have in the pipeline for you!
Each Sunday in May, we’ll share a new Spiralchain goodie. Whether it’s a sneak peak, an announcement, or a freebie, you can be confident that it will be something that will help expand our magnificent little universe in a new direction.
For this week’s MAYSTRAVAGANZA, may I present…
THE SPIRALCHAIN BOARD GAME (Sneak-Peak)
For the better part of two years, I have been working on a Spiralchain board game in partnership with my colleagues in Nightcandle Imaginations. The game is not quite done yet, but it is far enough along that we can start talking much more openly about it!
The game was designed to be fully cooperative–that means the players (1-8 of them) work together against the game, rather than against one another. It has a variable difficulty and currently plays in about 70 minutes with 10 minutes of setup time. Inspired by games like Pandemic, it plays out the epic quest of a group of Onusborn mystics to travel the Spiral of Worlds and collect the necessary technologies, sorceries, prophecies, and alliances to thwart the Foreverot before it spreads across the Spiral and destroys everything.
The game is 95% final in terms of mechanics, which means it is now entering the graphic design phase. Andrew Aguirre, who has provided all of the cover art for the series, is currently hard at work on designing something truly special. Don’t let my meager Microsoft Word-produced prototype fool you, this will look amazing when it is done!
As Andrew locks in art assets for the game, I hope to share more previews. When the game is complete, it will likely launch via Kickstarter and print in partnership with The Game Crafter. Before all of that, once the mechanics are 100% final, some backers of an earlier novel Kickstarter—Fatewaker, I believe–will be receiving a complimentary Print-and-Play version of the game!
OK. Enough words… let’s look at the game! Here are some shots from a game-in-progress featuring four players (A Fatewaker, a Shadowbender, a Bloodmender, and a Gatemaker) working hard to stop the Obliviates and warlords that are plaguing the eight worlds. By gathering resources, petitioning dragons, using their mystic abilities, and forging alliances, the players must defeat the Rot in its lair on Nur!
The story of the Spiralchain is a tale about a group of complex, ornery main characters that are surrounded on all sides by a frankly ridiculous number of supporting cast members. The cast got so big that popular demand forced a Cast of Characters list into the front of each book starting with Volume 4 (Fatewaker), and those lists have gotten bigger with each book. I’ll be honest–I don’t expect that trend to slow down in Book 7 either.
While a cast of such prodigious size can be intimidating to those thinking of jumping in to the series for the first time, you have to remember that it took us years to get to this point! Each of the 8 worlds of the Spiral has its own cast of crazy, interesting, troubling, and charming women and men, and it is only as we draw closer to the end that all of those casts start to interact and collide in fun ways.
The hardest part about maintaining the Cast of Characters lists at the front of each book is deciding how much information to give about characters who appear for the first time in that book. Back in Fatewaker, major characters had a brief descriptive blurb. That has gone by the wayside now in favor of more objective, factual information.
As a rule, the Cast listing will tell you if a character is a member of any special order or organization and it will tell you if they are notably related to anyone else in the cast. And, of course, it will tell you what world each character is from.*
For those wondering, the word used to describe a person from each of the eight worlds is…
- From Core (there is no fancy word for people from Core, though if forced to give one, it would be Coreborn)
One of these days, the Cast of Characters lists for each book (maybe even ones for the first books that lack them) will be housed here on Spiralchain.net. Until then, you can browse the names, affiliations, relationships, and origins of our entire cast, one book at a time, at the front of Fatewaker, Shadowbender, or Boltsender. And, in less than a year, Bloodmender will join that list with the penultimate chapter of our eight book journey across parallel worlds and perilous prophecies.
* The reason that the Fatewaker Cast of Characters does not list the origin point of the characters is to preserve a critical revelation from that book. I agonized over what to do about that for WEEKS!
With only a few short days left before Boltsender is loose in the world, it seemed like a fine time to take a look at the artistic process that the Spiralchain graphic designer, Andrew J. Aguirre, has employed to give our series covers both a sense of continuity and a continuous forward motion.
The cover to Gatemaker started everything. Most of the design elements seen in the Shadowbender cover got their origin story with this design. For this cover, Andrew designed the now-famous 8 orbs of the Spiral, and we used a flare (or “lit”) state to indicate which worlds the book would be focused upon–in this case, Core, Onus, and Murrod. The color of the energy field surrounding the orbs–the chain, or what Andrew calls the galaxy–is in the red family. Each book has a distinctive color–a color used to determine its slipcase cover, for those that have purchased the deluxe editions from our annual Kickstarters. The color for Gatemaker is red.
The cover to Mindshaper began the use of a new graphic element–the creeping shadow, or rot, that extends up from Nur towards subsequent worlds in the Spiral. Note that as of this book, the rot is now visibly embracing Core, indicating that Core is vulnerable to Obliviate incursions when Spiralgates are opened to and from it. Also take notice of the change in lit status on the orbs–while Core and Onus remain active, Murrod has gone dark and been replaced with a lit version of Rettik. The chain field is much brighter and more cohesive on this cover–showing that more power is required by the chain in order to keep the Spiral whole. The color for this book is white.
Things are really starting to happen on the cover to Metalbreaker. The lit orbs have shifted again (now it is Onus, Arctos, and Murrod), but look at the depth of shadow on the Rot extending to Core. The danger to Core is greater than ever before in this image… but it isn’t the most terrifying change we see. Note that the pink orb, Rettik, has started to drift out of formation–a consequence of events described in Mindshaper. Also see the way the chain field has grown in intensity–it is fighting as hard as it can to hold it all together, but that is getting almost impossible to do. The color for Metalbreaker is green.
The cover to Fatewaker really clearly depicts the events of the book. Now lit are Depal, Onus, and Murrod, and note the sinister curling of the rot up from Core to brush against Depal. This incursion into the violet world also accounts for the vastly diminished flow of energy making up the chain field. While the galaxy pattern is still there, it is faded and worn out, now that the pink orb, Rettik, has completely left alignment. The force that protects the Spiral of Worlds from decay has been stretched past the breaking point, and the worlds seem all the darker for it. The color of Fatewaker is violet.
Shadowbender starts the second half of the series, and its cover brings two new elements to the table. First of all, there is the terrific sense of movement as the stars around the spiral fly past us. Events in the series are rapidly escalating, and you can feel that on this cover. Note the lit orbs are now Nur, Core, and Rettik–this is the first book that doesn’t have Onus lit! And the chain field has been stripped bare to reveal the DNA-like lattice underneath–reflecting Jara’s understanding of the universe. The rot creeps now towards Onus–an ominous sign–and the signature lightning in the eyes of the Obliviates appears in that grasping shadow for the first time. Also note that Rettik has broken completely free of the structure of the Spiral–the ramifications of this will be felt in this very book. The color of Shadowbender is black.
Boltsender obviously represents a stark contrast from where we have been before. The sheathing energy of the Chain has exploded away, leaving only the naked lattice of the inner Chain to hold the worlds together. The almost void-like background speaks to the terror of our ultimate enemy, revealed at last in this book: the Absence. Note the lit orbs are now Nur, Arctos, and Pithysia–after 7 years of writing, the final world of the Spiral is finally revealed! Notice the gorgeous definition on the chain strands–the intricate interlocking of all of those tiny rings of metallic energy is all that stands between the Spiral and oblivion… well, that and our intrepid heroes. The rot now reaches past Onus towards Arctos, and the signature lightning in the eyes of the Rotkin has escalated dramatically (as one would expect in a book about the electrically-inclined Vols). Poor Rettik remains out of alignment, but it has not drifted any further thanks to events depicted in this book! The color of Boltsender is blue.
I don’t know about you… but I can’t wait to see how the cover to the next book evolves!
Check out the Downloads page for the newest Spiralchain short story, Sun Setter! This tale, set ten years after the Ban on World Travel, is a bit of slice-of-life story aout the world of Pithysia, but it takes a sharp turn quickly and intriduces some of the many-layered mysteries of the farthest world in the Spiral.
This story was created as a reward for the Kickstarter campaign that funded the publication of Spiralchain: Shadowbender.
Speaking of Kickstarters… it is that time again! On October 1st, the Kickstarter for Book 6, Boltsender, will go live! Stay tuned here, on our Facebook page, and (most importantly) on Kickstarter for all kinds of awesome news in the month ahead.
I am especially excited for the special series of video updates that I am planning for Backers Only… an awesome peek inside the 8 worlds of the Spiral and inside the minds of our principle characters.