Video: “The Codex of Desire” Book Launch (podium portion), Saturday, November 10th 2018

Forty golden minutes of one of the most amazing nights of my life. 🙂

Visit my author FB page for the video!

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Tonight: A Facebook livestream of the “Codex” book launch!

I plan to do a live FB stream to my author page starting at around 7:30 PM CST tonight, for about 40-45 minutes — so you’ll be able to see the book launch (or at least the podium portion) as it happens. I hope you’ll join me (virtually) for one of the happiest evenings of my life! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/lauriesmithauthor/

Question on a FB writers group: “Why is your villain a villain?”

My answer, for “The Codex of Desire”:
Ev’ora is the villain because her “greatest good” is her goal to remain the Most Potent Chieftess of the Tribes of the Inspiration — and her fertility is failing. Unless she produces eggs regularly, she will be overthrown and cast down, possibly even killed… and all the work she’s done to improve the lot of the Tribes will be lost.

Everything she does is in service to maintaining her role as queen of her people. And the MMC, who is a captive warrior from an enemy civilization, may provide fresh semen to stimulate Ev’ora’s fertility, if she can convince him to mate with her (since no male can be mated by sheer force). So she schemes, she kills, she manipulates — but as far as she is concerned, she’s doing it for the best of all possible reasons.

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FB group question: “Thinking about working with a cover designer?”

On the “Writers Helping Writers” FB group, Susan Uttendorfsky (of www.adirondackediting.com) offers the following excellent advice:

Thinking about working with a cover designer?

The old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” just isn’t true, it seems! A lot of people do review a cover first before looking at the back-cover blurb or the reviews. If you decide to hire a cover artist or designer, there are some things you should think about (and ask) beforehand:

• Approaching a designer with a vague idea like “a girl in a swing” will end up costing you a lot of money in revisions if you already have a certain idea in mind. Being explicitly detailed will work out better: “A blonde, long-haired woman, 35yo, in an old-fashioned rope swing attached to an elm tree. She wears a white, billowy dress that streams out behind her as she reaches the apex. It’s early autumn and she’s alone. There’s fog in the background.”

• Your title needs to be set in stone. Making changes/tweaks after the first design draft is complete may affect more than you realize!

• Be sure you understand all of the charges and the process. How many revisions are included in the original price? What is included, and what will cost extra?

• While you have an idea of what your cover *should* look like, you’re paying for the designer’s professional expertise. So if you don’t have any preconceived/prearranged ideas, then let the designer have free rein! They’ll be able to show you their best ideas.

If you’ve hired a cover designer, how did things work out for you? What would you do differently next time?

In reply, I wrote:

“If you give the designer free rein, it might be a good idea to ask for what are called “comp sketches”, which are rough layouts where the designer can show you several potential ideas, quickly drawn. You can either work the cost for the comp sketches into your overall price, or pay for them separately. Even if you have one idea that you’ve fixed upon and agreed on with the artist, it’s good insurance to see a comp sketch of that as well before the artist proceeds with the finished piece. Personally, as a commercial artist myself I would ask for a colour comp (where the colours are roughed in as well).

“For example, here’s the advanced colour comp sketch I created for the (ultimately unused) cover of my own novel. It’s clearly not finished, but there’s enough there that you can get a good feeling for how the final will likely turn out.”

Below is the rough comp sketch I created for an unused cover for “The Codex of Desire”:

COVER ROUGH SKETCH 1

And the colour comp stage you might typically see after you’d approved the black and white rough comp sketch:

COVER ROUGH SKETCH 1 FULLCOVER sketch

Once this type of colour comp is approved, the artist generally moves on to the final painting phase, since this gives a pretty good idea of what the cover will ultimately look like. 🙂 

Novel Excerpt: From Chapter 26 of “The Codex of Desire”

The flu thing is still kicking me flat, so today I’ll be taking it easy and posting an excerpt from my recently published novel, “The Codex of Desire”. In Chapter 26, the Most Potent Chieftess Ev’ora has “invited” the captive warrior Tir’at to a private supper in her stronghold and Tir’at, inflamed with love for another female and goaded beyond endurance by Ev’ora’s sly attempts to seduce him, has leaped to his feet and started strutting before her, crowing his defiance…

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Ev’ora gazed at him without the slightest shift of a feather or the tiniest flicker of her inner eyelids. His rage crashed against her — and as a wave on the Sea when it strikes a rocky outcrop of the shore, rebounded upon itself and was redoubled. Another crow shrieked from his throat, this time beyond words — in a surge of inarticulate savagery he clenched his fists hard and thrust out both arms out in arcs that swept every dish in front of him off the table. Bowls flew; oil lamps fell and went out; food spilled and splattered; the cups of wine tumbled to the floor and disgorged their expensive contents amidst the general ruin. In her corner, the Lowest cowered to the wall and emitted a tiny squeak of terror — beyond the leather curtain, footfalls came running —

— but none entered the dimmed chamber, lit now by a single lamp mounted on the wall beside the entry arch. As the bowls rolled to a slow stop on the food-strewn floor Ev’ora continued to gaze at Tir’at as though she were carved of stone, or ivory, or ice. Glaring into her eyes, seeing only depths as inscrutable as bowls full of bright blood, Tir’at thrust his head forward and snapped his jaws, sharp teeth nearly fastening on the tip of her muzzle —

— but she neither drew back nor lunged forward to join battle with him. She merely gazed, and when he recoiled with another maddened cry, then turned wildly in the direction of the leather curtain as if to flee only to begin strutting back and forth before the table, every muscle in his body wound taut as lock-jaw, every nerve hissing and sizzling with white-hot adrenaline… she gazed yet, as if he were a particularly interesting beetle presented for her entertainment, scuttling back and forth inside a long narrow box.

His brain was a-boil, his vision a haze of reds and yellows edged with pulsing white — in his breast, his heart hammered like a frantic bird trying to beat its way out of a cage. As he strutted each sharp step jarred it sorely, until its cries pounded into his throat and hissed free between his bared gleaming teeth: “Never! Never! Never for you! Never! Never! Never — for you!” — interspersed with shrill random crowing, his neck arched sharply back between his shoulder blades, his wings flaring and beating a staccato war-dance…

… and still Ev’ora watched him in silence. Each fierce step she watched, each harsh word and wild vocalization she heard, each scent of animal fury she doubtless breathed… until all his searing energy exhausted itself in a rush. His crowing died mid-breath, and he stopped in his tracks to stand facing the windows, swaying on his feet, the heat draining from his flesh to leave him cold and dazed and shaking, every feather a-quiver with the enervating aftermath of utterly unaccustomed fury. He stood mute, staring at the darkness beyond the lattices — when, oh when had it gotten so dark? — and he only saw the Lowest when she quivered there against the wall, backed into her corner, her wide unblinking grey eyes fixed upon him, catching a muddy gleam of what little lamplight there was.

Ev’ora’s voice slid out of the darkness, Exalted still, lithe as a snake across the shadowed table and between Tir’at’s heaving ribs like a blade: “Hast thou exhausted thy subject, Illustrious Guest?”

He opened his mouth. He closed it again. He could not speak — his mind was his own again in an ocean of exhaustion, but words failed him. On his left forearm his vambrace clasped his flesh with dead weight, and he let his arm drop at his side, its pinions trailing in the trodden food staining the floor.

After a long pause, Ev’ora said quietly: “It is well thou hast spoken — not fairly, or truly, but as an infection should be lanced to let out the yellow poison. For surely thou perceive that thou hast proved My very point, to the letter?” Softly her words came in even ranks, marching through his ears into his mind: “Thou art male, and to be male is to be enslaved to the flesh and to the blood. The essential juices which warm the eggs of a female to new life ferment in thy body — and so potent are they, so intoxicating in their nature, that they provoke thy sex to madness if not properly checked, or timely released.”

Tir’at let his head drop too, his chin drooping to nestle against his breast, his eyelids sinking closed. He ached with weariness, so empty in the aftermath of the brush-fire which had raged within him…

“To be male is to be male flesh,” Ev’ora continued in a voice of calm reason, “and male flesh is changeable, irrational, and given to passion of all kinds.”

… but in that emptiness, dancing beyond the haze, he saw a gleam of bright red feathers and of eyes as green as new leaves… a beauty as serene and pure as this voice in his ears was darkly venomous…

Silken as a serpent’s belly in the dust: “Well can I see how weary thou art, Little One, of thy long struggle to be all that they — the perverted teachings of the Sky Emperor — have demanded of thee! Is it not enough?” He heard her rise slowly from her couch, the seductive whisper of feathers gliding against each other. In a moment he would feel her footfalls come round the table, heavy and soft and horrible; in another moment, he would feel her teeth closing — terrible, gentle! — on the back of his curved neck! “Dost thou not see that it is the best of fortunes that have brought thee here, to this safe haven? No more shalt thou run, nor fight, nor strive against thy own kind — here shalt thou be honoured, and valued, and give no more thought to the impossible or the unnatural.” Ah, here it came — the first footfall! The second! Her voice fell to an even lower murmur: “And to her shalt thou be given, a royal gift indeed — once thou hath offered thy duty to Me, and given unto Me new life for the next generation…”

His flesh was dreaming, and in that dream his mind, dazed, had been slowly sinking — until Ev’ora’s last sentence cleaved through his brain like lightning, illuminating patterns gone temporarily dark — and though he felt no less exhausted in body, his mind woke as if from a long sleep to see the precipice yawning at his feet, less than a half-step from falling to his ruin!

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“The Codex of Desire” on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GD3HBHK

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