Map of the North-lands in the Bronze Age

I created the first map for my North-lands right after I wrote Troll-magic. I remember immersing myself in the feeling I had for the world, and the different moods and geographies that seemed in my mind to go with each culture, and then attempting to draw coastlines and rivers and mountains that matched my very subjective experience of the place.

It wasn’t easy at all, but it felt right. And I did manage to achieve a result close to what I wanted.

The Tally Master is set roughly 2,000 years before Troll-magic. While a few rivers have changed their courses, the basic topography of the landmass remains the same. Human elements, such as nations, fortresses, and cities – and, especially, the names for the various regions – are markedly different, of course.

I knew I wanted to include a map in The Tally Master and that I could not use the one from Troll-magic. I would need a new one!

But I like maps and drawing maps, so creating the new one was a pleasure and a treat.

If you wish to compare the North-lands of the Bronze Age (the time of Tally Master) with that of the Steam Age (the time of Troll-magic), you can see maps of the latter here.

For more about The Tally Master, see:
Gael’s Tally Chamber in Belzetarn
Mapping Ancient Rome onto Belzetarn
What Does the Tally Master Tally?
The Fortress of Belzetarn
The Dark Tower
Belzetarn’s Smithies and Cellars
Belzetarn’s Formidable Entrance Gate
Belzetarn’s Treasures
Belzetarn’s Great Halls
Bronze Age Swords
Brother Kings



Building Star-drake’s Cover

Profile of a star-drake against a starry skyI adore the black and white line art drawn by Kay Nielsen in 1914. You can undoubtedly tell that from the images at the top of my blog. All gorgeous illustrations by Nielsen.


But Nielsen art can be difficult to track down. And I’m not sure he ever did any dragons. If he did, I haven’t seen them.


So when it was time to create a cover for Star-drake, I needed another solution. And I found a fabulous winged-and-clawed beast by Netfalls on the Dreamstime web site. Except . . . it was golden, not black. And flew through an inferno, not a star-spangled night sky. But the basic form was perfect . . . and some Photoshop work could fix the rest.


I purchased the right to use the art, turned it black and white, clipped away the inferno, and placed the creature in my cover file. The highlights were too bright, so I toned them down. The middle grays weren’t dark enough, so I deepened them. And the drake needed a little more vertical reach, so I lengthened his neck. There! The hard part was done.


Next came the night sky: another Dreamstime find, this one by Silvertiger. I tried popping the image straight into my file, but the brightest stars were unfortunately placed. I flipped the image, nudged it up and to one side, and that did it. But what about the drake’s eye? It alone should gleam, not with fire – this is an archetypal leviathan of darkness and mystery – but with intensity. I selected the eye and made it citron, glowing like a jewel.


I added a translucent shadow at the very top and the very bottom of the art, to give a nice dark field for my title and byline. I placed these as pale gray type, then ran them through Photoshp’s chrome filter to generate the wavy pattern within the letters. The tag lines called for the color of the drake’s eye. Who can resist that eye? Not me!

And there you have it: the cover for Star-drake.

But, wait, that’s not all! I have plans for this story that one reviewer was gracious enough to call wonderful. It is destined for a collection of six stories – ranging from short to novella – all featuring trolls among their casts of characters. The collection will release some time next year as both an e-book and a print edition. In the meantime, Star-drake is bundled with a bonus story (Rainbow’s Lodestone) as an e-book in all the usual places.

Amazon I B&N I Diesel I iTunes I Kobo I Smashwords

More posts about book covers:
Eyes Glaze Over? Never!
Cover Creation: Perilous Chance
Cover Makeovers