Fantasy Maps help expand “world building” for a writer to take the reader on a journey

High resolution map of Middle Earth - Album on Imgur
Map of Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with land surveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.”

― Gilles Deleuze

World Building is a skill every writer needs, especially in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Luckily, as a former D&D DungeonMaster, I have some background in this area before I became an author. Creating the world to take my friends on their many adventures was a part of my life, whether it was Dungeons and Dragons, Space Opera, Rift or any other RPG, I had to create the world in which we were roleplaying.

I used to try and create my own maps using PowerPoint or Adobe InDesign to help me imagine these brave new worlds, but they were poor substitutes and not marketable. Thank God for the independent author and artist community online. They have the resources needed to help bring my imaginary world into a reality.

World building is defined as “the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. Developing an imaginary setting with coherent qualities such as a history, geography, and ecology is a key task for many science fiction or fantasy writers.” You don’t know how true that is! As writers, we have to imagine everything from landscapes to cityscapes and everything in between. That means political structure, currency, races, religion, etc. It all has to be accounted for, but the biggest factor is the landscape.

In writing, you need to talk about the cities, forests, roads, and everything else when describing your story. If my protagonist is heading east along the Vanir Road, following the Blackbriar Forest on his way to the Gilded Halls of the Dwarves, I have to know where those places are in relation to his current location. In a sense, you could be writing about going one way and then mention somewhere you protagonist has been, and you say east instead of west so then your world becomes confusing.

Think of it this way… Would you have understood the journey Frodo went on in Lord of the Rings without the map of Middle Earth? Maybe, but the map helped me (as the reader) understand the journey they went on through that map. I like to think about that when I look at world maps from the 1600’s, seeing how they thought of the Earth 400 years ago and how different it is today. Even maps from the 1960’s and 70’s are different from what they are today.

The Island of Avalon
Map of Avalon from the Forever Avalon series, designed by Amy Kruzan.

Mapping is essential which is why, as a writer, I am happy to employ mapmakers in helping me create my worlds. The first one I used was Amy Kruzan, known in Instagram as fantasygraphicsbya. She took my description of Avalon and mapped the enchanted island, as told in the Forever Avalon fantasy book series, into a working map. Now, she helping me with a new layout of Avalon following the aftermath of The Outlander War (I won’t spoil it, so please read it to understand why). Imagining it was one thing but seeing it is something completely new. The layout reflects the ideas I had more than 20 years ago when I started writing the first book in the series.

I found many map artists on Twitter and Instagram. They are quite prolific in creating these myriad of worlds for dreamers like me. The ability to take the words and descriptions to design the forests, mountains, lakes, seas, rivers and cities is designed down to the ridges on the cliffs to the pine trees swaying in the wind. It makes it difficult to formulate things like trade routes, ship ports, rivers and canals, roads, etc. These are all essential for a vibrant or lackluster economy, which makes your fantasy world believable. I mean, how can you take care of an entire island without farmland, shipyards, and all the necessities to feed the populace, export commerce, and transport goods from one place to the other.

“You can’t map a sense of humor. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know that There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.”

― Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

So, besides the regular social media crowd, there are artist websites like Art Station, Deviant Art and others allow artists to showcase their work so it makes for a great place to research styles, designs and artists. Although many maps, especially fantasy maps, look similar in many respects, but its the fine details that make the map into something special and unique for your story. You can find the artist you’re looking for to take your story into the world you’re creating.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Help “THE OUTLANDER WAR” win AllAuthor.com “Book Cover of the Month” in February

I need your help! The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series was nominated as one of the contenders for Book Cover of the Month contest for February at allauthor.com. The Cover of the Month Contest is conducted by AllAuthor every month. The main purpose of this contest is to provide an opportunity for the Authors to promote their book in front of thousands of readers.

The cover looks exactly as I described to the editors at Austin Macauley. It shows the battle between the modern military forces and the Knights of the Round Table, which is at the heart of the conflict in the story. All this is happening beneath the floating island of Emmyr, the Dragon Isle that floats just above Avalon due to the dragons that call it home. Emmyr is one of the first things the U.S. Navy sees when Avalon reappears in the outside world and where the battle between the modern and medieval takes place. These two elements are at the forefront of my book cover and it helps convey the heart of the story.

“The AllAuthor team is working round-the-clock to create a platform for readers to find their favorite authors, discover new books, get to know new authors, find free books and many discounted book deals. Since many of the authors do not write books full time, it proves challenging for them to spend a lot of time in promoting the books that they have so dearly and passionately created. This is where we step in. AllAuthor focuses on the requirements of all types of authors (newcomers, indie, bestsellers) and have come up with ways to help them achieve their promotional goals by supporting them with branding and provides them with various utility and automation tools for promotions. We are constantly researching and getting feedback from our authors to enhance our services so that the authors can comfortably and effectively spend more time writing their books without worrying much over the promotions.”

allauthor.com

The contest has FOUR rounds:

  • First, all the selected entries will contest for the next round. (February 1st – 7th)
  • Second, 100 top-voted covers will compete to enter the third round. (February 8th – 14th)
  • Third, top 50 book covers from the previous round. (February 15th – 21st)
  • Fourth, top 24 book covers will play the last round in the chase. (February 22nd – Month end)

The THREE winners will be announced on the last day of the month.

Help out an independent author and vote for The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series as February’s Cover of the Month! Tell your friends, spread the word, and while you’re at it, find some good books to read!

You can vote HERE at https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/11094/!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

The right book cover is what draws in the reader

When an author finishes writing a novel, beyond the editing and polishing that comes next, an important decision is staring them right in the face… The cover! The cover of a book is what draws the reader to your novel. Anyone who has shopped for books, whether online or at a bookstore, is drawn to the book by the first thing they see, the cover. Yes, we then turn the book over and read the synopsis to see if its worth reading, but we’re not going to pick up the book if the cover doesn’t attract my eye.

“Aspiring authors, get this through your head. Cover art serves one purpose, and one purpose only, to get potential customers interested long enough to pick up the book to read the back cover blurb. In the internet age that means the thumb nail image needs to be interesting enough to click on. That’s what covers are for.”

― Larry Correia

When I finished each of my novels, the first thing (besides a loud sign of relief) that came to mind was the cover. What was I going come up with to draw readers in? For my first novel, Forever Avalon, I knew exactly what I wanted. The image of a flying galleon was the big magical reveal and I knew it would draw people in. Luckily, the artist saw through the words of my book and brought my vision into life. My wife says it looks “cartoonish” and makes it look more like a children’s book rather than an adult novel. We agree to disagree because I love my cover.

For my second novel, The Dark Tides, the cover art was a stock image. I had millions of images to pick from and this one just stood out to me. The dark lightning tied it into the idea at the heart of the novel, an all encompassing spell called The Dark Tides. The ship ties it back to the first book, and so in this stock art, I found the perfect cover to express the ideas behind my novel.

“I always think that it’s wrong to put images of my protagonists on the cover of my novels because readers can identify with characters only if they are given the chance to imagine them independently.”

― Orhan Pamuk, The Innocence of Objects

For The Outlander War, I finally wanted to show the floating island of Emmyr. For those who may not be familiar with my fantasy book series, Emmyr is the Dragon Isle. It floats in the sky above Avalon due to the concentration of magic due to the dragons that live there. Emmyr is front and center of the war between the modern military forces and Avalon in the novel, so I wanted to show that. I also thought a silhouetted view of the island and the battle going on around it would be easier to display. This conflict is the heart of the story and you see it all in this cover.

As I write, the story goes through my mind like a Broadway play in stage, and I translate that performance into the words of my novel. At the end of the process, I take all of that imagery and try to find one thing that will catch the eye of a reader. Just one thing to tell the story and make someone say, “I want to read that book!” Remember these words…

“Good cover design is not only about beauty… it’s a visual sales pitch. It’s your first contact with a potential reader. Your cover only has around 3 seconds to catch a browsing reader’s attention. You want to stand out and make them pause and consider, and read the synopsis.”

― Eeva Lancaster, Being Indie: A No Holds Barred, Self Publishing Guide for Indie Authors

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

New Book Reviews from ‘NerdyBibliophilee’ for the FOREVER AVALON Series makes my December

This is a great way to start off the holidays! I would love to receive more Christmas presents like this (if you’re listening out the Santa Claus!) The three books in the FOREVER AVALON fantasy book series–Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides, and The Outlander War–were reviewed by Instagram book reviewer, avid reader, and supporter of independent authors everywhere Nerdybibliophilee! Here’s a snippet of the reviews:

It has been a great fantasy week. Ever happened to you that after reading a book it took some time to get back into reality. Was in such wonderful wizard world created by Mark Piggott. The fantasy book is called Forever Avalon. Starting with the title of the book, I feel its a relevant one for such an amazing storyline. Taking about the cover on the other hand, as you all see is a very creative one. It gives a very comic like vibe and I feel it’s a fun read for both children and adults who are looking for a soothing, adventurous and a fun read.

“Talking about the plot of the book, the plot is very well designed and written. I would like to talk about narration of the book first, the way book starts gives a hype to the upcoming story. Stephanie with three of her children end up on a mysterious land after hit by a storm. Now as the story proceeds we get to know about the mystery land which is full of very different creatures and wizards. Trust me if I was a child I would have gone crazy while reading the story because I feel children have a great power of imagination. If not books like these give them a great way of expanding their imagination. I being an adult could film the story in my mind while reading it. Now as the pages turn we get to know more about the island and the creatures living there, Avalon has been a sacred place for 3000 years and now Stephanie and her children ended up here. Being from the outside world they are unaware about all of this and that’s the same for the life of Avalon. Now they are struggling to find their way out.

“To be very honest, I personally love reading about such islands and sacred places even if it’s a fantasy because as the pages turn the story takes a different way revealing more about the Avalon. Trust me if you are a fantasy lover you are definitely going to thank me for recommending it to you. I would highly recommend it to all the readers out there.”

“Just as I told you before I am going to complete the Forever Avalon series and after a very positive response from you guys I got a lot of requests regarding the review of the Book 2 and if it’s worth reading. So let’s start my way. Starting with the title of the book The Dark Tides the story being in continuation of the last book that is Forever Avalon. After reading it I feel the title was a perfect fit. The cover on the other hand is as creative as the first one. Overall the other appearance of the book was not compromised just for the sake of response from the book 1.

“Talking about the content of the book, The Drake family is travelling by sea to lay a wreath in honor of the patriarch of the family, Bryan. Unfortunately, they run into a big storm and soon find themselves trapped on a desolate island. Fortunately, that’s where Bryan and his new life on the island of Avalon find themselves. It’s an island full of characters and places that you would usually find in a mediaeval version of a fairy tale. It’s known to Bryan as Lord Bryan MoonDrake. Now the storyline has been amazing as we all know but at this point I felt like the characters created by the author were pretty amazing. I was really wondering what if how beautiful and creative the mindset of author would be while writing the book. The story line did really hook me up but in the middle somewhere I felt I was a little off but that too was compensate with the story ahead. I feel the book 2 slows down a bit. While the book 1 was really an amazing and stormy read, book 2 is more of a steady read. It has a page turner. I totally liked it and I would definitely recommend it to all the readers who are looking for a series with an amazing storyline. For the storyline I would rate this book as 2.8/3.

“Talking about the words and the language used in the book in terms of difficulty, personally I didn’t face any difficulty while reading the book. Also the editing was on point so if you are the one waiting to start you have a green signal.”

“Forever Avalon series, after such a wonderful response to both the books, I didn’t want to skip the book 3 of the series, while reading the book I had some experiences that I would like to share with you all. Starting with the title of the book, The Outlanders War. For the people who are have read the book 1 and 2 it was easy to guess what’s going to happen next, however it was just a hint but a relevant one. So the title is totally on point. Cover on the other had has a very different vibe from both other books, I liked the thought of changing it in 3rd book. Overall the outer appearance is really appealing for a viewer who sees the book for the first time so I would like to give it a 2/2 for it.

“Talking about the content of the book, for those who haven’t read the book, basically the story is about a mysterious Island, where mysterious creatures exists, where there is no such thing as time, which is ruled by King Arthur. There a thing about the book I would like to mention that it gives a very different vibe when something in real world is connected to the fantasy world just as this one the concept of Bermuda Triangle gave that spice. Now what happens next is suddenly the Avalon reappeared in middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“The U.S. Navy, circling the mysterious island right now needs answers. On Avalon, they fear that Outlanders will invade their home; and Lord Bryan Moon Drake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and champion of the magical realm, is caught in the center of it all. Now here while reading it I was really hooked to the story because after reading book 1 and 2 there was no point in building the story line like the characters were set and everything was turning out to be in favor of reader, I mean being an avid reader all I want is flow and then I am just reading to experience what author wants me to and it happened while reading the book. I loved the experience this book gave me, not just this book but this series. I am a fan of the author and looking forward to read more from author, if you haven’t tried it yet what are you waiting for. I am sure the series would not disappoint at all. So for the content and plot I would like to give it a 1.8/2.

“Talking about the words and the language used in the book in terms of difficulty, I personally didn’t face any difficulty while reading the book also the choice of words was amazing, which helped mention the feel and the flow. I would highly recommend it to all the readers out there. So yeah!

“Happy reading!”

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

The “Magic 7” Fantasy Book Giveaway will set up your winter reading lineup

Looking for a great fantasy read to get you out of your house this winter? You can step into these books and journey to other worlds beyond your imagination. It’s easy!

Presenting “The Magic 7 Fantasy Giveaway” where you could win signed copies of these seven fantasy novels from a group of great independent authors. It’s a simple contest for everyone. Just follow, like, share, and tag two friends on Instagram. Make sure you use the hashtag #themagic7giveaway to get your entry recorded for a chance to win! If you run the gambit with all seven authors, that’s a maximum of seven chances to win! The contest runs December 1-14. The winner will be selected on December 15.

You already know about me (@foreveravalon.author) and The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. Here’s a look at the authors and the novels in the giveaway:

Blood of the Stallion (The Elder Blade Chronicles Book 1) by [Rhys Snaith]

Blood of the Stallion (The Elder Blade Chronicles, Book 1) by Rhys Snaith — Years of living on the streets and having to fend for himself have made the young thief Yodrick Alton who he is. However, his world is drastically changed when he encounters the notorious pirate Daxon – Captain of the Iron Stallion. Now Yodrick will have to adapt to his new lifestyle while secrets from the past threaten to ruin everything. Lies, deceit and betrayal are all in store for this young pirate, so join him in his quest for the truth and read along as he uncovers the secrets of the Elder Blades. (Instagram @rhyswriting)

Unparalleled by Jenna Hebert — Seventeen-year-old Natalya Wells has one mission-to kill the monsters over the graffiti wall and rescue her best friend, Eve, who is held captive by Ascendants, the rulers of the fourth dimension. A dying land where children become victims of starvation and violence. When the Remnants, evil red-eyed demons, invade the fourth dimension, Natalya is transported to the next world. The fifth dimension is a place where grass shrivels, dies, and regrows all in a matter of seconds. The heat of the sun cannot be felt because the sky is encamped by a mural of glass. Natalya meets Jance, who belongs to a superhuman race called Raidens, warriors who heal with invincible scars. Jance holds a deadly secret about what the scars on his body truly mean, and why his own father is determined to kill him. Eve returns to the fifth dimension and meets Jance’s best friend, Ronan, a boy with no memory of the world he came from before. The three of them bind together to help Natalya become a Raiden. As Natalya endures this grueling transition, she discovers the secrets her friends are hiding, along with the unjust laws and dangerous manipulations that are poisoning this world. After a raging war divides the Raidens against one another, Natalya and her friends must reveal the darkness within themselves and embrace their unique gifts. Natalya’s power may not only shatter the glass world but someone she loves. (Instagram @jhebertbooks)

On The Edge (The Dwelling Hunter Series Book 1) by [MJ Glenn]

On the Edge (The Dwelling Hunter Series, Book 1) by M.J. Glenn — For two years, Ebony Wick has survived alone as an outlaw and highwaywoman in Rundlewood Forest. She doesn’t need people. She only needs to survive. But when Hunter Sparrow breaks into her camp and invites her to join his gang, the Bounty Hunters, she finds herself facing a difficult choice. With a burning desire for revenge against a powerful enemy, Ebony must choose between reason and instinct. But in doing so, she discovers a long-hidden secret that will change her world forever. (Instagram @author_mjglenn)

Bound in Darkness: The Lilith trilogy book 1 by [Kim ten Tusscher, Jos Weijmer]

Bound in Darkness (The Lilith Trilogy, Book 1) by Kim ten Tusscher — Inferno at her breath. War under her wings. With two men whispering mayhem in her ear, which way will she turn the bloody tide? Lilith has only ever lived with anger and destruction. The sole dragon shifter known to humankind, she despises her life as an instrument of terror at the hands of a prophetic sorcerer. Finally fleeing years of abuse, she’s distraught when she’s captured for stealing food and forced to answer to a bitter king for her crimes. Hiding her fiery past from the monarch’s shrewd advisor, Lilith grits her teeth and endures brutal lashings to keep her powers secret. But when her former abductor sends spies to reclaim her and threatens carnage in the name of God, she’ll have to choose for which captor she’s willing to spill more innocent blood… Can the tortured woman escape to freedom before the land beneath her burns? (Instagram @kimtentusscher)

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep (Tales of Arvia Book 1) by [D. H. Willison]

Harpyness is Only Skin Deep (Tales of Arvia, Book 1) by D.H. Willison — On a world where death lurks around every corner, is friendship the strongest survival tool of all? Darin: bored with his paper pusher existence, he accepts a questionable deal for the LARP adventure of a lifetime. A jump through a dimensional portal strands him on the mythical world of Arvia, where everything is gigantic. Except the life-expectancy of newcomers. Rinloh: a mere ten meters tall. Life in the harpy flock has never been easy for her. Determined to become full-fledged at the upcoming human-hunt, nothing is going to stand–or fly–in her way. A chance encounter between these two–what could possibly go wrong? Humans consider consorting with a harpy a capital offense. Harpies consider the human citizens a tasty part of a balanced diet. Yet the two must overcome a most monstrous conspiracy as the citizens of the city begin disappearing, with a list of suspects as big as the inhabitants of Arvia. (Instagram @d.h.willison)

The Battle for Trimera: Book 1 of the Ruling Priestess by Tanya S.M. Kennedy — It takes a heinous crime to gain control of the monsters called grinlo, but all evidence out of Trimera points to exactly that. Following the death of her parents, Pria’s biggest fear is not being able to return home to Trimera to protect her family and people. But being one of the only High Priestesses in Reia, posting her to the position faces strenuous opposition. Under intense scrutiny, Pria returns to her home terrified any misstep will precipitate her removal from the post. When she is reunited with her older brother’s best friend Mian, a childhood of memories resurfaces threatening the image of strength and calm she struggles to project. But when it becomes clear that the rogue magical being controlling the grinlo is also hunting high priestesses, Pria’s desperate fight to save Trimera quickly turns into a struggle for survival. Will Pria be able to save her home and avoid her predecessor’s fate? The Battle for Trimera is the opening installment in the fantasy adventure series of The Ruling Priestess. If you like strong female leads, brave crush-worthy knights, and epic battles, you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s story of one woman’s fight to save her home. Buy The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Reia today! (Instagram @tanyasmkennedy)

This is a great holiday gift for any avid reader, the gift of fantasy and adventure! Sign up on Instagram today and enter for a chance to win! Good luck!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

For the first time, Avalon has been mapped!

The Island of AvalonFor the first time in more than 20 years, you can actually see the island of Avalon as I mapped it out in my mind when I started writing the Forever Avalon series. Thanks to artist Amy Kruzan (follow on Instagram at fantasygraphicsbya) you can follow the adventures of the Gil-Gamesh and the rest of the MoonDrake family, from the dragon isle of Emmyr in the northwest, eastward across the Fenris Mountains to Merlin’s Pinnacle, and south to New Camelot. So, let’s take a quick tour of Avalon, starting due south:

Candletop Lighthouse and Elkwood Forest — This is where the Gil-Gamesh’s family first arrive on Avalon. Elkwood Forest is not as dense nor as dangerous as Blackbriar Forest (to the north) but it is nor an easy place to travel through. You have to go around the forest to reach Candletop Lighthouse. This lighthouse sits on top of a ridge overlooking the ocean below. It was built, not for ships, but rather to draw in Outlanders (people from the outside world) that passed through the rift in the Bermuda Triangle and arrived on Avalon.

Etheldreda — This is the capital city of Eldonshire, the “bread basket” of Avalon. Eldonshire encompasses the southwest corner of Avalon. This part of the island has smooth flatlands and rolling meadows for farming and raising animals to feed the people.

Alfheimer and Lake Ouroboros — Alfheimer is the ancient home to the Elves of Avalon. This sacred land is only accessible to those invited by the Elves, otherwise people will become lost, confused, or dead. Alfheimer is built into the valley walls between two small mountains. A waterfall pours down from Lake Ouroboros into the valley below. The lake provides and endless supply of fresh water from an unknown source deep within Avalon, hence its name meaning “infinity”.

Nottinghamshire — The largest port in Avalon, Nottinghamshire is the shipping capital of the magical island. Besides being a shipping magnet for Avalon, the city also has the largest shipyard, building ships to send cargo around the island, via the ocean or down the rivers.

Emmyr — The “dragon isle” sits off the coast of Avalon, but not like a normal island. Emmyr floats in the air, surrounded by a sheath of clouds just below its rocky shores. A large mountain encompassed the center of the island as dragons fly out and about the peak, with lush trees covering the landscape and waterfalls flowing from the rocks into the clouds below. Beneath the mountain sat a city, Port Charles, carved out of the mountainside. This is the home of the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, and his family.

Northern Tribe of Kéntauros — The home of the centaurs of Avalon, the Northern Tribe of Kéntauros lived on the fringes of the Blackbriar Forest, giving them room to hunt and to run free.

Steinfisk — The capital of the North Highlands, Steinfisk is the home to the great fishermen of Avalon. These northmen, the descendants of Vikings, navigate the treacherous northern sea above the Orcus Abyss where the fish are abundant. They traded in their pillaging heritage for the peaceful life as fishermen, providing the abundance of the sea to the people of Avalon.

Fenris Mountain — The northern mountain range resemble the fangs of the wolf they’re named after. It hugs the northern coastline, dropping as a sheer cliff into the Orcus Abyss  of the northern sea. The mountains are divided by the Lóni River (Lóni means lazy, as the river is slow flowing from west to east).  From Steinfisk to Hursag, the mountains are virtually impassable.

Idlehorn Mountain — Idlehorn is the highest peak in the Fenris Mountains. Located in the center of the mountain range, Idlehorn is home to many evils. The goblins call Idlehorn home, living within a massive system of caverns below the peak. There is a single castle built into the side of the mountain, overlooking Blackbriar Forest. This is the home of Viscount Kraven Darkholm, a descendant of Morgana le Fay and rival to the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake.

Blackbriar Forest — The largest forest in Avalon, Blackbriar got its name from the giant trees that keep the entire forest in darkness, day and night. This allows for all sorts of dark creatures to thrive within, from goblins, trolls, ogres and the Dökkalfar, or Dark Elves. Because of the nature of the forest, most travelers take the long way around instead of going through the dark woods. At the center of the forest sits Mordred’s Gate, the crossroads of Blackbriar Forest. It’s only place where the forest canopy parts to allow travelers a safe haven. Legend says it was here that Mordred was hunted down and killed by Sir Percival, the first Gil-Gamesh, to avenge the death of King Arthur.

King’s Crossing — At the edge of Blackbriar Forest, sitting along the Vanir Road (the main thoroughfare through Avalon), King’s Crossing is a simple farming town. The advantage of this thriving community is its location in the heart of Avalon. It’s proximity to Blackbriar Forest make it a meeting place for adventurers seeking riches and reward from the depths of the forest while being a rest stop for those travelling along the Vanir Road.

Hursag — The  ancient home to the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls, Hursag is a mountain containing the riches of all of Avalon. The Dwarves mine everything from gold and gems to steel and coal, bringing up the riches of the mountain for the people of Avalon. The port city of Dvallin sits at the base of the mountain, where ships by both sea and air arrive.

Strongürd Keep —  The home to the Wizard’s Council of Avalon, Strongürd Keep is a single solitary tower. The structure is an imposing tower, surrounded by an impenetrable wall, that stretches to a height nearly 1,000 tall of smooth granite. The keep is immense in stature, with jagged parapets coming out of the tower at indeterminate intervals. Within these walls, the secrets of the magic of Avalon are kept within the hands of those wizards deemed worthy of the knowledge.

Merlin’s Pinnacle — The tallest mountain in all of Avalon, Merlin’s Pinnacle sits at the end of the Fenris Mountain range, separated by the Arkengarth Vale.  The mountain is so named as it is said to be the final resting place of the first wizard of Avalon, Merlin the Magician. It is also home to the Jotunn, the race of giants in Avalon.

Togo — The island of Togo sits just off the east coast of Avalon. This is the home to the descendants of African slaves from a slave ship that crashed into Avalon centuries ago. The slaves rebelled against their masters and took refuge on the island of Togo, not trusting the people of Avalon. They have lived there, isolated for centuries, until the Gil-Gamesh reached out a hand of friendship, wiping away the hatred of the past.

Glennish Hills — The home to the Convent of the Shield Maidens of Avalon. The Shield Maidens are a holy order, created by Queen Guinevere herself, to serve alongside the Knights of the Round Table. They devote themselves to God, to Avalon, and to the knight they fight with, side-by-side. The Lady of the Lake is the patron saint of the order. The Gil-Gamesh brought Sarafina to the convent, where she was trained as a Shield Maiden. Dame Sarafina is now the Headmistress of the Holy Order of Shield Maidens.

New Camelot — The capital city of Avalon, New Camelot is the largest city on the magical island. When Avalon was first founded, New Camelot was the first city established. Over the centuries, the city has grown to a population of more than 10,000 with a diameter of nearly five miles. At the heart of the city is Castle Pendragon, the seat of power when the descendants of King Arthur have ruled since its founding. New Camelot is home to the Knights of the Round Table, the defenders of Avalon. The city itself is protected by the Armiger Corps, knights-in-training who one day hope to join the Round Table.

South Essex — A city of artisans, South Essex had the finest craftsman of all mediums—wood, metalwork, or fabric—as well as exceptional tailors, tinkers, musicians, actors and other tradesmen. It is a city of the best shops you could ever find outside of New Camelot, with the finest restaurants and most entertaining theaters for everyone to experience, from the poor to the rich.

Thank you again Amy Kruzan for your great work in putting my thoughts and ideas of the world of Forever Avalon down on a map for the first time.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Building a world, from the ground up, isn’t as easy as you think

Worldbuilding: How to Create a Believable World for Your Fiction ...

Worldbuilding is defined as “the process of creating a fictional world that can be as complex as designing an entirely new and unique location with exotic creatures, societies, religions, and governments.”

Most people think creating the story is the first step of a writer. Wrong. The first step is creating the world. Sure, the story is the idea, but you can’t have a story with the world it exists in. Whether that be another world like Middle Earth or a dystopian future, version of the United States, you need to create it first so you know the elements you’ll need in your story. We’re talking people and races, type of government, land masses, bodies of water, etc. Your cities will need names, what religion do they worship (if any), even the technology used (medieval, steampunk, cyber-tech, etc.) all need to be considered.

In the Forever Avalon series, I had to create the island of Avalon, from the various races, land masses, creatures, etc. It was a daunting task. I started with the capital, New Camelot, and worked out from there. A lot of my world building included a lot of research on myths and legends. From the Elven city of Alfheimer to the Dwarf mountain of Hursag, these are places within the our world mythology when it comes to Elves and Dwarfs. Since Avalon became a repository for all magic in the world (in my story), I wanted it to accurately portray the legends while adding my own touch.

When writing, you set your characters out on quests and journeys, and to do so, you need to know where they’re going and what lands or obstacles are in their way. Forests, mountain ranges, towns and cities all need to be identified with unique names and their own personality, for lack of a better word. In Avalon, the Fenris Mountains were named because the jagged peaks resembled the teeth of the legendary creature. Blackbriar Forest so named because, in the deep recesses of the woods, no light can pierce the canopy, leaving it a dark and dangerous place to travel. Merlin’s Pinnacle is a lone peak that stands separate from any mountain range, said to be the resting place of the eternal magician. These are just some of the places I created within the world of Forever Avalon, and even now, I’m adding or changing things as the story progresses.

One of the best tools in world building, for me, was Dungeons and Dragons. I played the RPG religiously as a young adult. As a writer, I found it to be a great tool in world building and character development. In fact, I took some of the characters and places I used as a Dungeon Master and player in D&D and used them in my novels. For example, in my latest novel, The Outlander War, there  is a new character named Abdel Ben Faust, a half-demon mercenary. This character is based on a half-orc fighter I played in the game. I had to make some adjustments since Orcs don’t exist in my world, but the basis for the character came from D&D.

A Brief Intro To Worldbuilding – Alexandra Peel

I also took inspiration from other fantasy novels, which I’m sure many authors do. In the Forever Avalon series, the home of my protagonist, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, is the floating dragon island of Emmyr. I took this from my love of Michael Moorcock and the Elric series, in which Melniboné (The Dragon Isle) and only surviving city is Imrryr, known as The Dreaming City. For many of us today, it’s the authors of these series that has inspired us to write our own stories. As they say, imitation is the most since form of flattery.

Another great tool for world building, especially when it comes to names, is Google. Searching through the different names in different cultures, whether its a Surname list or using Google translate to look up words in different languages for a town name, it becomes a helpful tool for writers. For example, when I named taverns and inns in Avalon, I always named them after an animal with an adjective to make it more colorful:  The Grinning Toad, The Weathered Wren, The Green Griffon, The Crooked Goose. This kept my thought process in line as I was writing the stories.

Maps are also useful. I’m no mapmaker, but as I put things together in my novel, I made a makeshift map of the world I was creating. I just marked the major points so I could figure out directions and to ensure consistency as I wrote my novel. I didn’t want to say they went north one time, and the next time they were going to the same place but I said south instead. You need to be consistent in your planning.

So, you need to think long and hard about the world you’re creating. The landscape is as essential as character development.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Positive reviews of THE OUTLANDER WAR keep rolling in!

This has been another stellar week for the Forever Avalon series, in particular for The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon series. I received some great reviews and I wanted to share them with all of you!

First is from Jennie Rosenblum at jenniereads.com. Now, Jennie’s from New Jersey, like me, so we have a lot in common. Her website says it all about her as a book reviewer. “This is to answer all those requests for my opinion on books.  I read, I suggest, I review and I BLOG.  My reviews, as you will read, are a little different.  It really irks me to see reviews that are a page summarizing the entire book and then giving very little comments on the book.  My reviews are more along the line of – well written – great characters that seem like real people – plot made sense.  One thing you will not find on my blog is me trashing a book.  Authors work really hard creating their books and I respect their work.  It’s like telling someone their kid is an awful creation – even if he/she is tearing apart your living room – you just don’t use those words.”

She has reviewed the entire Forever Avalon series, and her review of The Outlander War is no exception.

“From the moment I got this book into my hands, I knew the author had upped his game.  The cover is intense and eye-catching.  And then I started to read—–  I have enjoyed this series from the first book.  I would hand it to anyone over the age of 13 that wanted a great adventure, escape, or to travel to another land.  In this, Book 3 – Avalon has entered the real world.  The conflict and discourse of the two worlds were realistically portrayed.  What happens when your world conflicts with another or totally changes, how would you react?  The reader gets to experience several different reactions as well as processes that the characters go through to deal with their new situations. “ — Jennie Rosenblum, jenniereads.com

Next is a young lady going by the name NewBookReviewer from Mumbai, Maharashtra in India.It’s amazing the people you meet on social media. Her Amazon profile says it all about her. “I’m just like any other girl who is trying to be a bibliophile. I love reading books, as I find myself lost in them and I create a whole new world in my head by reading what the Author has described. I think having a hobby helps you to cope with the work and family pressure. I sometimes read just to escape reality. 🙂 I have read many books and most of them had good reviews and it helped me to choose and read them, but recently I came across a new book without any review, at first I was not sure if I should read it or not, but being a book lover you cant really stop your curious self, so I read it and I found myself amazed. The book was great. So after reading it I saw there were many other new books with interesting stories and covers. So I started this blog so that I could post and review about the new books released and motivate the new Authors to write more, as there are some book lovers like me, who value writing and content.”

She reviewed all three books in the Forever Avalon series and I appreciate her kind words and appreciation of my series. It means a lot coming from someone from a different culture and history who recognizes the story behind the myths and legends.

“The story has an amazing start, which starts with a mysteries and attention-grabbing dream and once you read it you will know that you have picked the right book that’s going to be adventurous. The story is filled with a fascinating adventure to a magical island that is shielded from the outside world for 3,000 years frozen in time and space. The book contains from Kings to knights, from magical creatures like elves to dragons, from wizards to dwarves, from adventure to mystery, from action to drama, from suspense to truth the book is a captivating and addictive storyline.”NewBookReviewer.com review of FOREVER AVALON

“The story is continuous of the first book, and the way the author has maintained the flow of the storyline it’s commendable. Author Mark Piggott is a talented writer and you can see his hard work and passion for writing through this series. A truly amazing and must-read book. The highlight of the book is, the grasping storyline, as soon as I was done reading the first book I couldn’t wait to continue reading with the next book. The author has done tremendous work in describing characters, from their feeling to their personalities, every bit of their nature is described in detail and expressed beautifully.” NewBookReviewer.com review of THE DARK TIDES

“The Outlander War is the 3rd book in the Forever Avalon Series written by Mark Piggott and its a series that you will never find anything thing like it. What would you do if you find a magical island that is frozen in time and space for more than 3,000 years and you soon accept it as your new home, but suddenly the real world comes knocking, ready for war; A war is fixed but whose side you will be on? Well, the answer to this is in the book The Outlander War. This is the third book in the Forever Avalon series, that I m reading, and I m just obsessed with the storyline and the expressive writing skills of the author Mark Piggott.” NewBookReviewer.com review of THE OUTLANDER WAR

This is genuinely humbling for me to receive these wonderful accolades and feedback on my novels. It’s expressions like this that make he happy that I chose to be a writer and share all my stories with people. That’s why I am a writer!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

A great week for THE OUTLANDER WAR with reviews and interviews

It has been a banner week for myself, for The Outlander War, and the Forever Avalon series in general. I will admit that, as a writer, I love it when people read my books and just get excited about reading it. It’s not about the accolades and awards, but rather the affirmation that I’m doing something that people enjoy. It’s what makes being an author so “kick ass” if you know what I mean. And this past week has been no exception.

I received my first review of the third novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, from one of its editors. Michael Stettes is a writer-editor like me, whom I work with in my day job in Washington, D.C. About two years ago, I asked him for his help in editing The Outlander War. To do that, he first asked to read my first two books and then he edited my third before I sent it off to the publisher. Mike was a big help to me and his honesty about my writing and storytelling made me understand the writing process, my often “wordiness” in sentences, and plot holes that I needed to avoid. He recently posted an honest review about The Outlander War.

“The Outlander War is a clever, action-fueled tale of ancient Arthurian magic vs. the modern military, conjured in striking detail through the expertise of veteran Mark Piggott. Every page of this magic vs. machine epic is packed with brilliant details, clever characters, and powerful, heartfelt heroism.”

Those words mean a lot to me. I love hearing from my fans, but coming from someone I consider a peer is a real honor. Thanks Mike!

Lastly, I had the great honor to be interviewed by another peer, author Robert B. Hayek. RB Hayek has been writing for over a decade. A graduate of Cal State Fullerton, Hayek authored two books and a writing credit on two web series. He has written freelance for several websites and also has worked for several prominent companies including Fox Sports and CBS Sports. He invited me to participate in an author interview.

“Piggott went the writer’s route and that enabled him to expand his imagination, and his horizons on the possibilities to what he might do. One of the principal themes in his stories is mixing folklore with fantasy.”

You can check out Robert and his website, providing various services to authors, by clicking here and check out my interview here.

UPDATE: Right after its release, Robert’s interview with yours truly was feature in the online literary magazine, S.H. Literary Times Daily. Congratulations Robert and thanks for the awesome exposure for Forever Avalon!

So, as always, I’d like to put a plug here about helping out those independent authors. Reviews are the life-blood of any authors but it means the most to those of us trying to get by with a big-name publisher or literary agent under our belts. Please, if you read a book, LEAVE A REVIEW. Good or bad, I want to know how I’m doing, just be honest. Thanks again for all your support!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Coming soon… The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series

I am updating my website to include the synopsis of the next book in the Forever Avalon series, The Prometheus Engine.  This is the start of the next and final trilogy in the series, picking up five years after the end of The Outlander War. I will warn you of SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t finished reading The Outlander War. You have been warned…

SPOILERS!

BEWARE! 

SPOILERS!

In 3…

2…

1…

Last chance…

Five years have passed since Avalon suddenly returned to the real world and faced, not only the loss of magic, but an invasion by the modern, technological might of the United States and Russia. It was through the efforts of the Gil-Gamesh, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, Champion and Knight Eternal of Avalon—along with a great sacrifice by the Elves of Alfheimer—that Avalon disappeared once again from the real world, hidden away behind a magical barrier that separated the two. However, that victory came with a great cost.

Avalon was torn asunder, shattered from a giant land mass into an archipelago of islands. It was at this moment of weakness that Mordred, the immortal bastard child of Morgana le Fay, usurped the throne from King Bowen Pendragon, the boy king and rightful ruler of Avalon. With an army of undead wraith knights at his command, and the children of the Lords of Avalon at his side, it was child’s play for Mordred to take the granite throne and become King.

The only thing that stand in his way of total domination were the children of the Gil-Gamesh:  Hunter, Rose and Ashley. Since the death of their father during Avalon’s Reclamation, these three have resisted Mordred’s reign at every turn from their new home in the ruined Elven city of Alfheimer. Along with the Shield Maidens of Avalon and the Hîldrägo Boquè, an elite corps of Elven warriors, they fight to reclaim the throne for King Bowen and restore Avalon to the people.

But even now, Mordred schemes to bring down the resistance through the construction of an ancient magical artifact… The Prometheus Engine. Only the immortal king knows its secrets and the power it will bring him, no matter what the cost. Now, Hunter and his siblings’ race across the archipelago to uncover the secrets of the engine and discover the truth behind Avalon’s Reclamation.

The story continues in THE PROMETHEUS ENGINE: Book 4 of the FOREVER AVALON Series, coming soon!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.