CREATING A FICTIONAL UNIVERSE FOR A NOVEL

Time BladeI’ve just published my third book—Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence—the second in the AJI series. Since I enjoy reading about how other authors work, I thought I would share a little about my process.

I’m not a super organized writer who has the world of my novel all figured out before I begin to work. I know what I want to say, and because I really, really, really want to know the how and the why of that mysterious tale stirring inside me, I believe it is mine to tell. I come to the page every day ready to write, which habit tells the story I’m serious and I need to know what comes next. Some begging, bargaining, and long, meditative silences go with this method.

OVERVIEW FOR THE AGE OF JEWELED INTELLIGENCE SERIES

The first inhabitants on the planet descended from a highly evolved civilization in another galaxy. They harnessed the astral energies of jewels to power industries, space travel, medical procedures, and all the comforts of home. In twenty-first century Earth, the Lords for the planet call for a new Age of Jeweled Intelligence. The evolution of the human family moves slowly, the natural resources of the planet are depleting rapidly, and Earth’s sun star will burn out. Mankind must rise to the call of his highest nature and transcend to the next universe, or perish with the sun.

Each book in the Age of Jeweled Intelligence series is a stand-alone story—told by a different narrator—a present-day reincarnation of someone who lived in the first Age of Jeweled Intelligence.

Time, location, and magic comprise some of the main components of a fictional universe. Here’s how those work in Time Blade.

TIME

Time is a major player. Before entering the mortal plane, each soul deposits an atom of its highest brilliance into Time. This forms a mastermind—a luminous field of perfect impersonal intelligence that overseas the evolution of the human family.

TIME BLADE

In order to escape disasters that could destroy the planet and humanity, one person is entrusted to carry Time Blade, a weapon capable of cutting, stopping and reversing Time.

LOCATION

Before Earth. Ancient Earth. Twenty-first century Earth.

MAGIC

 The astral disk. Jeweled Intelligence is the astral consciousness of gems—super cosmic awareness— living inside the Galaxy of the Jeweled Spheres. In the Age of Jeweled Intelligence everyone is born with an astral disk—a glow that adheres to the palm of the left hand like a second skin. Icons on the disk connect the user to the cosmic forces of gems.

Chakras
Illustration of chakras

There are seven jeweled spheres, which correspond to the seven chakras in the human body. Rubies represent the base chakra—creative energy. Emeralds, the solar plexus—might, life power. The heart is gold—love. The throat is intellect—sapphire. The third eye, volition—amethyst. The crown chakra, intuition—diamond. The seventh chakra is pearl—illumination. (The colors and attributes chosen serve the story and may differ from other charts.)

The inner kingdom of man came quite naturally as a fictional universe for Time Blade. Awakening to pure awareness has been my main interest for many years. I care deeply about the issues explored in the book—the well being of our planet and humanity. Writing about them evoked transcendent wonders that proved true in the universe of my novel. These epiphanies remain among the greatest rewards of my writing life.

STORY SYNOPSIS

 Time Blade follows young Californian Sky Hunter through three incarnations in his quest to become the man who carries Time Blade. I had not written from a man’s point view before, but I didn’t see that as a big hurdle. In his present day life on Earth, Sky ages from eighteen to thirty-two. I found my way into his character by giving him the same goal I had at age eighteen. I would travel the world and work and do whatever it took to make that happen. I traced the events in my life that had driven me to set out on that journey. Plot wise I knew why Sky had to travel far and wide, but I didn’t know what causes in his life had stoked the fires of such an undertaking. The answers arrived as I came to the page every day, writing and re-writing, draft after draft, until I unfolded the all of his story.

www.christinagreenaway.com.

 

 

 

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IS YOUR BOOK IN THE RIGHT GENRE?

Finding the right genre for your novel is critical. I struggled with that when I published my previous books. Dream Chaser: Awakening and Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence. To my delight, I discovered the Visionary Fiction genre before publishing my third novel—Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence.

The Visionary Fiction Alliance defines its genre this way. Growth in consciousness is the central theme of the story and drives the protagonist and/or other important characters.
PrintMy new novel—Time Blade—suggests we are all a part of everything—every proton, particle, and atom in the universe. Time is a character—a mastermind that overseas the evolution of the human family. On the journey into life, every soul deposits atoms of brilliance from its highest awareness into the mastermind. These multi-billions of perfect impersonal intelligence form a mass of luminescence that rolls across the face of dark matter. We are Time.

At its heart, Time Blade is an epic saga about the race for the evolution of the human family. Everyone must ascend to the next universe before Earth’s sun star burns out. Time Blade is the most powerful weapon ever on the planet. It can be used to cut, stop, or reverse Time to prevent actions that could annihilate mankind. We follow eighteen-year-old Sky Hunter through three incarnations in his quest to become the man who carries Time Blade.

In my own life, I believe the journey is the destination. I try to live in the moment, as all opportunities exist there. I wasn’t always aware of this. I spent years chasing the dream of how I thought life should be. I wouldn’t have recognized utopia if it hit me between the eyes, because I was always editing the dream. However, two things remained constant. I would see the world and I would become a writer.

Those who have known me for a long time, meet my novels with a puzzled expression—the kind that says you’ve changed skins more times than a snake with twenty-nine lives. Why don’t you write about that? That might be an interesting tale. Among my many jobs, I worked in advertising in London and New York, modeled in Paris, and partnered in a frog farm in Costa Rica.

Travel is like being in a microcosm of the macrocosm of life’s journey. Long plane rides, high in the sky, give space for overview. Where am I in this process? On one such flight, I realized I had seen a good portion of the world and met a fantastic cross-section of humanity, but I had not yet felt called to write a book. Why? As I gazed out the window into the blue depths of the sky, I felt a slight shift in my awareness. It was as if a door cracked open and the grandest of all adventures stretched out before me—the journey of spirit traveling through form in the mortal plane. Thus, began my writing life.

Visit the Visionary Fiction Alliance website

 

 

 

 

Lasting Advice from Writers and Teachers #3

#3. “Writing is very hard and bad for your health,” – a writing professor at the New School, New York, N.Y.

Back when I dreamed of becoming I writer, I took a course on fiction writing at the New School. This was so many years ago that I’ve forgotten the name of the teacher, but I’ve not forgotten him. He strode into the classroom, took up a piece of chalk and scrawled his message across the blackboard.

“Writing is very hard and bad for your health.”

writing_stressHe wrote this at the beginning of every class, and then stared back at us, his students, eyes narrowed daring the feeble hearted to get up and leave. No one budged for quite some time, but by the end of the course very few remained.

I seldom turned in an assignment to this teacher that he didn’t select it as an example to hold up before the class. This was done anonymously, so only the gulping of my breath; the beating of my heart, or the sudden flushing of my cheeks would give me away. His style was to praise first, words of glory and bright expectation, and then rip to kill. I would slink from the class, vowing to never write another word.

Fortunately, I learned early in life to think for myself, and so I interpreted his warning to suit me. In my experience, working at something you don’t like to do but have to do in order to survive is very hard. Writing is a calling. I don’t mean it’s a high and virtuous profession, but if writing calls you, you cannot help but answer. If you develop a habit to write everyday, writing will provide you with the energy, passion, and imagination it takes to get its stories told through you. Writing will become irresistible.

Also, because of this teacher, I determined I would not allow writing to be bad for my health. I walk three miles a day, do yoga each morning, and lift weights at the gym three times a week. I meditate every day. I’m twenty years into my writing life and I’m fit for many more.

Thank you, dear writing teacher at the New School.

chistinagreenaway.com

Lasting Advice from Writers and Teachers #2

#2. “Nobody dies on page two.” – Erica Duncan, author/teacher.

I lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y. at the beginning of my full time writing life, where I attended a writer’s group lead by *Erica Duncan. Erica, a celebrated literary voice, believed there was no such thing as a person who could not write. How lucky for me, as I had neither read a great body of literature nor acquired the degrees someone of her caliber might expect of a student.

Nobody dies on page two. A character might die anywhere in the book, but if death comes as early as page two, then it probably belongs on page one.

grim-reaper4Writing this blog caused me to review the first chapter of my latest novel Time Blade, about to go off to my editor. Gosh be darned, if I didn’t find the inciting incident of the story on page two!

I write fantasy, and Time Blade opens with Sky, the main character, traveling by train to Cornwall, UK. Crossing the River Tamar, Sky meets Tamara, Spirit of the River, who appears in a glittering body of astral light. Tamara tells Sky he must return to the ancient lost Kingdom of Ruberah to fulfill a promise he wrote eons ago. I had preceded this scene with seventeen-year-old Sky interacting with an elderly fellow passenger, a woman who never appears in the book again!

I wrote that scene to reveal certain character traits about Sky, which it did and which writing I perfected daily, as the document opens on page one and I could not resist tweaking it at every glance. Now I recognized it as one of those ‘darlings’ that must be killed.

Writer-Up! Off with its head! Nothing is lost! Sky’s character unfolds naturally within the story.

I knew next to nothing about writing when I attended Erica’s workshops, which was a blessing, otherwise I might not have dared to set foot in her establishment. Erica critiqued me as fairly and evenly as she did her most outstanding students.

Thank you, Erica.

*Erica Duncan: A Wreath of Pale White Roses

Unless Soul Clap its Hands: Portraits and Passages

http://www.christinagreenaway.com

Excerpt #2 Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence, book two

Excerpt from “Time Blade,” coming Fall 2015

Lessons With the Master: Luca, Spiritual Master for Earth, instructs his eight year old student about Time Blade.

“Can I kill someone with Time Blade?”

If a person poses a threat to the future of mankind, you may approach him and offer him an Honor Killing.

“What will I say?”

You will know when the time comes. Time Blade offers a quick, karma-free death and the intended recipient will understand the magnificence of that in his own terms. You, as guardian of the Blade, will have trained in the fighting arts and be capable of causing death with one thrust of the Blade.

“Will I cut his throat?”

No. You will learn a move known as the Glorious Thrust. The Thrust requires great skill. You must stab the Blade below the ribcage, push up through the diaphragm and the lungs and enter the heart, killing swiftly.

The student salivated, thinking about the Glorious Thrust. Violence was shunned in Ruberah. Fighting was an art. Young people trained and fought in competition. Most used light blades—swords powered by Rube. Taking someone’s life was forbidden, but killer instinct had a mind of its own. The student felt it bubbling in his gut as he prepared for a fight and he could smell it on his opponent. He trained rigorously and competed with light swords, fists, wrestling, and spirit fire, the art of using the opponent’s energy against him.

Should you have your own book imprint?

The possibility of a brand image for my books hadn’t occurred to me until I read *Six Steps of Self Publishing, an excellent blog by Libby Fischer Hellmann. Libby, a crime writer, uses red herrings in her imprint. Her emblem awakened the playful child in me. I immediately imagined fishing trawlers chugging into Mevagissey harbor, the Cornish village where I grew up, tossing a catch of herring onto the quay, which under my magic wand, would turn red and fly onto the spine of Libby’s books.

This response excited me. Would my own book imprint automatically trigger my child-like imagination? Names swarmed to mind, but I found they had all been taken. The key was to think of something very personal to me. What did I like to do most of all as a child? Answer: gaze into the sea and dream up stories.

GBS_Logo_Blue

I write ‘a girl by the sea book’ above the title of the novel I’m currently working on. When I open that document, that’s the first thing I see, and it’s not long before I feel the joyful little girl in me leaping to life, ready to make up stories.
Author of Dream Chaser: Awakening  and Written in Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence

Coming soon: Time Blade: book 2 in the Age of Jeweled Intelligence trilogy

*Six Steps of Self Publishing by Libby Fischer Hellmann http://bit.ly/1pr7n3H

The Creation of a Book Cover Design – Guest Post


Today we have a guest post from designer Scott Hale who has worked with Christina on multiple projects. In this post he will discuss his thought process and the steps he went through to create the art work for the cover of Christina’s new book, Time Blade.

When Christina asked me to write about the process I went through to create the cover art for her upcoming novel, Time Blade, I jumped at the opportunity. Christina and I have enjoyed a creative collaboration for several years and I strongly believe that this most recent project couldn’t have happened were it not for the many, many hours we have spent creating together.

Cover art for "Written In Ruberah"
Cover art for “Written In Ruberah”

The cover art began, as it always does for us, with a conversation. Christina is a very visual person and she described the concept of her new work using very descriptive language. Key phrases and words she used that sparked my visual imagination where “cycles of time, radiating blades, midnight blue and abstract.”

Because this book is part of a series, we knew from the beginning we wanted the cover to relate to the first book, Written in Ruberah. The cover art for that book set up a circular theme, which works well with the idea of cycles of time, so I knew this book would also use the idea of a central focal point that radiated outward.

Print
Super Nova

I began researching moments of powerful change and quickly came upon a supernova. “A supernova is a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span, before fading from view over several weeks or months.”[1]

Visually, a supernova is stunning, creating a full spectrum of colors which often appear circular as the energy radiates outward from the center. Upon sharing the idea of using a supernova as a visual reference I was stunned to learn that Christina’s novel actually began with the death of Miron, a planet wiped out by a supernova. Perfect!

However, one of my design considerations was to keep the cover imagery abstract so the viewer could interpret it a variety of ways. Simply putting a supernova on the cover would be far too literal. So I continued researching. I think the actual phrase I Googled was “energy that radiates in a circle” which quickly led me to visual references of the Tesla coil.

Tesla Coil
Tesla Coil

“A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. Tesla used these coils to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorescence, X-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.”[2]

I started layering images of Tesla coils electrical energy over supernova explosions and the results were visually interesting, with variations in color and texture, while still being predominately midnight blue, another of my design objectives. Now the viewer would see an abstract representation of a powerful change occurring, such as time being sliced or cut.

Blade Illustration
Blade Illustration

The design for the radiating blades came from a discussion with Christina about avoiding the genre of knights in armor wielding swords. Christina was clear that the cutting of time was not a singular event and should not be represented as such. This caused me to design a very simple blade which when overlapped and radiated outward from a central point became a rather beautiful abstract shape itself. The blades were layered over the supernova and Tesla coil electricity and I knew I had something interesting.

 

This lead me to one of the most important choices for any book cover—choosing the font for the title. Having worked with Christina many times before I knew her personal esthetic towards clean lines and minimalism. I also was aware of how easy it would be to choose a font that would be genre specific (ie. Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings, or any novel featuring vampires) and lead the viewer down the wrong path.

I needed a font that was crisp and clean, sharp and modern without being trendy. I tried several different fonts and even alternate titles suggested by Christina. One font I found early on, called Cirrus, had several characteristics I was looking for. It was clean and modern and had sharp edges, but at the same time it lacked the visual weight I needed. Finally I came across Broadband, a font I had used multiple times before but had never considered for this project because when in lower case it was totally wrong. However, when used in all uppercase it had everything I was looking for minus two small enhancements; I added points to the crossbars of the “E” in the word time and the “B” in blade.

Print

Because of the nature of publishing it is entirely possible changes will be made to the cover before it goes to press, but as of right now, this is the finished cover for Time Blade: Age of Jeweled Intelligence.

Print

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_coil