Published in the 2011 Contagion Outbreak Program

My 600 word short story, “Escape Velocity”, will be appearing in the program for the Contagion Outbreak convention.  The story tells the tale of two former enemies who must vacate a dying planet within 90 seconds.  The show runs from June 10-12 at the Omaha Qwest Center.  Here’s a link to their site: http://www.contagionoutbreak.com/.  Most exciting stuff!

 

If you have a free moment that weekend, go on a quest to the Qwest and get your geek on!

I am jack’s infrequently updated blog

I swear I be better about updating this thing.  In the weeks since the last entry, I’ve learned the value of short hand writing out the chapters major beats in sloppy cursive on a legal pad.  It helps get the words out if no one can read them but me, and then craft them on a word cruncher.  On page 65 of the second novel, currently titled, “The Bloody Empress”.  Gotta get back to it.  Stay chocolatey.

 

-Jim McGowan

Robots and conventions

Hey, all.  Sorry for the delay from the last entry.  I’ve since submitted to Angry Robot in March as part of their open door month, so we’ll see where that goes.  Hard at work on the Bloody Empress right now.

 

Also I’ve attended the Nebraska Writer’s Guild Spring Conference this weekend.  It’s the best one I’ve attended in my three years with the group.  First off, we were on the top floor this time around.  Windows are a big  step up from the lower level “dungeon” from the past years.  Three very good presenters presented us with all kinds of good information. Mary Colgan with Chronicle Books” showed us a soup to nuts presentation of a manuscript’s journey from the slush pile to publication.  “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site was a very cute book that would be great for little boys in anyone’s life.  Terry Burns had treasure troves of info with agents, including how to submit and pitch to them.  I bought his book, “A Writer’s Survival Guide to Getting Published”.  A very well done book.  Alex Cava, best-selling author of the Maggie O’Dell series, then presented on the pitfalls of publishing and staying true to yourself as a writer.  Her later workshop contained some really eye-opening commentary on publishing against the backdrop of e books and publisher deals.

 

A great and informative time.  I was originally going to skip the Sunday portion, but I think I’ll show up for it after all.  That’s all for now.  Keep on keepin’ on.

All Systems GO!

Howdy, one and all!

 

We are live at Stelfire.  I’m Jim McGowan (James to my eventual novel covers), and I’m here to write stuff and eat gummi bears.  And I’m all out of gummi bears.  Silly “They Live” homages aside, I’m really excited to continue the journey to publication.  I hope to find many readers along the way.  REPENTER is the first in my series of novels depicting Ashe Stelfire.  First up is REPENTER.  It depicts his struggle against his former lover, Nirva Silv, the craft Corsis, and the A Pox, a disease that makes disturbing conversation with you as it rots away your body.

 

The road to publication begins with a submission to Angry Robot Books.  They currently have an open door during the month of March.  I’ll be submitting to them in the next week or two, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

 

Please feel free to look around the site, register and post on the message board.  A moderator will need to approve you initially, but you’ll be good to go after that.  Please feel free to also take the “Interested in Reading Repenter?” survey on the Home page after looking over the site’s content.

 

And if you have any friends who are fans of epic fantasy that’s a little bit comic book event story, a little bit “Final Fantasy”, a little bit film noir, and a whole lot of awesome, please send them on over.

 

Keep on keepin’ on.

 

-Jim

 

 

Mancy Specializations

Mancy Specializations:

With study, all mancers can use different hexes.  However, those who choose to specialize reduce the consumption ethereal energy, create hexes of greater power, and the wherewithal to create exceedingly complex hexes that would take a non-specialized mancer decades to master.

Pyromancy: Fire and heat focused.

Chronomancy: Temporal distortion focused.

Mechmancy: Melding of ethereal energy into devices, simple or complex.

Gunmancy: A subset of mechmancy that focuses on ethereal applications on firearms.

Necromancy: Focused on the forces of death.

Aeromancy: Air and electricity based.

Geomancy: Ground and plant-life focused.

Hydromancy: Water and Ice oriented.

Martialmancy: Combat-oriented with an emphasis on speed of creation.

Fleshmancy: The twisting of biology to create abominations.

Astramancy: Manipulation of the properties of incorporeal realms.

Alchemancy: The conversion of ethereal energy into matter or transmutation of existing matter.

Quandrimancy: The amplification and conversion of different types of electromagnetic or ethereal energy.  Named after the Dragon, Quandric, who developed the discipline.

Mastermancy: The mastery of all forms of mancy.  This is limited to beings already possessing immense ethereal energy and centuries of experience.

 

Mancy Theory

Mancy Theory:

Mancy is the practice of tapping into energies outside of the electromagnetic spectrum.  In ages past, before it was fully understood, people referred to it as magic.  However, as science evolved to explain the processes of the realms, parallel development also occurred in the study of energies of the ethereal spectrum.  Reliable techniques emerged in tangent with new technologies.  Eventually, mancy came to be seen as a viable science such as physics, chemistry, or biology.  The term magic has long since fallen into disuse.

A hex is an applied mancy technique to create a specific effect.  Examples of hexes include summoning a white hot Burning Beam or creating a rectangular Distance Door to bypass the space between destinations.  A complex hex, more commonly referred to as a plex hex, requires several minutes to several hours of preparation and larger amounts of ethereal energy.

Hex creation requires three components from a mancer:

1)  Mental mastery: The mancer must focus all of his or her willpower to conceptualize the hex.  Some will perform mental exercises, others will perform physical acts such as subdued verbalization or hand gestures.  Regardless of the process, the hex requires mancer’s the absolute focus or it simply fails.

2)  Ethereal energy: During their studies, mancers gain the physiological ability to store ethereal energy within their bodies akin to an electrical battery.  Depending on their location, they can allow draw on the ambient ethereal energy of their environment akin to tapping an electrical line to supplement the power of a battery.  Each hex expends ethereal energy.  A mancer will replenish the lost energy through food, rest or mancy supplements such as potions and talismans.

3)  Triggering Action: Once inner physiology aligns to supply the ethereal energy and the mind solidifies the concept, a catalyst is required to initiate the hex.  A triggering action is most often saying the name of the hex aloud.  However, more experienced mancers can create a hex with a mental command.  The simpler the hex, the less likely triggering action needs to be spoken.

 

 

Notable Organizations

NOTABLE ORGANIZATIONS:

The Underguild:  A secretive organization of mancers who will do anything to further their knowledgebase.  Many of their members care nothing for the damage inflicted by their studies.

The Dirge: An elite gang of assassins with a near perfect success rate.  No one is beyond their reach.  Gods, Arch Demons, and Dragons are included among their millions of victims.

Dread Corps:  An army without a nation, arguably the most lethal military force in all the realms.  Dread Corpsmen wage war without apparent goals other than to terrorize their adversaries.  The organization serves at the pleasure of a hidden leader.

The Roaq Coalition:  The consolidated armed forces of Roaq dedicated to preserving the baronies’ independence.  The coalition formed in response to Palle’s campaign to subjugate all of Sufrinzon under its rule.

Brigand Company: A mercenary unit of 200 soldiers commanded by the mighty Gnorok.  They align themselves with the Roaq Coalition in opposition of the Palle.  Many powerful members walk their ranks such as Tin Skin, Arwith, ViRauni and Repenter.

New Grelland: An island nation in the center of the Fire Well on Trojis.  The Grells stand against the Holy Alliance in their home realm, and the continued incursions by nether realms within the Fire Well.  New Grelland thrives in this adversity.  Its martial might is legend throughout the Realms.

The Holy Alliance: A vast empire lead by Dragons, Titans, and Demons.  It takes up the entire eastern half of the Jeean super continent.  The Holy Alliance rose soon after the Eruption on Trojis sixteen centuries ago.

The Kri Enclave: The tattered remnants of Celsis Kri’s once great army.  During the Eruption, they aligned with the Holy Alliance, but they rebelled and were decimated.  They hid in the hinterlands outside the Stretch, plotting to reclaim their lost glory.

Post-Coital Design Advice

The following Stelfire.com exclusive scene depicts the parting of Ashe Stelfire and Nirva Silv.  It takes place between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the REPENTER novel.  ADVISORY: It contains explicit content.

 

Post-Coital Design Advice

By James McGowan

 

The Late Night of Pyrene 50th, 1551

 

Ashe leaned against a window of six-inch-thick, opaque glass.  He clenched his eyes shut for moment, fighting a surge of vertigo.  Nirva lay in the oval-shaped bed behind him.  The plex hex was over.  He stared hard at the window, trying in vain to view the exterior of the villa.  Dread churned through his insides.  His bare feet writhed against the polished, stone-tiled floor.  He made a mistake.  He already knew it.

 

“Success.”  Nirva’s dark voice carried no anxiety, only satisfaction.  “I’m pregnant.”

 

He didn’t bother asking how she knew this soon.  Warm air wafted upon his unclothed body from the vents in the ceiling.  “Tell me.”

 

“Tell you what?”  Her voice carried more than a question.

 

“You fucking well know what.  Where is Retributor?”
 

She sighed in a hoarse crescendo.  “You’re in that big of a hurry?”

 

Ashe tapped the glass with the butt of his hand.  “You still want me having no part of this child’s life?”

 

Nirva didn’t immediately respond.  “It would be best if you didn’t.  I have plans.”

 

Ashe turned from the window and scowled her.  She made no attempt to cover her nude form.  She reclined on the bed with her arms crossed behind her head.  The pale light from the window touched her pale body, muting the red brilliance of her hair.  It also revealed the painting hanging above the bed.  It was one of Nirva’s many abstract pieces.  This one depicted a series of jagged, red brushstrokes on a yellow background.  Not for the first time Ashe wondered if Nirva’s skill as an artist influenced his decision to enter into this deal.  “What plans?”

 

“Personal ones.”  Her expression soured.  “You know what?  You’re right.  You should leave.”  The nude woman sat up, knees close to her chest.  “Retributor is in Corsis’s possession.  Probably in his lair, but that’s uncertain.”

 

Ashe’s stomach sank.  Corsis was on a very short list of people whom he dared not cross.  The bipedal, reptilian man possessed riches beyond reckoning, but power to match it.  The pyromancer swallowed hard.  “Lovely.”

 

She ran her hand down the length of her bent leg.  “I never said you’d like my answer.

 

His eyes locked with hers.  The passion from every previous encounter no longer showed within them, only cold contentment.

 

“The look on your face is by far the best thing to come out of this.”  A smile retook Nirva’s face.  “And a lot of good things came out of this.”

 

Ashe’s muscles tensed.  “Yes, quite a few.”  The urge to do something violent clattered at the back of his mind.  He did not act on it.  This woman now carried his child.  She also outmatched him.  Despite her deception, Ashe knew this plex hex imbued her with added might.  The risk was worth it to obtain Retributor’s whereabouts.  He now stood closer to that goal. 

 

He approached his discarded clothing, intermingled with hers in a trail from the suite’s door to the bed.  He redressed within a minute, hurriedly pulling on his hooded cloak and fastening his bandoliers. 

 

Nirva remained on the bed, watching him like a predator, a very beautiful predator.  She offered no further words.

 

Ashe reached in one of his cloak’s inner pockets and pulled out a very old cigar held within a white suede sleeve.  The soft cloth’s preservation hex kept it from deteriorating.  He bought the sleeve soon after his mother died, intending to save it for the right moment.  And this was it.  The pyromancer gently removed the cigar, exposing it to the air.

 

Nirva frowned at it.  “I thought you just smoked that ugly pipe.”

 

“Special occasion.”  He touched the brown tip with a flaming finger, lighting it.  Succeeding where his mother failed, Ashe raided the Nagus Queen’s vault and sold the gaun herb pipes.  He kept three for himself, one on his person and the other two hidden in different locations.  Ashe should have been an old man by now.  Instead, he entered his eighth decade as spry as the day he met with his mother.  He sucked in the bitter smoke.  Despite his efforts, it lost its rich scent.  His pipe tasted so much better.
 

She gestured to the door.  “That smells like a dead rat in a chimney.  Get out.”
 

“In a minute.”  Ashe lowered the cylindrical roll from his mouth.  “What are you planning on naming the baby?”

 

Nirva stood from the bed, hands on her shapely hips.  “No.  You don’t get to know anything about her.”

 

“I didn’t.”  Ashe returned the awful-tasting cigar to his open-mouthed smile.  “But now I know it’s a ‘her’.”

 

She gestured to the door and it swung open.  “Leave.”

 

He nodded to the yellow and red painting above the bed.  “One last thing and I’m gone.  It’s about your work of art.”

 

“If I have to ask again, I’ll impale your testicles on the same skewer as your eyes and eat them in front of you.”  Nirva pointed at him now, ready to call forth a hex.

 

“Your painting needs some blue for contrast.  I think our child would like that.”  Ashe departed the suite into the villa’s garden maze of thorn bushes.

 

Nirva wanted to remain true to her word.  But neither parent would have a hand in their child’s development.  The baby went missing three weeks after her birth.  Ashe made no attempt to find her when he learned of her disappearance.  For his apathy, he will one day repent.

 

 

Nirva Silv

Nirva Silv

An artist who once lived in Inner Yeom, Nirva created an abstract painting of orange, black and red smears.  Within its brush strokes, she viewed a perfect reality free of strife under her control.  She initially dismissed it as a day dream, something to which she should aspire, but never reach.  However, the idea of it gnawed at her mind, the singular inspiration of the many realms perfected by her hand and the horrors awaiting every living thing if she did not act.  Nirva scrutinized her creation, finding nuances only detectable by her eyes.  She knew she did not suffer from delusion.  A path lay before her.  A lonely and dark one, but it fell to her to take it.  She alone possessed the ambition to bring her beautiful masterpiece from the canvas to all the realms.  Sufrinzon’s fragmented baronies offered her a place to initiate her grand design.

Nirva joined the Underguild and honed her dormant ethereal prowess to become a mancer.   Her drive for all forms of power intensified with each passing day.  She could not fear what she had to do, so she chose to embrace it.  Every line she crossed, every life she took, brought her closer to a perfected reality.

She met Ashe Stelfire beneath a sheen of purple light in one of the Cosm’s reality observatories.  He distrusted her.  She hated him.  Yet, they couldn’t resist one another.  They had no rational reasons for their affair, only reckless abandonment.  Nirva later discovered a reason in her studies, a plex hex that would permanently imbue her with vast ethereal power.  Among the numerous prerequisites, the plex hex required that she conceive another mancer’s child at its conclusion.  Nirva needed the power to further her goals, but she told Ashe only that she desired an heir to raise on her own.  To entice him, she promised to provide him with a vital piece of information concerning the location of Retributor, a mythical weapon lost to the ages.

The following Stelfire.com exclusive scene depicts the parting of Ashe Stelfire and Nirva Silv.  It takes place between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the REPENTER novel.  ADVISORY: It contains explicit content.

Post-Coital Design Advice

By James McGowan

The Late Night of Pyrene 50th, 1551

Ashe leaned against a window of six-inch-thick, opaque glass.  He clenched his eyes shut for moment, fighting a surge of vertigo.  Nirva lay in the oval-shaped bed behind him.  The plex hex was over.  He stared hard at the window, trying in vain to view the exterior of the villa.  Dread churned through his insides.  His bare feet writhed against the polished, stone-tiled floor.  He made a mistake.  He already knew it.

“Success.”  Nirva’s dark voice carried no anxiety, only satisfaction.  “I’m pregnant.”

He didn’t bother asking how she knew this soon.  Warm air wafted upon his unclothed body from the vents in the ceiling.  “Tell me.”

“Tell you what?”  Her voice carried more than a question.

“You fucking well know what.  Where is Retributor?”

She sighed in a hoarse crescendo.  “You’re in that big of a hurry?”

Ashe tapped the glass with the butt of his hand.  “You still want me having no part of this child’s life?”

Nirva didn’t immediately respond.  “It would be best if you didn’t.  I have plans.”

Ashe turned from the window and scowled her.  She made no attempt to cover her nude form.  She reclined on the bed with her arms crossed behind her head.  The pale light from the window touched her pale body, muting the red brilliance of her hair.  It also revealed the painting hanging above the bed.  It was one of Nirva’s many abstract pieces.  This one depicted a series of jagged, red brushstrokes on a yellow background.  Not for the first time Ashe wondered if Nirva’s skill as an artist influenced his decision to enter into this deal.  “What plans?”

“Personal ones.”  Her expression soured.  “You know what?  You’re right.  You should leave.”  The nude woman sat up, knees close to her chest.  “Retributor is in Corsis’s possession.  Probably in his lair, but that’s uncertain.”

Ashe’s stomach sank.  Corsis was on a very short list of people whom he dared not cross.  The bipedal, reptilian man possessed riches beyond reckoning, but power to match it.  The pyromancer swallowed hard.  “Lovely.”

She ran her hand down the length of her bent leg.  “I never said you’d like my answer.

His eyes locked with hers.  The passion from every previous encounter no longer showed within them, only cold contentment.

“The look on your face is by far the best thing to come out of this.”  A smile retook Nirva’s face.  “And a lot of good things came out of this.”

Ashe’s muscles tensed.  “Yes, quite a few.”  The urge to do something violent clattered at the back of his mind.  He did not act on it.  This woman now carried his child.  She also outmatched him.  Despite her deception, Ashe knew this plex hex imbued her with added might.  The risk was worth it to obtain Retributor’s whereabouts.  He now stood closer to that goal.

He approached his discarded clothing, intermingled with hers in a trail from the suite’s door to the bed.  He redressed within a minute, hurriedly pulling on his hooded cloak and fastening his bandoliers.

Nirva remained on the bed, watching him like a predator, a very beautiful predator.  She offered no further words.

Ashe reached in one of his cloak’s inner pockets and pulled out a very old cigar held within a white suede sleeve.  The soft cloth’s preservation hex kept it from deteriorating.  He bought the sleeve soon after his mother died, intending to save it for the right moment.  And this was it.  The pyromancer gently removed the cigar, exposing it to the air.

Nirva frowned at it.  “I thought you just smoked that ugly pipe.”

“Special occasion.”  He touched the brown tip with a flaming finger, lighting it.  Succeeding where his mother failed, Ashe raided the Nagus Queen’s vault and sold the gaun herb pipes.  He kept three for himself, one on his person and the other two hidden in different locations.  Ashe should have been an old man by now.  Instead, he entered his eighth decade as spry as the day he met with his mother.  He sucked in the bitter smoke.  Despite his efforts, it lost its rich scent.  His pipe tasted so much better.

She gestured to the door.  “That smells like a dead rat in a chimney.  Get out.”

“In a minute.”  Ashe lowered the cylindrical roll from his mouth.  “What are you planning on naming the baby?”

Nirva stood from the bed, hands on her shapely hips.  “No.  You don’t get to know anything about her.”

“I didn’t.”  Ashe returned the awful-tasting cigar to his open-mouthed smile.  “But now I know it’s a ‘her’.”

She gestured to the door and it swung open.  “Leave.”

He nodded to the yellow and red painting above the bed.  “One last thing and I’m gone.  It’s about your work of art.”

“If I have to ask again, I’ll impale your testicles on the same skewer as your eyes and eat them in front of you.”  Nirva pointed at him now, ready to call forth a hex.

“Your painting needs some blue for contrast.  I think our child would like that.”  Ashe departed the suite into the villa’s garden maze of thorn bushes.

Nirva wanted to remain true to her word.  But neither parent would have a hand in their child’s development.  The baby went missing three weeks after her birth.  Ashe made no attempt to find her when he learned of her disappearance.  For his apathy, he will one day repent.