Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Enjoy Fantasy Maps? Me Too!

Before I wrote my first book, I had created a map of the world of Issalia. That map has been a guide for me as a writer and has been used by thousands of readers to follow while Brock and his friends journeyed across the land. As I prepare to launch a new series set in Issalia, I decided to seek out a professional to apply her cartography skills to my world. Thanks, Ren. I think the map looks AWESOME. I'd love to hear what you think of my new and updated map.

Below the map is a blog post I published a little over a year ago that relates to thsi subject. I thought it might be fun to repost it for those who have not read it while they check out my new map and compare it to the old version.


Feb 15, 2017 by Jeffrey L. Kohanek

The first time my twelve-year-old self opened The Fellowship of the Ring, my eyes lit-up upon reaching page four. I found the map of Middle-Earth a revelation, painting another world in a manner I had never before experienced. As I read through The Lord of the Rings, I would go back to that map countless times, studying it as Frodo and company journeyed across dangerous and fantastical lands.
Something special occurred while those books and I found my reading experience permanently corrupted. I would go to the bookstore or library, seeking stories that could capture my imagination as Tolkien did. As a result, I discovered authors such as David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weiss/Tracy Hickman, and others. One thing that each of these books had in common was a map. I would scan the bookshelf for a cover that teased my imagination and I would immediately page through the first section of the book. Without fail, if I found no map, I would put the book back on the shelf and move on to the next.

After tasting the intriguing universes that high fantasy books offered, anything that took place within our own world seemed bland in comparison. I found that a map was the key to unlock these exciting new worlds, worlds that came to life within the pages that followed.

When I decided to enter the fray as an author, creating my own world and the stories of the characters that existed within it, I started with a map. Before I even created a plot outline, I needed a map to shape the world, a world with a rich history and a unique culture. Once the ancient kingdoms and current Empire of Issalia were drawn on paper, the last details of the plot and the magic system somehow became self-defined. Everything melded together as if it were a grand performance, perfectly orchestrated.

I am now deep into the final rounds of edits for the third book in The Runes of Issalia trilogy and I anxiously await for its April release. Although this particular adventure comes to an end, the world that surrounds the story contains many other tales waiting to be told. You can look forward to a prequel and even another series, taking readers to places and experiencing discoveries that I have only begun to imagine.

And to think, it all started with a map. An image of my original world map is posted below.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

More New Beginnings

Some time has passed since I last posted. However, don’t think that means I haven’t been busy. Not only did I relaunch three books in January and released a new book (Rogue Legacy) in February, but I have also updated my website with a new look and feel. Check it out HERE and let me know what you think.

The book relaunch and launch have gone well, attracting new readers and resulting in a wave of new reviews both on Goodreads and on Amazon. Doing particularly well review-wise is Rogue Legacy, which has fourteen 5-star ratings out of 28 total Goodreads reviews after only 3 weeks(That's 50% 5-Star!). Nothing is more rewarding than hearing that readers are enjoying my books. 
As for writing, I recently completed the first book in a new series titled Wardens of Issalia. While I have yet to deal with the inevitable changes coming from my editor or the feedback I expect from beta readers, I have now begun writing the second book in Wardens of Issalia series.
A Warden’s Purpose is the title of the first book in the series, and it offers an entirely new entry point into the world of Issalia, seventeen years after the Empire disbanded. I’m super excited about the book and the characters within. Look for more information about A Warden’s Purpose, along with a cover reveal, in the second half of March. As always, the meaty details and the earliest look at the cover will go to subscribers of my author newsletter. Interested? If so, click HERE to subscribe and I’ll even throw in a FREE copy of The Buried Symbol, Book I in the Runes of Issalia trilogy.
Happy reading.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New Beginning

As the new year begins, so does the next phase of my author career. No longer am I a servant of the whims of my publisher…I am the publisher and the owner of my own imprint, Fallbrandt Press.
Not unlike May 5, 2016, when The Buried Symbol was first published, January 4, 2018 is a milestone for me. Today is the release date of the very same book, but with a new cover, a freshly edited story, and a new imprint.
For readers who are new to the Runes of Issalia series, there has never been a better time to pick up a book and join in Brock’s adventures. With The Emblem Throne and An Empire in Runes both releasing within the next three weeks, readers have the luxury of experiencing the full trilogy without waiting between books.
I look forward to 2018 as a year of growth, with an Issalia prequel novel releasing in February and a new fantasy series in launching in May. While I must remain focused on my writing, I’ll be sure to share periodic updates along the way.
Best wishes for a wonderful 2018,
The Buried Symbol

Friday, December 15, 2017

Going Rogue

Two years ago, I had a fresh manuscript in hand and was eagerly seeking a publisher. Come February of 2016, I signed with Black Rose Writing and my first book was published in May of that year. The moment I became a published author is one I will never forget. I enjoy being an author immensely. It is my passion.
Over the next year, I released two more books through my publisher, completing the Runes of Issalia trilogy. As one might expect, I learned a lot in the process - not just from my publisher, but also from an amazing and supportive community of independent authors. The knowledge gained has armed me with the tools required to make a big change. Here it comes...I'm so excited!
As of January 1st, the rights to the Runes of Issalia series revert back to me in full. This is important because it enables me to have complete control over the covers, format, distribution, pricing, and marketing of my books. Accordingly, I will be relaunching the series in January, beginning with the release of The Buried Symbol on January 4th. In preparation, I have been doing light rewrites, and I have new covers ready to roll. The new covers are shown below as an early preview before they go live. I'd love to hear what you think about them.
In other news, I continue writing and am nearly finished with the initial draft of first book for my new fantasy series. While I haven't yet settled on a name for the book or the series, I expect book one will release in May with the sequel coming next fall. Exciting times!
I wish you a wonderful holiday season, and I look forward to a wonderful 2018.
Happy Reading,

UPDATE: After receiving some welcome feedback on the 1st proposed relaunch covers, I went back to the drawing board for updates.
I kept the formatting, typography, and color scheme, which most people appeared to like. However, the 3D renders are out, replaced by 2D art (all based on scenes from my books) that an artist was able to update and get back to me super fast. I hope you like the new look!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Rogue Legacy Cover Reveal

Rogue Legacy, the prequel novel to The Runes of Issalia series, is now complete and the book cover is posted below. I hope you like the design, since this cover is the first that reflects my new branding.
My inspiration for Rogue Legacy lies somewhere between Princess Bride and Forrest Gump, combining the spirit and themes of both while placing the tale within Issalia, 400 years prior to the events of the original trilogy. The book consists of a two-part story, with both parts based on the same character. Part I is FREE for anyone who subscribes to my author newsletter, while Part II will come when the full novel is released on February 8, 2018. Don’t worry, Part I was written to be a full story within itself and it concludes with a satisfactory ending. I have included the book teaser below for more information. In addition, the book is now LIVE on Goodreads for anyone who reads part I – or is among the few who receives a full ARC – and wishes to leave a review.
As for my writing, I am now well into the first novel of my next fantasy series. I expect the book to release in May, with a sequel coming in fall of 2018. Look for more information early next year.
Best Wishes and Happy Reading,
-Jeffrey L. Kohanek

A powerful organization, a dangerous magic, a dark plot...and the girl who stood in the way.
When tragedy strikes, Lyra runs for her life…directly into the hands of fate. Destiny places her at the heart of a plot to overthrow the rulers of Issalia, a plot she must help thwart. Led by a man armed with powerful magic, and joined by a single soldier who wields an enchanted weapon, the three must face the most fearsome army the world has ever known. Even if they survive this epic confrontation, the future is not secure…for the threats surrounding Lyra do not end there.  
History often forgets the details, and sometimes, history forgets the truth. Meet Lyra: an orphan, a thief, a liar, a bard, a warrior, a princess…a rogue. Her story reveals what truly happened hundreds of years before The Runes of Issalia series takes place. Within these pages, resides her legacy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I'm still here. I'm still writing.

Hello again. I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. Mine has been quite busy, but I'm still here, and I'm still writing. Accordingly, I felt it appropriate to provide a quick update about my latest project.
The prequel to The Runes of Issalia series is now 80% complete, with beta reading and editing phases coming soon. What's it about? Rogue Legacy tells the unrecorded story behind critical events that occur hundreds of years before the Runes trilogy.
The story centers around a teenage girl named Lyra, a girl with a fiery spirit and a roguish attitude. I'm having fun with the book, and I feel that readers will enjoy Lyra's tale. To add a bit of flavor, I've included the book teaser (synopsis) below. Enjoy.
Synopsis for Rogue Legacy by Jeffrey L. Kohanek
The girl who saved the world…despite her rebellious attitude
When tragedy strikes, Lyra runs for her life…directly into the hands of fate. Destiny places her at the heart of a plot to overthrow the rulers of Issalia, a plot she must help thwart. Led by a man armed with powerful magic, and joined by a single soldier who wields an enchanted weapon, the three must face the most massive and fearsome army the world has never known. Even if they survive this epic confrontation, the future is not secure…for the threats surrounding Lyra do not end there.
Sometimes history forgets the details. Sometimes history forgets the truth. Meet Lyra: an orphan, a thief, a liar, a bard, a pirate, a warrior, a princess…a rogue. Her story reveals what truly happened, hundreds of years before The Runes of Issaliaseries takes place. Within these pages, resides her legacy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Prophecy and Its Future in Fantasy

Prophecy has deep roots within fantasy novels, making it a desired-and maligned-trope within the genre. As a reader, I’ve long considered the concept of prophecy intriguing, that visions from the past might predict future events. It’s a belief that has captured the imagination of millions of humans, spanning civilizations that predate recorded history.
However, the very word prophecy has become cringe-worthy to many readers. Why? Do they really hate prophecy, or have they have just become jaded by poor execution of the trope?
Stories about a fabled Chosen One, destined to save the world, tend to devalue the protagonist and the choices he or she makes. If their actions are preordained, are the characters then just going through the motions? If the protagonist is fated to save everyone, do the events that occur up to that point have any consequence? Does he or she even face risk of failure or death if destiny is on their side?
As a fantasy author and reader, I believe that prophecy can enrich a compelling tale if properly executed. I see prophecy as a vision of a possible future, but is just one of many such visions, each containing its own result. The prophet’s role is to note the unique aspects of a benevolent vision relating to a future event and then communicate those aspects in written form for others to use as reference. The recorded prophecy acts as a warning and can be used as guidance. However, if visions are nothing but a series of images, interpretation is required. The person who experienced the vision might not understand the imagery, but they can record it in hopes that others might understand and take appropriate action.
To distill it down to basics, a prophecy could be as simple as:
If you see a person who matches description xyz, don’t kill them. Help them, because they have things to do, things that could prevent some really bad stuff. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I know it’s important. This person is not your savior, but they might be the spark needed, in the right spot, at the right time.
The key is to maintain a vagueness that leaves multiple paths open, while also providing the hints required so those involved can make informed choices when they happen upon a crossroad.
I find the mystery of prophecy the most intriguing aspect. Somebody must do something at a certain time and good things will happen, but we don’t know who, when, or what. A good author cleverly masks key details until the right moment, but in hindsight, the answer becomes obvious to the reader. Isn’t that how the real world works anyway? Being in the right place at the right time can change your life.
As a reader, I'd rather not see prophecy disappear just because it’s a well-worn trope. If authors avoided all well-worn tropes, there’d soon be nothing left to write. Instead, I beg authors to use prophecy wisely, for with such power comes great responsibility.
Full disclosure: I’m guilty of this trope
I included prophecy in The Runes of Issalia series, but attempted to do so in the manner I found interesting as a reader. In the excerpts below, you get an idea of how prophecy works within the world of Issalia and how it impacts the story.
An Excerpt from The Buried Symbol
Background: This excerpt involves a classroom session from book one, where the Brock first learns about the art of prophecy.
Varius smiled. “I will now introduce a third ability that can manifest through Order: prophecy.”
She glided down the aisle as she spoke. “Prophecy is an ability relating to the prediction of future events. While it can appear in various forms, the most common form is often perceived as simple intuition. It’s that little warning in the back of your mind that causes you to react to something about to happen, even before it occurs.”
“I realize that this is a complex concept, so let me give you an example. Someone who has a strong connection with Order might enter a room but stop suddenly, not knowing why. A second later, the chandelier above falls to the floor right where the person would have been if he or she hadn’t stopped. In this case, a subtle ability in prophecy becomes a sort of additional sense, catching the smallest glimpse into their own immediate future.”
“You may wonder how this is possible. How could one see into the future? To understand, you need think of Order as a force that exists not only in the present, but also in the past and in the future. I’ve explained that Order is within all living things as the life force that binds us. While we only experience time in this moment, always moving forward in a linear fashion, the Order existing within you has existed throughout your whole past and extends into your future, stretching forward like a thread through time. When connected to that force of Order, you may be able to extend that connection out just a bit into the future, giving you a glimpse of what is coming.”
“There are two key items to note. First, it’s far easier to see into your own future than the future of others, because it’s tied to you. Second, the near future is much easier to determine than a more distant future. Your thread of Order extending in the past has been defined and is singular, but your future is an array of possibilities, fanning out wide from the present. The closer you are to now, the less variability there is to your future and the easier it is to foretell.”
“There is also a far more rare manifestation of prophecy. This is true prophecy, where a person will experience a vision of some critical event in the future, possibly a distant future. In this form of prophecy, one must connect to the more broad force of Order that exists in all living things. How this occurs is unknown, though many theories exist. In all documented cases throughout history, though there are few, this type of prophecy has served as a warning used to guide and prepare for some critical event.”
“You won’t find this in any books, for it is only handed down verbally.” She paused, scanning the room. “Without a doubt, mankind would not have defeated The Banished Horde if the Ministry hadn’t followed the guidance of such a prophecy. Ignoring that prophecy would have resulted in our utter defeat and in the extermination of mankind.”
Here is an Excerpt from The Emblem Throne.
Background: A tribal people called the Tantarri capture Brock and his companions. Upon discovering that Brock can wield a fabled lost magic, a Tantarri mystic forces Brock to experience a grim vision of a possible future-a future in which a dark force destroys the human race. The Tantarri then relate the details of an ancient prophecy intended to help prevent that dire outcome.
Brock asked a different way. “I still don’t understand what this has to do with me.”
“To understand, first you must understand how true prophecy works.” The old man explained. “Imagine you toss a stone into a pool, sending ripples across the peaceful surface of the water. Now imagine the water to be the calm of life magic, what you call Order. When a world-changing event occurs, it is like the stone dropping into the peaceful pool of Order, sending ripples outward, even into the past. Those with the ability of true prophecy encounter these ripples in the form of visions. Since these events are in the future, there are variations in the outcome, dictated by people’s actions leading up to the event itself. You see, our future is not pre-determined, it is the result of a convergence of what might happen and the choices we make in life.”
Brock nodded, confirming that he understood. “So you are saying that this vision is one of many possible futures, which means there are other possible outcomes.”
“It is good that can think with reason.” Yuranni shared a small smile. “I have seen similar visions of this event hundreds of times. All but once, I have witnessed the same heartbreaking outcome.”
“So this prophecy, you’re saying that it describes me.” Brock realized it was difficult to argue, based on the specifics described. “Where did you get this?”
Elder Yuranni spoke. “It was written by my ancestor, Elder Duratti, roughly four hundred years ago. He was the first of the Tantarri elders and was the first to experience visions of this event. Like me, he had hundreds of prophetic visions, all but a single instance ending in despair. The prophecy you just heard are the words he wrote after his vision of hope.” Yuranni paused, frowning. “Since his passing, his ancestors have seen many times that number, never again seeing this single path to an outcome of survival. That is, until the night I entered your dreams.”
Brock swallowed hard. Four hundred years was a long time for these people to wait. One vision resulting in survival among thousands ending in doom spoke to poor odds. Though disheartening, it wasn’t in his nature to give up hope.
“Okay, let’s say I believe you. What can I do? I can’t stop an army, I’m just one person.”
Head Clansman Turan spoke again. “There is more in the prophecy. Listen closely.”
He unrolled the scroll again, finding the passage he needed. “Guided by a single warrior of the head clansman’s line, this Outlander must lead a quest for secrets hidden within a throne marked by runes. Guard the Outlander well, for the quest will be fraught with peril and death. With this prize in hand, they must free the lost magic and meet the armies of evil in the heart of Tantarri lands when the portent reaches the evening sky. Should the quest fail, the end of humanity is certain. Of this fate, there can be no doubt. This vision is the greatest truth I will ever record.”
Turan paused, glancing at Brock and then at Puri before continuing. “There was more to my vision, though I know not what it means.” He read, unrolling the scroll to reveal the bottom. “The Outlander must close the world’s wound and stop the bleeding before it’s too late. He must also find the truth and set it free, for the lost magic hides within a web of lies. The coming days will be dark for mankind. Remember, when the portent shifts to the evening sky, death will roll across the plains of Tantarri.”
Admittedly, Brock walks away from this discussion quite confused. However, he is merely the leader of the group and others provide information that gives them initial direction. They set off on a quest filled with surprises, some being informative toward fulfilling the prophecy as they prepare for a final battle with the fate of the world at stake.
I find it fun and I hope you will as well.