The Future Burns Bright : Status Report (September 2013)

As it has been a while since the last blog posting, I thought I should update those interested, in the status of work on The Future Burns Bright (The Angel Brings Fire, Book 4).

The book was originally scheduled for release at the end of summer 2013 (and this was always do-able); however, I have run into certain production delays (outside of my direct control), having to do with the look and feel of it, that have led me to believe that the preferable thing to do, would be to delay release of the fourth and final book of the series until early 2014.

Editorial work on The Future Burns Bright (volume 2) is about 85% done (the plot is complete and how the series will end, is known; I just have to put pen to paper as it were) and should be completed before the end of this year. Without giving away too much… I’ll just say, “I hope all of you like ‘action’… because you’ll get loads of it, in this last part of The Angel Brings Fire!”

I’m also considering a separate “Epilog” volume which would describe what happens to some of the main characters, past the end of the formal narrative of The Angel Brings Fire. I might also do this as a fully Web-based “freebie” that could be read, and updated, on this blog, or on the official ABF Book Website (the two options are not mutually exclusive, of course). Please ping me by e-mail if you think this would be a good idea and if so, which option you would prefer.

As always, if you’re willing to write a review and can meet certain other qualifications, I can make a pre-release .pdf / .mobi copy available to interested parties. Please fire off an e-mail to inquiries@abfbook.telostic.com, should you be want more information.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

The Future Burns Bright (Volume 1)… Done!

As has previously been noted on this blog, the fourth and final book of The Angel Brings Fire — namely, The Future Burns Bright — will consist of two (2) separate volumes.

I know this may seem rather counter-intuitive to some readers (e.g. “why didn’t you just call it ‘Books #4 and #5?”), but The Future Burns Bright really is a single story (you’ll just have to take my word for this). But actually, the main reason for the two-volume format is, for the paperback version of the book, the various POD publishers impose certain upper limits in terms of “maximum page count”… there was simply no way in which to properly finish the story, within the artificial limits that would have been required to fit it into a single book.

(Note : Obviously, these limits don’t apply to an e-Book; but to have done The Future Burns Bright exclusively as an e-Book, would have created an entirely different set of problems… like, “people who bought the paperback versions of the first 3 books and who don’t have an e-Reader, are “SOL”… “let’s not go there, eh”.)

In any event, I’m pleased to report that all editorial and narrative work is now complete on Volume 1 of The Future Burns Bright; it exists as a .PDF with preliminary cover art (I’m waiting for the “final” cover art to get done).

I’d ask fans of The Angel Brings Fire to be patient, as The Future Burns Bright will be available in its entirety, in the late summer of 2013… but if you just can’t wait, send me an e-mail and I’ll try to get you a preview (in .PDF, .MOBI or .EPUB e-Book formats, only) copy.

And as a “teaser”… read on, to see the back-cover synopsis of the book!

The Angel Brings Fire
Book 4 (Volume 1) : The Future Burns Bright, Volume 1

The “Storied Watcher”, a.k.a. Karéin-Mayréij, is living up to her name : at war with the U.S. police state of 2040, she’s just paid a visit to the White House, that nobody will ever forget. But she’s not the only disaster with which the President must contend… nuclear terrorists are almost ready to set off an H-Bomb, somewhere in America.

While a FBI team tries frantically to placate the alien-girl, treachery abounds : the government plans to rid itself of her, by murdering those she loves, many of whom have been “renditioned” to a nightmarish, secret Alaskan prison.

But the friends of Karéin-Mayréij now have alien-powers of their own… and they’re in a desperate battle to stay alive, while the Storied Watcher recruits an army… one that the President (to say the least) isn’t prepared for.

Unfortunately, time’s running out… both for millions of helpless Americans, and for the family of a certain “Destroying Angel”.

It’s only a few minutes, to a bright-burning dawn…

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

Characters from Angel and The Empire

Following on a post of the same nature related to the character list from Doubt Me Not, here are some more popular-culture similes of the characters in the third book of the Angel Brings Fire series. (Note : Obviously, quite a few of the characters from the first two books are also in Angel and The Empire, and with one minor and one rather <ahem> “important” exception, I’m not going to re-portray these; what’s depicted below, except for the Storied Watcher, represents the “net new” characters from Angel and The Empire.)

First off, since the post that originally described the book’s characters, I’ve stumbled across a better “prototype” for Karéin-Mayréij, a.k.a. the Storied Watcher. This is the former Google chief architect and (as of when this is being written) the new CEO of Yahoo, namely, Marissa Mayer. She’s almost a perfect “fit” for Karéin… if her hair was done a bit differently and she had, err, somewhat longer incisors, she’d be bang-on. You’ll see what I mean by looking at this picture and this one.

The next “new” major character in Angel and The Empire, Jerry Kaysten (who is the President’s Chief of Staff… he’s actually in Doubt Me Not, but not in as important a role), has been a hard one to find a prototype for. However, if you can imagine a slightly older Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock, with thinning hair, you’ll get the idea… and the redoubtable Mr. McBrayer certainly has perfectly captured Jerry Kaysten’s eager-beaver, “anything-to-please-the-Boss”, style.

As those of you who have read it (teaser alert!) will be aware, during the course of Angel and The Empire, the Storied Watcher manages to “recruit” a number of new followers. Two of these – “Wolf” (a Tucson-area bounty-hunter) and Mikhail Grishin, a.k.a. “Misha” (a Russian deep-cover spy) – are similar to the wrestler William “Christian” Reso and this (anonymous?) Russian Spetsnaz model, respectively. (Note : “Misha” is slightly older than the guy depicted in the latter picture.)

Incidentally, I have also found an even better prototype for Minnie Chu : namely, the famous “Lady Whirlwind” of the Hong Kong martial arts film industry, the redoubtable Angela Mao Ying. Angela (in her younger days) is an almost perfect image of the FBI team leader.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

Angel and The Empire is available!

I’m pleased to announce that The Angel Brings Fire, Book #3, a.k.a. Angel and The Empire, has now been published in all formats… including “conventional paperback” which typically takes the longest.

The URL for the paperback version, on Amazon, is :

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-The-Empire-Brings-Volume/dp/0986915866/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1337530175&sr=8-8

The URL for Angel and The Empire, on the main Angel Brings Fire Website, is :

http://abfbook.telostic.com/Book_3/ABF_Book_3.html

This go-around in the publishing process (compared to what was encountered in the first two books) has been unusually challenging, due partly to the last-minute discovery of many minor “typos”, but mainly because of problems encountered with the printed Createspace proof; to make a long story short, despite the fact that exactly the same OpenOffice template was used to format all three books, when the proof for Angel and The Empire was received, to our dismay, what was supposed to have been 10 point font looked like it had been mysteriously reduced to 8!

Subsequent research (and frantic complaints to Createspace…) confirmed (at least this is what I think it means), that printed copies of the “real”, “final” version will be in the larger, appropriate typeface… just another example of what one deals with, in the world of PODspace…

For those of you who are already familiar with The Angel Brings Fire series of novels, you’ll notice two things that are different about this book, compared to Angel of Mailànkh and Doubt Me Not : (a) the cover art is significantly better than had previously been the case (although… it is due to be “improved” for the earlier two books as well, in subsequent editions); and, plot-wise, (b) our heroine, is, well… let’s just say that she’s in a really bad mood about what’s recently befallen her, and, unlike the situation in Doubt Me Not, she’s now in a position to do something about it!

Incidentally, there is a political narrative embedded in all of this, that should be apparent to anyone who is familiar with current events. I’d be curious to see how many of you can correctly guess what it is.

Finally, I hope that you all like the book! Whether or not you do, comments and critiques are always welcome, so if you have something to say, please don’t hesitate to do so, by entering a guest post on this blog.

Marcus Shields

Author, The Angel Brings Fire

Progress on “Angel and The Empire”

Work is now progressing nicely on The Angel Brings Fire Book 3, namely, Angel and The Empire.

Actually, the manuscript has been “done” (in a loose sense of the word, “done”) for quite some time, but it still needs to be proof-read and cleaned up before it will be ready for publication… the time-table for which — and this is very subject to amendment — is “sometime around March / April, 2012”.

Without giving too much of the plot away, let me just say that those of you who have asked for more “action” in the series, are about to be supplied with ample amounts of the same, as the Storied Watcher begins to “give some back” to the many who have done her wrong… including, but not limited to, the President of a certain future U. S. of A..

On a separate note, I think you will be very impressed by the new cover art that will shortly be applied not only to Angel and The Empire, but, retroactively, to Books 1 and 2 respectively. We have contracted with a professional artist to re-do this vital part of the series’ look and feel and the results have been… well, what they should have been from “Day 1”.

It’s really too bad that the outward appearance of what is, after all, a work of printed literature, has such an important effect on a novel’s market acceptance; but it’s one of those situations where “you can like it, or you can hate it, but you can’t ignore it”.

If you’d like a sneak peak at the cover for Book 3, just send me an e-mail and I’ll reply with a .jpg reproduction of how it’s likely to appear.

The Author

Visualizing the characters

From time to time, I have been asked, “just so I can get a picture in my head of what the different characters of The Angel Brings Fire series of books actually look like, can you describe for me, which well-known (e.g. ‘already famous’) actors or public figures, each character most resembles?”

I’m kind of reluctant to do this for the time-honored reason that when one reads a book (as opposed to watches a movie), half the point of the exercise is to imagine what you think the characters should look like, as opposed to having someone specify it for you. That being said, if you really must see pictures, I have tried to locate some that can be reviewed :

Book 1 : Angel of Mailànkh

Karéin-Mayréij a.k.a. the “Storied Watcher” : Think of Rebecca De Mornay in Beauty and the Beast. This is the nearest simile that I could come up with, but it’s not as exact as I would like; in fact, the ‘real’ Karéin is a little younger-looking, with bigger eyes (sort of like Zooey Deschanel in the movie Elf) and a slightly bigger forehead, however it’s as close as I can get with publicly-available images off the Internet. Note that in Book 2, her hair is ‘granny-gray’, not blond… and that she’s in fact considerably better-looking than the original Ms. De Mornay…

Sam Jacobson : Think of a younger Brian Denehy in Rambo (I) or perhaps (if you took a bit off the gut and got rid of the gray hair) in Cocoon (I). Jacobson is a big and heavy-set guy, but he’s still in good shape… as you will see when you get to Book 4!

Brent Boyd : This one’s easy. Think of Keir Dullea in 2001, A Space Odyssey. You don’t even have to imagine a change of uniform for him.

Devon White : Another pretty easy one; think of a young Will Smith or Eddie Murphy. Will Smith in Independence Day is almost a perfect fit.

Cherie Tanaka : Uh-oh… this one’s quite difficult, since I don’t know of a popular actress who looks a lot like the Mars mission’s Science Officer. I was able to find a picture of a San Franciso-based writer named Joyce Hirohata, who looks eerily like my own conception of this character.

Sergei Chkalov : Another one for whom there is a pretty close, pre-existing prototype in the movies; think of Elya Baskin (but when he was in his mid-20s to early -30s, not as he is now) in 2010 or in DeepStar Six. Note : Sergei Chlakov is a little leaner and more muscular than Elya, however.

Sylvia Abruzzio : (A minor character in Book 1, but a major one indeed in Books 3 and 4) : Perhaps the easiest of all to visualize; think of Cher in Moonstruck and you’re 99.99% on target.

Hector Ramirez : There haven’t been a lot of popular culture characters lately that closely map to my conception of Hector, who, like Sylvia Abruzzio, has a significantly larger role in the later Books than in Books 1 and 2. None the less, a young Benicio Del Toro (maybe add a few years to the face in this picture) will give you an idea of what Hector looks like.

Book 2 : Doubt Me Not

Bob Billings : Think of Beau Bridges in The Fabulous Baker Boys (maybe with a little thinner mane at the top) and you won’t be far off what ol’ Bob looks like. At other times I have pictured Billings like a young Ray Milland or a young Alan Arkin, as well.

Whitney Claremont : Margaret Avery in The Color Purple is a pretty close match. Note however that Whitney is not as, uhh, “full-busted” as is Ms. Avery and is generally pretty slim, almost gaunt, overall.

Melissa Claremont : A bit challenging because teenage African-American actresses are not individually as well known as some of their non-African-American counterparts; but Kylee Russell when she was about 14, would be a close match for the young Ms. Claremont.

Curtis Claremont : Another easy one — think of Gary Coleman as a kid on Diff’rent Strokes. The only slight dissimilarity is that Curtis’ ‘Momma’ has made sure that his hair is always cut short, almost to the point of him being bald.

Tommy Singing-Bird George : Really almost any Mexican-American or Native-American boy of about 7 to 10 years of age would do, but this picture is a pretty close facsimile of what the Storied Watcher’s adopted “son”, looks like.

Minnie Chu : (Along with the others in her FBI team, a minor character in Book 2 but a major one later on) : She’s a pretty good match for Lucy Liu, earlier in her career.

Otis Boatman : This “mountain of a man” FBI agent is almost an exact double of Michael Clarke Duncan.

Will Hendricks (a.k.a. the “Third Agent”) : Think of Bill Paxton in Predator 2 (another one of my favorite movies, by the way!) and you’ll get the idea.

Finally — Remember, you don’t have to go by what I have described above. By all means, imagine the characters however you want to.

The Author

(Note : Edited on August 4, 2012, to correct a couple of URLs that were returning “404’s”, after the original linked images on third-party sites were deleted or moved.)

Begone, ye accursed DRM!

As many of you know by now, The Angel Brings Fire, Books 1 & 2, is now available in e-Book (.EPUB) format, from iTunes. The e-Books can either be accessed by searching for “Angel Brings Fire” in the search field (currently on the top right of the iTunes interface), or by referencing the following direct links :

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/the-angel-brings-fire-book-1/id467695286?mt=11

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/the-angel-brings-fire-book-2/id467674463?mt=11

There is, however, one caveat to the preceding, and it’s unfortunately a big one : despite my policy that The Angel Brings Fire should not be encumbered by “DRM” (“Digital Rights Management”), I have been receiving reports that attempts to open .EPUB versions of these e-Books in third party computer e-Reader applications (for example the popular “Calibre” program), after they have been downloaded (and paid for) via iTunes, have failed with a “Locked By DRM” (or similar) error message. Needless to say, those to whom this has happened, are the proverbial “unhappy campers”, since they have in effect paid for content that they can’t conveniently access.

I have reason to believe that this situation is unique to iTunes and is probably the result of Apple’s highly (ahem) controversial strategy of tightly locking content purchased through iTunes, to only “approved” devices (e.g. iPads, iPhones, iWhatevers).

I’d like to re-state to everyone involved, that any application of DRM, or any other similar copy protection for that matter, to The Angel Brings Fire series of e-Books, has not been intentional, on my part : in fact, the opposite has been the case (I have been very careful to avoid “enabling” DRM, where that option has been presented to me). This includes content posted to iTunes, obviously.

I am attempting to get in touch with the publishers involved to determine where this “anti-feature” ended up infesting my e-Books, but please be aware, as an individual author, I have very little leverage over the entities involved.

So if you find that you cannot effectively use a copy of an Angel Brings Fire series book that you have legitimately paid for, please send me an e-mail and I’ll mail you (or otherwise arrange to send you) an “unprotected” version of whatever volume(s) that you have purchased.

And while we’re both at it, let’s raise a collective glass to being “collateral damage in the ‘Internet Piracy’ Wars”. Frankly, the faster that DRM dies the ignominious death that it so richly deserves… well, that won’t be fast enough for me.

The Author

 

Publication schedule

A number of readers have been asking me, “I can’t wait to find out what happens next… when is the next book in the series going to be published?”

Here (as of September 29, 2011) is the projected publication schedule… note that (needless to say) this is subject to change at any time without notice :

Book 1 (Angel of Mailànkh) : As of September 29, 2011, fully published (and available in paperback via Amazon and the ABF Website, available in e-Book format from Amazon / Kindle, Lulu, iTunes and the ABF Website).

Book 2 (Doubt Me Not) : As of September 29, 2011, available in e-Book format from Amazon / Kindle, Lulu, iTunes and the ABF Website. Paperback copies should become available from Amazon and the ABF Website on or around November 1, 2011 (but this is very dependent on final print proofing and order shipping issues).

Book 3 (Angel And The Empire) : Manuscript is complete but still needs to be edited, proof-read, corrected, etc.. Expected publication date : Mid-March, 2012.

Book 4 (The Future Burns Bright, Volume 1) : Manuscript is complete but still needs to be edited, proof-read, corrected, etc.. Expected publication date : October 1, 2012.

Book 4 (The Future Burns Bright, Volume 2) : Manuscript is approximately 70% complete but is still very subject to revision. Expected publication date : Mid-March, 2013.

As a side-note, I have also been asked, “why do you have a ‘Volume 1’ and ‘Volume 2’ for the last book of the series, as opposed to just having a ‘Book 5’, or as opposed to just having a larger ‘Book 4′”.

The reasons behind this are involved… it comes down to the fact that there is a hard limit of around 500 pages per single paperback book that can be printed by the POD publishers, and were I to try to shoe-horn the ultimate book of the series down to this size, I think that the story would suffer and readers would have an unsatisfying experience. Furthermore, narrative-wise, The Future Burns Bright is more of a single book than it is two distinct books (you’ll just have to take my word on this for now), which is why I decided to call both volumes part of “Book 4”.

So the two-volume format is a compromise between the imperatives of the paperback industry and my desire to fully tell the story of the Storied Watcher.

Hopefully you’ll agree, when you read The Future Burns Bright!

Sincerely

The Author