The Cover Reveal

Below you will see the final cover for the eBook version of “Janus Pater” designed by Fiona Jayde of Fiona Jayde Media:

I highly recommend that you take a look at more of her work, because Fiona has a breathtaking portfolio which contains covers that she has designed over a wide variety of genres, and for a large base of authors.

On my cover, the dominating figure in the middle is a statue of the Roman god, Janus. The most frequent epithet of this god in Roman mythology and culture is Ianus Pater, due to the nature of his primordial role as a father figure in Roman paganism. Janus represented aspects such as transition, time, doorways and duality and it is no coincidence that the first month of the year is named for this god.

In my novel, the main character, Drusus has settled down as a retired veteran of the Roman Army, having been discharged with the rank of a first order centurion. Roman law at that time allowed discharged veterans to marry a local woman once-off, and she would be considered a Roman citizen, as would their children. In the beginning, it is clear that Drusus comes to terms with the culmination of his career at this rank instead of what he was aiming for, and he looks forward to a happy and fulfilling family life (despite the difficulties and challenges of the time) with his longtime partner, especially now that their union is official.

However, the novel takes place during the Boudicca uprising which happened around A.D. 60/61 and Drusus is called back into service unexpectedly. He then has to come to terms with the duality of being both a family man and a soldier – someone who is both caring and brutal.

In light of the above, I felt that a depiction of the god, Janus on the cover is incredibly fitting in relation to the themes of the story, though it provides a slight hint of the nature of the story in conjunction with the title. However, before coming to this conclusion, I had a myriad of not so bright ideas, many unrealistic and probably quite cliché. Fortunately for me, Fiona stepped in and provided me with a concise and creative art board for a cover, the result of which can be seen above.

I have worked with Fiona in the past and would recommend her services to any author who is serious about creating an enthralling, relevant and meaningful cover for their work!

The Blurb

It’s not jumping the gun if I have ‘mostly’ finished the epilogue. In my opinion, the blurb is one of the most important parts of the marketing process and how one pitches one’s work.

What do you think of my blurb below? Would it hook you? Bear in mind that these are still the early days and the content is likely to change. Nevertheless, unlike the free stock image of this post (from pexels) my work is still copyrighted.

“That is one thing that they never tell you in the great sagas, indeed the great poets always omitted that, even Homer. Oh yes, I remember how he tells of Achilles and his dragging the corpse of the slain Hector around the walls of Ilium, and his depictions of battle were quite vivid. But not even the boasting Roman soldier on leave tells you about how they lie there when it is over, even when he is most thoroughly drunk…”

When Gaius Veturius Drusus hears the hooves of the messenger approach his estate, he knows instinctively that it brings bad tidings. Perhaps it was something about the way the sound of the galloping hooves stirred within him memories which he had hoped to bury, or the sweating and panting of both horse and rider as they approached him with the message.

Having retired comfortably in Roman Britain as a discharged veteran and having exercised his right to marry the first non-Roman citizen upon discharge, Drusus has settled into a quiet life on his estate with his long-time lover and now wife, Brigid of the Dobunni. He has formally adopted their daughters into his new household and has begun to earn the respect of the people who look up to him for leadership, both Roman and Briton alike.

Now, with the razing of the provincial capital, Camulodunum and the Governor of Roman Britain ordering all available veterans to return to service with the utmost urgency, Drusus must put aside his aspirations to raise a household and take up arms again.

The uncertainty of his future and the acts of savagery committed by both occupiers and rebels during the uprising are disturbing and unmerciful, and one thing is for certain: life will never be the same for him, his colleagues and his family ever again.

Janus was a two-faced god, a deity who represented many aspects of life including duality. Having two faces allowed him to look at the past, and face the future. Gaius Veturius Drusus is both a soldier and a loving father – a man who lives by the sword as well as his convictions, a man who has to face the atrocities of war, and come to terms with the battle he fights within: how to live with one face instead of two.

The Bibliography Grows!

In my attempts to make my work in progress more authentic, the bibliography has had a few extra titles added to it:

  • Stoicism for Beginners by Kevin Garnett
  • Literature and Religion in Ancient Rome by Dennis Feeney
  • Infamy: The Crimes of Ancient Rome by Jerry Toner
  • Roman Religion by John Scheid
  • The Religious Experience of the Roman People W. Warde Fowler
  • De Brevitate Vitae by Lucius Seneca (If Gaius probably read it, then so should I!)

Oh my! Now I need to add in some of Cassius Dio’s embellishments for dramatic effect when I get the manuscripts back from my loyal beta readers!

For now, it is simply relief to have finished the first draft and to be able to take a short break before the editing process begins.

Please enjoy some photos that I took whilst in Caesarea in Israel (where the story progresses to in one of later novels) until then 🙂

Quarantine without reading material would be hell…

For those of you around the world who are still in lockdown, it must be be pretty frustrating. Allow me to provide you with a small window of escape, even if it is only for for a few brief moments.

Last month I released a short story set in a late bronze age / early iron age fantasy world about a wanderer who adopts a boy as his own child. The Wanderer pledges to himself to take care of the child in a harsh and merciless reality. The link to this short story set in the universe of my “Galesinger Series” is:

https://alexfindlayauthor.com/short-stories-of-the-galesinger-series/

This month I have been working on a short story about a young woman who rises to a high level of prominence among her people, but not after years of trial, travel and tribulation. ‘The Reaches’ where Alaìnne’s (pronounced Aw-linn) stories take place is based on an iron age Gaelic setting (with more fantasy and supernatural elements to the “Galesinger” universe) and are available from the link below:

https://alexfindlayauthor.com/short-stories-of-the-solati-series/

Please go ahead and escape from the world as we know it for a short while by clicking on either of the above links and choosing your download in either .epub or .pdf format. Also, comments should be enabled if you would like to share your thoughts on my stories.

THESE STORIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR FREE!

These awesome illustrations were sketched by Sarah Davidson at The Sketch Dragon

The Historical Fiction Update

Oh wow! I think that I am going to spend all year working on these two novellas! I intend to release them in 2021 as polished, proper and as true to the time period as I can possibly do so, yet without neglecting to put forward compelling – if contrasting – narratives.

“Janus Pater” should be the first novella, or so I am inclined to believe at present. I intend to show the readers the Boudicca Rebellion through the eyes of a Roman centurion returning to service. Gaius Veturius Drusus will haveto come to terms with his situation and not let his frailties shine through if he is to see himself and those under his care through such a trying conflict! Janus was – to the Romans – the two-faced god of time, transitions and duality. Pater is Latin for father.

Please don’t hesitate to read up on this conflict for yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica.

Boudica was a woman who stood up to (albeit viciously – if historical accounts are to be believed) an invading society with extremely different values to her own! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npwM2touF08

The second novella will (most likely) be titled, “The Autumn Road” and it will follow the experiences and personal growth of Isolde, a young British woman who is taken as a slave by a Roman centurion after the fall of the Iceni capital town. Most often, people forget that civilians have always had to pay the terrible toll of warfare. Bear in mind that this was very much so before two millennia.

My updated reading list is as follows:

  • Dobson, B. (1955) The primipilares of the Roman army, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/8434/
  • Evans, M.M (2004) The Defeat of Boudica’s Rebellion, Osprey Publishing, Oxford
  • Coello, Terence Arnold (1995). Unit sizes in the Late Roman army. PhD thesis The Open University.
  • D’amato & Summer (2009) Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier, Volume 1, Pen and Sword Books Ltd.
  • Chivers-Wilson KA. Sexual assault and posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the biological, psychological and sociological factors and treatments. Mcgill J Med. 2006;9(2):111‐118.

This is only the beginning though, as one must be fully aware of who one’s characters are and how their experiences shape them in order to portray them with the correct character depth. A reader should also be prepared not to judge my characters as one would judge people in a modern situation. I feel that the world of our ancestors was so vastly different from our own and I am attempting to portray this!

Lifting the Spirits! (Not raising them… yet)

Given that we are all under some form of lock-down or curfew and most of us are doing our part in the fight against COVID-19 by staying on the couch, I have decided to help others to alleviate the uncomfortable mix of boredom, apprehension, and uncertainty by providing some much needed escapism.

My intention is to upload one short story a month to this website for people to download FOR FREE. Now, I am not going to upload anything straight off the bat as soon as I finish a third draft. Instead, I intend to upload a manuscript which can range between 2000 to 10000 words, which has been edited and proofread by a paid professional, and I may even invest in a graphic or two per story.

Each story will fall into one of the series which I currently write in. This includes some prequel stories to “The Solati Series” as well as “The Galesinger Series.” I am a little bit apprehensive when it come to producing content relating to my historical fiction series because I may still send out the manuscript of my first novel to a publisher and we all know how they look at previously published content or a submission which relates to such. At least the fantasy readers will be well entertained!

The formats of these short stories will be in .pdf, .mobi, and .epub so please make sure to keep tabs on the “Publications” section at the end of every month.

NOTE: Featured image from www.freepik.com

The Beta Readers – Part 1

In my humble opinion, beta reading is a highly important phase of the editing process and one which cannot be overlooked.

There are numerous benefits by having others read your work for you – provided that they are honest and critical. I have asked my diverse crew to be as brutal as they need to be, but I am also interested in hearing which scenes or characters spoke to them the most – and WHY!? I have five people – four of whom I am not related to and they are getting ready to “hand it to me” 🙂 next week. What can I say? I need to have honest feedback if my story is to grow. Obviously, I asked people who are fans of fantasy to be my beta readers as they are a small sample of my intended readership.

Areas which beta readers usually cover (or aspects which cause inconsistencies which annoy them) can range from plot, the setting, the narrative and style of writing, character, continuity, consistency and many more. Now, this does not mean that I am going to entiedit myre novel according to every criticism which pops up, but this does help me look for repeated criticisms and give me an idea about what may need changing.

The period which I chose to send out the manuscript was after the completion of the second draft – so that before Casey of Thoth Editing can do her final edits and work-over of my manuscript (which will then be draft 3) – she may now receive from me a manuscript which has already been singed by public opinion, if not baptised by fire.

Needless to say, I really do appreciate my beta reading crew. They are definitely due for “thank yous” in the novel’s credits as well as a signed copy of the printed version.

Design vector created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com