A November 2020 Update on Sand and Smoke, the Dragon Destiny trilogy, and Dragons of Marak

Hey there! It’s been a while since I’ve provided an update about the books I’m working on. Right now, I’m working on two series–the Dragon Destiny trilogy, of which Sand and Smoke was the first book in the series, and Dragons of Marak, which is going to run a bit more than three books, I’m not sure how long it will run though. They’re both high epic fantasy, and Sand and Smoke is available on Kindle Unlimited for free and for purchase on many sites. It’s an indie novel.

By the way, in case you’re not familiar with who I am, hi. I’m Carl Cota-Robles, an indie author and self-published author on Amazon. I mostly write indie fantasy, but I also write indie children’s books with a sprinkle of science fiction. Feel free to check out my books here: https://carlcotarobles.com/books

Sand and Smoke is an indie high epic fantasy set in a world where dragon riders and cowboys co-exist. The sequel picks up where it left off, following characters like Al Hardin, Maya Samoralt, Joel Forquid, and Li Lok, and it also includes some new characters. The sequel to Sand and Smoke is going to be called Battle and Burning, and it’ll be released September 14, 2021. As of now, I’ve finished the first draft and am going to start revisions either next week or the week after. You can pre-order it. For a limited time before its release, I’ve made it available to pre-order for just $0.99. It will go up to a higher price eventually, though. Here’s the pre-order link: mybook.to/battleandburning

So, regarding my other series Dragons of Marak, it’s in a bit of disarray right now. The last month or so, I had planned to work on drafting book 3 of the series, but I wasn’t able to because I had a number of health issues come up. If you haven’t had to deal with anything like that in your life, you’re definitely lucky in at least one way. Last time I had to deal with something like this was in 2016, but it was different than what I’m going through right now. Back then, it was just a lot of pain, and I think what I needed most was rest. Right now, it’s involving a lot of doctors appointments that seem to be never ending.

So…anyway…those health issues are what has affected my plans for Dragons of Marak. Books 1 and 2 have both been drafted, and book 1 has gone through one thorough round of revisions and is now in the hand of some beta readers (sent out a few weeks before my health issues popped up). I’m hoping to squeeze in the writing of book 3 in between drafts of Battle and Burning, but I’m not sure if it’ll happen. Either way, Battle and Burning should be released by September 14, 2021. Dragons of Marak may take a bit longer than I expected.

There hasn’t been any kind of release date announced for Dragons of Marak, and I don’t have any plans to announce any release dates anytime soon. The series will go nicely with Sand and Smoke, though, because they are both young adult fantasy with dragons. While Dragons of Marak doesn’t have any dragon riders like Sand and Smoke does, it does have dragons and people who partner with dragons. The twist is that the dragons actually have special powers that allow them to equip to people as various weapons like a sword, an axe, a knife, a bow, etc. And while Sand and Smoke is told from multiple points of view, Dragons of Marak has just one point of view, and I plan to stick to that point of view throughout the series (well, right now that’s the plan anyway). There’s also a bit more romance in Dragons of Marak.

Over the next month or so, I’m probably going to be commissioning some art for the Battle and Burning and the Dragon Destiny trilogy. For a while now I’ve been dying to commission some art that’s an accurate portrayal of what a Sun dragon looks like. I go into quite a bit of detail about it in Sand and Smoke, so it’ll be really cool to get an accurate drawing made! If you want to see that art and see what a Sun dragon looks like for real, I’ll share it with you if you subscribe to my mailing list. You can subscribe at this link: www.rebrand.ly/storiesbycarl or at the link at the top of the page.

A bonus to being subscribed to my mailing list is that I let you know whenever I have marked down my books. I do this sometimes as a promotion to try and get a higher rank on Amazon and/or garner some reviews.

This is pretty much it as far as news goes at this point in time. The main new things to go down have been that the sequel to Sand and Smoke finally has a title now–it will be called Battle and Burning–and it has a release date: September 14, 2021. Like Sand and Smoke, it’ll be available on Kindle Unlimited for free and on the same retailers. I’m really excited about the artwork too! Can’t wait to get that process started and to see what a Sun dragon looks like.

As a writer, I constantly have ideas popping up in my head for new books, so there’s definitely been a part of me that is itching to start some other ideas. Most of these are dragon related…ha. Though, Sand and Smoke and Dragons of Marak may be it for series that involve dragons partnering with humans. The other couple of ideas I have floating around in my head involve dragons that are also part human. So it’s a different take on the whole thing, less stereotypical, and I also have some ideas about how to combine dragon-human hybrids with other mainstream genres.

Anyway, I can’t wait to dive into revisions for Battle and Burning! The draft I wrote needs some revising pretty badly, so I’ll probably be at it for a couple months before I send it to beta readers. In my opinion, revising is one of the hardest parts of writing, but I’ve learned some tricks to do it well.

PS: Here’s that link to subscribe to my mailing list again: http://www.rebrand.ly/storiesbycarl

Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

Like dinosaurs, maybe dragons are imagined sans feathers, but if they actually existed, they would have strategically placed feathers.

Welcome! This is a post on my author blog. If you find yourself here, unsure who I am, let me introduce myself. My name is Carl and I’m an author from Portland, OR. I write epic fantasy and children’s science fiction.

FeatherTRex

I recently came across a question from one of my friends on Facebook that asked if dinosaurs really had scaly skin or if that was just how we imagined them.

I found the question particularly intriguing, and the answers in some of the comments engaged me too. One commenter speculated that dinosaurs might have had feathers, I think another mentioned Godzilla.

But a google search turned up some more meaningful answers. One of the newest pieces of information among the results was that scientists have uncovered amazingly well preserved skin traces in Korea that reveal exactly how dinosaur skin looked. (Src: https://www.newsweek.com/preserved-dinosaur-skin-100-million-years-korea-1393230).

Though from the reading the article, it seems some traces may have been discovered in the past, but the traces in Korea seem to reveal more than anything found before.

We do know, of course, that dinosaurs did not completely die out millions of years ago. While many did, the smallest of the dinosaurs adapted and evolved, becoming modern birds today. In undergoing that shift, at some point, the dinosaurs had to grow feathers.

But when?

Actually, it seems that scientific evidence has revealed that feathers evolved in dinosaurs long before they were changing into birds (source: https://www.britannica.com/story/did-dinosaurs-really-have-feathers). And in fact, the growth of feathers was not a quick change. It wasn’t like flipping a switch. It was instead more like moving a slider.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, dinosaurs evolved a type of feather first that had a hair-like appearance. The plumage was made mostly from keratin, but each “feather” was only a single stalk without any of the softer branches on the side that form the wider, feather shape we are familiar with today. Over time, and perhaps in some dinosaurs themselves, the feathers evolved to resemble those of modern birds today. Other dinosaurs had only the earlier forms of feathers, the stalks, and some may have had no feathers at all. And like mammals, how widespread the feathers were on a dinosaur’s body is thought to have varied. Birds of course have feathers everywhere but on their feet and beak. One could speculate that dinosaurs might have had them only on their heads, like us humans with hair, or in other places only.

I find this all fascinating because dinosaurs in modern media are so predominantly portrayed sans feathers. They are instead given scaly skin, and a reptile-like appearance. In fact, if a five year old looked at a dinosaur, as portrayed in a movie like Jurassic park, and tried to guess whether it is more reptile or more bird, with no knowledge of the truth, I think it safe to assume that five year old would say reptile.

Which in fact makes me think about dragons.

Since I have taken such an interest in writing about dragons in my novels, I do think about them quite often. My debut novel, Sand and Smoke, actually featured both eastern and western dragons. Dragons are traditionally portrayed as reptiles, either as western dragons with huge bat-like wings, scales (like dinosaurs!), and four feet. Or eastern dragons with a more snake-like appearance. Either way, they might easily be categorized as reptiles if they existed.

But like dinosaurs, that might easily be wrong. Like dinosaurs, maybe dragons are imagined sans feathers, but if they actually existed, they would have strategically placed feathers. Another avian beast that could be mistaken for a reptile.

Just my crazy thoughts as an author. I like to think about the real and use it to inform the imaginary. Dragons, however, are mythical beasts so unlike with dinosaurs there will never be one factual image of what they look like. But the portrait of them with feathers does, I think, at least inspire creativity. And that creativity has led to me imagining new looks for dragons in lots of my novels, like my upcoming Dragons of Marak series and even Sand and Smoke, a series where I crafted two of my own breeds of dragons, the Sun dragons and the Wesech dragons.

Book Updates for a Sandy November

Welcome! This post is part of my author blog. If by chance you find yourself here, wondering who I am, I’m an author from Portland, OR. I write epic fantasy and children’s science fiction. Feel free to check out my books using the menu bar above!

This month I am participating in Nanowrimo! Even though I am a chronic write-aholic, I thought I would give it a go just to be involved a bit more in the writing community, rather than being very hobbit-like about my writing. Which I usually am. But though I’ve got 49,200 words already written for the month (don’t judge me, I write like a cat sheds) I really don’t think I’ve spoken with anyone else who’s doing Nanowrimo all month. Or if I have, I haven’t spoken to them about Nanowrimo. Anyway, I’d done Nanowrimo twice in the past, once I failed and once I succeeded, so despite my bragging about being a write-aholic I can occasionally fail to get the words out too. The point I’m trying to get across is that I would love to speak with others who are doing Nanowrimo just because connections and community.

But beyond Nanowrimo this month, I’m going to be trying a whole bunch of new things in my writing plans regarding my books and I’ve been gearing up for them! The first of those was that I purchased a brand new epic cover for my fantasy novel titled Sand and Smoke. My last cover was self-designed, and so I think this one looks a whole lot more professional! And it’s on display below using a 3d mockup.

Also I wrote a short story to accompany the novel. If you want to read the short story and find out everything there is to know about this awesome dragon-infested world I’ve created, all you need to do is subscribe to my mailing list, and I’ll send it to you for free: https://www.rebrand.ly/ingridrising.

What else?

My book Middle School Robots is gonna be exclusively available for my mailing list subscribers in January, and then later on I’ll be publishing it, I’m not sure exactly when yet.

Oh, and I am going to be doubling down on my efforts at writing and publishing YA fantasy books, probably ones with lots of dragons in them. Honestly I am feeling pretty good about what I’ve accomplished so far in writing and publishing TWO full books, completing a first draft for a third book (School Robots), and completing over three-quarters of the first draft for a fourth book this month for Nanowrimo, since roughly April of 2018 when I started all of this bonanza.

But despite the fact that I’ve written pretty much what I’ve aimed to, I know that I need to write faster and write more, especially in completing some of the series I started. With that in mind I have a kind of bold goal for myself in 2020, and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to meet it, but I’m going to try hella hard. My bold goal is to write a book a month, or depending on how I feel midway through I might adjust that goal to be 10 books in 10 months with 2 rest months worked in there somewhere.

It’s gonna be hard, but I think I can do it. Nanowrimo this month is already going fantastic for me. It’s kinda ending up being the warm-up exercise. Now that I’ve hit a stride with understanding how to churn material out, how to structure my writing, what genre I want to target and knowing a few subjects of things in that genre that seem to grip my readers, I think I am ready to tackle the one-book-a-month challenge for a year.

I even have some ideas for those months. The book I’m writing right now for Nanowrimo, I want to make it into a trilogy. I want to write books 2 and 3 in the Sand and Smoke trilogy. I want to revive an old book I wrote as a kid, improving upon the execution with a complete rewrite and a more distinct and engrossing world. I want to make that book into a series, five books I think. And I’m not wholly sure about the other three months, maybe I can find other writers who are just as hungry as me to team up with, or maybe I’ll think up new ideas in the interim. All in all, next year’s goal is going to be producing a lot of first drafts, which will probably mean not a lot of new publications, other than School Robots. But writing the first draft is the most enjoyable part for me at least…so it should be fun! And if I’m successful, there should be a bonanza of new publications coming in 2021. I might see if I can revise one well enough to publish next fall in 2020 also…we’ll see.

Three Quick Questions about Eragon

Christopher Paolini’s new book is called The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, and it’s set in the same world as Eragon was, Alagaesia.

Welcome! This post is part of my Most Interesting Questions series, which means I’ll be answering the most interesting questions I can find or think of on Eragon. The Eragon series was written by Christopher Paolini and stretches four books long. Paolini also recently released a collection of short stories called The Fork, the Witch, and the WormEragon was also made into a movie, though it’s a movie I’m sure we’d all like to forget. In my opinion, the Eragon film wasn’t very good. The Eragon books, however, were a different story. The first book was definitely my favorite, and in fact was my biggest inspiration for wanting to become an author. Paolini was only 15 when he wrote it. The characters in Eragon are great, and the villain, Galbatorix, is really scary.

By the way, if you’re wondering about who I am, I’m an author from Portland, OR. I write epic fantasy and I have dabbled in children’s science fiction too.

Now here are the most interesting questions about Eragon.

Eragons

Q #1: What if Eragon fought Gandalf?

A: If Eragon fought Gandalf, I believe he would lose. As awesome and powerful as Eragon is (he has powerful magic, Sapphira, his sword), he doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of experience that Gandalf does. Gandalf’s experience would give him the edge in my opinion.

Q #2: What book would you recommend to someone who loves Eragon?

A: I’m going to recommend some non-dragon books. I believe the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale would appeal to the same demographic as Eragon does. If the reader is a bit older, I would recommend Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn is a great place to start. The Ranger’s Apprentice series is also pretty good. I’m also an author, and was inspired a lot by Eragon. My debut fantasy novel, Sand and Smoke, features a girl and a dragon. It also puts a new twist on the genre, by mixing the wild west with dragons.

Q #3: How can I download The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaesia by Christopher Paolini?

Christopher Paolini’s new book is called The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, and it’s set in the same world as Eragon was, Alagaesia. You can purchase it on Amazon, here’s a link. You can also probably purchase it from many bookstores and online. Here’s a link to the book on Paolini’s website: link. In my opinion it’s best to pay for these things if you can, to support all the work that goes into them!

Thanks for reading! Now I invite you to check out more MIQ posts below, or my book Sand and Smoke, which also is epic fantasy, and has lots of dragons in it! My book actually features two breeds of dragons, eastern and western dragons, called Sun dragons and Wesech dragons. Eastern dragons are interesting, mythologically speaking, because they are quite a bit different than western dragons, with some crazy powers like being able to change size at will. I loved exploring their differences while writing Sand and Smoke.