Reven Archer Black: Author of Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

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From the Writer’s Desk… er, Screen

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It’s the eve of 2015  and here I am, tinkering with technology. In a way, it’s bliss. The reason for the tinkering is exciting; or rather, the fact that I have a reason to do it is exciting. The Blood & Heritage series has been a long time coming and now, with Ascension moving forward in the next step of the journey, it’s time for me to crack down and get the “pretty stuff” together.

So yesterday I started on the pretties.

Well, okay, to be honest, the pretties started a little while back. A couple weeks ago, I had the chance to ask the amazing fantasy cartographer and fellow author, John Renehan, if he would draw a couple of maps I could use for the book and series. He is fantastic at what he does. I’ve been dying (more like salivating) to commission him for these maps. It’s been a must-have since he started to roll out his own maps a few years back on a Facebook group we belong to. Especially since I can’t draw worth magically delicious beans. I mean, this is what I sent him…


All continents of interest



What he can do is much more Tolkien-worthy. I can’t wait to find out how they turn out! And I can’t wait to share.


That Got Away from Me A Bit

But back to yesterday. It’s a story of adaptability and opportunity, and a strike of creativity. The plan was to go with my partner and see the last The Hobbit movie, which we’ve been dying to see because we love everything about it (including Thorin and Kili. Mmm mmm, yes!). The rest of the plan consisted of shopping and food somewhere in between stops.

Yeah, no.

Poor Bilbo and co. had to wait. They were upstaged by a pedestal cooling fan, expected to be delivered around 5pm. So we trashed the plans and hung out, waiting for our lovely postman to arrive. Considering I can’t just sit around and do nothing, I decided it was time to work on website bits for Blood & Heritage. But I’m a fan of multitasking, so it ended up being a mix of that and checking out the music from Hurts (my new musical crush… OMG, I’m hooked on “Wonderful Life”, “Devotion”, and “Evelyn”).

The result has been fantastic. Got into the groove and cleaned up the family tree, which hadn’t been touched in a long time. Names and spellings have changed as the manuscripts have evolved.

Then I moved onto character stats. A natural progression, considering I had all the names, birthplaces, relationships, and nitty-gritty details in front of me. So I took the plunge and worked out the template. Then I just couldn’t help myself… by the time I rolled into bed, I was sitting on half a dozen (mostly complete) character pages.

So then, I thought, what the heck, I should give playing around with a character photo a go. While I was away, I found the perfect stock photo. It needed some minor work to fit the character, but it was exactly what I was after.SO. HARD. TO. FIND. I’ve spent days trying to find a photo to suit the main character/hero. Not easy when it’s an epic fantasy with the typical pre-medieval/medieval tones and long hair is the norm in a few cultures… that’s an entire story of struggle on it’s own. I’m also not a professional when it comes to graphics design. My ability to “Photoshop” is limited. Though I picked up on a few tutorials while I was on vacation, so I’m hoping to get better. Decided to give a few new tricks a go from said tutorials… and here we go, my first attempt at a character profile picture, made with GIMP:


Before and after2


I’m incredibly pleased with the result. It completely represents the character in his non-scarred appearance. ♥♥♥

And sure, it’s not perfect, but that’s okay. I’ve accepted that creations do not need to be perfect to be the perfect creation. Flaws can be beautiful. Or, as one of my characters puts it in Ascension: “Perfect is an illusion”. 😉

(Although this doesn’t seem to apply to editing. I’m still a perfectionist. Each time I find a new error, I cringe, mentally face-palm myself, and feel like I should write an “I’m SO SORRY” note to the editor.)



While I’m riding the high of getting these things done, I’m going to tackle the challenge of the family tree: a visual interpretation. Thankfully it’s not nearly as complicated as the final tree at the very end of the series would be. Just enough to cover the events of book 1. But still, pretty exciting. Genealogy can be so much fun!

And so is today, the evening before 2015 starts around here. No party. No drunken stupor. No freezing our butts off at the Platinum Blonde concert we were thinking of going to. Just hard drives and a creative ride.


and On That Note…


H A P P Y       N E W       Y E A R!


Hope it’s a fantastic one. Be merry. Be safe. Be relieved. See you on the other side!



On Twitter? Follow along with how Ascension and Blood & Heritage progress using #AscensionEpic and #BloodandHeritage.


1 Comment

  1. […] the meantime, I’ve been having an affair with GIMP and stock photos. Last week, I shared one of the character pictures I created for the Blood & Heritage series — […]


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