How long did it take to write the first Amanda Ackers book, and how did you get started in writing? Also, how did you know where to publish your books?

Questions asked by, Eve Metcalf, California, USA.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

Great questions Eve.

Amanda Ackers and The Deep Forest Elves is the first novel Sasha and I have written.

Here is Amanda’s book one cover:

Amanda Ackers book one cover.

Amanda Ackers book one cover.

FREE Book One First Edition E-book Published through: Smashwords.com https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119524

Book One of the series took 65 days to write and more than six years in development before publication. The reason it took so long, you ask? Well, at that time, neither Sasha nor I were writers (at least not when I started writing the Amanda series), so there was simply no rush to complete the story. I would write a couple pages, then not write again for weeks, months – even a full year. Also, back when I started, I had not intended to actually publish the stories but, instead, to print them out and give to family should they ever wish to give them a read.

I’m a little odd, I guess, because I kept a log of the time I spent writing the book. I would log in the time I started writing and the time I finished. I even did this when I took a break during the day. I have always been curious about how much time it may take to write a novel, hence, the log.

Once Book One was finished, I added up all the minutes, divided to get the hours, then divided by eight to get the number of eight hour days it would have taken. Book One is 233,217 words in length (without the front matter – copyright, publisher information, etc.) and without the rather long Appendix, which as you know, is very important to the book. This, our first book of the series, if printed as a paperback, would be over 700 pages in length.

Once the book was completed, I handed it to Sasha to edit. Not to edit as you would a typical novel, but edit it in a very different way… in the style of the High Elves.

That means that the writing style you find in this series is not as you may expect in typical books. Punctuation is not placed where it may be termed “proper” in our English way of writing.

There are thousands of italics in the story because what you read is the retelling of the actual adventures of Amanda and her elf, dwarf, witch and other friends, as they had taken place, and recreated using the words and thoughts of the adventurers themselves.

The memories from the adventurers, both living and passed, have been placed into a timeline, then read and transcribed much like our court stenographers transcribe the actual words spoken in court. The High Elves, however, use italics to emphasize a word the speaker emphasized, giving more meaning to those words than others. This can make a huge difference in how one interprets what someone said (and how they said it) in a written statement, which again is why the Appendix is so very important.

Over the years, Sasha would work on the editing when she found some time, and was almost finished when, one day, I saw an ad online about a writing contest Lulu.com was putting on. Anyone could enter the contest. The rules were to write a short story using a maximum of 600 words. Six hundred words? How can you possibly write anything using only six hundred words? I laughed. I knew that Sasha would love to be a professional writer if she could, so I decided to see if she would be interested in entering the contest… just for the experience and fun of it. She laughed too, but after we talked about it for a while, she said, “Well, I’ll write a couple of stories if you will.”

There was only two weeks left in the contest, so over the next few days we wrote a few short stories. Sasha ended up entering ten, and I managed to bang out four. It was a lot of fun to do and quite challenging! We had a great time. We weren’t expecting to win and we didn’t, but then again, thousands entered the contest. More than anything, we wanted to see if we could do it.

A couple days after the contest was over, I came across a site called smashwords.com that allows anyone to publish whatever they want for FREE and then convert their manuscript into an eBook in various formats. I thought what a great way to put our little short stories online and then send the link to family, so it would be easy for them to download the stories and read at their leisure. So, I followed all the requirements for smashwords to accept our stories and then uploaded one to see what would happen. In less than three minutes, I had a huge grin on my face! There before me was the cover for our book, along with its description and a list of ways people could download the story for free, in several of the most popular eBook formats!

I called Sasha into my home office and pointed to the screen. She laughed and said, “Wonder if anyone will ever download a copy?” I replied, “I don’t think so, only family if they ever decide to see what we did. I’d be thrilled if just one person other than family downloaded a copy.”

Well, it’s been almost a full year since we put up our fourteen short stories. Total downloads? 45,500 and we still have a couple months to go before our year is up at the time of this post! To say we are blown away is an understatement!

When Amanda’s Book One was ready to upload, I told Sasha I would be thrilled if 50 people downloaded the book in a year. After all, we were unknown authors and Book One is HUGE! I published it on smashwords early one morning and twenty-four hours later, there had been 120 downloads! Sasha and I could not believe it!

We still have two months to go before our year is up for Book One of the Amanda Ackers series, but as of November 18, 2012, the book has been downloaded just over 18,000 times – but not just from smashwords – they included Barnes and Noble, Apple iTunes, Kobo eBooks, Sony eBooks, Diesel eBooks, and others. All these downloads were accomplished without any social media, too! We just started a twitter feed at @glennandsasha, so it will be interesting to see what happens now.

Oh, by the way, to date only my sister Gail has taken the time to read any of our works, and she loves the Amanda Ackers series, and believe me, she would tell me if she didn’t!

We have received well over two thousand emails over that past year about Amanda’s two books alone. We have met and written to many wonderful people and have made many new friends.

Our thanks to you, Eve, and to all of you who have downloaded the Amanda Ackers series, our other books, and who continue to support us!

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com

How did the Amanda Ackers series begin, and where do your characters come from?

Question by: Kalvin Reyes, Canada.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

When I decided to write a story, I guess I had three reasons: first for the challenge, second because I thought it might be fun and third to leave something behind once I’m gone from this world… perhaps to leave something behind for our grandson, Logan, to read. I had no idea what I was going to write. I did know that I wanted to include many of the adventures I had during my own life, but no idea how to work them into a story.

I don’t consider myself a writer.

I don’t understand plot.

I don’t understand what they call “character development.”

I don’t understand what is meant by proper “flow” or many other terms used in writing.

My wife Sasha, who holds two law degrees and is the smartest person I know, has tried several times to explain these things to me, but honestly, I just don’t get it and I would never be able to write anything at all if I had to think about all those things.

Anyway, one day I just sat in front of my computer monitor, placed my fingers on the keyboard and stared at the white screen of my word processor.

You know how your eyes get kind of fuzzy when you stare at something for a while, and how sometimes you can see things in your mind even when your eyes are open… kind of like day dreaming? Well, I was looking at the screen and an image began to form in my mind.

At first, it looked like a darker area on my monitor from staring at it for so long. Then, the spot began to grow larger and change shape. You’ll laugh, but I actually leaned in toward the screen to get a better look!

The scene before me continued to grow and shapes began to shift. Soon the image became clearer and I found I was looking at some kind of storm with rolling clouds, thunderous lightning and lots of rain. It was really weird because I actually felt as though I was falling into the monitor and dropping through the clouds and rain. Yikes! Kind of like Alice down the rabbit hole!

Another image began to form and grew larger as my disembodied self burst through the clouds. It looked like a mountain, but it was so far below I really couldn’t tell. It kept growing, becoming clearer, and in a few seconds I realized I was looking at a very steep mountain and as trees began to appear, it became clear I was seeing a forest.

As I kept falling through the sky toward the mountain, a movement caught my eye, and in my mind, I saw what appeared to be the figure of a young girl. I remember squinting as I leaned in further toward the monitor, watching myself falling, my arms and legs flailing as I was headed toward the girl. The girl was running up the mountain in thick mud, looking scared to death and completely drenched from the storm’s downpour.

In my mind, watching the movie playing before me, I saw that I was about to strike the ground beside her! My heart began pounding in my chest as I was sitting motionless at my keyboard.

Once again, in my mind, I felt myself slowing and as I spun around, feet down, I dropped with a thud into the mud beside the running girl. I found myself running frantically right beside her as our boots were making the same sucking noises each time pulled them from the thick mud.

I turned to look at her and asked, “Who are you?”

I swear… she turned to me with the most striking green eyes I have ever seen and said, “My name’s Amanda Ackers. I’m lost, scared, and have no idea where I’m going! Please… stay with me, and we’ll find out together, okay?”

Out of breath, I found myself nodding, my entire body drenched by the relentless hammering of the rain.

I began to type what I was seeing, then continued typing everything I saw her do, everything she thought and everything she said.

The Amanda Ackers Adventures were born!

I found myself typing as fast as my fingers could go, trying to keep up with the movie playing in my head as I now stared at the blank wall above my monitor so I would not be distracted by the words on the screen. As you may know, I’ve suffered from dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia most of my life, so writing is a huge challenge for me.

The adventures Amanda had on the mountain in Book One were many of the actual adventures that had happened to me over my lifetime. Her encounter with the bear happened just as written in the book – but happened to me instead when I was in my early twenties.

The scene in which Amanda rounded a rock ledge then desperately grabbed what she thought was a short length of root only to find the rock break free from the ledge, sending her swinging away into open space and watched in terror as cracks worked their way up the root until it, with a huge CRACK! broke and she fell… happened to me.

The time when Amanda fell into the rapidly moving slurry of mud after falling from the broken root, heading down the mountain toward a cliff? Yep, that really happened to me – and slamming into that boulder stopped my sliding, too.

The avalanche of huge rocks? Yep, that happened to me too, including watching the trees get ripped out of the ground… and being struck by a huge boulder… and knocked into the hole where a tree stood just moments before… all that happened too.

Being covered by a massive lone boulder after the majority of the avalanche had passed? Yes, again. And I did almost drown while clawing at the mud as the water rose over my head – that one gave me nightmares for a good many years, let me tell you! But it all happened.

Of course, Amanda went through all of these adventures in a single day, whereas it’s taken me a lifetime!

After I had been typing for a while, my wife Sasha came in to see what on earth I was typing that had been going on for over an hour. She came in, not saying a word, not wanting to interrupt my thoughts. She stood beside me and began reading, watching the words fly across the screen. She pulled up a chair and sat with me, still not saying a thing until finally, I just had to rest my fingers… almost two hours after I had started.

“You’re writing a story?” she asked with some excitement. “I love what I’ve read! What’s it about? Where did you get the idea? How can you write it so fast?”

“I don’t actually have a story,” I told her flexing my fingers. “I’m just writing what I see happening in my head. Like a kind of movie. I have to type as fast as I can because the movie just keeps going unless I turn away.”

Sasha would love to be a full-time writer, and she is a very good writer. She and I are complete opposites in writing style though. I write as fast as I can for an hour or more before going to do other things, never having reread what I wrote during that time. Sasha, on the other hand, will write a single paragraph, then spend fifteen to twenty minutes (no joke) going over and over each paragraph, changing from one word to another, to find just the right word for what she wants portrayed. That would drive me nuts! She is a wonderful detail person, and I… well, I just write what I see playing out in my head. Our different writing styles really make for a great writing team!

Sasha fell in love with Amanda and the story I was writing. After a few days, I told her I had “visions” of some chapters I would like to include, and asked if she would like to write a couple of chapters. She was so excited at the prospect! I roughed out the ideas for the chapters but told her she had total freedom to create them. Sasha loved writing the chapters, and what she wrote was so outstanding (perhaps the best chapters in the book) that I’ve asked her to write one or more chapters for all the Amanda books.

One thing I’ve found very interesting (well, to me anyway), is how things evolve on their own. Yes, I have some ideas for what may happen in a chapter, but as I’m typing as fast as I can, I’m putting down what I see and hear happen in the movie playing in my head. I become lost watching Amanda, Thian and the others start a scene, when one of them (okay, Thian most of the time), will suddenly turn around, look right at me and say something along the lines of, “Wait. I don’t get it. Why are we doing this?” or “I don’t like what we’re doing. Let’s do something else, okay?”

They’re arguing, all in my mind, then I have to go back and rewrite a portion of a chapter (yeah, I bet you’re glad ya don’t know me in person, aren’t ya?).

The most surprising thing to me though, is when a new character I had no knowledge of beforehand literally walks into a scene. I’m serious. Sasha has no idea how I do it, and I don’t either, it just… happens.

Like what you ask?

Well, take Kim the Goblin, for example. When Amanda, Thian, Tia and Tianna go to the bank for the first time, I knew they were going to go to Thian’s vault to get coins to open Amanda’s account. But, when they went down the elevator and the door opened, there was Kim!

I watched the movie playing in my head (as I typed like crazy), seeing this young Goblin walk over to take them to the vaults. The thing is… I had planned on it being an automated ride! Nobody was going to be with them at all. I found myself asking, “Who the heck is this Kim kid?”

I love Kim and he was great in the ride to the vaults. But I’ve got to tell you, I was really surprised when he showed up for Tianna’s dueling competitions, and that Loki (a dwarf) was the one who had invited him… who knew? It sure as heck wasn’t me!

My favorite surprise walk-on thus far though is little Sadie. I had no previous thoughts of Sadie whatsoever.

At the huge stadium for Tianna’s dueling competitions, I was happily typing away wondering what would happen during the duels (nope, I had no idea at all what was going to happen… and that’s the truth). I was typing about the different competitors coming out of the tunnel and onto the field, when this tiny girl simply walked out as well. I smiled and then actually laughed out loud when she tripped over her robe and fell on her face (the crowd in my mind laughing along with me). I see her getting up, running forward and falling again, making the crowd (and me) laugh even louder. It’s a good thing Sasha wasn’t around at the time or she would have wanted to know what all the laughing was about.

Sadie stole my heart, and as the competitions continued, a special connection was forged between Tianna and this tiny girl.

Sadie had literally walked into the story, and is now, and will remain, a key character. I love Sadie! So does Sasha!

Thus far I have never had writer’s block, simply because all I do is type what I see playing in my head. I just type what I see and hear, and the story simply grows and evolves on its own.

I hope that answered your questions.

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com


Where do you get the ideas for the adventures in your Amanda Ackers series?

Question was asked by: Mary Karragan, Ohio, USA.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

Thank you for the question, Mary!

Well, as you may have read in a previous post, I just type and characters show up. I have created a rough outline of what I would like to see in the story, but when I get to those places, I have no idea how the scenes will write out. Again, the scenes just appear in my mind, and I write what I see.

But one of the things I do for inspiration (for chapters to write), is to go online and perform some searches.

For instance, since this is a fantasy story, I do a search for “fantasy images,” “fantasy paintings,” “fantasy drawings” and the like.

One of my favorite places to look is elfwood.com

Once I’m on their site, I click on “Fantasy and Scifi Art…” then, once on the new page, I scroll to the bottom and look for “Also Browse Elfwood by…” then click on “Gallery Number.” There are hundreds of galleries. Each gallery has many artists. Some of the artwork is good, some bad, some outstanding.

I generally go from gallery to gallery, looking closely at the images until something catches my attention. I then copy that image to my hard drive and create a short series of questions about that image, as it may apply to Amanda’s story. I have dozens of images stored and have made outlines beneath many of the images. Several chapters in Amanda’s stories will be written based on one or two images I found online. That way, I never run out of ideas… there are thousands of them… each one could potentially be a part of a chapter, a full chapter or even the basis for an entire book!

Give it a try. Keep an open mind and let your imagination create the scene(s) for you.

Thank you for your question. I hope this answered it sufficiently.

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com

Do you get depressed when you get negative reviews on your books?

Question was asked by: Linda Lance, Australia.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

Thanks for the question, Linda.

Blame it on human nature (being what it is), but of course, poor reviews sting some, but honestly, not much – and let me tell you why I feel that way.

When I was in my twenties I was a salesperson and devoured a ton of sales books and attended many sales seminars. I learned a lot!

Perhaps the most powerful principal I learned were the three S-W’s. What are the three S-W’s? Well, it means, “Some Will, Some Won’t… So What?”

How is the principal applied? Well, let’s say you just got your hair cut and you ask a group of friends if they like it. The answer most likely will be that, Some Will, Some Won’t… So What?  Honestly, unless it is a matter of life or death that they like it… So What?

What if you get a new outfit and wear it to work, a party or gathering of friends. Will they like what you’re wearing? Some Will, Some Won’t… So What?

Did you write a speech? Will the audience like it? Some Will, Some Won’t… So What?

Get the idea?

Same applies to everything in your life.

Some people will like what you do, say, the way you walk or act and some will not. In the greater scheme of things… So What?

When it comes to writing, I apply the same principal. I know it is simply human nature that some people will like the stories Sasha and I write and some won’t. So what? I mean, I’ve read a good many books and I liked some, and not others… so?

If you go online and look at some of the top authors’ book pages and see how many stars their book received, chances are they have a lot of fives, fours, threes, twos and even a few ones. And they are the top of the top!

Also, I learned something I didn’t know from a writer friend of ours (and verified by several other writers), that there are many people who spend a great deal of time online, looking for books that have good ratings, just to give them a low rating. Why? Because they can! It’s fun to them, thinking that by giving a poor review they will knock that person down a notch or two… yeah, they’ll show em alright!

These people are nothing but bullies, but from what I’ve learned, there are thousands of them out there. The odds of them landing on one of our books? Pretty darn good since many of our books have been very well received and have garnered many five star reviews.

And if that weren’t bad enough, I’ve also come to learn that there are people paid to give poor reviews to authors who have been receiving high ratings! Is that true? You better believe it is. And one more thing which really surprised me… other authors search out fellow authors who are receiving great reviews and…yes, under an assumed name, will give those books poor reviews. Sasha and I were shocked when we first heard about this, but now, we know enough authors to know this is a sad truth. How sad it must be to feel that you need to give poor reviews to others, just to make yourself feel better.

Anyway, as I said, we don’t like to receive poor reviews, but… it will happen if enough people read our books.

I don’t know if you are a writer or thinking about writing, but I would like to say this… do not let the fear of receiving poor reviews stop you from writing a book, a short story or full-length novel. Know in your mind, that you WILL receive some poor reviews. Always keep in mind that no matter what you do or say, Some Will like it, Some Won’t… So What!

Thanks for visiting and please tell your friends to come and visit us.

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com

Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Question was asked by: Mark McDonnald, UK.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

Thanks for the question, Mark.

Thus far, I have never experienced writer’s block. As I begin, I write what I see playing in my head, (like watching a continuous movie). I can be away from writing for days, weeks or many months, and when I return, I read the last chapter, see the movie begin in my mind and simply watch the characters as they continue on their adventure.

I have downloaded hundreds of fantasy images from the internet and use those to create a scene, a chapter or combine them to create an entire novel. In my case, a picture is not only worth a thousand words, but literally thousands of words to create a story around.

At times, when the movie in my head slows a bit, I ask the characters some questions, like:

Why are you stopping?

Is there a fallen tree, a stream, a cliff? Did they hear or see something, etc.

Why are you going that way?

Is there a road, a clearing in the forest, did they see – hear – smell – sense something?

Which way do you want to go now?

Why does the decision need to be made? Is there a branch in the road? Have they reached the edge of water or a cliff, etc.?

What do you see?

Is it a creature? A light? An oddly stacked grouping of rocks? A hollowed-out tree? Something shining in the distance, etc.?

What do you hear?

The cry of a creature? A roar? The babbling of a brook or waterfall? The sound of an avalanche? Chattering of birds or people?

What do you smell?

Smoke? Food cooking? The sweet smell of flowers or a pungent odor?

What do you feel?

Hot from fever or the blazing sun? A chill from illness?  A second sense? An icy wind or water? Dizzy – light headed? Angry? Happy? Sad? In love, hate, etc.

What do you sense?

Someone or something watching you? Impending doom, etc.?

And many more, but these generally start the movie playing again at full speed.

I’m sure that, at some point, I’ll experience writer’s block, but as of now, just asking those simple questions has kept me going. Again, I do not see myself as a writer or author in the light of great writers or authors, I simply write for the fun of it, and since I publish the books, I am considered an author.

Thanks for your questions and please tell your friends to come and visit us.

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com

Can you give us an example of how you use an image or photograph to create a scene?

Question was asked by: Elsa May Dickson, Arkansas, USA.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

Thanks for the question, Elsa May.

I’ll use four images I created using various graphics programs, so I will not infringe on anyone’s copyright.

In our novel, “Daz and The Lost Treasure,” after many adventures, the characters find an uninhabited island. Okay, great, so what will they find there? What adventures will they have?

One chapter was written from looking at the above image, which I created in a 3D program known as Blender. I created the image simply to learn a few things about how Blender worked, and had no idea or plans to use the image in a book. However, once my characters managed to climb a good way up a mountain in the novel, I wanted to describe what they saw.

I looked at several images online and then remembered this one I created some time back. I used this image for what they saw while standing on the mountain top, and even included the image within the book. The ancient looking arches, the huge broken pot, the mysterious fog, and (do you see it?) what looked to me like a very long, though not very thick, rock bridge far in the background – all gave me lots of ideas by asking myself some questions.

What kind of questions? Well, here are some:

Who built the arches? When were they built? What is this place? What will they find there or what may find them? What adventures will they have attempting to get to the bridge? What happens when they find the bridge… is it passable… broken in places… how will they cross it? Does someone fall or is afraid of heights and refuses to cross so the others must find a way to get them across? Why do they have to cross the bridge… isn’t there any other way to reach their intended destination?

What do they see as they look around the area? What do they hear? What do they smell? What do they sense? Are they happy, sad, scared? Even though there is fog on the ground, is it hot there? Is there an earthquake? Will they experience a storm since the sky is cloudy? Is anyone sick or injured now or will become so as they cross the terrain?

This single image, and asking those kinds of questions, gave me more ideas than I could use! In the novel, my characters experience many things to this point of the image, at the bridge and beyond.

If I would have used a different image, the story would have been entirely different, and that’s an absolute fact!

In our very popular Amanda Ackers series, in Book Two, Amanda and her gang opened a Wizitchal tree in which they found a solid silver spiral staircase leading far down into the darkness. I had no idea what they would find down there, so I began looking at images. Once again, I used one I had previously created using the 3D program, Blender, with no intent of using the image in a book.

The above image is what I had created and decided to use in the novel. Amanda and her friends get into strange and mysterious carts they found sitting on these old rusted tracks, which lead into a mine. Once the carts started moving, their adventure wrote itself. By the way, the sign above the track is written in Theban, which is a real written language used by witches in the old days. It reads, “Danger.”

Take a look at this next image.

Witch Cover.

Witch Cover.

I was thinking about our Amanda Ackers series, and while online looking at images of witches, I saw a witch in a plain, simple hooded robe. I then found some images of skeletons and immediately had an idea. Why not write a novel simply called “Witch”?

I went online and found a free image of a very simple plain robe, then saved it to my hard drive.

I used another 3D program known as Poser, and loaded a single skeleton, textured it, posed it, then made several copies, then posed them in a pile.

Using Photoshop, I created a blank book page, then loaded the plain robe and using various techniques, changed its texture and color to something much more interesting, as seen in the above image. I added the pile of skeletons, scaled them and placed them where I wanted them. I then added the background foliage which I created with a Fractal program.

I added the text for the word “Witch” and using various techniques, ate some of the text away and added the flames. I added more flames to the skeletons and added a little smoke. Lastly, I created the text and proportional shadow for our names.

This will be a full length novel, inspired by one image, the plain robe. Adding the skeletons to the image suddenly gave me more ideas. The book has not been written, but a very simple outline has been created. So, as you can see, a single image, or combination of several, can be the inspiration and source of ideas to create not only a scene or chapter, but the basis for an entire novel.

One last example. Take a look at the following image.

I created this foreground image using a Fractal program, then used Photoshop to drop in the blue background.  I added the bird then created a lens flair to create the sun shining into the cavern.

What is this place? Where is this place… some other planet? Who or what lives there? What kind of plant is this, or, is it a plant at all?

I have not used this image in any book as yet, but may. It could actually be someplace Amanda and her friends visit in our Amanda Ackers novels. What ideas can you come up with for this image?

I hope this helps give you some ideas, Elsa May.

Thanks for your question and please tell your friends to come and visit us.

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com

Glenn, can you give us other examples of what you created using Fractals?

Question was asked by: Sandra Miller, Brazil.

Post by Glenn C. Gabriel

Thanks for the question, Sandra.

Well, okay. I’ll break the images up into two categories, since I used two different Fractal generating programs to create the various images.

The most complex Fractal program, which is the most difficult to use, is called “Mandelbulb” and I used Mandelbulb3 for these images. This is a FREE program which you may find online.

Here are some images. Please note that many of the images have been dropped into Photoshop, where I added things to the image, like birds, sharks, people, etc.

In the above image, I added the shark, eel, bubbles and the dim sunlight filtering into what looked to me like an underwater scene of some very strange coral or plants.

 In the above image, Mandelbulb created what to me looked like either some kind of ancient ruins deep underground or what I finally called, “Termite Castles.” I added the eye using Photoshop to represent someone looking into a hole from outside the termite colony.

 I found this image Mandelbulb created very interesting after I tweaked it for a while. It looked to me like part of an old decaying tree. It’s hard to see in this small image, but much of the wood looking areas are covered with small raised black dots, which you can see pretty well on his eyebrow. I titled this one, “Infested Ent.”

This could become a character in one of the Amanda Ackers novels. I added the eye to the black spot in the original image then lightly painted some green using Photoshop to a few areas, then dropped in a background to finish it off.


This was one of the very first images I created using Mandelbulb. The coloring was just as you see it. It looked like some otherworldly landscape. I was just learning to use the 3D program known as Poser at the same time and had found a dragon in the program. I loaded the dragon, posed it and then created the smaller one flying.

I loaded the landscape into Photoshop, added the large dragon, scaled and positioned it, then did the same for the smaller one. I used a “light” brush to add the streaks of sunlight, then created the shadows for both dragons.

Okay, you get the idea for Mandelbulb.

Next is the FREE Fractal program known as Apophysis, which you can find online, as well. It is a very easy program to use and a lot of fun too.

Here are some images I created using Apophysis version 7. Again, I added other things to the images using Photoshop.

The above image is perhaps my favorite thus far. The original Fractal had rather bland colors, so I played with the coloring features for a while, until I got the wonderful colors you see here. To me, it looks like a bird in the upper right with a curved orange beak.

I loaded the image into Photoshop, added the sunset background and changed the coloring slightly. Next, I created a lens flair to simulate the sun just peeking through the clouds.

The last thing I did was to add the water. This image is known as, “Storm Rider.”

The above image was interesting, however, the lower portion did not look very good. So I dropped the image into Photoshop, added some drop shadow and some bevel and emboss, then tweaked the coloring slightly. I added the bat then the water. I changed the level of the water until it was about to touch the bat, which appears to be taking a drink. This image is called, “A Drink In the Cave.” What story could be written using this image?

 The above image is titled, “Through the Keyhole.” Like the previous image, the lower portion was not very interesting either, so once the Fractal was in Photoshop, I simply used water to cover up the unwanted portion and added the shark fins.

This image could easily be used within a chapter of our Amanda Ackers novels. What are the sharks protecting, and what will one find should they sail through the keyhole depicted in orange?

I loved the coloring in this Fractal! Using Photoshop, I added the drop shadow along with some bevel and emboss to give 3D-like texture for more depth. I added an image of a cavern in the large circular area, which in the original Fractal was completely black. I then added the water to get the wonderful colors in the reflections. Where is this place? What will you find when you sail into the inner caverns? Again, this could be used as inspiration for an entire chapter in a book.

The above image is known as, “Morning In Mermaid Cavern.” Once again I used water to cover up areas of the image I did not like. I created the girl using the program known as Poser. After creating her and adding her hair, I posed her. Using Photoshop, I loaded the Fractal then the girl. I scaled and positioned her, then added the water to cover her up. The last thing I did was to use a “light” brush within Photoshop to simulate the rays of sunlight shining on her through a hole in the cave.

What story could you write using this image for inspiration?

One last image. As you can see, using these FREE programs you can create many wonderful images of your own.

The above image began with the rather colorful plant-looking Fractal near the bird.

I created a black background in Photoshop then dropped in the foliage-looking Fractal in the background. Next, I dropped in the colorful Fractal bush, scaled and positioned it. I cut the bird out of a rather complex background and dropped it into Photoshop, then scaled and positioned it next to the bush.

Last thing done was to add the water and adjust its height and ripple pattern.

I hope this helps give you some ideas, Sandra. The programs are FREE, so why not download them and create your own images, then use them to create a story?

Thanks for your question and please tell your friends to come and visit us.

Give us a shout at: glennandsasha@gmail.com

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