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Posts Tagged ‘Young Adult’

I had three goals for this few weeks when I need to let the first draft of BEYOND THE PROPHECY cool before starting the revisions. I’m doing well on all three of them.

  1. “Modgud Gold”: This is a tie-in short story to the Dual Magics series, about what Arcas was doing during the events of the first half or so of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE and explains, among other things, how he knew enough about the Modgud to get help for Vatar. I’ve been through the manuscript once and I’m halfway through the second pass. In this revision, I’m primarily deleting an unnecessary character. Yes, Kiara would be there if this were part of the book, but she’s just window dressing in the short story. She has no real role to play. One more pass, concentrating primarily on some descriptions that may not be needed and it’ll be ready to go.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  2. DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING: I had decided to e-publish this one after all. It only needed a quick read-through and some formatting. It’s available for pre-order now and releases May 18th.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  3. MAGE STORM: This is my middle grade fantasy. I’ve finished a read-through of the story, making very few changes. I need to do a little work, changing the query and possibly polishing up the synopsis. (I hate synopses.) And then send it to a publisher. Middle grade is still very much of an uphill slog for e-publishing. (How many ten- to twelve-year-olds have an e-reader–or a credit card with which to buy their own books? The answer to the first question is an increasing number. The answer to the second isn’t. So it’s much more necessary to find a way through the gate keepers–parents, teachers, and librarians–with middle grade fiction.)

I expect to have “Modgud Gold” done within a week or so. Then I’ll be ready to get back into BEYOND THE PROPHECY and turn it into the story I know is in there.

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Possibly the single most important factor, especially for indie-published books, is the cover. It’s the first thing potential readers see. If it doesn’t intrigue them, they won’t click through to read the blurb or buy.

I started out doing my own covers because I couldn’t afford to do anything else. And my early covers weren’t just bad. They were horrible. I had to learn to do better.

Now, I probably could afford to hire at least some of my covers done, but I find I actually enjoy doing my own. But, of course, they still have to be good. I’m still learning. (I got a book on graphic design for my birthday, which I haven’t finished reading yet.) I also belong to a couple of cover art critique groups, now.

One of the areas it’s clear I’ve needed to work on is typography. With the cover for the upcoming BEYOND THE PROPHECY, Book 3 of the Dual Magics series, I changed the font to something less standard.

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Which, of course, means I now have to change the other covers to match.

Here’s the first cover for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE:

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Not bad. But here’s the newer version, which just went live yesterday:

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I also changed the font on the cover of “Becoming Lioness”, which is a tie-in short story. And on the cover of “Modgud Gold”, another tie-in short story that I expect to release in the next week or so.

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I’m also very happy with the font choice for DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, which is available for pre-order. It releases May 18th.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Love that font for the title.

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And no, none of this is an April Fool’s joke.

First Item:

I am now officially a member of SFWA, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Knock one item off the bucket list.

Second Item:

Daughter of the Disgraced King is now available for pre-order. It releases May 18th. I’m waiting for the print proof.

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Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

Ailsa isn’t the only one affected by the new king’s insecurities. The mages backed her father. Now the new king’s repressive policies drive the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country desperately needs to survive. Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green.

Her plans are nearly upset when her oldest friend, Crown Prince Savyon, proposes. Marrying him would mean giving up her magic. Her family history proves that the barons will never accept a mage as queen. A year of training won’t make her a mage—unless she has insanely powerful magic. And there’s been no sign of that. But at least she’ll know what she’d be giving up before she makes a decision.

A magic-tinted kiss from Jathan, her cheerfully annoying study partner, makes her question what she really feels for Savyon. She and Jathan could do great things together–except that he never wants to go near the desert.

Are magic and love forever mutually exclusive for Ailsa?

The ebook is only $0.99 during the pre-order.

Third Item:

I’m making good progress on “Modgud Gold”, the tie-in short story for the Dual Magics series. I’ve added a scene to the beginning and will add another to the ending to pull it together better. Right now, I’m tightening up the middle. Streamlining a bit. I expect to have it up in a week or two. Of course, I’ll have to redo the cover to match the new fonts on the Dual Magics covers.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Probably should change the cover for “Becoming Lioness” while I’m at it. Make them all look like they belong together.

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“Becoming Lioness” is free just about everywhere.

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Woo hoo! I’m trying to finish up the first draft of BEYOND THE PROPHECY this week. I’ve only got two and a half chapters to go. It should be totally doable.

All rough drafts–at least all my rough drafts–need some work. This one’s going to need more than most before it’s ready for my beta readers. Still, with luck, I hope to be able to have it published by September or October. That’s the plan.

Before I can start the revisions, though, it’ll need to rest for about a month. That’s so I can clear it–or the version of it I meant to write, but didn’t quite–out of my head so I can look at it with fresh eyes. One of the best ways to do that, is to fill my head with something else.

So, during that month, I have a couple of things queued up.

One is to epublish a book I wrote over a year ago, now: Daughter of the Disgraced King. Here’s an advance look at the cover:

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Ailsa’s father was forced to abdicate when he married a mage. And things have only gotten worse for mages, since, due to the new king’s paranoia. Ailsa’s spent her whole life trying not to become a target of that unreasoning fear. But, if she’s going to save her magic-starved homeland, she’s going to have to learn to stand out and put her own considerable magic on display. Her first love may turn out to be more obstacle than help, but Ailsa won’t have to stand alone.

(Yeah, that pitch still needs some work.) I’ve already started the read-through to make sure it’s ready. There may be one or two small things I’ll want to adjust, but that shouldn’t take long.

Second is the Dual Magics tie-in short story, “Modgud Gold”. This one has been waiting for some attention for a while now.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This one is about Vatar’s cousin, Arcas, and takes place during the same period as THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. I’ve got a couple of other tie-in stories to do eventually, too.

Third, if I have time (which I likely won’t), is a read through and possible revision to my upper middle grade fantasy (ages 10 – 12), Mage Storm (written back in 2011).

Everyone believes usable magic died in the Great Mage War along with its practitioners. Then a violent storm infects eleven-year-old Rell with leftover magic which threatens to kill him. In a world now hostile to magic, Rell’s survival depends on finding a mage to help him–one who doesn’t want him dead.

Middle grade is hard to publish independently–successfully, anyway. So this one might get sent out to a small press once I’ve gone through it again. I have other stories I want to tell about these characters and this world.

So that’s what’s up for the next month or so for me.

 

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March MadnessThe Clean Indie Reads March Madness Sale is still going on and two of my books are in it. Check it out, not just for my books. There are a lot of great flinch-free reads on sale. And check out the other blogs on the blog hop, too. Here.

Don’t forget the giveaway of many of the books in the hop–including The Bard’s Gift. Enter that here. It’s enough flinch-free books to keep you reading for months.

So, here’s a little bit about the world building in these two books.


Fire and Earth:

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Though raised as a fearless, faceless warrior, Casora couldn’t stop her homeland’s invasion. Bullied, hapless princeling Tiaran can’t escape his political doom. When they join forces on the battlefield they’ll rock the foundations of kingdoms.

As is usual for me, the world building for Fire and Earth is an accumulation of many things. The idea for the Deathless, Casora’s band of warriors-turned-mercenaries came from Herodotus’s (possibly inaccurate) description of the elite Persian forces at the battle of Thermopylae. “The Immortals”, as he described them, always numbered 10,000 because killed or injured Immortals were simply replaced. Also according to Herodotus, their headdress included a face-covering cloth (possibly meant to keep out dust or wind). And so, the idea for an elite force of constant numbers–therefore “Deathless”–with face plates on their helmets that prevented any individual from being recognized by outsiders.

Their enemies, the Yriri, were based on the various hordes, like the Huns, who invaded Europe during the Dark Ages.  I wanted the Yriri armor to be different from that worn by the Deathless and their allies, so I based that on certain Oriental types of chain mail, which fastened in the front, like a jacket.


and The Bard’s Gift:

TheBardsGiftCoverSmall

Astrid is too shy to even talk to the boy she likes, so naturally she’s the one the Norse gods choose to lead a bunch of stubborn Norsemen–using just stories to inspire them.

Since The Bard’s Gift is a historical fantasy, the world building consisted mostly of research.

Probably the most surprising thing I found in that research was the Greenland shark.

The Greenland shark lives farther north than any other shark species. They are comparable in size to the great white shark, averaging ten to sixteen feet in length and up to 900 pounds. They can grow as large as 21 feet and over 2,000 pounds. Usually only found near the surface only during the winter, they are otherwise denizens of the deep. They have been found with parts of polar bears in their stomachs.

The flesh of the Greenland shark is poisonous, but the hardy Icelanders (and presumably the Greenlanders), had a way of leaching the poison out. Of course, it still smelled overpoweringly of ammonia, even then.

That was way too good a monster not to find it’s way into the story.

There were also mythological sea monsters, like hafgufa.

Translated as “sea mist” or “sea reek”, hafgufa was a sea monster of the Greenland Sea between Greenland and Iceland. Hafgufa was supposed to lie on the surface to feed. The stench of its belch drew in fish, which the hafgufa would then consume, along with anything else in the vicinity, including ships. Only Orvar-Odd had ever escaped, because he knew the beast rose and submerged with the turn of the tides and was able to get his ship out of range just in time.

Hafgufa was usually seen as only a pair of rocks said to be the beast’s nose. Sometimes hafgufa was equated with the kraken. Others attribute the stories of hafgufa to underwater volcanic activity and the release of methane gas.

And that’s not even getting to Thunderbird. See my post about that, here.

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March MadnessTwo of my books are part of the Clean Indie Reads March Madness Sale this week. Check it out, not just for my books. There are a lot of great reads on sale. And check out the other blogs on the blog hop, too. Here.

There’s also a giveaway of several of the books in the hop–including The Bard’s Gift. Enter that here.


Fire and Earth:

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

Though raised as a fearless, faceless warrior, Casora couldn’t stop her homeland’s invasion. Bullied, hapless princeling Tiaran can’t escape his political doom. When they join forces on the battlefield they’ll rock the foundations of kingdoms.

Chapter 1: Berserk

Casora restrained the impulse to get up and pace across the floor of the command tent. She couldn’t show emotion, not even frustration, in front of her troops, but the continued silence from home was troubling. She reached up to rub the little scar above her right eyebrow.

She glanced up at the mountains visible through the open tent flap. The snow crept lower every day and so did her hopes of a recall order to let the troop over-winter at home. Casora dreaded the prospect of a winter stuck in camp with a troop made up entirely of homesick teenagers–every one of them carrying the potential of the berserker curse. Time to start planning a lot of training exercises.

“Riders coming!” The shout came from the lookout to the east, toward home. After a pause, the lookout added, “Two of them.”

Only two riders? She’d sent three out.

Casora walked to the front of the tent and cursed under her breath. They were her scouts all right, but whatever orders they brought had better be end-of-the-world urgent. There was no other excuse for abusing the horses like that. Then she realized that Varana’s braid was redder than it should be–blood red. Casora took off running. So did others from all parts of the camp. Varana fell off the winded mare just as Casora reached her.

“Report,” she said, but more quietly than her usual command voice.

“Stumbled into a scouting party just inside the pass. Ambushed.”

Ravan ran up with a water skin and Casora held it so Varana could drink. “What happened?” She handed the skin back to Ravan and nodded towards the other scout.

“Ledan was out in front. Went down with the first volley. We tried to get to a defensible position. There were too many. Had to run. Bring word back here.”

Casora rocked back on her heels. “What about . . .” She paused to swallow and steady her voice. “What about home?”

“Smelled the smoke even before we got to the pass. Whole valley’s burning. Even from that high up, we could see the Yriri crawling all over the valley in their black armor, like ants on a corpse. There’s nothing left.”

Casora looked down at her empty palms. Her chest was too constricted to breathe. Astraea invaded? It wasn’t possible. Even the Deathless, really only warriors in training, had never been defeated. How could Astraea have been conquered?

The roar of angry voices around her snapped Casora back to her duty. She had to get them occupied with something and quick. She gripped the hilt of her sword. Anger, especially, was the enemy of the Cursed. Not something they could be allowed to engage in for long. Her eye lit on one of the greenest recruits, looking young and frightened. “You, see the wounded to the medicine tent. Look after them.”

Casora scanned the other faces around her. Orders wouldn’t come from home, so the decision was up to her. If Astraea was under attack, there was only one place where the Deathless should be and it wasn’t sitting uselessly in camp all winter. “Ravan, organize the band. We’ll need the horses and gear readied. Break down the camp. I want everything packed up and ready to move by dawn day after tomorrow.” She looked at the stunned faces around her. “Get a move on. The Deathless are needed at home.”

At that, the band broke into excited units, scattering to their various tasks. Casora breathed a sigh of relief. She felt Varana shaking her head against Casora’s supporting arm. Varana had more recent intelligence. Casora looked down to her friend’s face. “What is it?”

Varana’s answer was low enough that not many beside Casora heard it. “You didn’t see how many of those black-armored devils there are. Even the full band won’t be enough. That army could crush us like you or I would swat a fly. All we’d do is get ourselves killed, too.” Varana turned her head back toward the mountains. “Besides, the snow followed us down the mountain. It’s the only reason we got away from them. No one’s going into or out of Astraea until spring.”


and The Bard’s Gift:

TheBardsGiftCoverSmall

Astrid is too shy to even talk to the boy she likes, so naturally she’s the one the Norse gods choose to lead a bunch of stubborn Norsemen–using just stories to inspire them.

Chapter 1: Starvation

Astrid leaned into the freezing wind, staggering down the beach hunting for driftwood to feed their meager fire. She kept one eye open for anything edible. The gale felt like needles of ice penetrating even the thick white bear pelt she wore as a cloak.

The wind swept up the fjord straight off the icy sea, funneled by the steep hills on either side. Astrid paused to take shelter for a few moments under a rock overhang that blocked the gusts. With nothing to hunt for, she let her mind drift, retelling to herself some of the stories her grandmother used to tell her. It was almost as good as sleep to take her mind off her hunger and keep her company.

From her shelter, she could see one of the many islets in the fjord, one that would be a seal rookery later in the year. That made her think of the stories about selkies, sea creatures that could shed their skins and take human form once a year. She pictured them dancing down there on the beach, as the stories described. In her mind, the leader looked a lot like tall, red-blond Torolf. The stories said that if a human stole the seal skin while its owner was in human form, the selkie could be compelled to stay on land as the wife—or, she supposed, husband—of the thief. Pity the stories always ended with the selkie finding the stolen skin and returning to the sea.

She sighed. If it were only that easy. Why would Torolf ever give her a second glance if she could never manage to say a complete, coherent sentence in front of him? Well, Torolf wasn’t going to magically appear on the beach. She might as well continue her search. She had to go farther and farther afield to find anything these days.


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I’ve been reading–admittedly slowly because it’s just not as much fun as reading fiction–a graphic design book, trying to improve my understanding of what I’m doing when I design a book cover. I actually looked for a course at my local community college, but they didn’t have one. Graphic Arts, yes, but not Graphic Design, specifically.

I think typography will likely be an area where I need to get into more depth. I have a tendency to just pick a standard font and go with it.

This is particularly apropos because I’m trying to get a start on two covers right now. The one for BEYOND THE PROPHECY, the third book in the Dual Magics series. And one for DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, a young adult fantasy romance that I wrote over a year ago.

I actually have the concept for BEYOND THE PROPHECY pretty well in hand. Not that it will hurt to have a better understanding of the principals of design. But the background theme–blue and red on a dark background–is already well established. The backgrounds advance from lightning, to a veritable storm of lightning, to smoke, and finally to flames. The only thing I really need to choose for those covers is the foreground image. For BEYOND THE PROPHECY it will be a white eagle (or as close as I can get, which may be a gyrfalcon. There aren’t very many images of truly white eagles.) That might, or might not, give you an idea of what happens in the story.

DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING is proving more difficult. I think I may finally have a concept. Something I may try out on a couple of Facebook groups I belong to, to see how it flies. That’s very helpful, too.

Indie authors have to wear a lot of hats.

 

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Prophecy of the Six released yesterday, but I got to read it early. Here’s my review.

Sabrina Front-Cover-FinalHQ

I love this sequel to Alchemy even more than the first book. And that’s saying something.

Imagine that magic is contagious. And causes insanity. Mages who survive the initial infection have to be controlled, sent to special schools that resemble prisons, or locked away in insane asylums.

Now prepare to follow four infected teens as they try to navigate the fine line between magic and madness—and determine who they can really trust. And just what part they have in the Prophecy of the Six. For that matter, what is the prophecy? Because no one will tell them.

Suspicious Seb, super senses and healing, for whom odors, sounds, bright colors, and rough textures are torture and who lives and breathes conspiracy theories.

Alternately fragile and daredevil Ana, alchemy and prophecy, who possesses the rare ability to invest inanimate objects with magic. Sometimes stolen magic. Sometimes her own. But whose sanity is threatened whenever such an object is used.

Confident Sam, temp and pushing, maybe the sanest of the four—if love doesn’t destroy him and take one or more of the others with him.

Snarky Juliette, alchemy and pushing, whose infection has robbed her of everything she loved or wanted. Her anger and fear could take them all down, but her magic may be the most powerful of all.

You’re in for a great roller-coaster ride with this book.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I honestly loved it.

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For 2015 my writing goals are:

  1. BEYOND THE PROPHECY (Book 3 of the Dual Magics series): Finish the first draft. Revise. Get critiques. Revise again. Polish. Format. And Publish.
  2. Tie-in Dual Magics short stories: “Modgud Gold”, “Hunter and Huntress”, possibly “The Seeker”. These stories expand on the events of the novels. Some things that there just wasn’t room for in the novels. Often from the point of view of side characters.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  3. MAGE STORM: my middle grade adventure fantasy. There’ll be at least two periods when I need to let BEYOND THE PROPHECY rest so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. During one of those, I want to go back over this story. Possibly change the age of the main character. Then give it a try with a small press.
  4. DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING: This one is complete and ready to go. I’ll query it for a little longer, but there’s also a good chance I’ll just decide to go ahead and publish it myself.
  5. BOOK 4 of the Dual Magics series (No title yet): Start the first draft for publication likely in 2016.
  6. At some point, I’m likely going to need to go play in a different sandbox for a while to keep things fresh. That will likely mean work on either DREAMER’S ROSE or that weird Oz story that’s been tickling around in the back of my brain for a while now.

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Well, it’s that time of year. Time to look back and see how well–or poorly–I did in meeting my goals this year and look ahead to what I want to accomplish next year.

My 2014 goals were:

  1. Publish THE BARD’S GIFT.TheBardsGiftCoverSmallDone.
  2. Query my middle grade novel, MAGE STORM. Well, I did. This one will turn up again on my 2015 goals.
  3. Complete and publish THE SHAMAN’S CURSE and THE IGNORED PROPHECY (since retitled THE VOICE OF PROPHECY). Oh, yes.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  4. Complete what was then called MAGIC AND POWER–now DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING and query that. Yes. This one will also turn up again on my 2015 goals.
  5. Write something new. Well, I’ve started BEYOND THE PROPHECY. I really think I meant something in an entirely different world, though. Maybe next year.
  6. Continue to learn and improve. Always.

All in all, I think I did quite well on last year’s goals. Wednesday, I’ll lay out my goals for next year.

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