November 28, 2012


I have enjoyed this blog. And despite my frustrations with moving from xanga to blogger and learning a new platform, I have become fond of my little writing blog. But now that we've officially "launched" my career as an author, I think it's time to grow up a little - and I feel that it's a little silly to continue posting in two different places.

So, with some bittersweetness, I am leaving blogger and my dear cathedral of time, and moving to my gorgeous, grown-up, beautiful new website!

I will be blogging over there from now on, and while I will leave this site up so I can refer back to it if I ever need to, moving forward my writing-related posts will all be posted over at the new site.

Please come with me, dear reader!

November 26, 2012

Pronunciation Guide

Since I began writing, and at least once since the book-signing, I have had quite a few people ask me if I would ever be willing to include a pronunciation guide/glossary in my books.

Okay, some of you are chuckling to yourselves right now.

But it is a valid question, particularly for those unfamiliar with the fantasy genre.

For anyone who doesn't understand why some people reading this might be laughing a little, the reason is this: there IS a pronunciation guide/glossary in my book. If you flip to page 412 you will find a glossary/pronunciation guide for all the names in King's Warrior.

If you continue on to page 414, you will also find a "sneak preview" for Second Son.

And if you don't want to flip to the end of the book, I thought I'd include the pronunciation guide here as well:

Aethalons (ā-ETH-ə-lohns): The people of Llycaelon.
Aetoli (ā-eh-TOLL-ee): Highest ranking warrior in Llycaelon.
Aom-igh (Ā-ōm-Ī): Home of Kamarie
Ayollan (AY-ōl-ăn): Capital city of Aom-igh
Arnaud (AR-nawd): King of Aom-igh.
Brant (brănt): Formerly the King’s Warrior.
Calyssia (cuh-LEE-see-ah): Keeper of Pearl Cove.
Coeyallin (kō-ĕ-yăl-in): A province of Aom-igh.
Darby (DAR-bee): Kamarie’s maidservant.
Drayedon (DRAY-ě-don): A province of Aom-igh.
Dylanna (dĭ-LAHN-ah): Wizardess, second daughter of Scelwhyn.
Elroy (ELLE-roy): Leader of Roalthae.
Enreigh (ON-ree): A peasant of Aom-igh, Marghita’s husband.
Farrendell (FAR-ehn-dell): Main river that runs through Aom-igh.
Frantell (fran-TELL): A duchess of Aom-igh.
Garen (GAIR-en): A Knight of the Realm
Graldon (GRAIL-dən): King of the Dragons before Rhendak.
Iarrdek (ee-yar-DEK): A gryphon.
Imojean (ĬM-ō-jeen): Brant’s wife.
Iolanver (ee-ō-lan-vair): Island-country southeast of Aom-igh.
Justan (JUST-in): A Knight of the Realm; raised by Garen.
Kaitryn (KAY-trin): Rena’s daughter.
Kali (KĂ-lee): Brant’s daughter.
Kamarie (kah-MAR-ee): Princess of Aom-igh.
Kane, Kiernan (KANE, KEE-YAIR-nen): A wandering minstrel.
Krayghentaliss (kray-ghen-TĄL-ĭss): The realm of the myth-folk
Leila (lee-Ī-luh): Wizardess who lives in the Harshlands
Llian (LEE-ĕn): King of Aom-igh during the first Great War.
Llycaelon (lie-KAY-ĕ-lahn): The true name of the “Dark Country.”
Marghita (mar-GHEE-tuh): A peasant woman of Aom-igh.
Oraeyn (ŏr-AY-in): Squire in training to be a Knight of the Realm.
Quenmoire (kwen-moyr): Island-country to the south of Roalthae.
Rena (RĒ-nuh): One of the People of Pearl Cove.
Rhendak (ren-DACK): King of the Dragons.
Rhynellewhyn (rin-ELL-ĕ-whin): A Pegasus.
Roalthae (rō-awl-THAY): Island-country northeast of Aom-igh.
Sauterly (SAW-ter-lee): A baron of Aom-igh.
Scelwhyn (sell-win): Wizard and advisor to Aom-igh’s kings.
Schea (shay): Brant’s son.
Seamas (SHAW-mŭs): King of the Dark Country.
Selynda (sell-IHN-dah): A duchess of Aom-igh.
Tobias (toe-BY-ess): King Seamas’ most trusted friend
Toreth (TOR-eth): The moon.
Urith (OOR-ith): A province of Aom-igh.
Wessel (wess-əl): Leader of the Cove People, Rena’s husband.
Yatensea (YĄcht-in-see): A baron of Aom-igh.
Yole (yōle): A young orphan boy
Zara (ZAR-ah): Queen of Aom-igh.
Zhreden (ZREE-den): A province of Aom-igh.

November 19, 2012

Marik - an excerpt

Book-signing tomorrow! I'll be writing a post later this week to let you know how it went. I'm hoping to have pictures to put up as well. While you wait here is the first scene in the story I am working on for Nanowrimo:

    Marik strode into the dimly lit tavern and made his way to an empty table in the corner. His eyes darted this way and that as he pushed his long coat back and sat down in a chair with its back to the wall. He had spent time in worse establishments, but not many. Although the table was clean, something about the place gave an impression of grime, making him loath to touch anything. A sour-faced woman came over to the table, wiping her hands on her apron. She wore a plain brown robe of a dress that was far from flattering.
    “Whaddya want?” she asked in a tone that was bored and disagreeable.
    “A tankard of your finest ale, good lady,” Marik flashed her his best smile, the one legends had been written about, but this woman seemed immune. “And a loaf of your softest bread.”
    “I’ll see your coin, first,” she demanded, pursing thin lips that seemed out of place in her round face.
    He placed a handful of coppers on the table, wrinkling his nose when he realized as they dropped that he had just placed half of them in a small puddle of something sticky.
    “Be right back,” the woman’s tone, if not her face, turned a shade more pleasant. 
    Marik tried to relax, but the atmosphere in the tavern made it difficult. There was a smoky haze to the air, making it difficult to see clearly, and the unpleasant scent of sulphur wafting in through the open windows made him reluctant to breathe through his nose. The tavern was set back in a small town on the very outskirts of Palla, in the foothils of the mountains on the west side of the River Temnia. A smaller river: Pello, ran down from the mountains and ended in a small lake on the northern edge of the town. From the smell of the water, Marik felt it was safe to assume that the stream originated somewhere volcanic. It was not the most pleasant place in Aelon Ere, but Marik had not arranged the meeting, and thus had no say about the location.
     The woman returned with a mug and set it down on the table, sloshing a little of it over the brim. Drops of dark ale splashed Marik’s shirt and he frowned. The maroon was his favorite shirt. He rubbed at the spots with his sleeve. She set a tin plate in front of him and he stared in disbelief at the small slice of crusty bread. He could tell without even touching it that biting into it would be bad for his health.
    “That’ll be twenty coppers.”
    Marik’s head snapped up and his eyes widened. “For that?” he gestured at the disappointing repast in front of him.
    “Twenty coppers or you can take your business elsewhere.” The woman’s face was hard, and showed no hint of humor.
    “My good woman, what have I done to merit your distrust? In most other establishments twenty coppers would buy me a full meal and a room for the night... some would call your price highway robbery.”
     “We’re not ‘most other establishments,’ and I don’t care what ‘some’ might say. We don’t like strangers here in Ondoma, and we’d just as soon see you leave. Twenty coppers or you can be on your way.”
     “Peace, Criselda,” another man appeared, putting his hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Marik here is with me.”
     The woman’s frown deepened. “Well then, ten coppers for the both of you, Arrio. But you vouch for him. If he causes any trouble, he’s your responsibility."
     “He won’t, desert flower. Marik is a businessman, of high repute and standing. We’re here to agree to some terms on some work he might be doing for me. Bring me a mug of whatever he’s having, there’s a sweet lass,” he poured a handful of coins into her apron pocket.
    Marik gingerly picked up five of the coppers off the sticky part of the table and took private delight in dumping them into the disagreeable woman’s pocket.
    Criselda’s eyes narrowed, but she departed and the newcomer sat down.
    “I was starting to think you wouldn’t make it,” Marik said.
    “I got held up. I see you found the place.”
    “It wasn’t hard,” Marik replied. “May I ask what prompted this choice?”
    “I am well-liked here.”
    “So I see.”
    Marik eyed the man warily. Arrio was tall and thin, with a nose that was just slightly too big for his face. His eyes were dark, almost black, and filled with cunning. Unlike Marik, the man wore no coat, and the sleeves of his blindingly white shirt billowed out from shoulder to wrist, where they were held tightly in place with thin leather drawstrings. Like Marik, he wore dark pants and high boots, and had a sword strapped to his waist. Marik wondered if Arrio knew how to use it; many men wore swords these days, but some were just for show.
    Marik pursed his lips and took a swig from his mug. He instantly regretted it. If cooled lava could be turned into liquid, he imagined this is what it might taste like. He tried to keep the expression of disgust off his face, but Arrio grinned at him knowingly. The man’s teeth were crooked, but clean. Marik winced and set his glass down.
    “I’m told you have a knack for... acquiring things of value,” Arrio said, his smooth voice hushed. He seemed to understand Marik’s disdain for small talk.
    “I have certain skills in that area,” Marik replied modestly.
    “You’ve stolen airships before?”
    Marik shrugged. “Allegedly.”

November 15, 2012

Lightning Source Ingram

What is Lightning Source Ingram?

In the simplest explanation, Lightning Source is a printing company, just like Createspace. The difference between LSI and Createspace? LSI is more geared towards working with publishers, while Createspace was set up to work with individual authors.

Lightning Source will act as a Print-on-Demand company, or they will do an offset run (which is where they can print you 1+ thousand copies of your book for you to stock and sell on your own). The big benefit to printing my book through LSI is that they have a current and on-going relationship with Barnes and Noble already. They support returnability and the standard trade discount, which are two things B&N requires before they will buy a book and put it on their shelves - and it's the only way they would let us do a book signing at their store.

Pros to LSI over Createspace:
  • you can print your book cover in glossy or matte finish
  • Barnes and Noble and other large bookstore companies will be willing to stock your book
  • you can do book signings at large bookstores
Cons to LSI over Createspace:
  • returnability means that you take a risk that you will have to pay for any books that are returned
  • you won't get paid by LSI until you've made $100 (Createspace pays out when you've made $10)
  • author wholesale price is slightly more expensive (LSI $7.50 to CS $5.50 - before shipping)
  • because they're slightly more expensive, your book has to cost more for the buyer and you get a much smaller royalty from each sale

However, both companies set themselves up to have non-exclusive printing rights to your book, so you can do what we've done and use both simultaneously.

And that's my brief explanation of what Lightning Source is. If you're a fellow author or small publishing company looking into a printer, you can find out more information here.

November 13, 2012

Nanowrimo Update

As of yesterday I hit seventeen thousand words on the story I'm working on for nanowrimo. Officially that means I am over a fifth of the way done (and, yes, about three thousand words behind schedule... already). I'll see if I can make that distance up in the coming days, although the 50,000-word mark isn't really as super important to me as finishing the book is.

So what is this story about? First and foremost, it's the second half of a story I've been working on for the past year, but everything I'm writing this month is new - as per the rules of the game.

Well, this is the story of a pirate. Marik is an honorable man, despite being a thief. He is young, but his name is already legendary through the Eastern lands and even some in the West have whispered his name. When he was a child, his family, merchants by trade, bought him a commission in the Emperor's Army. Marik advanced through the ranks of the military quickly, earning the hawk pin at the unprecedented age of twenty-two.

When a Civil War broke out between two warlords, Marik's hometown was caught in the crossfire. Some of his neighbors sympathized with the rebels, and hid them from the Emperor's troops. When the Emperor found out about it, he ordered the town be razed to the ground, almost every member of Marik's family was killed in the ensuing massacre. The commanding officer who carried out the orders was Marik's older brother.

Grief stricken and filled with a vengeful anger, Marik disappeared and turned to piracy. He is a mercenary, a hired gun, a smuggler, and privateer, and he is out to hurt the Emperor any way he can.

When our story begins
When Marik is hired to do a job, the ultimate job, it is too good an opportunity for him to pass up. He is hired to commandeer a massive airship: a cargo cruiser. Despite the danger, Marik takes the job, never knowing that it will lead him on the greatest adventure of his life.

That's it in a nutshell, the story I'm working on. In the past year I've gotten most of the bits with Grayden written, this month I am pushing to write all the parts with Marik and perhaps the bits beyond that where their stories intersect - which is about where this book will end - resolving enough to make the story a good first act in a classic trilogy.

I'll post some of what I've written next week for the more curious of my fans :)

November 12, 2012

Marketing Monday

Today's topic will revolve around the question of what we have done and are doing to promote the November 20th book signing at Barnes and Noble.

What we have done to market this event, in bullets:

  • Designed and printed two posters (36" x 60") to hang in the windows of Barnes and Noble
  • Designed and printed one welcome poster (24" x 57") to put up on an easel that greets people to our designated area inside B&N and lets them know what is going on
  • Designed and printed 60 smaller posters (8.5" x 11") and asked permission to set them up/post them in coffee shops and high schools in the surrounding area
  • Designed, printed, and mailed 300 letters with color-inserts inviting people to attend our event
  • Created a facebook event to promote knowledge of the event a month in advance
  • I believe that Barnes and Noble is doing a little bit of advertising on our behalf as well, whatever it is they normally do to promote a store event
  • We are giving away copies of "He Whistles for the Cricket" by Gwen Walker to the first 100 people who buy copies of "King's Warrior"
  • We are hoping to run an ad in the local newspaper

So that's what marketing we have done so far. We are planning on giving away bookmarks to as many people as possible whether they buy a book or not.

The employees at Barnes and Noble have been very impressed so far by our efforts. The store manager even said that one of the reasons they don't do more book signings is because the authors aren't usually willing to do so much of the leg-work. So, we are hopeful that this will be a fantastic and incredibly fun event!

Later this week, I will post some more about Lightning Source and explain their role in all of this a little more.

November 09, 2012

Featured Artist Friday with DJ Edwardson

Name: DJ Edwardson

Book Title: Into the Vast

Genre: Science Fiction

Book Blurb: When Adan awakes in the Institute, his memory is gone. Worse still, the scientists nursing him back to health don't seem to know or even care who he might have been. They only seem interested in him as a research project. But as he comes to grips with the strange technology fused inside of him, he discovers that he may be the one person who can put a stop to
the researcher's efforts to re-engineer the human race. Because sometimes the only person who can see what's gone wrong is the person who doesn't know anything at all.

Amazon Author Page:
Amazon Kindle Book link:
Barnes & Noble Nook link:
Kobo ebook:

*When and why did you start writing?*
Back in 1995 when I was living out of the country and had a lot of time to myself, the ideas for my first novel began seeping into my mind. I wrote about fifty pages into a notebook and then my circumstances changed and I moved back to the states and the story sat on the shelf for many years. A few years back, however, I joined a literature club inspired by the Inklings--C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien's group that met for many years in England. The stories I read there once again ignited my desire to write and a couple of years after the group began, I dusted off the novel with the goal of finishing what I'd started all those years ago.

*Why did you choose to write in this genre?*
You know, I'm not actually a huge fan of the concept of "genres". I know they have their place but they seem to be more a convention for publishers than writers. I know science fiction and fantasy are the convenient, broad terms for the kinds of things I write, but if I had to classify or describe my work, I'd call it the genre of the imagination or "imagine-lit" for short. For me this would include everything from fairy tales (the real kind like George MacDonald's Light Princess or Phantastes) to super-hero stories to tales from the far future.

The key element is to take the reader out of this present world where we have all of these pre-conceived ideas about how things work and to take him or her into another world, a place where they are able to discover reality afresh, from the inside out, so to speak. It is often only in stories like these where we can really see courage, hope, and forgiveness clearly, isolated and undistracted by all of the routine and monotony of our daily experience.

Stories of this sort do not take us away from reality, but take us into that very real reality of the soul and the imagination which we so often neglect. In this way, they actually enhance reality, giving us experiences we might not otherwise have and showing us truths we may have forgotten or  have never even seen before.

*Which authors do you admire? Why?*
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are at the top of the list. Not only were they great writers, but based on everything I've read about them, they were decent men as well. Many writers aren't people whom I'd care to have as friends, no matter how skilled or successful they are at turning a phrase or selling their books. When it comes to admiring an author, I can't separate who an author was or is as a person from what they achieved with their writing.

I also love that Lewis and Tolkien were friends over a long period of time and that they encouraged one another as writers and as men. What a great example for writers today. They were certainly not perfect men, but there is much about them that I deeply admire.

*What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?*
Just write. It may sound painfully obvious, but "writer's write." If you don't write, you'll never be a writer. There's no guarantee that what you write will be brilliant, but if you don't start, you'll certainly never go anywhere with those ideas in your head. If your story is really worth writing, start putting it down. And once you start, keep going. Write when you don't feel like writing. Write when you have no idea where the story is going. Just keep putting words on the page. You can always edit it later if it doesn't make sense.

Some of the best advice I ever read was a quote from Isaac Asimov. I can't remember where I saw it, but I'll paraphrase it here, "I only write when I'm inspired. And I make certain that I am inspired every morning at 9:00 am."

*What inspires you to write?*
Ha ha, speaking of inspiration...You know, this might sound absurd, but I actually decided to become an English major in college after watching the movie, "The Dead Poet's Society". Not something I'd advise for everybody, but I was stirred by the grandeur of all the great writers and the poetry highlighted in that film. It made me want to sink my teeth into the great works of literature, to read from authors who were not afraid to stare into the infinite and record what they saw, who were undaunted at the prospect of tackling the great themes of literature: love, loss, courage, hope, sacrifice, and redemption.

As I began to write, the echoes of a conversation which reportedly took place between Lewis & Tolkien often came to mind. Discussing literature, Lewis said to Tolkien, "You know, Tollers, there’s far too little of what we enjoy in stories...I’m afraid we’ll have to write them ourselves."

I sympathize with that perspective. I am not much drawn to the kinds of stories coming from the publishing world these days. They seem to me far too self-referential. What I mean by that is that even stories with fantastical elements and hints of the supernatural are often just stories about twenty-first century characters play-acting as if they lived in the future or the past or in a world with magic and trolls. They act like us, they think like us. It's all just window dressing. There are not enough of the "echoes of Elfland" in them, as Tolkien might say, not a real sense of the transcendent in much of these works.

Too often a story will pretend to take you to another world or time but really, you've gone no further than yesterday's news would have taken you. That may be fine for some folks, but I am seek a place where "the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise." (Return of the King) This longing for "other worlds" is a great inspiration for me because writing then becomes the means of getting there.

*What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself through

That a dream is worth sacrificing for. I tend to be rather laid back as a person and once I started writing and began realizing what was involved, it really challenged me. I thought to myself, "Is this really worth it?" And there are still plenty of moments of uncertainty, but you hit a wall, you
push through it and you keep going.

Paradoxically, after finishing the first novel, I also learned another lesson. I was so exhausted physically and mentally from all the late nights and wrangling with the text that I really had to step back and take some time off. This helped me realize that as important as a dream may be, it
can be damaging if you let it rule your life. So you need some balance. I learned to pace myself and be patient. Patience is extremely important as a writer. I thought of myself as a fairly patient person before, but I realize that I have a long way to go in this area. You may have heard of
the prayer, "Lord, grant me patience--just hurry!" That would probably reflect my attitude at times.

*Who has been the biggest influence on your writing? Why?*
Perhaps not surprisingly, Tolkien and Lewis. If you ever get the chance, read Tolkien's essay, "On Fairie Stories" and Lewis', "On Stories". Those two essays really crystallized my understanding of why stories are such a powerful means of communication. In addition to that, they really helped me see the importance of "otherworldliness" in stories. Before I read those essays, I had an idea about what I liked to read, but I did not have a strong grasp as to what made those stories so powerful. Lewis and Tolkien really showed me the way and laid down the path. I am simply trying to follow their lead as best I can.

*Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing

If I had to narrow it down to one specific person, it would probably be fellow author, Julius Agh. He's had a few short stories published and is still working on expanding his career, but the time and thoughtfulness which he has afforded my stories has been absolutely essential to getting
them out the door. Without him, I'm not sure I would have ever finished that first novel, honestly. It was such a motivating factor having someone whom I knew would be there to read and respond to my work. His support and encouragement really helped keep me going.

*How would you like to be remembered?*
Speaking as an author, I hope to be remembered as someone who helped shine a light on the truth. Because I believe that when people see that, they are drawn to it and challenged and hopefully changed. I hope people have a sense of appreciation for the stories themselves. That is where I hope the focus rests, not on me as a person.

It's my desire as a writer that a person would be better for having spent time in the stories I create. So often I have walked out of a movie theater thinking, "that was a waste of two hours of my life". It happens with books as well. Yes, you may have been entertained, perhaps even forgotten your problems for a time, but the characters in the story didn't challenge you in any way to think, "there is a better way--you could do better than this". I don't think stories have to "teach" per se, or have nice, compact messages, but they should show us glimpses of a better world, or of mankind struggling towards the light.

Of course along that journey, we may have to stare the evil inside of us straight in the eye, but there need to be some heroes who stand up to the darkness and overcome it. I mean, in literature we have these things called 'characters' after all and yet so few of the ones written today seem to
have any. If I didn't have that hope that my stories were in some way meant to make the world a better place then I would stop writing today. It's far too much work to be wasting my time on otherwise.

*What is the most fun thing about writing?*
Just the creative process. When you're writing about other worlds, you have to invent so much new stuff and that never ceases to excite me. I spend loads of time choosing names for characters, inventing names for things and places. I saw your post about inventing a board game for your novel and I think that is marvelous. I love doing stuff like that.

And describing what you see in your head is always a fun challenge. It's also a joy to watch your characters grow as they react to events and to the actions of other characters. Again, this is all part of the creative process--building and developing your story as you go.

Thank you, DJ, for your time and the thoughtfulness you put into your answers. Thanks for participating in Featured Artist Fridays!

November 01, 2012


Two posts in one week, don't you feel special?!

Happy November!

A special shout-out to my mom and sister on their BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday!!!

Nanowrimo begins today! As does my participation in it for the first time ever!

I'm feeling a little lost, anyone want to give me some tips? (I mean, other than "write like crazy" I've got that part figured out!)

Happy November! It's my favorite month of the year! (And it's just a bonus that it's National Novel Writing Month... November's been my favorite month my whole life!)

October 29, 2012

Book Signing

It's official! I will be at the Barnes and Noble in Geneva, Illinois on November 20, 2012 from 5pm-7pm for my first book signing.

[try to picture me jumping up and down and screaming... and no, that's not what I'm actually doing, but it's often what I feel like doing]

This has been a process. In some ways it seems like it has taken forever, and in other ways it has all come together like lightning. The reason I haven't been posting about it has been because I've been afraid it wouldn't actually happen, so I reserved the right to wait until we had a green light from everyone involved and an actual date.

So, how did it all come together?

My dad, acting as my agent, has been contacting libraries all summer trying to get them to carry my book. We've been somewhat successful at this venture, though not quite as successful as we had hoped.

Then, at the beginning of August, my dad mentioned the idea of doing a book signing and whether or not I would be willing to do that. I told him I would love to do a book signing, but that I did not have the first clue about how to set one up, and that the mere idea of being in charge of setting one up terrified me.

A few weeks later, he contacted their local Barnes and Noble and began asking questions. The major hurdle to getting into Barnes and Noble is that I have done my printing through CreateSpace (which is owned by Amazon) which does not support a Standard Trade Discount or Returnability.

What does that mean?

Standard Trade Discount: a discounted price (usually 40-55% of the MSRP) that bookstores can purchase books for from the printer, so that they can sell the book at MSRP and still make a profit.

Returnability: the ability of the bookstore to send back any unpurchased books that they cannot sell. They have assured us that they never buy books with the intent to return them, but they will not purchase books they cannot return, this protects B&N from being stuck in a situation with product they cannot sell.

Because the Community Relations Manager at the B&N in Geneva was very excited about the idea of us doing a book signing there, she referred my Dad to the Manager of the Small Press Department for Barnes and Noble. She recommended that we print our book with Lightning Source, a printing company with which B&N already has a relationship and supports the Discount and Returns questions.

So, the past weeks have been filled with looking at their policies and getting answers to our concerned questions. When all our questions had been answered to our satisfaction (for example: LSI's contract is non-exclusive, as is CreateSpace's - making it perfectly legal for us to use both as printers for the same book), we went ahead and uploaded our files to their site, received a proof copy (which is lovely) and submitted a hard copy to the B&N CRM and got the go-ahead, along with date-time, on our book-signing!

Exciting things are happening, not the least of which is that the dream of seeing my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble is about to come true!

October 26, 2012

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Blastoff!

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about why I was abandoning the quest for a traditional publishing contract on my books. I was burned out on writing query letters and trying to come up with multiple length-ed synopses. I also mentioned the company that my family was trying to get started.

A year and a half has passed, and those dreams, which seemed so distant on the horizon back then, are coming to fruition.

At first we were just a name and a dream. After six months of compiling lists of ideas and voting on names, we settled on STORMCAVE STUDIOS. I think it's the perfect name :) (no, I didn't come up with it).

Another half a year was spent working on King's Warrior and that was published at the end of February this year. Stormcave Studios resided on the back-burner for those six months. We referred to it, talked about it, but nobody seemed to know what, exactly, SCS would do. I was writing books, Angelina was continuing to paint, Brittany was recording music... and we were each doing our own marketing to varying degrees.

Then my dad contacted Barnes and Noble to try and orchestrate a book-signing for me when we are all home for Thanksgiving. The staff at B&N has been wonderful, and they have shown us what hoops we need to jump through to make this happen and been helpful at every turn. As we began to navigate the world of publishing (not just writing a book and making it available, but "publishing" that book in the hopes of making it successful) we began also to see what role there is for Stormcave Studios.

After almost two years since we first began talking about going into business together, we have a name and a purpose: Stormcave Studios is a publishing company. And as of a few days ago, Stormcave Studios became a real and recognized business, complete with an EIN and its own bank account.

Also as of a few days ago, we got the green light from the Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble and will be having a book signing there in three and a half weeks! Tune in on Monday and I'll tell you all about it!

October 23, 2012

Event Update

It's official! I will be having a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Geneva, IL on November 20th in the evening (either 5pm-7pm or 6pm-8pm - we don't have an official time yet, but we have a date!)

I currently have family in town, so I'll be writing up a post about how all this came together later.

October 16, 2012

Karradoc: the game

Every now and then, as a writer, you might find yourself creating something totally by accident. For example: you might be writing a story about a physical struggle between two parties and suddenly decide that it would be cool to have a few scenes in which the two parties are playing a board game - a sort of symbolic way to show the mental struggle accompanying the physical battle.

Now, you could use a reference to a game that already exists, like, say... chess or settlers of catan ... but the story you are writing takes place in another world, and you think to yourself, "Hmmm, do they HAVE chess or settlers in that world?" Then perhaps you decide that they don't. So you have to come up with a name for a non-existent game.

Later, you might decide that it would be cool (this being the final book of the series) to have "quotes" at the beginnings of all your chapters - but you don't want to use actual quotes, since then you'd have to figure out the legality issues and the rights to those quotes... so you decide to create your own. As you do so, you suddenly realize that the game you have your opponents playing is a perfect tool for coming up with fictional quotes from fictional historical figures, which is fantastic, but also means that you now have to figure out the rules and how to play this game that was only supposed to be in one or two minor scenes.

Before you know it... you're having to sit down and create a whole board game from scratch just so you can use it in one percent of your entire story.

Not that I'm speaking from experience... hahaha.

From The Minstrel book four of The Minstrel's Song I give you a sneak peek at something I never intended to create - but once I got started it just sort of came to life all on its own:

Karradoc: The Game
The board
Large board 20x20 squares
On each side of the board in the center (not facing the players) there are two black “shield” slots.
A player may have anywhere from 6-20 pieces to start with.
Pieces range in point value from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.
On simple, cheap boards, all the pieces of the same value look the same. On high-end, expensive boards, every single piece is unique - and usually made out of some precious or semi-precious material.
Players may choose their pieces in whatever variety they like, so long as the total number of points on the board equals 30 points.
All pieces may move in whatever direction they like (and may change direction mid-turn) however many spaces corresponds with their point value (e.g. 1 point pieces may move one space in any direction, but 5 point pieces may move 5 spaces in any direction and may change direction mid-turn) however, a piece may not touch any square twice in one turn.
A player captures his opponent's piece by both moving one of his pieces onto the same square as that of his opponent’s piece and playing a “capture” token. Pieces can only be captured by a piece of equal or greater value, or with a token that allows for an eight-sided die (that has three 1s, two 2s, two 3s, and one 4 printed on it) to be rolled and added to the value of a token (thus a 1-point piece could, conceivably, capture a 5-point piece with a roll of 4).

Winning Condition

The game is won by whichever player can capture all of his opponent’s pieces, or by whomever has the most points left on the board once all the capture tokens have been used.

Tokens (80 total)
Tokens in ordinary sets are carved on small pieces of wood, in ornate sets they are made out of a thick parchment.
Players hold five tokens in their hand at all times. During their turn, they may move one piece and use a token. Sometimes more than one token may be used. Tokens must be used in conjunction with they piece being played during a turn.

Types of tokens:
Capture Tokens - there are 45 of these tokens in a deck. They are used in conjunction with a move where one player attempts to capture his opponent’s piece with one of his own pieces.

Shield Tokens - there are 4 of these in a deck. These are defensive tokens and they can be used to thwart an opponent’s attempt to capture a piece. They not only block the attack, but they also move the attacked piece to a “shield” slot on the board, where it can remain in safety for up to three turns. A piece can never attack from this position. It must move back into play first, and then in a second turn it may attack.

Die Tokens - there are 25 of these in a deck. These are also defensive tokens and allow for the outcome of an attack to be determined by a toss of the dice. Each player rolls the 8-sided die once and the highest number wins. If the attacking player wins, he continues with the capture as he would had the die token not been played. If the defending player wins, the attacking player must move his attacking piece back to the “home row” on his side of the board. These can also be used as offensive tokens if played before moving, they may be used to allow a player to add the roll of the die to his piece’s number of allowed spaces. (e.g. Player whose turn it is lays down a Die Token, chooses a piece, and then rolls the die. Thus, if he chose to move a 2-point piece and rolls a 3, he may move his piece 5 spaces)

Dragon Mage Token - there is one of these in a deck. This token acts like a shield for an entire army. It prevents the opponent from making any attacks in his next turn, allowing the one who plays it two turns to move any threatened or important pieces to safety. No pieces get put in the shield spots.

Rescue Tokens - there are 5 of these in a deck. They allow a player to either rescue a captured token or replace it with a token of equal or lesser value. This token may only be used if the player has lost at least 5 points.

The Die
One 8-sided die is included in the game. It is used in conjunction with the “die tokens.” When one player attacks another, the attacked player may play a defensive token such as a Shield Token, Dragon Mage Token, or Die Token. If the player plays a Die token, then each player takes a turn rolling the die. Whoever rolls the higher number wins the battle. The die can also be used to enhance the number of spaces that a piece is allowed to move. (For more on how to use the die tokens, see “Die Token” section of the instructions).

October 09, 2012


I was going to title this "Top Five Favorite Book Quotes" but then I realized that I can't pick just five. This will be a topic I have to come back to upon occasion, because there are far too many quotes that I love to pick just five! But for today, here are five of my favorites, in no particular order:

“The Faraway house was built on books as surely as though its foundations had been all hard covers instead of fieldstone.” - Gwen Walker - The Ordeal of Lady Godiva

 “Time stole away commitments and loosened ties. Friendships were reduced to tales of the past and vague promises for the future, neither strong enough to recover what was lost. But that was what life did – it took you down separate roads until one day you found yourself alone.” - Terry Brooks - First King of Shannara

"It was a sad song, a heartbreaking song, wild and proud... about all the losses a human heart might hold dear and remember. We are alike, you and I, she thought, homeless wayfarers in a world that is not our own." - Stephen R. Lawhead - Taliesin

“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” - C.S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

And, in honor of the upcoming elections:

"It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." - Douglas Adams - The Complete Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

October 02, 2012

The Lonely Book - Review

I love the way my three-year-old picks books at the library. She runs at a break-neck pace, pulling anything that looks interesting or has substance (and by "substance" I don't mean it in the metaphorical way, I mean in the "it has mass and can be picked up" sort of way) off shelves and plopping them in the basket below the stroller. I rarely even see what the titles are before we get home. Limiting her to ten books or less is often impossible.

Many of these "choices" result in myself being required to read aloud boring or uninteresting or inane stories (or sets of words and phrases that appear between two covers but cannot, with any truthfulness, be called a "story") over and over again.

Some few, however, result in rare gems. After a trip to the library last week, I have had to make an addition to my list of "all-time favorite children's books."

Joining ranks with the likes of "The Polar Express," "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey," "Ben and the Porcupine," "William and Grandpa," "Arabella," "Stopping By Woods," "A Child's Book of Poetry," and "Owl Moon" comes:

"The Lonely Book" by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Sheban.

It's new, published this year (2012), and it is fabulous. If you have a young child I highly recommend getting a copy and reading it to them. But I warn you, if you are a lover of books; if books have often been your best friends, if some of your favorite memories are ones of your parents reading out loud to you when you were young, and if you've ever stayed up late re-reading a favorite book, or slept with a favorite book under your pillow... then you might want to keep a box of tissues nearby! My almost-four-year-old was a little perplexed by my inability to read past the catch in my throat a few times during the story.

This book is beautiful. Not only is the story one that resonates with a book-lover like myself, but the illustrations are also gorgeous. It's rare for me to find a new book or story that I love as much as the old ones that I have loved forever, but this one is an instant new favorite.

September 25, 2012

I was a high school nerd...

When I was in high school, my friends and I decided to form our own "Dead Poets' Society" (yes, we put the apostrophe there on purpose, we thought it was funnier that way). We were all kind of nerds, I guess, but we thought we were cool, so being nerdy didn't bother us. :) We created job descriptions for ourselves, I think I was the Vice President? It's in my yearbook, but I'm not quite nerdy enough (anymore) to go dig out my Sr. Yearbook to check. (P.S. Yes, I know exactly where my yearbooks are. Does that make me odd?) And, yes, we did put our DPS positions on our "brag list" so that it would go in the yearbook, even though nobody else would know what it was... like I said, we were nerds.

Anyway, we didn't follow the "rules" in the movie - we didn't get together and read or write poetry - but I did write one poem as a member of the DPS. It was towards the end of Sr. year, and we were all about to graduate and go our separate ways. So, in honor of our fun times together, I decided to write a poem. I came across it the other day, and I thought you, dear reader, might get a kick out of it:


Oh! Lunch table,

Surrounded by friends.

Oh! Lunch table,

Your face never ends.

Oh! Lunch table,

We'll never forget you,

Oh! Lunch table

A friend, you've always been true.

You hear our chatter,

You hold our lunches,

You bring us together,

We love you bunches.

Oh, lunch table

We love being around you

Oh! Lunch table,

We're so glad we found you!

Oh! Lunch table,

Our time grows short here.

Oh! Lunch table,

We'll all be gone next year.

Yes, we are seniors now,

Which means we must part,

But through the DPS

We will keep you in our hearts.

Oh! Lunch table,

We'll miss you so much.

But, lunch table,

We'll all keep in touch.

Were you surprised? Did you think the ode was going to be to my group of friends? :) Sadly, I don't think any of us actually kept in touch with our table. However, many of us have kept in touch with each other (thank you, facebook) :)

Just wanted to let my fellow DPS members (whose identities will be kept anonymous to protect the guilty) know that I love you guys! Thanks for all the fun memories!

September 20, 2012

The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain - book review

The Wizard of Crescent Moon Mountain by Oldman Brook is a story about an adventure. Nine companions, comprised of dwarves, men, elves, Otso (men who can shapeshift and become animals), and a wizard set out across the land to battle Warrior: the evil entity that threatens their world.

1. The book is incredibly family-friendly. It is listed by the author as “children’s fantasy” and it is. There is no swearing, no inappropriate scenes, and no crude humor. There is a lot of fairly graphic violence, however, so be forewarned. At 431 pages (I’m guessing close to 150,000+ words) it doesn’t really strike me as a “children’s” book (as the word "children" to me conjures up the ages between 8-12), but perhaps the author means “young adult” - the classifications in Britain might be worded differently than here in America.

2. There are very few mechanical errors. I think I caught maybe 3 typos and they were all very minor. (I didn't even make note of them because I wasn't sure they were truly errors, or simply a result of different grammar/spelling rules between America and England).

3. The characters are likeable. The dialogue flows well. The characters are fairly believable and each has a complex back-story that the author unwraps for us to more fully understand as the novel moves along.

4. The plot/story is interesting. You will want to know what happens next.

5. This world is very well-thought-out. There are creatures you may not be familiar with, but the author helps you along by describing everything very clearly. This is classic fantasy complete with magic, dragons, a quest, an evil to overcome, and extraordinary weapons.

1. The book is written in the third-person-omniscient/present tense. This took some getting used to, and I felt that the author did himself a disservice by using the present tense. Somehow, it detracted from the adventure and deflated any excitement. This may have also been due to the fact that the author tells us what every single character is thinking all the time (that’s what 3rd-person-omniscient means, for anyone who hasn’t taken a creative writing class). There’s no guess-work involved. The reader always knows exactly what is going through every character’s mind.

2. Earlier I mentioned that everything is described very clearly. That is a pro in fantasy, however, the sheer amount of description in this book turns into a con fairly quickly. I think that if you took Robert Jordan and Charles Dickens and told them to write a book together, this might be very similar to what you would get. Now, if you LOVE Charles Dickens, then this book might be right up your alley. I, unfortunately, do not love Charles Dickens, and the descriptions in this book made reading it feel like I was wading through knee-deep waters.

3. This is related to point 2, but I thought it deserved its own bullet. In addition to the over-descriptive writing, the author spends the entire novel “telling” the reader what is happening. This is a perfect example of what a story looks like when it is “told” rather than “shown.”

4. Perhaps because of the previous three points, you never really get to know the characters. You are told about them, but they start to blur together. The three dwarves are almost indistinguishable from each other. The two Otso are personality twins. The only characters that stand out at all are the wizard, the two elves, and the dragon.

5. There is very little emotion in the story. It might have been the present-tense (I had a hard time getting past that) nature of the story, but I honestly think it is the “telling” that is the culprit here as well, but either way, although you know about the characters, and you know their every thought, you never get “drawn into” their story. The author has done his best to keep you at arm’s length, never allowing you to “feel” anything towards these characters or their adventure. And that really is a shame, because their adventure is pretty cool.

As per FTC guidelines, I must inform you that I received this book for free in exchange for a review. I was not asked to write a positive review, merely an honest one. I have tried to do that to the best of my ability.

September 18, 2012

The Quest

    Flowery, citrusy, sweet, tangy: the scent of fruit filled the air, surrounding our small vessel with an embrace of welcome. She was standing on the shore, just a step or two off the pearl-white dock. The gentle zephyr that carried the scents of unseen orchards ruffled her pale blue dress and played with her sable hair.
    “Welcome, travelers. You have journeyed far in the search of knowledge. Here, you will be allowed to search for those answers.”
    She turned, and my brothers and I followed her up to a path where we could walk two or three abreast. Smooth pebbles clicked beneath our boots. As we summited the sandy bank we caught our first glimpse of the Library, it was surrounded by the orchards we had smelled from our ship. Hundreds of trees grew up all over the island, bearing a variety of different fruits. I recognized some, others were unfamiliar to me.
    “It shouldn’t be possible,” I heard Avaleun mutter under his breath from where he walked just to my right.
    “What?” I whispered.
    “These orchards. Some of the trees are blossoming and bearing fruit at the same time. I haven’t seen two trees yet of the same kind. It... it shouldn’t be possible.”
    “Maybe what they say about the island is true?”
    Palte, to my left, snorted quietly. “There’s no such thing as magic, Dalmir.”
    “Just because you’ve never seen it or measured it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” I whispered back.
    “Shhhh,” Mulemo hissed from just behind me.
    The lady had paused and we halted, forming a half-circle facing her. “The island will sustain you during your search of the Library; you are welcome to stay as long as you wish. The gardens are here for your enjoyment and sustenance. You may pick the fruit and drink from the spring as you please.” As she spoke, I became aware of the sound of running water nearby. “However, there is a small garden behind the Library where sits a golden tree and a silver pool. The only rule we have here is that you eat not from the golden tree nor drink from the silver pool. In fact,” she paused, “it is generally best not to set foot in that private garden at all, although it is not forbidden.” Her eyes met mine and I felt suddenly guilty, as if I had been caught doing something wrong.
    I noticed the expression on Uun’s face and I sighed inwardly. Uun never did well with restrictions. Words like “impossible” or “forbidden” rang in his ears as a challenge to prove them otherwise. Telsume, tallest of my brothers and standing in front of me, turned his head slightly, giving Uun a warning look. Tel caught me watching and gave a small grimace, I knew what it meant: we would have to keep an eye on our headstrong brother.
    As she finished, we reached the doors to the Library. She paused, gesturing forward at the vast interior of the building. “Every bit of this knowledge is free to you to read and study.”  She began walking again, and we followed her inside. The walls rose up on either side of us, lined with bookshelves that soared all the way to the high ceiling. “There are tables and chairs throughout the Library where you can bring reading materials you find interesting, all the tables have drawers filled with blank parchment, quills, and bottles of ink if you need to take notes on anything. You are allowed to take books outside, but please be careful with them and make sure you do not leave them outside.” She pointed as we passed a massive spiral staircase. “The top floor of the building is the dormitory.” There was silence for a while as we continued to walk deeper and deeper into the Library. As we continued on, I realized the inside of the building must be far larger than the outside. I grinned, I would have fun watching Palte try to explain that away later. Finally we came to a large, round desk. From the desk we could see that the Library contained three more wings stretching away to the South, East, and West. The woman rested her hand on the desk and smiled at us once more. “If you need anything you have but to ask. You can almost always find me here.”
    “Where should we start?” Uun, ever the man of action asked, rubbing his hands together and staring at the shelves of books like they were something to conquer.
    “How can we even begin?” I asked, feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of our task. “This could take forever.” I looked around at the massive shelves and wondered how many billions of books they contained.
    “Dalmir, we are seven,” Palte, ever the optimist, grinned. “We’ll each start in a different section, it won’t take us more than a week to find the answer father sent us for.”
    “Besides,” Mulemo said, pushing his glasses up his thin nose for the hundredth time that day, “we need not read every word, nor every scroll. We only need to look at those that pertain to our quest. Stories from the past will be helpful to us. Stories that deal with the mind of man will be as well, even some science may get us closer to the answer we seek, but some subjects...”
    “Gardening,” Uun snorted, “we can skip any books about gardening.”
    Avaleun stiffened at the veiled insult, but said nothing, although I did notice him mouthing the word “botany,” a look of hurt defiance in his eyes.
    I cast a glance at the two brothers who had remained silent: Telsume and Edoran. They were the most like me in temperment, and though they were the furthest removed from me in age, they being the two eldest and myself the youngest of seven, they were strangely the ones I most understood and got along with. Uun and I never saw eye-to-eye on anything, and the other three were so wrapped up in their own affairs that I had never felt they cared one way or another whether I was around. Perhaps if we had more time to get to know one another... but that was a wish I never pondered until it was too late.
    “Alright,” Edoran took charge. “We’ll split up. If you can’t find books or scrolls in the subjects we’re looking for, ask the Librarian.” He walked over to a large table near the middle of the vast room. “Bring anything that looks useful here, and we’ll go over it together later, maybe with dinner.”
    And so the search began. Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks. It soon became apparent that my guess was correct: the interior of the Library was far larger than its exterior. When I pointed this out to Palte, he blinked, pushed his glasses up his nose, and shrugged. I enjoyed seeing my pragmatic brother at a loss for words.
    We asked the Librarian for help and she did her best to point us in the right direction, but every book, every scroll, every page seemed even more useless than the last. Even Palte began to look and sound discouraged, although perhaps it was simply that he was having to keep his mischievous nature in check. Either way, the effort of keeping focused on our quest began to wear upon us all.
    Ours is a small kingdom, hidden in the valleys between two mountain ranges. Our main wealth is silver. Our mines are the envy of all the surrounding kingdoms. Without the silver or the defensible nature of our position our kingdom would be quickly defeated by any of our larger, more populated neighbors. What troubled our father most was that Ardai and Felair, two of our neighboring kingdoms, had recently formed an alliance. The rumor was that the Ardisians had created a new technology that allowed them to travel safely over snow - making the passes that protected us much less of a sure defense. Our father desired a peaceful solution to the impending invasion, but he was willing to fight if he had to. He had sent us to seek out answers to the threat leveled at us by Ardai and Felair.
    Head aching from all the information we were sifting through I began to spend less time in the library, and more time wandering around the orchards, or just lying on the grass and gazing up at the sky through the emerald-covered branches. I did not give up, I often brought a promising book or scroll with me, finding it easier to read and ponder in the serenity of the outdoors.
    On one sunny afternoon, I wandered outside again with a book under one arm. I reached up for a piece of fruit I did not recognize and bit into it. Juice dripped down my chin and sweetness exploded within my mouth. I grinned and continued on my way, wandering aimlessly, until suddenly I happened upon an iron gate. I stopped, never having been to this part of the island before, and frowned. The enclosure was not tall, I could have leapt it easily, and seemed more for decoration than as an obstacle. There were tall flowering bushes on the other side of the fence, barring my view of what lay inside. I walked along it for a while, until I reached the entrance; this was more forbidding, a solid oak door rising up in a great arch with a sign engraved in gold upon its face in a language I could neither read nor identify.
    “Dalmir? Is everything alright?”
    Edoran’s voice broke through my curiosity even as I realized this must be the garden the Librarian had warned us to stay away from on our first day. I tore my eyes away from the gate and looked at my oldest brother.
    “I don’t know. I feel... what if we never find the answer we are looking for? Or worse, what if we do find it but return to discover we are too late?”
    “Father is counting on us. Not just to solve the problem of defending ourselves against the Ardai/Felairian alliance, either. With the warlords rising up in the East, and the rebellion begun in the West, the information we seek is vital to the future of our kingdom.”
    “Yes, I know. The weight of our task must be heaviest on you, as the oldest. Don’t worry about me, brother, I was just starting to feel cooped up indoors. I am still helping,” I held up the book in my hands as evidence.
    Edoran smiled kindly. “You are not the only one of us who grows restless.”
    “Yes, some of his ideas of late have been...”
    “What is he suggesting now?”
    “He wants to break the rules,” Edoran looked meaningfully at the gate next to us. I remembered the rest of the Librarian’s warning about the golden tree and the silver pond.
    “Why am I not surprised?” I groaned.
    Edoran grinned. “Just... help me keep an eye on him, ok? The others are so wrapped up in their research, Uun could set their hair on fire and they wouldn’t notice.”
    “They’d notice if the fire spread to the books,” I joked.
    Edoran laughed and we walked back to the Library, content and optimistic.
    The days continued to roll by, and we started to have a modicum of success. A line in one book, a phrase in another scroll, a paragraph on a yellowing document: glimpses of the answer we sought began to come together like a half-remembered dream on the tips of our brains. Strangely, the closer we got, the higher the tension rose. Nerves began to fray and curl like the edges of some of the oldest documents we examined. Our tongues grew sharper, and emotions were raw. Even I began to feel a restlessness rising up within me.
    “We’re almost there,” Avaleun said one night at dinner. “I feel as though the answer is here, like the green tip of a plant breaking through the soil, but we must wait a while to discover what sort of flower it is.”
    “Or if it’s just a weed,” Uun grumbled.
    I had never seen Avaleun so angry. Uun had tweaked him before, they were so dissimilar in their interests, and Uun regarded anything other than strength of arms beneath his status as a prince. But my gentle brother always just took it, or, if he got truly angry he might make some subtly barbed comment. This time, instead, he simply lunged.
    None of us expected it. We were so used to these arguments that Avaleun had his hands around Uun’s throat before anyone could stop him. Uun was so surprised he had no time to react, and he was losing consciousness before he could think to strike back. It took Edoran, Telsume, and myself to pull Avaleun away. Uun sat on the floor, gasping for breath. Avaleun glowered at him and then stormed off.
    It took them days to forgive each other, and the tension between them was so thick that I rarely saw them in the same room after that. Uun’s impatience with the whole situation began to take its toll, and now it was he who could rarely be found inside. Unlike myself, he did not take books with him, and whenever I saw him I noticed a thoughtful expression on his face. Once, he caught me watching him and his eyes met mine for a moment. He dropped his gaze guiltily and walked jauntily away, leaving me wondering what he was up to.
    One day I went on another walk. I had it in my head to peek inside the garden at the back of the Library. I had avoided it since Edoran’s and my conversation about Uun, but surely it could not hurt to just look inside. I tried the handle and the door opened easily.
    On the other side of the door was a garden of jeweled flowers. Emerald stalks burst out of the rich, black soil and bloomed with petals of ruby and sapphire, amythest and topaz and others of color I had never seen. I knelt down to touch one, expecting the petals to be hard like gems, and was surprised to find them softer than a puppy’s ear. I stood in wonder, and then I walked down the sandy path before me. Roses climbed an arched trellis and twined above my head. Lilies with opal petals peeked out at me from between golden daffodills and turquoise forget-me-nots. When I emerged from the covered path, I was met by a still pond filled with water so clear and blue that when I leaned over and looked down I could not see my reflection, just the rock formations at the bottom of what seemed to be a very deep pool. To my left was a plain wooden bench which sat beneath the shade of a tree with branches made of what looked like gold. Fruit of many kinds hung from the golden branches and I walked over to it and stared.
    “You see why I tell everyone it is best to avoid this garden.”
    The voice startled me out of my thoughts and I whirled around to find the Librarian looking at me, a pitying sadness in her eyes. I opened my mouth to speak in my defense, but no words formed.
    “I know, you have broken no rules,” she reassured me. “But it might be best if you leave now, before temptation gets the best of you.”
    I nodded. “Will you walk with me a bit?” I held up a scroll for her to examine. “There’s text here I cannot translate, and diagrams... can you help me decipher it?”
    Together, we left the garden and walked back to the Library where she helped me translate the passage. It contained the outline of a centuries-old peace treaty created by a kingdom in a similar situation as ours. The diagrams were for winged machines that could be used for defense. We had nothing like them in our kingdom, but what had been created once could be built again. Hope rose in my heart, this was exactly what we needed.
     At dusk I rejoined my brothers for dinner. The scene is engraved upon my memory. Uun was pouring water into four goblets. Our plates were set about with slices of fruit upon them. A loaf of bread sat in the center of the table, and a crystal dish held butter.
    “Hullo, Dalmir,” Tel greeted me with a smile.
    We all sat. I was thinking excitedly about the passage the Librarian had helped me with. If we could get Ardai to sign such a treaty, if we could build airships...
    “Dalmir? Are you all right?” Mulemo asked.
    “What? I’m fine. I think I might have found the answer we’ve been looking for.”   
    “Which tree did you get this fruit from, Uun?” I heard Avaleun ask.
    Uun shrugged. “You’re the expert, they all look the same to me.”
    Suddenly a burst of flavor broke through my excitement and I felt horror pulse through me. I looked up at Uun, my eyes wide with disbelief.
    “Uun, tell me you didn’t.”
    My brother looked at me, his eyes dark and unreadable. “Didn’t what?”
    I peered at my plate, and in grief I recognized the fruit on my plate. I pushed my chair back angrily and stood up. “You got this fruit from the golden tree in the garden behind the Library. Don’t try to deny it, I recognize it.”
    “Dalmir?” Edoran stood. “You went into the garden? The one we were told to avoid?”
    “Yes. The Librarian found me there, she wasn’t angry, just warned me I should leave. I came back with her to the Library to get her help translating a scroll... that was when you went in, isn’t it?” Horror at the part I had unwittingly played in Uun’s betrayal of the Librarian’s trust snaked through me.
    “So what?” Uun asked. “The door was unlocked, the garden was unguarded. The answer to our troubles doesn’t lie in books, it lies in what power we can obtain. Power is the only thing our enemies understand. That garden holds magic.” Uun held up his hand to forestall Palte’s objections. “You wouldn’t argue if you’d been in the garden. There’s magic there. I figured if we ate the fruit and drank the water, perhaps we would be granted some of that magic. With magic, we won’t need what’s in the books. We can defeat our enemies without worrying about peace.”
    Even as he spoke, the Library began to shake. Books fell from the shelves around us, and I was forced to grab my chair to keep from falling. A moment later the shaking stopped and the Librarian stood before us. She was the same, and yet she was changed. Her dark hair was streaked with white, and her face was lined and sorrowful.
    “You have broken the rule, the only rule, of the Library. This is not just an island, and it is not truly part of your world; it comes from another world, a deeper world, tenuously connected to your own by the roots of the golden tree. By plucking and eating the fruit of that tree you have tainted its connection to this world and it must be returned back to the place from whence it came. You came on a quest for peace. You leave with a much greater quest: you have stolen the Library from the people of your world, it is now up to you to restore it to them. You carry the knowledge of the Library now. This is your doom, this is your destiny.
    “Two gifts... or perhaps curses... may I grant you before I and the Library are pulled back to our home. First, I give you abilities beyond those of mortal men. Second, I give you life everlasting, that you may have time enough to complete your task. That is all the help I may give you. And now, I would recommend you run for your ship, the island cannot remain here.”
    What happened next is a blur in my mind of running as the earth heaved and quaked beneath our feet. Water cascaded over the shore and poured into our boots as we raced down the dock. We barely made it to our ship. The dock where our ship was tied was already under water that came up to our knees. We hacked at the ropes tying our ship to the island, unfurled the sails, and plunged our oars into the dark water. Behind us, huge waves that came out of nowhere splashed up higher and higher onto the once sparkling shores of the island. Then the island itself began to sink. We watched as the water covered first the rolling hills, then the orchard trees, and finally the highest peak of the Library itself was submerged. It all took less than ten minutes, and the island was gone.
    Late that night, Edoran found me at the rail of the ship. “I feel... different,” he said.
    I nodded. I could feel it too, we had been changed.
    “We haven’t failed, you know,” Edoran said.
    I looked at him questioningly.
    “Can’t you feel it? ‘The knowledge of the Library’ she said, we carry it. The answer is here,” he pointed at his head, and at mine, “we take the Library with us. We can save our kingdom, we have the answers now.”
    How could I explain it to him? How could I share with him what all that was in my heart? As the oldest, his focus was still on our father, our kingdom, his own destiny to rule over Ondeou when father passed away some day in the distant future. But all that had changed, too, he just didn’t realize it yet. The Library was gone, and with it had perished the future we might once have had... and now... now all that remains is our task, our quest, our fate.

September 17, 2012

Short Story

Tomorrow, I will be posting a short story. I wrote it for a creative writing class I am taking, but I also wrote it because it is sort of like a prologue or background to the new novel I am working on. I hope you enjoy it!

September 11, 2012

"I am not the real Dread Pirate Roberts"

Oh how my grandmother would have smiled had she been here. I am told that she was the sort of person who would go grocery shopping, strike up a conversation with a total stranger, and then invite them back to her house for tea (and possibly oreos). I am not an extrovert, in that respect I do not take after my Grandma Gwen. However, venturing out upon this adventure I have taken into the realm of publishing is a quest which requires an extroverted personality. I'd like to tell you a story, a delightful story and real-life quest, that I got to be a part of recently.

"Regarding your grandmother. Dear Mme. Schmidt."

This was the beginning of an email I received a few months ago.

"People don't talk that way anymore, Ben."
"No, but they think that way." (National Treasure)

I was intrigued by the subject line, though I didn't recognize the email address. I opened the email and read further. The email was from a gentleman who had read a short story back in 1958, written by a Gwen Walker. The short story, titled "The Ordeal of Lady Godiva," had so charmed him when he first read it, that he kept an eye out for other works by this author. So it was, that when I had He Whistles for the Cricket published this past Christmas, he noticed and was led a merry chase around the interwebs until he happened across my blog, the story of how I had typed up and published my grandma's book for her, as well as my email address.

Hoping to find more information about an author he admired, as well as charmed by the idea of my family working together to publish a book (my typing up my grandma's book, my sister-in-law painting the cover art) he emailed me. He inquired whether or not  this was the same Gwen Walker who had written "The Ordeal of Lady Godiva" and, if so, whether I could provide him with more information about her, why she hadn't written more, and if I could send him copies of her book. He also wanted a copy of my book so that he could compare writing styles.

Having never heard of "Lady Godiva" I did a little more research (asked around my family members) and emailed him back, regretfully informing him that my grandmother was not, in fact, the author he was looking for. I figured that was the end of it.

However, this gentleman is a great lover of the written word (he owns over 2000 books... and I thought my 400+ books was a vast collection!) He is also in the possession of two books by friends who are unable to publish their own works - thus my story of how I had published my grandmother's book intrigued him beyond idle curiosity. He purchased a copy of He Whistles for the Cricket, and asked for my book as well, which I gladly sent to him. In return, he sent me a copy of the short story that had started him on this quest: "The Ordeal of Lady Godiva."

After reading this delightful short story, I am convinced that the Gwen Walker who wrote this story and my own Grandma Gwen could have been "kindred spirits" as Anne would say. It is sweet and funny and I enjoyed it greatly! I can see why it would send a person on a quest to find more stories by the same author. Anyone who has ever read a truly fantastic story can understand the desire to read more from the same author, even if the next story is not about the same characters.

Hope you enjoyed today's post!

September 04, 2012

The Importance of Fantasy

I wrote a while back about why I prefer to write fantasy. You can read that post here

Today's post is by another blogger (and a friend of mine). She puts it quite beautifully, so I asked if I could link to her post and she gave her permission. You can read what she wrote here.

Isn't that lovely? I love the G.K. Chesterton quote she included (if you didn't read her post, you won't know what I'm talking about).

Hope you had a great weekend! See you next week.

August 31, 2012

Featured Artist Friday: Brynna Gabrielson

This week's featured artist is from all the way across the "pond" Brynna Gabrielson, author of Starkissed a Young Adult romance novel.

Here are some links to her book on goodreads, amazon, kobo, and smashwords

You can find out more about Brynna and her writing on her website or on facebook

Blurb about Starkissed:
Kissing movie star Grant West may be every teenage girl’s dream, but when it happens to Sydney Kane, it’s nothing but a nightmare. Sure he’s cute, but having her face plastered all over celebrity gossip blogs is not something she’s interested in. Now cheerleaders are trying to befriend her, reporters won’t stop calling, and her mother keeps chasing her with a curling iron so she won’t be caught by the paparazzi with flat hair ever again.

Forgetting Grant is all Sydney wants and Colin, the guy she’s had a crush on since seventh grade, seems like a pretty good way to do it. Then Grant shows up at Sydney’s door begging for a second chance and the more she gets to know him, the more she isn’t sure she wants him to go away. But with Grant in the picture, Colin is backing off and she definitely doesn’t want that. Everything is a mess and Sydney doesn’t know what to do, who to choose, or how to make those pesky cheerleaders leave her alone. She only knows one thing for sure, being STARKISSED isn’t a dream come true at all.

1. When and why did you start writing?

Writing was something I always loved growing up. Granted my skills at plot structure or character development were a bit awkward, but I can remember when I was maybe 11 or 12 starting a novel about myself and Seth Green falling in love. Granted I never finished this masterpiece in the making, but I used to spend hours at my computer typing away, pouring the worlds in my head onto paper (or the word processor). Not every story involved love affairs with Seth Green of course, sometimes there were vampires (I was really into Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or witches or cute boys from school. It wasn't until I was 17, though, that I started to take writing really seriously. At that point I was in my senior year of High School and I'd applied to do a degree in Tourism. But then in second term I started a Creative Writing class and it felt right. It was exhilarating and fun, and within weeks I'd pushed Tourism aside and applied to do a Bachelor of Arts degree at my local university, majoring in Creative Writing.

2. Why did you choose to write in this genre?

I love YA books and I firmly believe that some of the best literature out there is Young Adult. YA books have this amazing ability to absorb their readers on a different level than general fiction. They're relatable and inspiring. On the whole YA readers are more passionate and excited by the books they read. It's awe inspiring. As for the actual writing for Young Adults, it's always come naturally to me and I just love writing about teenagers. It's a tumultuous time in anyone's life and everything is so much more dramatic and exciting, there are so many possibilities. It's invigorating and makes writing so much fun. And also, to be honest, I think there is a teenage girl permanently trapped in my brain.

3. What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

I used to read all this advice from writers where they'd say - don't take writing degrees in university, it's something you can learn on your own etc. To be honest though, I think it's a load of bull. Writing may be founded upon natural talent, but taking classes helped me become a far better writer. I learned not to just create stories, but how to develop them and shape them. I learned how to workshop with other writers and take and give critiques, and in that I learned how to recognize the flaws in my own work. It helped me grow so much  and even though I still continue to learn,  those years at university were the best thing that happened to me as a writer. So to any writer out there who is feeling nervous or doesn't know where to begin - take a class, or in the very least, join a writing group and learn to workshop with other writers.

4. Describe your process for writing/completing a novel?

I'm one of those writers who plans things out. I can't just come up with an idea and press go in my brain. I have to think about it, endlessly. I have to see exactly where each element of the story will take me and why. I need to know the end before I can make the beginning work. So I create outlines and goals and fill notebooks with ideas. I'm both incredibly organized and completely disorganized at the same time when I do this, so I have no true structure to my writing process. But to get from A to Z, I have to figure out B through Y.

5. What is the best part about writing?

Those moments when you're in the middle of a manuscript and the words just start pouring out of you so fast, it's almost too hard to get them all down. Those moments where you're so inspired it just feels like the story you're writing is gushing from you. I love that. I love seeing the worlds I created in my head come to life on paper. It's so exciting and satisfying.

6. What is the hardest thing about writing?

I never feel done. No matter how many times I go over a draft I always feel like I need to do more, fix more, change more. Starkissed is the first novel I've published, and even now I'm sitting here wondering if I should have changed one thing or the other. It's ridiculously hard to let go and just let it be.

7. What is your favourite thing you have written? Why?

In my last year at university I wrote a small piece for my non-fiction class. In it I essentially embodied myself at 15 and wrote all these letters to my favourite actors or musicians at the time. It was a comedy piece and when I submitted it for class it got fantastic feedback. So I decided to submit it to my school's literary journal and it was accepted. Every year the journal holds a launch party and they ask those who are published in the journal if they'd like to read. I signed up and went in front of a room full of my peers and professors, not to mention a ton of people I'd never met before and read it. I was barely a paragraph in and the room was in stitches laughing, and they continued throughout the whole piece. It was amazing hearing people responding in such a way to something I had written, and to this day that piece remains my favourite!

8. Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?

The one person I would love to thank, is the one I can't. My mom died nearly four years ago. Even though she's gone, she's the reason I am where I am today, doing what I love. She always encouraged me and supported me and made me believe in myself. She was my best friend and she gave me the courage to be who I am, and to go for my dreams. Now I've published a novel, and maybe it's not the way I always wanted it to happen, but people are out there reading my book and I have no regrets. I'm living my dream, being a writer, because my Mom told me I could.

9. What is the most fun thing about writing?

I think that goes back to the earlier question about my favourite thing I'd written, because the reason I love that piece so much is because I got to see how much people enjoyed it. More than anything, I love sharing my work with people and it's the best feeling in the world when you know they like what you've created. I love to make people laugh and smile, and seeing something I've done make them do that is amazing.

10. What is the most boring thing about writing?

Proofreading. In all fairness, I love proofreading and for the most part I'm really good at it. Except when it comes to my own work. I can proofread other people's work no problem, but for my own,  I can't create the separation I need from the material in order to spot the glaring errors, so it's a difficult task. Because it's so hard, in order to get my manuscripts in their top condition I have to go over them repetitively which can be time consuming, exhausting, and yes, very boring. I proofread STARKISSED at least 6 times! I probably didn't catch every error, but I caught most I think. It would probably make sense to hire someone to do the task for me, but at this point in my writing career the cost just isn't feasible. Perhaps next novel though!

Thank you, Brynna, for taking the time to answer these questions!

August 30, 2012

Posting on a Regular Basis

I doubt I will ever post on a regular basis. Life will always become too busy, to complicated, too... something.

However, I do want to post a little more regularly here, and if I don't tell you, dear reader, then I won't actually do it. So here is what you can expect. I will post on Tuesdays.

Yep. One day a week is all I can guarantee for now. I will also post Featured Artist Friday posts when (and only when) I have an artist to feature. (One is coming tomorrow, all the way from England, if you can believe it!)

I will not promise any specific type of post, but you can expect any of the following:
  • movie reviews
  • book reviews
  • short stories I've written or am working on
  • poems I've written
  • excerpts of my novels
  • info about giveaways of my book(s)
  • my thoughts on the writing/publishing/marketing process
  • miscellaneous posts on other topics not included above (but relating to writing in some form or another
 Thank you, and have a lovely Labor Day Weekend!

August 26, 2012


Don't miss this opportunity to get a copy of King's Warrior for free!

Today and tomorrow (Aug. 26-27) ONLY

You do not have to have a kindle to download the book.

August 25, 2012

Giveaway Ended

The giveaway at goodreads ended this morning, congrats to the winners! I will be putting your books in the mail on Monday.

Thanks to everyone who entered! At final count 588 people entered the contest! Woot!

August 24, 2012

Featured Artist Friday: Kristen Day

Today for Featured Artist Friday we have Kristen Day, author of Forsaken: a daughters of the sea novel
Also available on nook
Check out her blog

1.  Which authors do you admire?  Why?
I admire all poets because they can capture so much meaning in so few words.  But if I had to pick one author that I admire the most it would be Sylva Plath.  I know that may seem a little odd, but I love how her mind works.  She was never the most stable or sane person, which I believe made the great writer she was.  She was able to see the world in a completely different light and I strive to do the same.  That’s why people read.  To escape into a world that is completely different than our own.  
2. What inspires you to write?
I don’t so much as get inspired to write as I have to write in an effort to not have my head explode.  Against my better judgment, my mind is constantly churning out crazy ideas, quotes, and ways of describing my surroundings.  I love words - everything about them.  Some people play with recipe ingredients, others play with fabrics or colored pencils; I play with words. 

3. What is your process for writing/completing a novel?
My process for writing can be described as a beautiful disaster.  I come up with the general idea of the subject; and then decide on the setting and characters.  I spend a lot of time on the characters before I ever type a word of the novel.  Once I give them their own personality, habits, quirks, and dreams - they tend to create the story for me.  I then regurgitate the entire story from my mind to the paper.  Next, I add descriptors, inner dialogue, and small details.  The third go round involves me and my best friend: a thesaurus.  It’s a pet peeve of mine to have the same word in a chapter too many times.  It’s just unfair to all of the other words waiting in the wings, really.  Next, I re-read the entire book and make sure I am happy with each scene.  I strive for the readers to feel a certain emotion in each scene, so if I get a different emotion than I intend - chances are they will too.  Last but never least, I send it to my editor Stacy and she adds her magic touch.
4. What is the best part of writing?
The best part of writing is when you are completely finished with a story or novel.  It’s a feeling of personal accomplishment like no other.

5. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is being distracted by those much less important things like sleep, eating and going to the bathroom.

6. What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through your writing? 
I’ve learned that seeing the world differently is an asset, not a liability.
7. Describe your ideal place to write.
My ideal place to write would be a cozy room, with soft string lights to give it a warm, enchanting glow.  It would have a bay window with lots of pillow so I could also see outside. 

8. How do your ideas come to you?
I’ve always been a visual person with a incredibly, vivid imagination.  I have a hard time seeing anything without thinking about how I could add my own twist, stamp of quirkiness, or crazy additions.  It’s as simple as seeing a piece of discarded wood and seeing it morph in my mind until it becomes a beautiful piece of distressed wall art with a little paint and a lot of love.  All of my ideas start as normal every day things, stories, or concepts; but when I open up my mind and let it run, they suddenly have a life of their own and I just hold on for the ride. 

9. What is your favorite thing you have written?  Why?
My favorite thing I’ve written is a poem about the color red I wrote in second grade.  That’s when I fell in love with writing.

Thank you, Kristen!