Tag Archives: middle grade

The Shadow War – Launch Day!

After an extra month of waiting, The Shadow War is finally here! It’s the second book of The Wishing Blade series, so if you’ve been wondering what happens next, that wait is over!

*Squee!*

I’m both excited and nervous with this one. For this one, we get to see Daernan’s point of view for a large part of the story (60%, to be exact), and we get one short scene from Siklana at the end. But don’t worry, Toranih and Shevanlagiy also get their fair share of scenes, too. Not only that, but we get glimpses of both Maijevan and Cantingen cultures, and the bit of rivalry that might be brewing between the various countries and cities. 😉

So, without further ado…

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War

Upper MG / Lower YA

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War - Book Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Though a shadow is as good as a ghost, with no free will to speak of, they may still be saved…

The kingdom of Cirena is under attack from an army of shadows—beings who can only be hurt by magic or fire. Magic has been stolen, and as the shadows spread, infecting all they touch, the last two ribbon mages race to the nearest port city to warn them of the impending invasion. One of those mages, Toranih, is among the few who can see the Trickster-cursed army, and she’s determined to get magic back—no matter how much she distrusts it. When she is captured by shadows and a dark secret is revealed about her future, her best friend, Daernan, is left to defend the city. But his only methods of stopping the shadows are by fire and the devastating magic of the shodo’charl.

With the knowledge that the shadows are innocent townsfolk forced to do a warlord’s bidding, Daernan must choose between saving the shadows or saving those who have not yet turned.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Now Available!

Amazon US ~ Amazon UKBN.com ~ iTunes ~ KoboSmashwords

Paperback Edition

Add to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

A sneak peek…

The roof afforded a smoky view of the burning courthouse and the surrounding mayhem, and here Daernan understood the madness of the shadows. As their victims faded, turning into shadowy wisps, they, too, turned on the crowd. The more the shadows converted, the faster the crowd disappeared.

No wonder they used the explosions. People in the affected areas fled from their homes and the markets, trying to evacuate because the smoke in the distance meant the whole southern side of the city might be burning. But the ghostly shadows waited for them with impromptu weapons, and the refugees fled right into their hands.

“It’s so easy for them,” Daernan whispered. “Lord Menchtoteale found a simple way to conscript his army.”

Siklana frowned as she dug the shodo’charl free from the bag and passed him the stone. “What are they doing?”

“Using the explosions to force people from their homes.” Daernan reached to take the bundle, then stopped. Siklana’s brown eyes were wide with worry, her lips forming an unhappy frown. He quickly turned away and clasped the oilskin tight in his fingers. There were so many shadows. If he released the stone now, he might be killing countless innocent people. But if he didn’t release the stone’s magic, more would be trapped.

“Should we do this?” he asked softly.

Siklana peered over the ledge. “You’re asking me?”

He whispered a soft prayer to Madiya—primarily because she was responsible for taking the dead through her realm—but he fervently hoped he was wrong. Hoped that somehow, some way, the shodo’charl did not kill them.

He hooked his fingers under the oilskin, trembling, already feeling the cold sweat forming on his neck and soaking his back. To do this . . . if he killed them . . . he wasn’t sure how he was going to sleep. How he was going to account for their deaths? But the longer he waited, the more who would die when he finally released the oilskin.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Enjoy! Feel free to tell your friends, or anyone you think might enjoy the book. 😀

4 Comments

Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

The Shadow War – Now Available for Pre-Order

If you enjoyed reading Magic’s Stealing, then good news! The pre-order for the next book in the series, The Shadow War, is now avilable for pre-order!

The book is still in progress (The Shadow War has been through three beta readers, and now Isaac is reading it), but I expect to have it completed by February 2017. Actually, I’m hoping to have it done sooner, but being realistic, I’m trying to give myself a bit more time to complete the project. Once it’s finished, The Shadow War will probably be about 47,000 words long, though the final word count may vary.

Since I was running the promotion for “Stone and String” on Kindle (a short story set in the world of The Wishing Blade), I wanted to make sure I had the second book of The Wishing Blade series available to pre-order. The series starts with Magic’s Stealing, and continues in The Shadow War.

Now, for the book cover!

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War

Young Adult / Middle Grade Fantasy

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War - Book Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

 

The kingdom of Cirena is under attack from an army of shadows—beings who can only be hurt by magic or fire. But magic has been stolen, and as the shadows spread, infecting all they touch, the last two ribbon mages race to the nearest port city to warn them of the impending invasion. One of those mages, Toranih, is among the few who can see the Trickster-cursed army, and she’s determined to get magic back—no matter how much she distrusts it. But when she is captured by shadows and a secret is revealed about her future, her only chance of survival may be to fight the shadows from within.

Available for Pre-Order:

Amazon US ~ Amazon UKBN.com ~ iTunes ~ KoboSmashwords

Add to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Enjoy! 😀

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – A Blurb for The Shadow War

I’m preparing to create the pre-order page for The Shadow War, the second book of The Wishing Blade series. I’m still in the editing phases, and it’s going to be a little while before it releases (I’m planning to set the release date for February, though I’m hoping to release it sooner). But I want to have the page up before I do the Stone and String freebie days from Kindle Select.

Before I can create the page, however, I want to have a blurb ready (those dreaded, tricky things that entice readers to buy the book). The Shadow War is a YA/Middle Grade fantasy novella (47,000 words), the second of The Wishing Blade series. (You can read the blurb for the first book by clicking here).

So I’ve been thinking about a blurb, and this is what I’ve come up with:

The kingdom of Cirena is under attack from an army of shadows—beings who can only be hurt by magic or fire. But magic has been stolen, and as the shadows spread, infecting all they touch, the last two ribbon mages race to the nearest port city to warn them of the impending invasion. One of those mages, Toranih, is among the few who can even see the Trickster-cursed army, and she’s determined to get magic back—no matter how much she distrusts it. But when she gets captured by the shadows and a secret is revealed about her future, her only chance of survival may be to fight the shadows from within.

While this may be what I use for my initial post of the pre-order page, I want to make sue it works in the long run. So my questions for you are these:

  1. Is the blurb intriguing?
  2. Does it reveal too much? Too little?
  3. Does it show clear goals and motivations?
  4. If you’ve read Magic’s Stealing, does it interest you in reading The Shadow War?
  5. If you haven’t read Magic’s Stealing, does it interest you in learning more or looking inside either of the books?

Thanks for your input! I appreciate it! 😀

I hope you find this post helpful for your own writings. What pitfalls have you run into when writing a blurb?

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Thoughts on Publishing – A Video Blog Post – Reading Chapter Seventeen of Magic’s Stealing

I finally got the next reading (chapter seventeen) of Magic’s Stealing uploaded! Enjoy. 🙂

Click here for the link if you can’t see the video.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – Swearing in Audio Formats

In my last post, I read from Magic’s Stealing. It was the first time I edited one of my Youtube blog videos using Premiere Pro, and I used it to remove some of the more obvious stumbles where I tripped over my words. However, I ran into a bit of a conundrum that I hadn’t considered before. For public readings, should I bleep out swear words, or should I leave the text as-is?

If you recall, I wrote a post a while back on To Swear or Not To Swear, in which I debated whether or not to include actual swear words in the dialogue of the book. Ultimately, I decided to keep that particular instance, because it fit the character’s intentions and offered readers a bit of insight into the characters.

Keeping the swear as-is continued to bug me, though, largely because I wondered whether or not a middle grade audience (not just young adults) might be inclined to enjoy the book–but might have a less-inclined parent if those parents read the first chapter.

And that in itself is a whole new debate. Is it a good idea to tailor a story to a specific audience, with certain marketing expectations in mind? Middle grade novels are typically expected to be free of swearing. YA ranges the gamut, and adult depends on the genre.

The conundrum I’ve run into is that I intended Magic’s Stealing to be YA. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a middle grade audience enjoyed it. As such, it’s led me to a new thought… if I ever do a public reading, should I censor the word? Then again, if I didn’t keep the swear, the passage wouldn’t have quite the same meaning. It’s unfortunate from a marketing standpoint that the only real-word swear is in the first few pages. Should I simply find a different chapter to read, perhaps in the middle of the action?

I suspect this will depend on the venue in question. Some venues, especially ones that are geared towards being family friendly, may ask to not have the swear read. Others may not care at all. It’s probably up to the type of fiction you write as to whether or not you choose to use venues that have specific preferences.

But what about audiobooks?

My first thought was, why change what we wrote? We choose our words for a reason.

On the other hand, people reading a book can very easily skim over words they don’t like. It’s not so easy when those words are being spoken aloud.

(I’ll admit that I don’t tend to listen to audiobooks, so I’m not sure what the general protocol is here.)

Granted, censoring spoken swears will depend on the audience. Obviously, censoring an erotic novel would be ridiculous. The target audience has expectations as to the contents of the novel.

But what about a YA novel with the occasional swear? Should this be censored in audio format? My first thought was “no.” That’s not how the author wrote it. But when read aloud, does that change the impact of those words?

Does reading the book aloud change the impact of the intent, and thus, change what should be read? Does reading aloud change how the text is perceived?

Or does trying to censor a word–whether by dropping the volume or inserting a bleep– actually draw more attention to it?

What about switching the word? The meaning changes, but what if, by switching words during a spoken performance, you actually get the intended reaction?

Is there a difference between the impact of something spoken, versus something silently read?

That, to me, is the real question.

If what we write on the page takes a different meaning when said aloud, then perhaps we should consider that impact, and decide what to change from there.

After all, screenwriting is different from novel writing. Adaptations are made because a book is a different format than what you might see in a live or recorded performance, and has different advantages and limitations.

But if the spoken word has the same impact as the written, then perhaps no changes should be made.

Honestly, I’m probably over-thinking this. For the previous reading, I left the swear in. I figured that pretty much anything I did would draw more attention to it (other than writing a whole blog post pondering the question), while letting it flow in context should keep the story running smoothly.

And in general, I’m thinking I’ll read the text as-is. If the one swear is likely to pose a problem, I could always chose a later segment to read.

But now I’m curious as to what you think. How would you handle a reading that has the occasional swear, whether an audiobook or in public?

9 Comments

Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – Aging Up Characters

I’ve been getting feedback from beta readers for Magic’s Stealing, and one of the comments that has been fairly consistent is that the characters (which I intended to be around twenty years old) feel like they’re twelve- to sixteen years old, effectively making the story sound like it’s aimed at a middle grade or the lower end of the YA audience. Which isn’t a bad thing… if I meant for my characters to be younger. However, I’m hoping to get them to sound like they’re at least eighteen, so it’s time to consider what’s making them sound younger, and what can be done to make them sound older. 🙂

To start with, once I knew that their age was an issue, I sought feedback from the beta readers. I needed to know why these characters were sounding younger.

1. Their actual age isn’t mentioned until later in the story. This leaves their age open for interpretation, and by the time a reader gets to the point where their age is mentioned, readers already have a solid idea of the characters’ ages in mind. (As a side note, there’s a book I read recently, Renegade by J.A. Souders, in which a certain intimidating character is revealed to be a child. The story is told in first person by a character who is brainwashed into thinking nothing of this, so she’s not surprised, but it is a twist for the reader. As a reader, I personally loved that twist. However, it did take me a little while to hold the image of a child in my head, rather than that of an older teenager. In  my current manuscript, I don’t want this kind of surprise for the age of my main characters, so I may need to bring up their ages sooner).

2. The characters act younger. In the opening scene, my main character, Toranih, is nervous because she’s been hearing footsteps and thinks she’s being watched. As soon as she ‘turns out the light,’ she dives under the covers of her bed. Personally, I love the image. However… this isn’t what we typically picture an older person doing. Therefore, the first impression is that Toranih must be younger. An option to fix this may be to have her consider diving under the covers, but she forces herself to walk calmly to bed. Or she may walk calmly to bed but reference that she’s going to bed with a knife at her side. Or… some combination thereof. Haven’t decided yet.

Darkness flooded Toranih Covonilayno’s sleeping chambers as she mentally extinguished her magic crystal’s light. She dropped the crystal on her dresser and rushed to her bed, then dove under the covers.

Silly, she knew, but the last few nights had brought strange creaking noises from the attic, soft footsteps and the brushing of rough wool on the edges of the wooden floorboard above. She listened now, waiting to see if the footsteps returned.

3. Lack of romance. The current draft doesn’t show much in the way of a romantic interest between the main characters. Now, that’s not to say you must have romance in a story to make it YA or adult, but without romance, this story seems like a more likely candidate for an MG novella. When I go to edit, I plan to hint a little more at the (lack of) romance between the main characters. I’m toying with the idea of having Toranih and Daernan ‘technically’ courting (mostly so Toranih can keep her father from trying to point other suitors in her direction, since she’s not necessarily interested in Daernan romantically), while Daernan actually does like her. Increases tension in the story, and gives a better clue about their age.

4. Expectations for the type of fantasy. Especially in YA, we seem to get a lot of hints that the teenage main characters are either actively seeking (or avoiding) marriage. These worlds have their characters finding partners at a younger age. In Magic’s Stealing, I’m going with the idea that the characters live longer and have a tiny bit more ‘modern’ of a society (with magic taking the place of electricity, but in an older setting with kingdoms and lords and ladies). However, to pull this off, I’m going to have to show more of their world. We need to see older characters walking in the streets. Maybe a reference to food spoiling when their ‘magic refrigerator’ no longer has magic to keep food cold. Maybe a reference that going to an academy for magic, versus sticking around and getting married, is a common occurrence. I’m considering having Toranih’s sister, Siklana, already be accepted into an academy (think college), rather than expecting to be accepted at the end of the month. Maybe she’s back at the manor because she’s visiting, and she’s planning to oversee the festival that takes place at the beginning of the book. And maybe Toranih actually is studying swordsmanship, rather than dreaming about it, but her lessons are private since she can’t convince her father that being a guardsman is fitting for a lady of her status (but she can’t pass her magic exams, so… what else is she going to do?). There’s a lot of world building opportunities here, and the great thing is that these changes don’t have to be major alterations.

5. Lack of (graphic) violence. Though there are a couple battle scenes, we don’t really see much blood spilled, and nor do we get graphic depictions of the shadows who are burned. Now, this doesn’t mean it isn’t for older readers, but it makes it more open to an MG audience. That being said, I’m  considering adding a bit more detail to these scenes, partially for the impact they have on the main characters, and partially so that once we get to the second book, it doesn’t come as a surprise when we actually start seeing more violence coming into play. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be gratuitous. Just means that the MC is going to be distinctly aware of what’s going on around them.

Her friend had backed into a rocky cove, but he was using that to focus his attention on the growing force of shadows in front. He shifted back and forth, thrusting each hand separately and delivering a blast of air or a blast of fire, to which they ducked and dived away.

The shadows shied from the wind, but they hated fire. They scuttled aside when his magic seared their hands and scalded their weapons. They sent new shadows to fight while they nursed their burns. Those burns healed, but slowly. And one shadow lay dead on the floor, burned beyond recognition, and did not appear to be healing at all.

Toranih shuddered. If these were mortal men, Daernan wouldn’t be using fire like this.

But fire did hurt them, and they weren’t mortal men.

6. How other characters perceive them. The antagonist refers to the main characters as the ‘boy’ and the ‘girl.’ Granted, from a god-like character who can’t die, it makes sense that she’d view these characters as being childlike. But with this scene placed early in the novel, it doesn’t help the perception of the main characters’ ages as being younger. I’ll probably keep these kinds of references for the actual deities, but at that point, the actual ages for the MCs should be established, so the reference should hint more at the internal thoughts of the deities in question.

A cloaked figure knelt beside a sprawling sycamore near the girl’s window, her eyes trained on the two owls.

Finally, they’re gone, the figure thought to herself. She climbed up the tree, bark catching on the tips of her leather boots, then slipped inside the open window. The room was dark, but the light crystal glowed with residual energy and lit the bare essentials.

The girl had rearranged the furniture since the night before. No night table or pile of books, and her usual set of sparring knives didn’t hang from the wall. Probably locked in the chest at the foot of the bed, or buried under the mattress.

There’s a lot of little things that could affect the perceived age of the main characters, and with a few tweaks here and there, I think I can have them sounding like they’re at least eighteen. And it’s worth noting that I do read a lot of YA and the occasional MG book. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that my narrative voice would lean that direction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and now it’s your turn. Have you had any experiences with your writing or reading where characters don’t sound like the age that they’re supposed to?

6 Comments

Filed under Personal Work, Writing