A Bludgeoning Muse

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The first half of NaNoWriMo has passed (the annual attempt by writers to complete a full novel, or 50,000 words, in a month). Having done NaNo in the past I know this is the point where the reality of the situation has sunk in and you realize three things:

  1. This month will require much more caffeine than you anticipated
  2. You have to decide whether you’ll meet your goal or keep your sanity. You do not get both.
  3. You look around your home and determine which section of the house you’re going to live in because you won’t have time to clean anything else.

For myself, I’m actually not participating in NaNo this year because, well, I kinda already did it this summer. No, it wasn’t voluntary. Yes, dear God, it was painful, but the story wouldn’t let me go until I finished it. Seriously, the thing chased me to the keyboard and chained me there until midnight EVERY NIGHT, guzzling coffee and gnawing on forkfulls of dinner on a plate next to the keyboard. There were even a couple of close calls to the bathroom (Just kidding…Sort of.) It was a grind day-after-day. I wanted to put it aside. It was a new idea and I had other projects to finish up, including the revision of the final installment to my Insurrection series. People have been asking me about it. I need to get that DONE but this one just wouldn’t let me pay attention to anything else. It was a haunting, I’m telling you.

So, I gave in.

I said, “Fine, you treacherous, nagging beast.” I was addressing the muse here. “I’ll give you this month. One month, hear me? You better not be wasting my time.”

It wasn’t.

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Six weeks and 75,000 words later, it was finished. A YA Sci-Fi standalone novel set in a cyberpunk universe. Yeah, standalones are not smart from a business perspective and terrible to market, but I love this story. I love the characters. I love the gritty world. I could have made it into two books, maybe, but it’s stronger as a single story. Ideas like these, the ones that blast onto the page in a heady, sleep-deprived fever, deserve a writer’s loyalty. Trying to stretch it into something longer than it was meant to be seems ungrateful. Yeah, yeah, I’m just an idealistic Indie pup still cutting her teeth in this business, but I’m okay with that. I’ve got ideas meant to be in series form. This world has a single window for readers to look through, but after three revisions and a professional edit, I can promise the view is amazing. More posts to come on this, including the synopsis and a cover reveal early next year so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, for those who have been waiting on Insurrection’s final installment, I have good news:

Martyr, book five, will be published in December.

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Yes, next month. It’s happening and I appreciate all your patience and encouragement during the wait since book four was published. If you’d like a glimpse of it I’ve updated the series page to include the synopsis. Check that out here (If you haven’t read all four books yet, !SPOILERS!)

How is NaNo going for you this year, fellow authors? Feeling the mid-project pinch or are your word counts chugging along smoothly? Give me a glimpse of what goodies I have to look forward to reading next year!

 

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Book Spotlight: The Illuminated Kingdom

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The Illuminated Kingdom

The Voyages of the Legend, Book 4

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The Vestigia Roi has risen up to retake their home island of Rhynlyr, but all Ellie can think about is rescuing her missing brother, Connor. Guided by a dream of Connor’s whereabouts, Ellie disobeys the Council’s orders and stows away aboard the Legend. But a simple rescue mission quickly goes wrong as Ellie and her friends confront new monsters and old enemies. The crewmembers of the Legend soon find themselves waging a last, desperate battle to save not just Connor or Rhynlyr, but their entire world. As the One Kingdom hangs in the balance, Ellie and the Vestigia Roi must ultimately decide what they are fighting for—and how much they are willing to sacrifice for it.

“…[an] astounding, imaginative world…” –Readers’ Favorite

 

Just released November 3rd, Alina Sayre’s Middle Grade Fantasy series continues with The Illuminated Kingdom, book four of The Voyages of Legend!

Available Now

Grab your copy on Amazon or add it to GoodReads today!

 

 

alinaAlina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she is the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend fantasy series as well as an educator, editor, and speaker. Her first novel, The Illuminator’s Gift, won a silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist in the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book competition and a semifinalist for the BookLife Prize in Fiction. All four Voyages of the Legend books have received 4- or 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite. When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys hiking, crazy socks, and reading under blankets. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.

Connect with Alina online!

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Red Shift (Syzygy Book Five)

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Title & Author: Red Shift (Syzygy: Book 5), J. K. Ullrich

Genre & Publication Date: Sci-Fi/Cli-Fi, October 17, 2017

Book Description: WARNING: As this is book five, read the description with caution if you haven’t read the first four books. REMINDER: Book One is FREE

“In the fifth installment of the “Syzygy” hexalogy, the long-divided clans of lunar survivors reconnect at last, but a century of distrust isn’t easily overcome. Determined to forge an alliance between their fractious communities, Ash and Skye undertake a second Earth mission. Old enemies and new revelations await them. As dark truths about the past threaten humanity’s fragile chances for the future, only Ash and Skye’s evolving partnership can unite the survivors…if it can withstand their own shattered hopes and unthinkable loss.”

First Line: *CENSORED*SPOILER*

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

Again, I’m going to avoid any specific detail on the goings-on in this book since it’s the fifth book and I don’t want to spoil anything.

Lots of twists and turns, nothing uncommon with this series, but there was also more attention to the interpersonal on this one than in previous installments. This was nice to draw us in on the relationships and the real emotional toll that this entire saga is taking on our heroes. There are losses, unexpected allies, terrible betrayals, personal revelations–all that in a novella! I can feel us rounding the bend toward the conclusion of the series but the surprises keep on coming and I HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT’S GOING TO END. This right here is what I love best about Indie books. I read plenty of traditional published stuff too but self-published works are always full of plot surprises I haven’t seen before. This series is no exception.

The Magical: Awesome ending! Definitely unexpected. Dear God, what’s going to happen now????

The Mundane: In certain scenes there were a few too many characters on stage that I didn’t know well or had seen maybe a couple of times. This caused some confusion and slowed the pace for me, though it may be a me-problem thing since I have trouble remembering the names of real humans if I’ve only interacted once or twice.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $0.99 on Amazon like the others (Except book one is FREE). A great installment in the continuation of this series which–I’ll just keep on sayin’ it–I highly recommend if you love compelling Sci-Fi.

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Many thanks to author J. K. Ullrich for providing a copy of the book to review!

Want to learn more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Sky Full of Stars Series

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Title & Author: The Rogue Prince (book 1), Angel of Truth (book 2), Stolen Legacy (book 3), Lindsay Buroker

Genre & Publication Date: YA Sci-Fi, April 16, 2017 (book 1)

Book Description: (from book 1: The Rogue Prince) “Starseer, pilot, and animal lover Jelena Marchenko wants to prove to her parents that she’s ready to captain her own freighter and help run the family business. When she finally talks them into getting a second ship and letting her fly it, it doesn’t faze her that the craft is decades old and looks like a turtle. This is the chance she’s craved for years.

But it’s not long before the opportunity to rescue mistreated lab animals lures her from her parentally approved cargo run and embroils her in a battle between warring corporations. To further complicate matters, her childhood friend Thorian, prince of the now defunct Sarellian Empire, is in trouble with Alliance law and needs her help.

Torn between her duty to her family and doing what she believes is honorable, Jelena is about to learn that right and wrong are never as simple as they appear and that following your heart can get you killed.”

First Line: A bleep came from the sensor panel, and Jalena Marchenko slid her sparkly, purple stallion mug to the side.

My Take: So, this series is a spin-off of the “Fallen Empire” series I read and reviewed a while back. I liked the original series but didn’t love it (you can read the full review here). Why did I decide to give this one a try if I was medium about the last one?…Well, I just can’t resist YA Sci-Fi, what can I tell you? “Sky Full of Stars” (does anyone else hear Coldplay’s song “A Sky Full of Stars” when they saw that title? It was in my head every time I read this) is based on the original heroine’s daughter, Jelena, and takes place ten years after the events in “Fallen Empire”. I am happy to report that I had a blast reading it!

At eighteen, Jalena is finally allowed to join her parents’ business and run freight in a starship, something she’s been dreaming of doing because, like her mother, she loves piloting. Her first ship? Your typical first car situation, an outdated clunker that you adore with all your heart. Also like her mother, Jalena’s inaugural run veers into all manner of ill-conceived side-missions full of action and adventure, and of course, hilarious banter. This is peppered throughout the series with plenty of coming-of-age stuff, like learning how independence comes with responsibilities, that choices have consequences, and when following your heart, it’s worth the time and effort to plan ahead somewhat too.

I really liked Jalena for her idealism and compassion, as well as her ability to grow as a person while still holding on to who she is. I also really enjoyed the fact that she loves sparkly, colorful stuff. You see so many YA heroine’s with their black boots and their monochrome outfits and their disdain for all things “girly” that it becomes its own kind of cliche. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this per se (hell, I only have one pink shirt to my name and you will NOT find me in colorful sparkles), but it’s nice to see a heroine with plenty of agency who isn’t portrayed as diminished because she likes shiny rainbow colored shoes. This is offset nicely by Thor, the son of the former galactic emperor who was murdered during the coup. Broody and mysterious, he fulfills the black wardrobe requirement–something Jalena teases him about, often threatening to put kitty stickers on his armor if he doesn’t lighten up. Yeah, I laughed my way through much of these books.

The Magical: Side characters are interesting and three-dimensional with their own fears and quirks and pasts. Even though the story is told from Jalena’s point of view (third person limited), you get a full picture of their personalities: there’s the guy she grew up with who is like an older brother (no love triangle, thank God), and the hardened woman cyborg who joins the crew and who we’re not entirely sure should be trusted.

The Mundane: The series so far has three books, all of them a ton of fun, but the story is nowhere near complete. This is a big universe, so I’m sure it’s that the story is just larger than three books but I do miss the days when I could count on the things finishing within a trilogy or (dare I say it?) in a single novel.

Summary of Thoughts: Super enjoyable YA Sci-Fi adventures with Jalena that I’m happy to recommend. The first book, “The Rogue Prince”, is only $0.99! There’s plenty of action, a little romance, compelling characters, and even Starseer magic. Everything you need for a great read:)

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Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know about the author and her work? Explore her website (and the first chapters of “The Rogue Prince”) here

In the Spotlight: Red Shift (Syzygy: Book 5)

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If you haven’t read this awesome Sci-Fi series, get started today with book one “Transient Phenomena”. Available for FREE on Amazon! Check out my review of it here

Red Shift (Syzygy: Book 5)

By J. K. Ullrich

red shift

In the fifth installment of the “Syzygy” hexalogy, the long-divided clans of lunar survivors reconnect at last, but a century of distrust isn’t easily overcome. Determined to forge an alliance between their fractious communities, Ash and Skye undertake a second Earth mission. Old enemies and new revelations await them. As dark truths about the past threaten humanity’s fragile chances for the future, only Ash and Skye’s evolving partnership can unite the survivors…if it can withstand their own shattered hopes and unthinkable loss.

Buy it today on Amazon!

The full review coming soon to the blog (Preview: It’s amazing!!)

Fair, Bright, and Terrible (Welsh Blades Book 2)

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Title & Author: Fair, Bright, and Terrible (Welsh Blades, Book 2), Elizabeth Kingston

Genre & Publication Date: Historical Romance, January 25th, 2017

Book Description: Minor Spoilers in this description. Read at own risk: “Wales is conquered, and Eluned has lost everything: her country, her husband, her hope. All that remains is vengeance, and she will stop at nothing to have it. Certain there is no trace within her of the idealistic girl who loved Robert de Lascaux a lifetime ago, she agrees to marry him to advance the fortunes of her son, to avoid the nunnery, and most importantly – as an easy way to gain access to the man upon whom she will avenge Wales.

When Robert is asked to marry the woman he has loved for eighteen years, he never hesitates. But the lady who greets him at the altar has so little in common with the girl he adored that he begins to doubt that there is anything left of her bold and passionate younger self. Marriage to her might gain him the fortune and status his family has always wanted, but no wealth has ever mattered to him as much as Eluned has. And she, it seems, does not want him at all.

Trapped in a web of intrigue, revenge, and desire, they cannot forget their past – but can they share a future? The fascinating world of medieval Wales is continued in this riveting companion novel to The King’s Man.”

First Line: It all ended in cold flesh.

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

This novel is the sequel to “The King’s Man” which I’ve reviewed and loved (Read it!!). Book Two follows Eluned, the mother of book one’s heroine. When we met her in “The King’s Man” she was frighteningly ambitious, wickedly clever, and painfully jaded. “Fair, Bright, and Terrible” picks up this thread without missing a beat. I don’t want to give too much away as far as plot because this is a sequel, but I really enjoyed it. Twists and turns in the political landscape with a relationship at its center, it had everything you’re looking for in a historical romance.

Robert is a new character whom we didn’t meet in book one, but I liked him a lot. Open-hearted and hopeful, he was Eluned’s opposite. When they were young they’d had a passionate affair, one that ended because of circumstance rather than sentiment. Robert went on to idolize their time together, never realizing how much the years would change Eluned from the loving and quick witted girl she’d once been. When they’re reunited, he’s happy to find her intelligence as keen as ever (something he’d always admired, bless him) but she’d lost all of her former softness. Poor guy gets hit with disappointment over and over on this score as Eluned tries to hang on to her hard outer shell. Sometimes she made me crazy with this, even though I understood it.

Here’s the thing I found incredibly beautiful in this novel–it’s about how love with the right person can change us for the better. There are so many stories of how a relationship can ruin a life or shatter someone’s ability to trust. These happen, in real life and in fiction, but love isn’t all sorrow. It also isn’t a panacea, I know. It takes effort, a willingness to see yourself and your own faults, and the courage to change. Because vulnerability is courage, not weakness. It’s the path back to joy and to each other.

The Magical: Something awesome about this author: She doesn’t just coast to the end when we get to the 85/90% mark. More happens, one last exciting crescendo. Man, I love that and it’s something that makes this author’s work an auto-buy for me.

The Mundane: I think I mentioned this but Eluned’s constantly closing herself off no matter what got to me at times. I understood she did it instinctively since she’d had to do it all her life just to survive, but since this is what kept her and Robert apart I wanted to yell at her sometimes.

Summary of Thoughts: An absolute gem of a book for the genre, I highly recommend this one! Currently it’s $4.99 on Amazon. I do advise reading “The King’s Man” first for context as there are cameos from book one which you’ll love all the more if you’ve met them before. Political machinations, a heart melting romance, and plenty of action and intrigue all the way through. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!

Many thanks to author Elizabeth Kingston for providing a copy of the book to review.

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Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Book Reminders & An Update

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First, the reminders:

If you love Sci-Fi and Time-Travel, check out W. R. Gingell’s A Time Traveler’s Best Friend which is currently only $0.99. The sequel, Memento Mori, just released September 26 and is priced at $2.99 for a limited time (will go up to $3.99 after release promotion, so grab your copy!!).

W. R. Gingell was recently a guest on the blog. Check out her article Voyager, Stargate, and Patchwork Storytelling

Here’s the synopsis of book one:

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Meet Marx. Meet Kez.

Marx is a small, angry man with a time machine and a chip on his shoulder. Kez is a homicidal little girl with a price on her head and a penchant for kicking people where it hurts the most.

After a narrow escape from the owners of the stolen craft he pilots, the last thing Marx wants is another gun pointed at him. What he wants and what he gets, however, are two very different things.

On the run from killers, shadowy corporations, and one very specific Someone, the last thing Kez wants when she points a gun at yet another apparent killer is a self-appointed protector.

What she wants and what she needs, however, are two very different things…

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If you need more Sci-Fi Time-Travel goodness, I have a short-story you can pick up on Amazon for FREE:

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Indra knows adjusting to life in a new town can take time but after a month she still hasn’t settled in. The gaps in her memory and her husband’s tendency to run mysterious errands at night don’t help matters. When she believes he is being unfaithful she follows him, never expecting to find an unimaginable confrontation and a stranger who knows her better than she knows herself.

Free on Amazon

In other news, I’ll be getting back to reviews and other speculative fiction snark very soon. Early September an opportunity came up to get a YA Sci-Fi novel I plan to publish next year edited by someone who’d been closed for submissions. A last minute cancellation got me into her schedule (woo hoo!) however it also required me to send her the revised manuscript by the end of September. At that point, I had the weedy first draft done–the version I don’t allow into the light of day let alone in front of the eyes of an editor.

Did I finish revisions in time? Bet your ass, I did. Just don’t ask me to compare this month’s units of caffeine to hours of sleep because one vastly outnumbers the other *rubs at twitching eye*

What’s the novel I slaved over all about? It’s a cyberpunk standalone about a girl with epilepsy, the fall of human civilization, and an unlikely partnership with someone who is more than he seems. I’ll post other details and the official synopsis in the coming weeks but that, in a nutshell, is what I’ve been up to.

Hope you are all enjoying Fall and haven’t overdosed too much on the pumpkin spice!

Guest Post: Voyager, Stargate, and Patchwork Storytelling

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gingellVisiting the blog today is author W. R. Gingell, writer of speculative fiction, here to talk about Sci-Fi and the stories that led her to not just loving the genre, but creating universes of her own. Take it away!

 

I’ve never been a huge Sci-Fi reader. As I grew up, I read quite a lot of Sci-Fi—the difference between reading Sci-Fi and being a Sci-Fi reader being the fact that I didn’t seek out Sci-Fi particularly. It was usually by accident, when I found a story or characters that fascinated me. If the story and characters were good, I read it regardless of genre. I ended up reading a lot of Nicholas Fisk, C.S. Lewis’ Cosmic trilogy, and a fair bit of John Christopher, along with a smattering of random scifi titles.

It was probably for this reason that I was so late to the game when it came to scifi T.V. shows like Startrek, Stargate, and Starwars. My mum loved fantasy, my dad didn’t really watch fictional T.V. at all, and scifi T.V. was just never on in the house. In fact, I discovered Voyager after I got married, some time in my early 20s.

And I LOVED it.

I loved the episodic nature of it, while at the same time appreciating the over-arching story of trying-to-get-home (and seriously, is there anyone who didn’t love Q? Oh. I’m the only one who loved him? Okay.). I loved Captain Janeway, a character who was so busy being herself and doing awesome stuff that it never occurred to her to try and be a Strong Female Character. Because she was a person. A captain. And I loved the odd episode where you weren’t quite sure what was happening and what was up, but you followed it because you knew the character and you were interested in seeing where the writers took it.

So when I got the idea for extending my short story, A Time Traveller’s Best Friend, into a series, the idea of writing it like a T.V. series instead of a traditional scifi series was the only way it occurred to me to do the thing.  Originally, A Time Traveller’s Best Friend started as a short story written for my local writing group; a single story from a single idea that sprouted from a series of writing prompt challenge words. But I loved Kez and Marx so much that I didn’t want to stop writing about them, and I knew lengthening the short story wasn’t an option for me. I liked it in its compact, cellular form. The logical option was to turn it into a T.V. series. In a book.

In my Time Traveller’s Best Friend series, I’ve combined all my favourite things about Sci-Fi into bookform, making a patchwork of Sci-Fi and time travel that is about as battered as The Upsydaisy, Marx and Kez’s stolen er, secondhand craft. Each volume of the series is a set of interlinking, but distinct, adventures—something like a season would be on T.V.—each with its own story arc that feeds into the main arc of the whole series. And because of the nature of time travel, I left myself free to play with the structure as far as chronology goes. I mean, if your characters are travelling in time and space, some things are going to happen in a different order to what an outside watcher perceives…

Since the 2nd book is now up for preorder (September 26th), I’m running a 99c special on A Time Traveller’s Best Friend, which means you can check it out for a steal (Kez would certainly approve). The first volume of the series is on the shorter side, but Memento Mori more than makes up for that, weighing in at over twice the length of A Time Traveller’s Best Friend. Come aboard the Upsydaisy for adventures in time and space, but beware—Here be monsters…

Thanks for stopping by!

Check out Gingell’s time-travel series and its upcoming sequel! The first book (below) is only $0.99!

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Meet Marx. Meet Kez.

Marx is a small, angry man with a time machine and a chip on his shoulder. Kez is a homicidal little girl with a price on her head and a penchant for kicking people where it hurts the most.

After a narrow escape from the owners of the stolen craft he pilots, the last thing Marx wants is another gun pointed at him. What he wants and what he gets, however, are two very different things.

On the run from killers, shadowy corporations, and one very specific Someone, the last thing Kez wants when she points a gun at yet another apparent killer is a self-appointed protector.

What she wants and what she needs, however, are two very different things…

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play 

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Smashwords

The sequel is available for pre-order now!

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Even time travellers can run out of time.

Marx and Kez have been skipping through the known Twelve Worlds, keeping one step ahead of certain capture by the seat of their trousers, and the vastness of time and space is feeling a tad too small.

Kez has always been a bit crazy, but now it’s Marx who is getting mad. Someone is trying to kill them, and that’s the sort of thing he takes personally.

To add to their difficulties, there are Fixed Points in time that are beginning to look a little less…fixed.

Between Time Corp, WAOF, Uncle Cheng, and the Lolly Men, it’s beginning to look like there’s nowhere safe in the known Twelve Worlds for Kez and Marx.

Release Date: September 26th!

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About the Author

W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She loves to rewrite fairytales with a twist or two–and a murder or three–and original fantasy where dragons, enchantresses, and other magical creatures abound. Occasionally she will also dip her toes into the waters of SciFi.

W.R. spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.

Connect with her via:

Website/Blog: http://wrgingell.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wrgingell/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WRGingell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7849833.W_R_Gingell

Guest Post: Realms of Culture

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jeffeSuper excited to have award-winning author Jeffe Kennedy as a guest on the blog today! As a huge fan of her work (Read my review of her new release, The Shift of the Tide), I am always so impressed by the cultures in her novels. Seriously, I have found myself talking about some of the intricate and fascinating aspects only to realize the level of detail I went into made it sound like an actual culture that existed somewhere. So, I asked if Jeffe might tell us a bit about her writing approach regarding the different cultures in her Fantasy worlds and what she does to make them seem so real.

I often get asked about how I construct the cultures in my fantasy worlds. Well, more broadly, readers and other writers ask about my worldbuilding process. Anela here specifically asked about the cultures. She mentioned the Nahanaun culture from The Pages of the Mind (Anela says: This one just won a RITA award, woooo!!), in particular, and the Faerie society in my Covenant of Thorns trilogy. She also asked about the cultures as they’re experienced by my characters as outsiders to them.

That last question is actually quite pertinent. It’s a common trope in fantasy to have a character who is what we call “a fish out of water.” This acts on a couple of levels. The character who is plunged into an unfamiliar world with a new set of rules has to find new abilities in themselves, to learn to overcome the challenges of those circumstances. If a person remains in familiar surroundings, there’s no impetus for them to change. Taken out of their pond, they have to learn to breathe air in order to survive. Also, a fish out of water character serves as an avatar for the reader—they allow the reader to learn the world along with them.

As for the rest, I often reply that I learn the world as the characters do, by riding around in their heads as the story unfolds. That’s true, but it’s also an oversimplification. I might observe the world through their perceptions—which includes their own ideas and cultural preconceptions—but I try to base aspects of the world on real life principles.

  1. Physical Laws.

It’s important to determine if the world follows the same physical laws as ours. Some aspects, like gravity and molecular cohesion are hard to get away from and still have a comprehensible story. In the world of The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms (the world of The Pages of the Mind), most of the standard physical laws apply, with the addition of magic. In the Faerie of Covenant of Thorns, I twisted up some of those laws. The presence of magic changes how the natural world works, particularly the rate of mutation and evolution.

  1. Ecology

I’m a biologist by training, so I’ve studied a lot about how ecology—climate, temperature, geological features like oceans or mountains—influences the flora, fauna and human civilizations there. For example, in our world, animals tend to be larger the farther north they live. So Wyoming bobcats are much bigger than New Mexico bobcats. When I built the world of Nahanau, I knew the islands would be formed from volcanic activity and be in a tropical climate. The types of plant life and animals there would be informed by all of that. Because volcanic islands have barrier reefs (a consequence of how they’re formed), I knew there would be sea life associated with barrier reefs, and so forth.

  1. People and politics

The humans who live in a particular environment are as much a product of it as the plants and animals. The Nahanauns live in a consistently warm environment, so their dress and building construction reflects that. On top of that, because of the openness of their society, I figured they’d have more flexible ideas about personal property. In Faerie, humans have no magic and thus no power. They’re lower class citizens and their towns reflect that. In that society, the types of fae who have the most magic—and are most willing to wield it—rise to the highest levels. But that kind of society leads to near-constant battling, as well.

  1. Language

Deciding on a culture’s language can be a twisty proposition. Because a book is an exercise of language to begin with, the language the story is written in dictates a great deal. I usually make the “home” language of the main characters be pretty close to modern American English, for simplicity’s sake. Some readers don’t like this because they feel the language of epic and high fantasy should be like in Tolkien. But Tolkein wrote in the early 1900s—the language he used was different than modern American English. I don’t think it’s any more “accurate” to use British English of the early 1900s for fantasy that American English of the early 2000s.

When I go to create a language foreign to the main characters, I usually base it off another language in our world, so there’s a sense of familiarity that also evokes place. For Nahanau, I used Hawaiian words and put a slightly different spin on them. I did this for names, as well. For Faerie, I used Gaelic as a base.

Finally, because I wanted Nahanaun to be a perplexing language for the heroine, Dafne, I complicated their verb tenses. I added words to indicate past and future, like oriental languages such as Chinese do. I also had those tenses colored with good or bad fortune, partly to illustrate the culture, and to make things more interesting.

  1. Mythology

Finally, I always try to be sure to include the spiritual outlook of the human culture. How people view the intangible world is as important as the effects of the tangible one.

Many thanks for being a guest on the blog, Jeffe!

Check out her newest release in The Uncharted Realms series, The Shift of the Tide

shift_ebook-200x300Free from the hand of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. New allies appear–and enemies encroach–from all sides. To survive, they must adapt to this new reality without a moment of doubt…

Growing up in a country where magic was common as dust, Zynda never had to worry about her enchantments upsetting the balance of nature. But the land beyond the borders of the thirteenth kingdom calls to her. It may be foreign and ugly, but the strangeness is laced with an excitement she has never known. Outside her homeland, Zynda’s shapeshifting and sorcery are a potent advantage to nations grasping for dominance–and the thrill of power lures her even as she recognizes the threat she poses to these magic-buffeted realms.

A ruthless enemy stalks them, promising destruction if she does not fight with all her strength–but if she upsets the equilibrium of the land, all will pay, the common people most of all. And a man of this outside world fascinates her, a mossback with no scrap of magic in him. He knows nothing of the fears and temptations pulling at her. But in his steady embrace she learns she must choose well–for the consequences may reach farther than she ever imagined…

 About Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.

Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.

She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.

In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.

Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

 

The Shift of the Tide (The Uncharted Realms)

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Title & Author: The Shift of the Tide (The Uncharted Realms), Jeffe Kennedy

Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy Romance, August 29, 2017

Book Description: “Free from the hand of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. New allies appear–and enemies encroach–from all sides. To survive, they must adapt to this new reality without a moment of doubt…

Growing up in a country where magic was common as dust, Zynda never had to worry about her enchantments upsetting the balance of nature. But the land beyond the borders of the thirteenth kingdom calls to her. It may be foreign and ugly, but the strangeness is laced with an excitement she has never known. Outside her homeland, Zynda’s shapeshifting and sorcery are a potent advantage to nations grasping for dominance–and the thrill of power lures her even as she recognizes the threat she poses to these magic-buffeted realms.

A ruthless enemy stalks them, promising destruction if she does not fight with all her strength–but if she upsets the equilibrium of the land, all will pay, the common people most of all. And a man of this outside world fascinates her, a mossback with no scrap of magic in him. He knows nothing of the fears and temptations pulling at her. But in his steady embrace she learns she must choose well–for the consequences may reach farther than she ever imagined…”

First Line: Water streamed over my skin in a rush, responsive as it enveloped me, like music following my dance.

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

The Shift of the Tide is the third installment of The Uncharted Realms series, an award winning spin-off from the original Twelve Kingdoms books (Which everyone should read! Start with “The Mark of the Tala” and let me know when you come up for air.)

This story centers around Zynda, a woman from the lands of magic, Anfwyn, who is the strongest shifter of her generation. If you’ve been following this series then you know how we’ve all been dying to find out more about this insular people and culture who rarely, if ever, share their secrets with the outside world (the one without magic). In this book, at last, we get to find out so much about their culture and their ways through the lens of Zynda’s perspective, as well as the epidemic the Tala are facing. Zynda’s self-appointed mission to save her people is one she plays close to the chest, not even telling her friends and allies, knowing the sacrifice it will require is one they wouldn’t let her pay willingly. But this is something she’s worked toward for a long time. There’s nothing else she desires for herself than this–until a near-death experience reveals the devotion of a man she never really noticed before.

Fiercely independent, I really liked Zynda. So closed off in at certain points, I sometimes felt bad for poor Marskal and the way she kept holding him at arm’s length, yet I understood she did this because of her plans, wanting to spare them both from hoping for something that couldn’t be. Lots of tension and agony with these two, but also a mutual admiration and deepening loyalty through their adventures together. You can’t help but hold on to that hope with both hands.

The Magical: Draaaaagons, y’all! Fire, scales, and wings! Loved it! I also seriously enjoyed the way Kennedy wrote the experience of shifting into an animal form, the struggle to hold on to one’s human side while physically inhabiting another skin. Excellently done.

The Mundane: There’s a big enemy the kingdoms are contending with that is using magic to raise dead things–human and animal alike. I know there’s more coming on this front but I wished there’d have been some additional battle/action. I’m betting that’s coming in the next installment but I did feel its absence in this one.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $6.99 on Amazon. An awesome story, full of self-sacrifice and self-realization. Zynda’s voice carried the book well and her relationship with Marskal took time and felt all the sweeter because of it. I loved Marskal, a warrior without the annoying, flip-her-over-his-shoulder, overbearing trope that makes me want to kill something. Not a push-over either and able to take a few things on the chin. This book is a wonderful addition to the ongoing series and I definitely recommend it!

four-star-review

Many thanks to author Jeffe Kennedy for the chance to review your work!

Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know more about this author and her work? Explore her website here