June Rerelease and Giveaway

Hello everyone, and happy June! Can you believe the year is almost halfway over already? It feels like it’s only just begun! How time flies when there are so many things going on. We have weddings and showers this summer up the yingyang, and for the first one, my brother gets to come home from his station in Japan! We are all very excited to see him again, if only for a few days.

Something else to be excited about is the approaching release of volume 7, which just so happens to be scheduled for release the day before by brother gets married (!!!). That is going to be one busy weekend, but it’ll be fun (we’re praying). It hardly feels like six months since I began this rerelease campaign, but we’re already on the last one before the finale, and I am so thankful for the opportunity and ability to have gotten everything done by their appointed dates, and I am still praying for the work yet ahead — July 7 isn’t getting any further away!

This month we’re featuring volume 6, The Clandestine Crusade, and I have to say that this was the stage I anticipated the most. I really enjoyed working through these chapters and with the characters and events. I was so excited about introducing Raleigh for so long that I had to insert a little piece with him back in volume 4. I loved writing him, but he’s also a challenge, due to his vastly conflicting personality (I think he got that from me, actually. Oops). Even the short story in the appendices is my favorite of all seven (we’re allowed to do that, right?) It’s a sad story, yes, but not every story has an happy ending, and even tragedies can bear uplifting truth and hope.

For this rerelease I updated the cover on the same scale as volumes 1 & 2, with a completely new design. While I liked the stark colors and the scenery in the first edition, it also felt too stark and didn’t altogether jive with the scheme of its fellows. Here’s the new design I came up with:

I really loved the sunset and warm colors, depicting the company’s voyage across the sea to the foreign continent no free Sekon’domite had ever ventured to before.

You can find this upgraded volume on Amzon, or you can purchase it straight from the publisher (which is also an Amazon company, as it happens). The information in the searches has not yet been updated, but it should be by the end of the week, so don’t worry if you can only find the old cover — rest assured that the copy in your mailbox will be the one pictured above.

Here are the links:

Already own a copy? Awesome! Write a review to tell others what you thought and help your fellow readers find a great new adventure!

And for even more great news, the Goodreads giveaway for The Clandestine Crusade is already underway, ready and waiting for you to join in!

Volume 7 Reveal!

Hello! Greetings! Today is a very special day, a day we’ve all been waiting for for some time now. On this day I’m finally going to reveal to you some information concerning long anticipated FINAL VOLUME, number 7. Excited yet? I am.

First I’ll tell you the title, which I believe holds a lot of meaning (depending on how deep you want to think into it). For me, it gives a kind of surreal feeling, because this project is something I’ve been working on for about six years, since the idea for the story first budded. I can’t believe it’s been this long already, honestly — these have been very full years. Anywho, the title of this last volume is:

An Odyssey’s End

Secondly, I’ll show you the cover, the design of which I’ve had in mind for years, and I have to say I’m fairly pleased with it:

Thirdly, I have for you the ‘teaser trailer’ of what’s going on, just so you can be that much more excited about the release day:

Caution to the careless and woe to the souls of many, for the Destroyer of Worlds has come.

Akairo, deprived of his mortal host at the hands of the company, now haunts once more as a baneful spirit. Even so he will not be denied his quest to desolate Jasinda. From the ashes of his retribution he will raise a new world of his own creation and rule it as their Almighty.

However, he will not ascend unopposed, and his adversaries, though beaten down, are not defeated. The company continues to dog his path, pursuing him even across the Monster infested seas to the distant shores of the Forsaken Land. There they’ll rediscover the old world and its hidden treasures, coming face to face with the last surviving Faenari. The ancients equip the Chosen Ones with a weapon to aid them in their struggle against the world’s foe, but the company is cautioned in its use ─ for a power mighty enough to destroy the enemy is also perilous enough to destroy them. However, Sergil and the others deem the stakes are worth the risk. If they don’t try, they will certainly fail, and everything they know and love will be razed to the ground.

But when the time comes and grave sacrifices need to be made, who will pay the price for victory?


Salivating yet? I know I’m itching to get it out to you! The expected release date is July 7th, so mark you calendars!

On Role Models: A Skim off the List of Favorite Authors

Hello! How is everyone’s May coming so far? A little cooler than we were hoping for, no? The 85 days are coming. Until then, enjoy the sunshine when it’s here and not roasting you to a crispy potato chip ─ those days are saved exclusively for haying, it feels like!

Later this month I’ll be divulging some long anticipated information on volume 7 (so exciting!) but today I wanted to share with you a (very brief) list of some of my favorite authors:

Andrew PetersonAndrew Peterson ─ Author of the Wingfeather Saga, a tale that transcends age genres. Mr. Peterson, based in Nashville, is a storyteller through and through, sharing his gift through many different mediums. Not only has he written a fantastic series of four books, but he is also a singer/songwriter who travels the country and (sometimes) the globe spreading his love for stories and Jesus through music, creating albums like The Burning Edge of Dawn  and Light for the Lost Boy. He is currently in the process of turning the Wingfeather Saga into an animated short, and I cannot coherently relate how thrilled I am at this prospect. What I admire most about Mr. Peterson’s writing is his whimsy. It may sound silly (and in many ways, that’s the very definition), but his turn of phrase and usage of words is so creative that it gives the feeling of a finger painting ─ but a finger painting that’s as captivating as anything Michelangelo or Monet ever put to canvas. His ability to communicate deep subjects in a format any and everyone can understand without being heavy, crafting a tale with power and scope that inspires the imagination in both children and adults, is a truly beautiful experience.

Visit his Goodreads Page and website to learn more (and sample his music!) And don’t forget to watch this trailer of the animated short and check over at the Wingfeather page for news, art, and conversation – all about the saga!


Megan Whalen TurnerMegan Whalen Turner ─ Mastermind behind the Queen’s Thief series, the fifth volume of which is coming out next week (ah!) The day I discovered her was a fateful day, indeed. I heard someone say of her writing in the Queen’s Thief series that ‘it reads like a political historical fiction’, and I could not agree more. Each book is so chocked full that I can read them time and time again and never get tired, because how she crafts the story is so multi-faceted that no information is given too early. Just because you’re reading from someone’s POV doesn’t mean you’re privy to every thought and reasoning that would spoil the suspense and surprise. That’s what hooked me on both her story and her writing when I first read The Thief. How she developed her characters, and the personality of each, sent me head over heels as both a reader and a writer, because even though we experienced the story as Gen, we didn’t learn that he was actually Eugenides, Thief of Eddis, until the Magus and Sophos did, and how everything unfolded and came together to reveal a plot that was bigger than you thought just wowed me. I’d never read anything like it before, and I have to admire Turner’s ability to take that puzzle, scatter it, and put it back together so randomly that you never get an idea of the full picture until it’s staring you in the face, sitting back and marveling. I love her puzzle box writing, and you’ll be gathered to the fold as well, from page one.

Visit her website and Goodreads page to learn more, and check out these book trailers for The Thief!


Stephen R. Lawhead ─ Architect of such tales as the King Raven trilogy, Song of Albion trilogy, and the Pendragon Cycle, just to name a few, Lawhead easily fits in with the greats like C.S. Lewis and Tolkein for the depth and richness of his stories. As a scholar and award-winning wordsmith, spanning several genres, much of his work (including and especially the three series mentioned above) is based on and influenced by Celtic history and legend, bringing to vibrant life such renowned characters as King Arthur and Robin Hood in a new and realistic light. Even his original characters become so authentic, with their struggling, failing, and prevailing, that I felt more in tune with them, like they were real people and not just the glorified pawns some heroes and villains become in roles they play. The symbolism he puts into his stories and the artful way he speaks on the page has made him a staple on my bookshelf and an author I repeatedly return to for a gripping, well rounded, and inspiring story.

For more information and a complete list of his bibliography, visit his website, and check out this trailer for The Skin Map, the first book in his Bright Empires series!


Image result for wayne thomas batsonWayne Thomas Batson ─ Author of the Door Within trilogy, the Dark Sea Annals duet, and the Dreamtreaders trilogy, plus several other works, Batson is actually the first author I claimed as a ‘favorite’, and because of that he holds a special place in my heart. I was first introduced to his work years ago through the Door Within trilogy, which I happened to find while browsing the shelves at my childhood library. I read the first book, The Door Within, in one sitting, staying up past two in the morning because it engulfed me so completely. I wasn’t writing much back then, but his craft certainly helped me along toward where I am now. Not only did he make a story, characters, and plot that carried me away to a wonderful place, but I deeply admired the biblical truth and analogy with which he wrote, synonymous to both Stephen R. Lawhead and Andrew Peterson. Similar also with Megan Whalen Turner, it was an experience I had never had before, and I remember still now how it impacted me, how it made me want to be able to write like that, a good story ─ in all its layers. Someday I would like to meet this man and thank him for following his dream, which has in turn helped me follow mine.

Visit Batson’s Goodreads page or weblog for more information about his books and what he’s up to!


My own work hasn’t yet reached the level of excellence these masters have attained, but I always say that nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and I’m hoping that every drop of blood, sweat, and tears I put into forging my own style, every word I punch out on this worn keyboard, will bring me one step closer to what and where I want my writing to be.

May Day Release and Giveaway!

Hello, lovely readers – it’s May! and things are really coming to life here. The fruit trees have blossomed, the cattle have been out the pasture, the barnyard’s being cleaned out, the fields are getting plowed, and the lawn’s been mowed three times already! It’ll be time to plant things soon, so the work’s really only just begun – spring and summer is such a busy time of year!

Never fear, though, volume 7 is plugging away, currently in the editor’s hands, but by no means does that mean my own are empty; no, sir! These past months with the re-release of each volume have been very full, and I can’t hardly believe that we’re nearing the end of the run already. How time flies! This month is the month of Aberrations of Heart, the fifth stage in our saga, and I’m excited to share it with you – the updated cover is something I’m pretty pleased with. It’s not a dramatic change, but adds a little more character, and one that, while I was working on it, my mother told me to put away because it was ‘creepy’. I must have been doing something right, then. Here’s the new cover:

The Shaydes featured this time are supposed to be creepy, so I can only take her comment as a sign of success. What’re your thoughts?

So now, without further adieu, here’s a list of links where you can find this volume across the World Wide Web, and don’t forget that you can visit the book’s very own personal-all-to-itself page where you can find all the info anytime wherever.

Already own it? Awesome! Help other readers out by writing a review and sharing your thoughts!

Plus, 

From today, the 1st, until the 27th there is a giveaway on Goodreads running for Aberrations of Heart, so skip on over and enter for a chance to win! There are 7 copies available, and each winner will receive an autographed copy and series bookmark!

 

Reynwood’s Reviews: A Conspiracy of Kings

10454271 Title: A Conspiracy of Kings

Series: The Queen’s Thief, #4

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 0f 5


Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, has disappeared without a trace. Eugenides, the new and unlikely king of Attolia, has never stopped wondering what happened to his friend. Nor has the Queen of Eddis, who once offered Sophos her hand. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Across the sea, a ruthless empire watches for even the slightest weakness. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Until, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus—and Eddis—Sophos sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.


My thoughts:

A pretty spectacular fourth, if I do say so myself. The world of The Queen’s Thief continues to expand with each volume in this series, and Turner doesn’t quit with her wit and labyrinthine political affairs spanning four countries and all their barons, revolts, conspiracies, and power plays.

This time we read from the point of view of Sophos, our little Sounisian heir who has come so very far from the Useless the Younger from The Thief. In the previous book we hear very little of him, only that he’s missing, and now we get to learn how and why. The poor guy is sent on a rollercoaster of wild and violent experiences that take him from his disenchanted youth to crown prince taking back by force his divided kingdom ─ to protect them and the peninsula from the hated Mede Empire.

And who do we know who’s always got his hands in the mess pulling the strings? Eugenides, King of Attolia. He’s almost scary, quite honestly, but he’s a sharp one, and after all we’ve seen of him since the opening page of The Thief, I can’t help but like him.

Smartly written and packed with action, humor, and a wee little bit of heartache, A Conspiracy of Kings is a wonderful and gripping story with a splendiferous ending.


As it happens, there is a giveaway currently running for A Conspiracy of Kings, so why not enter for a chance to win a copy? . . . I did. It’s an opportunity too awesome to pass up. There’s only a few days left to enter, so don’t dilly dally!


And speaking of giveaways, the run of The Memory Quest is drawing to a close as well, so if you haven’t entered, now would be the time! Tell your friends (about both of these) and spread the word around!

Hello, My Name Is _

Greetings, and happy mid-April! Now that spring has officially sprung, the work around here is beginning to burgeon as rapidly as the daffodils! Clean-up and preparations for planting are in the works and quickly approaching, and in the midst of all this we’re helping to plan a wedding ─ all on top of working on two books at the same time.

Lost your breath yet? Some days! It’s all coming along swimmingly, though. Volume 7, the FINAL volume in this saga, is making progress. I’ve finished the drafts and pre-printing edits and am ready to print out the manuscript. With only a little over two months left, I’m praying we can get everything sorted out in time (!). I will have more information, such as the cover and synopsis and all that exciting stuff, for you soon, so be looking forward to that ─ I certainly am. I’m really happy about the cover and can’t wait to show you . . .

Anywho, today I’m going to talk about characters once more (because they are such an intrinsic part of any story, they warrant a lot of care and consideration. Parents brag about their children, authors yammer about their characters). The topic/ tip I have for this post is: when developing characters, work with them. Familiarize yourself with them. This is something I’ve learned over the past (what, is it five years already? Wow), and while it may be common knowledge in the writing community, I’ve discovered that I learn quite a few things the Hard Way.

I think the way you’re supposed to go about writing a story is to scheme your plot and develop your characters before you really get into the nitty-gritty of punching words onto the page. Did I? Pft! No. When I began this project o, so many years ago I did very little in the way of character development and just skipped ahead. I didn’t do character profiles, getting any sort of idea who these people were, and I didn’t know much about them.

However, as is per usual, the more time you spend with a person, the more you’ll get to know them. They open up to you and you notice things about them as they interact with their environment, the people around them, and their circumstances. This is how I learned who my characters were, and only after a couple of years did I get into the whole ‘character profile’ thing. I’d never looked into character outlines until a couple years ago, and there are as many different formats as there are people who use them, ranging from basic information (name, gender, eye color, hair color, etc.) to far more in depth details (phobias, neurosis, favorite book/song, and the like). The outline is basically just a list of questions to answer about your character to help flesh them out.

The chart that I currently use is pretty extensive, ranging from physical appearance, mentality, education, relationships, thought processes, habits, quirks ─ all sorts of things ─ and in truth I don’t always go into those details (right or left brained? Beats the bananas out of me), but I did like a few of the more thought-provoking questions that have pushed me to really consider certain aspects of these people that I never thought about before. They also give me an opportunity to answer the ‘why’ questions that are hidden underneath, and that wee three letter word is the meat and bone of everything. Yes, they may wear that, like this, hate that, but those are surface details. It’s they why they wear that, like this, hate that, no matter how trivial it may seem, that turns a caricature into a person.

But you won’t find much of any of this out until you work with them. That, at least, is how it worked for me. I learned about them as they traveled and fought and survived, as they thought at night when they couldn’t sleep, or were forced to make snappish decisions, or how they occupied themselves when they were bored. Pushed into corners, stranded all by themselves, crowded by other people or burdened by their expectations ─ each and every experience brings out the truth of a person, things that can’t come honestly while just trying to answer a question.

And here’s another thing (and it’s kind of a confession, too, I suppose). When I first began, I had characters that were simply there for a headcount (horrible, right?). They were kind of like NPCs (non-playable characters, in video game lingo), just there for the sake of it, but as we went on this journey they up and decided to prove to me that they were real people, too, with histories, hopes, fears, and purpose that helped drive the story. (Thock, Fwip, Bill, and Kai’Tor were all originally 2-dimentional characters at the start, can you see how they didn’t like that? Yeah. Bill and Kai’Tor were supposed to be dropped off at Udalak and never heard from again, and we all know how that worked out!)

So, through all this garble, I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: developing your characters beforehand may be a good starting point, but to learn who they really are and how they tick, you’ve got to work with them. Little by little they’ll turn into real people and not just ‘the hero’, the ‘sidekick’, the ‘villain’, and the ‘fillers’. They’ll become real to you, and therefore they’ll become real for your readers. So don’t be afraid to start writing even if you don’t know your cast all that well, you’ll get better acquainted as you go, and by the end they’ll seem like old friends.


Don’t forget, there’a giveaway running on Goodreads for the 4th volume in TJT, The Memory Quest – the volume where the truth about the king and current events is revealed, to much horror and dismay. All villains begin somewhere, and sometimes they weren’t always villainous . . .

Reynwood’s Reviews: The King of Attolia

448872Title: The King of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief, #3

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 0f 5


By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.


My thoughts:

This story is beautiful. It’s so unbelievably full from page one to the very last word, and Turner never ceases to amaze me with her ability to craft such a knotwork of events that seem individual at first, but then all culminate into one big episode with so many layers that I had to sit back and just marvel at her strategy.

Told from (largely, but not wholly) Costis’s point of view, we see what he sees and we know what he knows and we understand things the way he understands them ─ which isn’t always the way they are, which is a huge portion of the intrigue of this third volume. The characters are as loveable (and hateable) as always, with plenty of wit and comedy sprinkled throughout, which mostly originates from Eugenides, and yet it doesn’t detract at all from the real depth of these people. It actually highlights and accentuates just how real they are.

I loved this book from beginning to end.


Also, in honor of Megan Whalen Turner‘s new book, Thick as Thieves, coming out in May, there’s a giveaway on Goodreads for The King of Attolia, so enter for a chance to win a free copy of this awesomely amazing story that you’ll read over and over again, same as yours truly! Giveaway ends April 15th, so don’t wait!


And while we’re on the subject of giveaways, my own for The Momory Quest is still on, running until the 27th of this month, so don’t forget to enter, or tell your friends to, the more the merrier!