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!

April Showers Bring . . . Books!

Hello, everybody! It’s April already, and with the turn of a new month we have the purple-ier release of The Memory Quest. Why purple-ier, you ask? Because the cover has become more violet. The basic design has remained the same, as it was one of the more clear images I wanted when thinking of a cover for vol. 4, but the background skyline changed to one with far more purple in it, because I fell in love with it. Head over heels for that magnificent mauve, that lovely lavender, that palatial plum!

In addition to this fine coat, the interior has been updated and reformatted for an improved and more impressive reading experience.

Here are some links to where you can find this jewel:

Also, in celebration, there’s a Goodreads giveaway running for The Memory Quest AS WE SPEAK, so don’t miss out on that (link below) It’s an awesome opportunity to enter for a chance to win a free copy, autographed, and with a series bookmark, so don’t miss it! Giveaway dates are Apr. 1st – Apr. 27th, so join in! Tell your friends! Have them tell their friends!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Queen of Attolia

40158

Title: The Queen of Attolia

Series: The Queen’s Thief

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 5 of 5


Revenge
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes’s Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered…she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

…but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

…at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago…


My thoughts:

Amazing! Incredible! As riveting as everyone says it is!

Too enthusiastic? Not sorry, it was just that good . . . even this second time around. Instead of just Eugenides’s point of view, we get to see the events scroll out from the perspective of several different characters this time, giving more depth to both the story and the cast ─ as a whole as well as individuals. We get to see how Eugenides, our indelible thief, gets himself in a nasty pickle (again), unwittingly drags four countries into war, struggles with his fears, and masterminds a solution that rocks the world (at least that’s how it felt. I’m glad no one was watching me as I read the last few chapters ─ talk about embarrassing. But that’s a sign of good story telling, when the reader gets so invested in the people and events).

I really appreciated the strategy and politics involved as Turner navigated a three/fourish-way war, it kept me thoroughly engaged as both a reader and writer, who is always seeking to learn how to improve my own craft. This is a great sequel, and I am very excited to begin the next installment.


Megan Whalen Turner is the author of short stories and novels for children, teenagers and adults. She has won the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult LIterature, a Boston Globe/ Horn Book Honor and a Newbery Honor. She won the Mythopoeic Award and was shortlisted twice for the Andre Norton Award.

Check out her page on Goodreads, or visit her website for more information on her great books, awards, and other neat stuff!


Today’s the last day to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Adventures in Isle – including a series bookmark – so don’t miss it. Also, today is also the last day to snag a FREE ebook copy of Adventures in Isle over on Amazon – no limits! Except maybe the sky, but since we’ve been going beyond Earth’s atmosphere for so long maybe that’s not so restricting anymore. The moon! The stars! We’re really getting out of hand here!

(Ahem!) Anywho, check out both!

On Characters: “. . ., I Choose You!”

Good day to you, readers, from the far hidden corners of the realm! Has the undulating weather of this March made you mad, yet? Bonkers? It certainly feels indecisive, doesn’t it? Warm and even balmy to overcast and blustery in a matter of hours, and then back again ─ if spring came as abrupt and resolutely as winter does, how different might things be? Ah, but there’s no sense in complaining, as it doesn’t serve to change a single thing.  All we can do is take it as it comes and trust in the Lord to carry us through!

Anywho, today we’re continuing on the theme of characters. The question I have here is:

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Well I (personally) resent that question ─ we don’t play favorites in this house! So I’m going to ignore that one and move on to the next:

If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Tough. Question. To narrow down the vast spectrum of characters I have thus far, I’ve decided to limit this inquiry to within the context of the Journey Taken. Although, having made a list (roughly 200+) that doesn’t make it a whole lot easier. That said, I thought about ignoring this one, too, or putting it on the back burner for later, because I couldn’t possibly choose. That’s like picking a favorite, right? And I’ve already said we don’t play favorites in this house. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think it an interesting question, so I gave it some consideration ─ just whom would I like to spend a day with? And it happened that, as I was thinking, my thoughts kind of muddled from ‘who I would rather spend a day with?’ or ‘what I would do with this person if I had a day to spend with just them?’ into ‘what would they do, if they had a day to just chill, do whatever they want?’

Intriguing idea, no?

Well, I think Iris might like to go out to the town and spend the day looking at all the wares, maybe do some shopping. She probably wouldn’t mind having Jonquil along, too. Jonquil, on the other hand, if he had a choice, would most likely want to get away from town, probably go on a meandering hike type thing alone in the woods by himself with no one around to disturb his exploration, hunting, and nap in a spot of sunshine. Teryn would probably wander around town, too, until she found an alehouse and/or archery range. Maybe dominate the archery range and then hit the alehouse. Fwip would tag along, though for different reasons. His day of just doing whatever he wanted would leave him a wealthier man and lot of others less so. Keeping him otherwise occupied would protect the more honest side of the economy, I believe. We all know Thock would keep an eye on him, and outside of making sure his younger brother doesn’t get himself into horrible trouble, I don’t think he’s ever given much thought to what he would like to do given a day to do anything he wanted. He’s a very focused man. Sergil might just relax and knock a few back at the alehouse (and preferably not the one Teryn’s patroning), but he’d most like to spend his day with Lyla, whatever it is she might be doing. To not be rushed away and hounded by world-shattering responsibilities would be a dream come true, he might say. And Lollen? Pft. Well, Lollen would only be found at the library, tucked behind a mound of manuscripts. It’s how he grew up, after all, and old habits, old inclinations, die hard. As for Raleigh and Xanthus, Raleigh might not know what to do with himself for a while, actually. For so long his life has been directed by others that the freedom of choosing what to do with his time would baffle his brain. He’d then proceed to scramble for a way to spend his day (every idea likely involving work of some sort. Helosite leisure time, when it rarely shows its face, is usually spent doing something else productive). Although, deep down, buried under all that indoctrination and learned habits, some time with Robin, Ryner, and Xanthus, unbothered, would be his favorite. A day where he could be with them and forget what all he’d been through and bask in the company of his loved ones without the nagging possibility of being pulled away for some task elsewhere. Xanthus wouldn’t mind doing any of that, either. I don’t think he’d know what to do with himself, overwhelmed by the possibilities of what all he could do and all the things he didn’t think he could do. His first reaction would be to find a familiar face and stay with them. But if asked, and after some intense consideration, he’d spend his day with Raleigh, and probably wouldn’t mind having Robin and Ryner along, too. At least for now, until he learns more about himself as a person ─ and a free person at that.

So if you asked me who I would spend a day with (in the context of TJT), I still couldn’t tell you. So let me turn this question around and ask who would you like to spend some time with? And please, let me know in the comments!


Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a FREE copy of Adventures in Isle! The giveaway ends the 27th, so there’s only a few days left! Each copy comes autographed and with a series bookmark.


And now, starting today and running until the 27th as well, you have the opportunity to own free of charge an ebook copy of Adventures in Isle! Already have one? Why not tell a friend? Books are best shared, so spread the word!