THE ILLUMINATED KINGDOM
The Final Voyage of the Legend
Coming November 3, 2017!!!
“…[an] astounding, imaginative world…”
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.
After more than nine years of writing this series, the fourth and FINAL book in The Voyages of the Legend series is almost ready for you to read!!! And I’m so excited to share it with you!
Here’s what you can do to be part of this exciting launch:
1. Hop on Amazon.com on November 3rd and get your copy of THE ILLUMINATED KINGDOM! (It would be an extra bonus if you’d leave a review!!)
2: Stop by the launch party on November 18th for a signed copy! The party is at 2 PM at the Santa Clara Books Inc. There will be a reading, Q&A time, and of course lots of books! I’d love to see you there!
3. Spread the word about the book release! It takes lots of voices to create a successful book launch. So if you’re excited about this book, tweet it out or tell a friend!
I’m so excited to share this series finale with you!!!
Today I have the privilege of introducing a new author friend of mine: Intisar Khanani. Besides being incredibly talented and super friendly, she’s just released a new fantasy novel, Memories of Ash. It’s a sequel to her novella Sunbolt, which I *might* have stayed up past my bedtime reading. Oh man. I read a lot of fantasy, and this was one of the most original and gripping I’ve read in a long time. The setting is rich and interesting, the suspense had me reading chapter after chapter, and the protagonist, Hitomi, is a mighty girl with a strong sense of conscience but also a relatable vulnerability. Go read it right now. Right. Now.
Then come back for an interview with the author!
Welcome, Intisar! How did you first get started writing?
I’m one of those people who was always writing. I stapled my first books together when I was three or four, and never stopped. I’ve always had stories and characters in my head; even if I wasn’t actively writing, I was still telling myself stories as I went through my days. Nowadays, if I don’t write them down, I find I’m a much less happy person—which means if I’m feeling particularly grumpy, I’ll sometimes just excuse myself to go write a story!
What draws you to fantasy/fairy tales?
I love fantasy (and science fiction, though I don’t write it) because it takes us out of our world. We deal with issues in a different framework, and so we can challenge ourselves more deeply because we think we have less at stake. Likewise, fairy tales contain old, deep truths within them—some of them that bear challenging as social contexts and cultures change, and some that rise above time and place. I love the depth that fantasy and fairy tales are capable of while still granting us an “escape” from our own lives. I may also have a soft spot for dragons, mages, and talking horses. 😉
What inspired your current series, The Sunbolt Chronicles?
I wrote the first ten pages of Sunbolt thinking that I was writing a short story. I had no idea where it was going, though, and was unable to write the ending. Two years later, while staying with my in-laws in Pakistan during a family illness, I volunteered to stay awake through the night with our ill family member while everyone slept. (I was the most jet-lagged of everyone, so this made a lot of sense.) Sitting up each night in the sick room with my laptop, I picked up that story and Sunbolt, Memories of Ash, and a third novella all came pouring out of me in the space of about two or three weeks. They were a necessary and complete escape for me, and if you look at each carefully, you might see a bit of the illness and sorrow we were dealing with, especially in Sunbolt. Admittedly, each story went through massive revisions before being published, to the extent that the third novella is now utterly irrelevant, and Memories of Ash is an epically long novel. But that’s how revisions roll.
My beta-readers laid down the smack with me, and informed me that I needed to stop trying to make Memories of Ash into a novella. They wanted more detail, more connecting scenes, and a couple less short cuts (I admit the short cuts were a bad idea). I took their advice, and the book literally doubled in size, and then grew some more. I really was planning for The Sunbolt Chronicles to be a novella serial, so I’ve had to re-imagine the rest of the series, and apologize profusely for everyone who thought I was going to be able to churn out a sequel within a year. Between taking a writing hiatus for family reasons, and writing an epically long sequel, it’s been three years!
Wow! You are disciplined! So why did you choose self-publishing? What’s your favorite thing about it?
I chose self-publishing because I spent two years searching for an agent, and it was miserable. When my husband e-mailed me an article about Amanda Hocking’s success, I went, well, I don’t care about making a fortune, but if I can reach a few readers this way, why not? I haven’t looked back since, and I absolutely love it. I love being able to have complete creative control of my work, get the covers I love (and change them if I need to), and offer my book at a more affordable price to readers while still making more than I probably would have from a traditional publishing deal (given that midlist authors make almost nothing when traditionally published). I also just love how quickly I can move from completing a book to releasing it—the wait is for the actual writing, and not for the publishing process.
That’s awesome. What gets you into creative mode?
My kids going to bed. Seriously. I get them in bed, sit down with my laptop, and get to work. I don’t have any routines or any special tricks. (I should probably try ringing a bell before I get to work to see if I can turn on my creative juices at the sound of a chime… Thank you, Pavlov, for that idea!)
I do, however, often do writing sessions with friends online, where we check in for a few minutes beforehand via chat, then spend an hour writing before reporting back in. This keeps writing from becoming that isolating, lonesome misery we writers fear. 😉 It doesn’t get me into creative mode, but it does make me more accountable, and that helps me get going!
What are three books you’d want with you on a desert island?
- Desert Island Survival 101
- How to build a sea-faring craft from scratch
- Navigating by the Stars
I’m getting off that island one way or another!
Practical! I’d probably just sit there reading until the coconut supply ran out. So which character in Memories of Ash do you relate to the most? Why?
I definitely relate to Hitomi, the heroine, a lot, but I think that’s probably because I’m writing from her perspective. When I sit down and think about it, she’s a lot braver and probably more moral than I am. If there were another character in Book 2 that I relate to more, it would be Huda. She’s strong but in a quieter, more down-to-earth way. She’s got a lot of problems, but she doesn’t let it slow her down too much. And she’s stubborn as all heck. Yep, she and I both have that going. I really like Huda and am so glad she’ll be back in Book 3! 🙂
Ooh! What a teaser! Thank you so much for joining us, Intisar 🙂
Here’s where you can find a copy of Memories of Ash:
And add it to your Goodreads TBR list!
In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.
If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.
I’m not going to lie–one of my favorite things about being an author, especially an independent author, is getting to meet other authors. Unlike much of the world, I’ve found the book community to be a really team-focused, everybody-can-win environment. Which is how I was lucky enough to meet and interview W.R. Gingell, a fellow fantasy author.
Today is launch day for W.R.’s latest novella, “The First Chill of Autumn.” To celebrate, W.R. has graciously stopped by my blog for an interview!
Welcome, W.R.! So tell us–how did you first get started writing?
Well, I remember that my first story was written in 1st grade, and was something about a family following a sea-turtle into the sea and having an adventure underwater with mermaids, shadowy, dangerous sharks, and underwater volleyball (?!) That wasn’t really the start of it, though. I wrote that because I was told to write a story. I don’t think I wrote it because I wanted to write it. The second was a 10-page saga (IT WAS A SAGA IN MY TINY MIND, OK?) when I was about grade two, and that was written because it was adventurous and featured my then-best-friend Kylie. It involved lions, tigers, bears, and anacondas (on an Australian mountain, no less. My tiny mind had no idea of geography, just which animals were the most ferocious and adventurous). It was, oddly enough, written from 1st person POV, but with the actual heroine being observed from that POV. I think that shows some greatness of mind…or maybe I was always just a bit weird…
That story was closer to being written because I wanted to write it, but I didn’t really begin to write because I wanted to write until I was about ten or eleven. That was after years of reading and having my head stuffed with ideas that just wanted to come out, and when I began to really write, I never looked back. I started with drawings and character-word lists, but found that stopped me really writing; so I gave up on those and concentrated on getting the actual story down. I don’t think any of those earlier projects were ever finished, but I do remember my first finished book (80k-odd words, I think) at fourteen. It was called Those Mad Bradleys. Since then, it’s seen a complete rewrite, and will see another before it is (hopefully) released next year…
Wow! You got started early! So what draws you to fantasy/fairy tales?
I’ve always loved fairy tales. There’s a magical, dangerous feel to them, and all the earlier ones were written with huge spaces for creative freedom in their plainness. It meant that I could take them and shape them and turn them into whatever I wanted to, while still keeping the magic.
What inspired your current series?
I have two current series. One is the Two Monarchies Sequence, which is one book in (I’m working on the second at the moment); and the other is the Shards of a Broken Sword trilogy, which is being finished May 31st! TMS was inspired by fairy tales (Spindle is a sort of a cross between Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel), and SOABS was inspired by Jack Heckel’s Charming Tales, which are light-hearted and rather hilarious. His dragonish POV and a tickling question or two that his books raised in my mind went on to be the story seeds of two of those novellas.
Did anything unexpected happen as you were writing your new book?
No 😦 I’m such a boring person. Though I did get a resurgence of bronchitis, if that helps?
Oh, wait! I rediscovered my love for Owl City and found out that I can write standing up (and dancing), so there’s that…
I think that counts as interesting! So why did you choose self-publishing? What’s your favorite thing about it?
Ah! My creative freedom! My much-larger-cut of the royalties! Seriously, though, I love almost everything about it. I originally chose SP over TP (wait, that doesn’t sound right…) because I loved the immediacy of it, the better pay factor, and the fact that I wouldn’t have to change things I loved because someone else had a different vision for my books. I love being able to choose my own cover artist. I love learning what works and what doesn’t work in advertising. I love the new worlds that have opened up to me, and the new people I’ve met. It gets overwhelming sometimes (especially when I’m sick), but by and large, there isn’t much I’d change about it.
Wow! Especially because you run all aspects of your writing business, you have to be really disciplined. So what gets you into creative mode?
Sometimes it’s music. Sometimes it’s a day-dreaming session. More often, I’m not in the mood, and I have to sit down and write anyway. Sometimes you have to wake up the creative mode before it wants to get out of bed. It’s a moody teenager, but it’s worth making it work for you rather than the other way around.
I love it! What are three books you’d want with you on a desert island?
Oh, so hard! I would definitely have Pride and Prejudice. I would also probably cheat and take my Barchester Chronicles omnibus (thus bringing about six extra books); and I would bring either Kate Stradling’s Kingdom of Ruses or The Legendary Inge.
An omnibus is possibly cheating, but since I’d do the same, I’ll overlook it. Which character in your new book do you relate to the most? Why?
That’s also kinda tough. It would be either Aerwn or Dion. Dion for the pure fact that her physical weakness of shaking and throwing up when under pressure or under unpleasant circumstances is something that I struggle with on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. I’m used to being forced to do things while feeling awful, just because they need to be done and I’m the one who has to do them. I feel for Dion because she has to do much bigger things than I need to do, while feeling worse.
Aerwn, I relate to because she’s the one looking on. She wants to be the one to do things and she’s impatient, because she knows she’s not the one who has to do the things. She has to sit back and watch, because she’s not the special one. So she has to do what she can in the background. She has to fight and struggle and work, and she’ll never be the hero. But she keeps working anyway, because what she’s doing also needs to be done.
Thank you so much for stopping by, W.R.! It’s great to hear about your creative process, and congratulations on your new book launch!
Here’s where you can find a copy of “The First Chill of Autumn” online. It’s only 99 cents at the moment, so check it out!
Here’s her author bio:
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.
Llassar is an occupied country– but nobody seems to know it.
Fae began to filter slowly into the land shortly after the birth of the crown princess, Dion ferch Alawn, supposedly fleeing a dark threat in Faery known as the Guardians. But that was fifteen years ago, and now there isn’t a town in Llassar that isn’t populated by or under the control of the fae.
Smaller, weaker, and less talented at magic, Llassarians are quickly finding out that there’s no fighting the invasion that crept in so quietly and politely. Even the castle isn’t free of fae: those closest to the king and queen are faery advisors.
When Dion ferch Alawn returns from a carefully sanitised tour of Outer Llassar, the most exciting thing she expects from the near future is the present her twin sister Aerwn promised for their seventeenth birthday.
Then her carriage breaks down, and Dion gets a taste of what the real Llassar has become: desperate, enslaved, and ripe for rebellion. Getting home safely is just the first problem she faces: the real struggle begins when Dion returns to the castle. Her new knowledge is inconvenient and unwelcome– to declare it, treason.
I am not dead. That is today’s announcement.
Actually, today’s announcement is (possibly) even better than that.
The reason for the last few months of blog silence is…(drumroll, please)…
Book 3 is almost done!!!
In fact, this announcement is being made in a quick escape from the writing cave. Then I’m back to moving paragraphs, analyzing character motivations, and wondering how on earth I got so many prepositional phrases into that one random sentence. And how on earth to get them out again.
But all YOU need to do is get excited for Book 3 of The Voyages of the Legend, coming early summer 2016!!!
This will be second-to-last volume in a projected series of 4 books. Writing it has been a journey, but I hope you’re really going to love this new story.
To celebrate the release of this book, I’m also excited to announce that Books 1 and 2 are getting a new look! These second editions will feature exciting new covers, an awesome new map, and even some bonus features, like discussion guides for easy use in classrooms or book clubs. The first editions will be retired when the second editions go live (hopefully near the end of this month), so if you want a first-edition copy, don’t wait! You can find one in select Bay Area bookstores or on Amazon.com.
Wondering where to get your books signed this spring? You’ll find me at the Bay Area Kids’ Book Fair (Silicon Valley edition) on April 16 and the Bay Area Book Festival on June 4-5: both of which are amazing events and free to the public. Keep an eye on my News and Events page for even more upcoming fun. There are also still a few more months left in the school year, so if you’re a public, private, or homeschool co-op teacher interested in an author visit, send me an email!
And now…back to the writing cave.
Happy Fourth of July!
A few weeks ago, I was tagged in the #mywritingprocess blog tour by my good friend Angela Wallace, herself an author of thrilling, imaginative fantasy and urban fantasy. So, considering interviews are a theme of this summer’s blogging, I thought I’d take a turn and give you a peek inside my writer brain 🙂 I’ll answer four questions, then pass them on to two other writers.
What am I working on?
I’m currently writing like a freight train to finish the sequel to The Illuminator’s Gift, a book which is scheduled for publication this December! At this point I think I can safely say that it’s quite different from the first book, but is still a continuation of the same story. If you enjoyed the characters in The Illuminator’s Gift, I think you’ll enjoy watching them grow and face new dangers, enemies, and challenges in the sequel.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The Illuminator’s Gift is fantasy, but truth be told, I’m not a die-hard fantasy lover. (Did I say that out loud?) Of course I enjoy discovering new worlds and encountering mythical beasties, but those aren’t enough for me to fall in love with a book, either as a reader or a writer. Dragons and swordfighting alone aren’t enough to make me care. So my work combines genres–some fantasy, some theology, a dash of history, a sprinkle of fairy tale, a little travel writing. I love to read cross-genre books, so why not write them?
Why do I write what I do?
Fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Great Divorce have been some of my best friends and truest guides as I have navigated the roughest places in my life. What I really love about fantasy is its ability to grapple with deep truths and teach us how to tackle life’s difficulties and darknesses, all without triggering our defense mechanisms or putting us to sleep. So when I write, I seek not only to spin a good fantasy yarn, but to infuse it with truths I’ve learned along the way, because I think all good stories have truth at their center. Not that I have it all figured out! Often I find myself exploring and growing right alongside my characters, which is part of what makes writing challenging and fun 🙂
How does my writing process work?
Hehe. Today or yesterday? As with many important disciplines, I don’t think writing habits are something you learn once, master, and practice like a machine for the rest of your life. The way I wrote my first book is not the way I’m writing my second. Part of that is because I learned from a few mistakes the first time around! I consider myself a “pantser,” meaning that I tend to write by the seat of my pants, letting the story develop organically rather than planning out a whole book in advance. This time, however, I did start with a sketchy, big-picture outline of the story’s events, leaving big gaps for serendipity to happen. I think the general outline has helped me stay on track (and write faster), but some of my favorite scenes have come from the serendipity gaps 🙂
And the blog tour continues with two other splendid writers, both of whom I hope to introduce to you via interview this summer!
Shelley Adina is the author of over twenty books, from Victorian steampunk to Amish women’s fiction.
Jenn Castro is the author of Mom*Me, a charming picture book for young readers and their moms.
If you’re local to the SF Bay Area, come say hello at Village House of Books next Thursday, 7/10! From 6-8 PM, illustrator Amalia Hillmann and I will be there, signing The Illuminator’s Gift and answering questions. Plus lots of family-friendly activities including face painting, snacks, an art contest, and a drawing for a free book! We’d love to see you there!
With Memorial Day behind us and summer around the corner, it’s time for something new on this blog. Which is why I’m launching a summer series, taking us “Inside Creative Minds.” Interviews with writers, artists, and other creatives will give us a peek inside their lives and creative habits.
Our first guest is novelist A. R. Silverberry. We became book friends after swapping titles at California Bookstore Day.
Welcome, A. R. Silverberry! So tell us–how did you first fall in love with writing?
Well, I’m in love with other people’s writing! I’m pretty hard on my own. What I love is the creative process, discovering things I never planned or anticipated, discovering connections that were completely unconscious on my part. I especially love when a character steps on stage and announces herself, fully born. All I have to do is get out of the way and let her speak! Other characters, I have to really work at to know, and I better pray they aren’t main characters or I’m in for a tough time. I love writing the first draft. I don’t love writing the final draft. By that point, I’m aware of what I call my Waterloo chapters, those spots where I just can’t complete things to my satisfaction. Ironically, it may be a single sentence that’s hanging me up.
Do you hear that scream? It’s my wife after I’ve asked her for six months straight which permutation of a passage she prefers!
What are some of your favorite books to read?
A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lacuna, and all things Tolkien. I grew up on fairy tales, myths, and the Oz books. Nowadays, for pure fun, I read Dean Koontz.
You publish both paper books and e-books. As an avid reader yourself, which medium do you prefer and why?
I had the good fortune to go into a Shakespeare museum and got to look at a book written in 1606. Imagine! Shakespeare could have touched the same book! Physical books are an art form. As long as there are people, art won’t die, and neither will physical books. I’ll always prefer them. How do you cozy up to an e-reader? But darn if those e-books aren’t kind on old eyes. I love that I can enlarge the font, look up words I don’t know, and most surprising, my reading speed increased.
What are your two novels, Wyndano’s Cloak and The Stream, about? Are they related?
They’re unrelated. Wyndano’s Cloak is a fantasy adventure for children. The Stream is tale for adults, in the same genre as Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Wyndano’s Cloak in one word: Empowerment. More specifically, girl power, though the message to believe in your inner gifts applies to all, young and old alike.
I asked one of my beta readers what she thought The Stream was about. She replied, “Good heavens, what is it not about?!” Here’s the best I can do:
What if your world was six miles wide and endlessly long?
After a devastating storm kills his parents, five-year-old Wend awakens to the strange world of the Stream. He discovers he can only travel downstream, and dangers lurk at every turn: deadly rapids, ruthless pirates, a mysterious pavilion that lures him into intoxicating fantasies, and rumor of a giant waterfall at the edge of the world. Defenseless, alone, with only courage and his will to survive, Wend begins his quest to become a man. Will tragic loss trap him in a shadow world, or will he enter the Stream, with all its passion and peril?
Part coming-of-age tale, part adventure, part spiritual journey, The Stream is a fable about life, impermanence, and the gifts found in each moment.
Wow! Two powerful books, quite different from each other. So who or what inspires your writing?
Ideas tumble into my mind from every conceivable corner. Take The Stream, for instance. The initial impetus was a conversation I was having, where I used the metaphor of a stream. I kept thinking about that metaphor. In a few hours, the character of a small boy, alone, defenseless, trying to understand the ways of the world, popped into my mind. I saw images of him confronting the challenges we all face in life: love, loss, pain, losing your way. The next morning, I put aside the novel I was working on (it wasn’t working anyway), and started writing. It pretty much tumbled out of me and didn’t let go until it was done.
What appeals to you about fantasy stories?
The unique thing about fantasy as a genre is that it’s not limited by the laws of physics. Anything can happen. Magic exists. Unexpected things can and do occur. Conflicts are painted in bold, broad strokes. The hero or heroine is up against unspeakable power, power beyond human ken. If they can triumph over that, I can triumph over the foibles of my life.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Be wary of advice, except mine of course! And here it is: read a lot; write a lot; learn the craft, but don’t be a slave to it; and break the “rules” if it helps the story. Don’t try to write like anyone else. There is only one you. Let the beautiful voice inside you sing.
Do you have another job? How do you balance it with writing?
I’m a psychologist, working primarily with children and adolescents, though I see adults too. I try to write every morning while my mind is clear and closer to the dream world. I wrote Wyndano’s Cloak while commuting on Cal Train! It worked out great. The sound of the train triggered me into writing mode. I wrote three hours a day, five days a week. Between the train and work, I walked for twenty minutes, taking notes about snippets of dialogue or description. The biggest loss to my writing was when we moved away from that train! I have to drive now, but I’m listening to a lot of audio books!
Are you working on a new book now? Can you tell us anything about it?
I never reveal the plot of anything until I’m ready to release it, but I’ll say this: It’s a dystopic young adult sci-fi fantasy trilogy. Say that five times as fast as you can!
Thank you for joining us! It’s been a pleasure!
About A. R. Silverberry:
A. R. Silverberry writes fiction for adults and children. His novel, WYNDANO’S CLOAK, won multiple awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award gold medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. THE STREAM is his second novel. Visit his website or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter!