DISCIPLE continues...

Friday, August 30, 2013

WILDER MAGE by CD Coffelt

I'm thrilled that my friend CD Coffelt, aka Huntress, is celebrating her first book publication!  Check out Wilder Mage, available now from Musa Publishing...

Back cover
The earthquake wasn’t his fault. Not this time.

Justus Aubre is a wilder. A mage unbound to the Imperium, and therefore a dangerous wild card in their eyes. The Imperium wants him, wants his power, but Justus has hidden for many years and now has some semblance of a normal life. All that’s about to change when Sable Rounds walks through the door of his antique shop, looking for work. Justus instantly knows what Sable is, he just doesn’t know the danger he’s in.

Alone, also on the run from the Imperium, Sable longs for a normal life. For somewhere to belong. She finds this when Justus hires her, but she knows it’s temporary and fragile, an illusion. Though she hates to think about it, she knows that one day she will have to move on.

The Imperium is always behind her, waiting. When they finally find Sable, they find Justus. And all hell’s about to break loose.

Find Wilder Mage at

Bio
CD Coffelt lives outside Maryville, Missouri with a bemused husband and way too many cats. She adores all things fantasy with a special love for urban and epic.

With a passion for good writing and Doritos as companions, locating Middle-Earth on a dusty road in rural Missouri wasn’t difficult. All it took was a little Magic, hours of reading, and an overactive imagination.

You can visit her blog at www.spiritcalled.blogspot.com.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

PRECIPICE by Anthony DeRouen


Welcome to Precipice by Anthony DeRouen! Since I'm all about the world-building, I asked him to talk about the work he put into creating the world of Velyn

Creating the World of Velyn
Precipice, an epic fantasy tale about two sisters driven to retrieve a stolen book of magic before its power can be harnessed for evil.

Anthony DeRouen’s debut novel Precipice offers many intriguing elements to the reader; a dangerous hunt for a book of twisted power, a Lord Marshal leading his massive army against his brethren to the east, thrilling sword battles and clashes of magic, relentless assaults from ruthless pirates, and the discovery a companion from the most unlikely of places - the enemy’s home front.

At the very core of Precipice, however, stands the utter and complete failure of the world’s underpinnings, and the hard choices the protagonists have to make in order to overcome them. Readers are introduced to the world of Velyn through the eyes of Danika Del Ray, a young woman born with a rare gift that allows her to channel healing energies. Beyond her station as a mystical mender of wounds and eviscerator of disease, she holds a military officer’s rank in a country not her birthplace. This is well and good, you see, for the nations of Velyn have enjoyed relative peace for many years.  Trade between provinces runs high, and more importantly the trust between kings and lords is firm.

Underneath that blanket of peace, trouble stirs. Shorelines fall under siege, creatures of nightmare overwhelm strongholds, and the Book of Bel’al goes missing. These dark turn of events thrust Danika and her older sister Kiruna, a strong wizard in her own right, into widespread conflict. Each sister embarks on a path to right the wrongs, but soon find themselves ensnared by the very laws and social mores that kept them safe all these years.

I wanted Velyn to be a living, breathing world. An invisible and all-encompassing force you could touch, hear, and smell.  As the story progresses and the characters develop and change, so does the setting around them. My inspiration for creating Velyn was three-fold: I used elements of the Roman Empire, ancient Egypt and Somalia, Africa. Surprised by the third-element? I was too, in a way. Somalia is a rudderless, volatile, war-torn country most remembered for the 1993 incursion of U.S. Special Forces and resulting Battle of Mogadishu. Rolling back the clock to circa 1980 you receive a different picture. Glittery white sand beaches, palm trees swaying against a gentle breeze, rolling dunes, and lush vegetation. Marka, Somalia transformed my medieval province of Ahnar, which in itself became the heart of Velyn.

Somalia is part of the African continent whereas Ahnar is a solitary island province in the Sea of Tears. In my creation of the outlying provinces The Sovereign States of Sanura were created, followed by Prystan, The Dalzia Floodplains, and the Wyvern’s Tail. Other countries featured on the world map are Stygia, the largest country in Velyn, Xioun, a poisonous wasteland, and the Shadow Isles. These places are landmarks in history where epic battles and powerful magic eviscerated humanity’s grasp, leaving desolation, frost and flame.

Readers who glance over the world map included with the paperback and e-book editions of Precipice may easily overlook the strip of boundary separating Xioun from Kopani. The Ipera Gate draws some resemblance of Terry’s Goodkind’s boundary separating the Old World and New World, and George R.R. Martin’s colossal Wall along the border of the Seven Kingdoms. In truth, the Ipera Gate draws inspiration from Gustave Dore’s illustration of the Gate of Hell, based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

Erected under the watchful eye of Dhavid Sandslayer, the last Diviner of Velyn, the Ipera Gate stood as humanity’s greatest achievement. A 20-mile wall of stone and basalt rock reaching upwards of a half-mile, impervious to damage and imbued with magic preventing anyone from crossing over. Legends speak of a corridor within the massive fortification, accessible by a key now lost throughout the ages.

I’m certain other authors have found more unique ways of creating worlds. We can’t help but pull real-life elements into our fictional world. It’s something that comes naturally. Sometimes it’s my dream of visiting the Amber Fort in India or Conway Castle in England. Other times it’s my simple adoration for Hawaii. Music also had a part in the creation of Velyn. Han’s Zimmer score for Tears of the Sun invoked images of a majestic landscape unclouded by western civilization under siege by malevolent forces.

The world of Velyn stands as a vision comprised of places I’ve seen and not seen, cultures I’ve encountered or studied, mixed with fantastical elements that could only exist in a world governed by powers we can never fully understand. Thank you for reading.

About the Book
Precipice is an epic fantasy adventure revolving around Danika and Kiruna Del Ray, two sisters born with unique mystical abilities who must retrieve a stolen book of magic before its power can be harnessed for evil. Together, they must battle to overcome an array of obstacles impeding their quarry, arising not just from the enemy, but also from allies who secretly work against them. Precipice is the first thrilling act in the A Show for the Gods series.

Links:
Purchase on Amazon / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble / Sony
Author website
Social Media: Facebook / Goodreads
Twitter: vixwrite

About the Author
Anthony DeRouen was born and raised in Redwood City, California. Anthony began writing short stories and fan fiction in 2008. He has published one novel and written two others in the A Show for the Gods series: Precipice, Diviner, and End of Dreams.

A growing passion for online role-playing games introduced Anthony to the world of fan fiction where he compiled numerous stories and articles for his fellow guildmates to enjoy.

In 2009 while drafting a fantasy article for a friend’s gaming website he fell love with the concept of a battle healer who defends a country not her own against sinister forces bent on releasing a terrible power. A number of plot lines were developed along with how the world would appear at the height of its economical and political strength in the beginning, and then deteriorate as events unfolded.

When Anthony is not writing, he’s playing MMO’s such as Guild Wars 2 and Everquest 2, or training for obstacle course runs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

LURE OF FOOLS by Jason King

Bob the World Builder 
CAN-WE-BUILD-IT (It being an original and exciting setting for a fantasy book)? YES-WE-CAN!
World Building can be as tricky as it is fun, and the approach can be different for every author. I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but here are five things that have helped me in creating effective settings for my stories.

#1. Your world has to have a layer of familiarity to it
There is a fine balance that an author has to strike between the old and the new, the alien and the familiar. Too familiar and your world is boring and unoriginal. Too weird and it’s a distraction from the story, and a turn off to the reader. So pick an element that will be familiar to your readers and incorporate it into your setting. A great example of this would be Avatar The Last Air bender (the cartoon, not the awful movie). Although the world clearly is fictional, it has a very strong Asian motif. Even their bending moves are derived from real Kung Fu.

#2. Don’t let your setting upstage your story
I like to think of the setting as a stage for a play. It needs to be beautiful and detailed, but you don’t want it to be so flashy and filled with moving parts that it distracts the audience from the performances of the actors. This can happen if you put too much emphasis on your world. This may be fantasy author heresy, but Tolkien had a problem with this in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He often emphasized the details and history of Middle Earth to the detriment of his characters and plot (please don’t send me hate mail, I promise I do love J.R.R.).

#3. Consistency! Consistency! Consistency!
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to lose track of details when you’re writing a novel over a long period of time. Unless it’s your full time gig, it will probably take a while for you to finish your manuscript. This can make it easy to forget details of your world or even your plot. For example: I had a beta reader point out in one of my manuscripts that I kept switching between leagues and miles in measuring distance. Keeping organized and accessible notes is the key to preventing this.              
 
#4. Use maps to map your story
I started world building by making maps. You don’t need to be an expert cartographer to do this. Use a crayon and a napkin if you have to, but it helps to get a visual overview of your setting. And the details of location and topography can inspire new plot lines and help you chart the course of your characters’ journey.

#5.  Let your readers discover your world
Make certain that you weave a certain amount of discovery into your story. Not all characters know everything about the world they live in. Make sure to mark how much a character should know, and be consistent. Sometimes it is helpful for characters to have false ideas about the world. In any case, let the reader discover your world through the eyes of your characters by parceling out information in a way that feels realistic and organic. Avoid info dumps.

I hope these pointers help. Don’t forget to check out my new novel, The Lure of Fools, published by Curiosity Quills Press. Thanks!
 - Jason King

The Lure of Fools

Adventure is the lure of fools, and excitement glamour to the gullible. The siren song of the world is as music to the wanderer’s feet, but that dance leads only to the soul-less grave.” So Jekaran’s uncle has warned him. But that doesn’t stop him from leaping at the exhilarating chance to single-handedly rescue a beautiful woman from a gang of lecherous thieves.

 But the bored farm boy quickly finds that he is no match for the group of angry street thugs, and only escapes death by bonding a magical sword that grants him the strength and skill of a master swordsman. Unfortunately, a peasant wielding such magic is forbidden and punishable by death.

 Thus Jekaran finds himself a fugitive with his fate tied to that of the exotic and mysterious, Kairah; a fey woman who must deliver a dire warning to the king that, if heeded, could prevent the very extinction of humanity.


Find more at Jason King's website

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cover Reveal & Next Big Thing, Part III

Disciple, Part III is my Next Big Thing! I'm thrilled with the cover art -- dark and dangerous, created by Faiz Nabheebucus who was the artist for Disciple, Part I's cover.

What is the working title of your book?
Disciple, Part III is subtitled: "Embers on the Wind."

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the enemy army thunders at the city walls, Kate must unleash more than her healing powers to defend her homeland.

Disciple, Part III back cover
Kate fought for her place as a healer in the war’s front lines. Serving her homeland has been her goal since her magical gifts earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the kingdom’s greatest healer. She believes she’s prepared. 

But nothing’s simple when defending a besieged capital city — or her heart.

She loves the prince, who means to protect her even though his duties as a knight keep him on the battlements, fighting the enemy’s monstrous army.

Kate’s husband is the one who checks on her, lingers over dinner, and slowly but surely charms her. She’s all too aware that her beloved prince threatened to kill him if he touches her. 

As the enemy thunders against the city walls, the kingdom needs more from Kate than just her healing magic. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.

Kate believed she's ready for a war. She isn't.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Part III grew out of the ways that war is portrayed in fantasy novels. There were aspects of war that I had always wanted to see, in fantasy. The claustrophobia, the uncertainty, the overwhelming mass of suffering -- the view from the front lines, rather than the command pavilion. In keeping with that, I was greatly influenced by Bernard Cornwell's Warlord chronicles and his descriptions of the hand-to-hand fighting in the shield wall.

What genre does your book fall under?
Hard fantasy romance. Despite all the war, there's still a romance going on.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I named some actors for the three main characters in the meme post for Part I and for the three saints in Part II. Since I'm all about the world-building for my stories, let's do some slightly different casting...

Climate and ecology
I grew up in New England, and I'm still homesick for its cold winters, snow, and mild summers. I miss the maple trees turning flame-orange in the fall, the fresh syrup in February, and spotting lady slippers in the woods. Most fantasy stories are loosely based on medieval Europe: mine is based on a medieval New England that never existed -- so that's why my characters are eating potatoes, tapping sugar maples, and worrying about cougars.

Technology level
So far as armor, weapons, and general technology go, Disciple is set in 1250-1300 or thereabouts. Mail armor ("chainmail" to D&Ders) only, bucket-shaped great helms, one-handed swords and kite shields. Clothes are still cut simply, though the fabrics and embellishment can be rich. The town water mill is about the most complicated piece of machinery around.

Enemies
When I was looking for the basis I would use for the Arceal Empire, I knew I wanted a military/political system that had been successful, even brutally so, and stable for some centuries. Rome was an obvious nominee. But when it comes to stability, China is hard to beat. So both of them contributed to the attitudes and costuming of the invading enemy in Disciple.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published -- Part I and Part II are available at all the major online retailers. Part III will go on sale September 1st, 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
According to my notes, 40 days (and 40 nights) for the raw cut and another seventeen days to whip that into a first draft.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Disciple is a six part story, and all six parts have been written. This is the halfway point! Stay tuned for Part IV -- don't know when, yet, but it'll be in the first half of 2014.

Disciple, Part III arrives September 1st, 2013!
Blog tour starts September 1st and runs through the 30th.
Sample Part I • Sample Part II • Sample Part III

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

MASTER OF THE DANCE by TC Southwell


Dance of Death
An extract from Master of the Dance, Book V of The Queen’s Blade series

Blade’s hands tightened on his daggers, and he tensed, his muscles thrumming with energy seeking explosive outlet. An electrical jolt went through him as Ice tapped his feet in the distinctive rhythm of the Dance of Death, beginning the duel. The rigid structure of the Dance did not apply to an armed duel, but many of the moves would be repeated in it, simply because they were so deadly.

Blade moved towards his opponent, the danger heightening his senses. Ice circled, and, from the wary glint in his eyes, Blade knew his words had dented the Cotti’s confidence. He stopped and waited for Ice to attack, since this put the Cotti at a disadvantage. Ice had no choice, however, if he wanted to kill Blade. Ice’s feet clicked as he closed the gap in a whirling leap, his blade-tipped boots lashing out towards Blade’s chest.

Blade swayed back, allowing the razor edges to skim past his vest, then slashed with a dagger, opening a shallow cut in Ice’s arm as the Cotti spun past. Ice landed with a clatter of metal-shod boots, and continued his spin, dropping to slash at Blade’s legs, forcing him to spring into the air. Blade kicked as he leapt, his boot grazing Ice’s cheek and cutting his ear when he jerked aside. As Blade landed, Ice leapt up and stabbed at him. Blade spun away and kicked his opponent, stabbing Ice in the shin. The Cotti grunted and staggered, then leapt high, one leg lashing out. The boot-blade skimmed past Blade’s shoulder as he spun aside, opening a shallow cut.

The assassins’ boots clicked without rhythm as they danced the deadly duel, beating out a chilling tattoo of swift death. The moves were too quick for the eye to follow, a blur of flashing boot-blades and slashing daggers in a continuous dance of graceful, lethal motion.

Ice whipped around, lashing out with boot and hand. His dagger ripped open Blade’s vest and shed bright blood. Blade twisted aside and leapt, reaching the extraordinary height that made him such an excellent dancer, along with his peerless speed. His rising boot punched into Ice’s chest, stabbing upwards into the pad of muscle. Ice grunted and recoiled, then lunged as Blade landed, aiming for his belly. Blade threw himself backwards to avoid the thrust, kicked upwards as he did so and stabbed Ice in the thigh.

The Cotti growled, becoming frenzied in his pain and fury. Blade rolled away as Ice stabbed at him. The dagger skimmed his ribs and opened another gash. Blade slashed at Ice’s neck as he rolled to his feet, but the Cotti flung himself sideways in the nick of time. Blade followed, whipped around and leapt, becoming a spinning dervish tipped with steel. Ice sprang away, but received another cut across his chest, then he lunged in as Blade landed, stabbing at his neck.

Blade threw up an arm, his only option, and the dagger impaled his forearm to the hilt. He grunted and wrenched free, blood oozing from the wound and his hand losing its strength. Ice grinned and lunged again, but Blade jumped back and leapt, raising his stiffened legs in the foot-crossing move he had invented, but had never tried in combat. His feet clashed in a shower of sparks, and his rising boot-blade impaled Ice’s cheek.

The Cotti assassin screamed and jumped back, dropping an instant before Blade’s boot-blade would have pierced his gut as Blade landed on one leg and lashed out with the other. As Ice dropped, he stabbed upwards, driving a dagger into Blade’s thigh. The Jashimari assassin jerked his leg down, hitting Ice on the side of the head with his heel. Ice fell, then rolled away as Blade went after him, regaining his feet an instant before Blade kicked him again, stabbing him in the calf.

Both fighters dripped blood, their vests soaked with it. Crimson trickles ran down their legs and arms, and Ice’s neck. Most of the duels fought before the Dance was banned ended when one fighter died from blood loss, and sometimes the victor succumbed too. No combat was more vicious, fast and bloody than a duel between assassins. There was no respite, no moment of inaction when they could catch their breath. From the moment the duel started, the men were a whirling blur of flashing blades until one died.

Their feet clattered and their gasping breaths rasped in the silent chamber. They gleamed with sweat and blood. As yet neither had slowed one iota, and the speed of the fight made it difficult to follow. Blade floated sideways, using the quick, foot-crossing move that looked so graceful in the Dance but had other, sinister origins. He kicked out as his opponent lunged at him, then spun away when Ice whipped around and tried to stab him in the back. His move brought him closer to the Cotti, and he slashed with both daggers, inflicting wounds in Ice’s arm and chest before he sprang away.

Ice followed, leapt high and kicked with a flashing boot-blade, stabbing Blade in the biceps of his injured arm. He spun away, using his momentum to whip around as he leapt. His boot-blade slashed across Ice’s arm, severing the muscle. Ice staggered back with a growl, his eyes widening at the sight of the blood pouring from his arm. Blade followed, his mind as cold and clear as frozen crystal, his need to survive blocking the pain of his injuries.

Master of the Dance
Captured and condemned, the Queen’s Blade is forced to face his fate and fight a deadly duel with a Master of the Dance to survive. More treacherous Cotti princes must die and the Regent’s life is in danger. Blade’s legendary skills are tested to the extreme and his web of lies and deceit is challenged, but nothing touches the frozen heart and icy mind of a killer whose heart died long ago.

Learn more at TC Southwell's blog
The Queen’s Blade II, Sacrifice 
free on a 3-day promotion, 6 – 8 August
Coupon Code: EN88H
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