COVER REVEAL: Huw the Bard by Connie J Jasperson

Every now and then, a fantasy book comes along that’s really different and unique. As a principle editor at Eagle Eye Editors, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the editing of this novel, but I’m not allowing this to colour my judgement. If it wasn’t truly special, I wouldn’t be bringing it to your attention.

Huw the Bard, the first in the ‘A Tale of Billy’s Revenge’ trilogy, is being launched in a few days and I’m so pleased to be able to share this cover reveal with you. It’s a lovely piece of artwork – so eye-catching. So without further ado. Fanfare please . . .

Check out this blurb:

Huw Owyn is the last true bard in Waldeyn.

Fleeing a burning city,

Everything he ever loved in ashes behind him,

Penniless and hunted, no place is safe.

Abandoned and alone, eighteen-year old Huw the Bard must somehow survive

It’s two-hundred leagues to safety,

And then two-hundred more.

A lot can happen to a man on a journey like that.

Piqued your interest yet? On the launch day of this medieval fantasy, I’ll be featuring an exclusive excerpt so check back in about three days. Believe me, you won’t want to miss it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Connie 2014

Connie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington. A vegan, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, and is the Olympia area municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. Music and food dominate her waking moments and when not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly.

You can find her blogging at: Life in the Realm of Fantasy

http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

Tower of Bones Series – Book I, Tower of Bones takes the reader to the world of Neveyah, where the Gods are at war and one man holds the key to winning that battle. Book II, Forbidden Road is the follow-up, and picks up the story six years after the end of Book I, Tower of Bones.

Tales from the Dreamtime, a novella of new fairytales told in a traditional style, consisting of two short stories and one novella.

Billy’s Revenge Series Huw, the Bard takes you to the world of Waldeyn, and a medieval alternate reality. Fleeing a burning city, everything he ever loved in ashes behind him, penniless and hunted, Huw the Bard must somehow survive.

 

 

Book launch: Forbidden Road by Connie J Jasperson

Every so often I come across a book that resonates deep in my soul – I’m sure that’s happened to you too! One of those books was Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson. Most of you know I love fantasy books more than any other genre and this book certainly didn’t disappoint!

I started getting to know Connie through a mutual friend and was delighted when she asked me to edit book two in the series, Forbidden Road. This was truly a labour of love for me; having enjoyed Tower of Bones so much I read it twice back-to-back, it gave me enormous joy to be able to read and work on the follow up. This has been the most comprehensive editing job I’ve had and it took a while to reach the finish line, but what made it all the more enjoyable was working with a consummate professional who I have come to respect and consider a dear friend.

Tomorrow this fabulous book is being launched and I can honestly say I’m almost as excited as Connie! Of course, being the editor has a few perks, one of which is being able to give you, my wonderful followers, an exclusive cover and trailer reveal PLUS an interview with the lovely lady! I’ve also managed to twist her arm to allow me to share an excerpt from Forbidden Road with you. So without further rambling from me . . . here is the amazing cover, which was designed by Ceri Clark.

FR Cover bigger

Now for the trailer:

Intrigued yet??? Here’s the blurb:

A ray of light shone on Edwin. Of its own volition the sword Leviathan raised itself aloft to the Goddess. A bell tolled deep and clear, ringing through Edwin’s bones, ringing to his heels and resonating to his very soul, sealing him, binding him. Fervently he swore to wield Leviathan in service to the Goddess and Neveyah.  He was alive with the sound of the bell. The beauty of it was almost unbearable.

As every fiber of his being resonated, a voice proclaimed “Now begins the quest in earnest. Send now the heroes four to the Shadowed Land. Beware! Beloved, the true task for which you were born begins.  The storm rages, the door opens upon the field of battle. In grief recall the Forbidden Road. The Beloved Hero will rise on the day of redemption. Mist and shadows shroud the truth, but the Hero Foretold shall one day set them free.”

Tears coursed down his cheeks and falling to his knees, Edwin’s eyes were blinded by the radiance of the bell’s tolling through his heart, mind and soul. The knowledge he was loved, overwhelming in its intensity, flooded his being.

Thus begins the Quest of a lifetime. Sorrow, peril and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

I’m going to keep you waiting a bit for the excerpt and tease you with the interview – especially as it talks a little more about Forbidden Road!

Me: Hi and welcome, Connie. Congratulations on the launch of Forbidden Road – are you as excited as I am?

CJJ: Yes, it’s been a long time coming and I’m glad the day is finally here.

Me: So am I!! Can you tell us a little about your new book?

CJJ: Forbidden Road takes up six years after the end of Tower of Bones, and continues Edwin’s story. Many changes have occurred and many more loom on the horizon. They are all family men, and they have careers—things that are all affected by this quest. Joining Edwin, Friedr and Christoph on their quest to shield the heart of Neveyah and heal the land is Zan, Christoph’s adopted son.

Me:  Do you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

CJJ: I’m in love with all four of them, especially now they are settled men.  They each have their own strengths and that is what makes this series so much fun to write.

Me: I know what you mean – I love all of them too! How many more books are you planning for this series?

CJJ: One more in the Tower of Bones Series, working title is ‘Valley of Sorrows’. There is a prequel in the works currently about 75% done. Once all of these are complete I will begin working on the ‘Hero’ series, of which the final book is outlined.

Me: Ooo, exciting! How did writing Forbidden Road compare with writing Tower of Bones, the first book in the series?

CJJ: Both books fell out of my head faster than I could write them down.  With Forbidden Road I had an editor as soon as the first draft was finished (gosh, you may know her!) and that made the whole process so much easier.

Me: I can’t think who you’re referring to, *tries to look innocent*. Are any of the characters based, however loosely, on anyone you know?

CJJ: I doubt it—so far as I know they are based on people I would LIKE to know, and began life as characters for a an old-school computer game that was planned to proceed along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games, and like the modern Aveyond games. That fell through, but I had fallen in love with the story and it became Tower of Bones.

Me: It’s a shame the game fell through, but think what we would have missed if the book had never been written . . .  Anyway, what are you working on at the moment?

CJJ: I am working on Mountains of the Moon. This is Edwin’s grandfather’s story and is a bit of a comedy; it’s being written as a stand-alone novel, as Tower of Bones was. I am trying to get that one finished, because John Farmer’s flashbacks in Valley of Sorrows concern events surrounding the fates of several characters from that book. I have the basic story of Valley of Sorrows all done, but in order to flesh it out I need to finish Mountains of the Moon.

Me: I can’t wait to get my hands on these two! I know you’re a big music lover; who are your favourite artists to have playing when you write?

CJJ: In truth, I am obsessed with Ritchie Blackmore in all his incarnations, such as Rainbow and Deep Purple.  I love his current band Blackmore’s Night. My other obsession is Robert Plant in all his various incarnations too! But besides Ritchie and Robert, my iPod has everything from Adele to the Zombies in it, and I have seventeen days’ worth of music, which if I began playing it end to end would never repeat itself.  My daughter, Meg Clear’s music is very high on my faves list!

Me: I love Meg’s music too! Is there any one author who has influenced your writing?

CJJ: I think the late Anne McCaffrey has had the greatest influence on me, but all the great fantasy and early sci-fi writers are alive and well in my subconscious mind.

Me: What made you pick fantasy as your genre to write?

CJJ: I’ve never been fond of reality, truthfully. I guess that since I live in the real world, I don’t need to vacation here!

Me: I can SO relate to that and what a great way to explain it! What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 12 months?

CJJ: You may laugh, but I finally figured out how to make the brushes rotate on my carpet shampooer, and that has helped me immensely!  I clean house when I hit the wall on my writing and need to organize my thoughts. I’ve always found cleaning to be conducive to daydreaming, and all my books begin as daydreams.  SO—having the shampooer that’s working properly has been awesome for my creative genius!

Me: May laugh? Only a huge amount of side-splitting guffaws echoing around the room right now! That’s certainly not what I was expecting, but I think it’s brilliant. Anything which helps the creative juices to flow is a good thing, right? Okay, a couple of fun ones to finish off . . .

You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional to join you and your guests. Who would they be and why?

CJJ: Roger Zelazney, L.E. Modesitt Jr. and Fritz Lieber.  Three great fantasy authors, all of whom have awesome male heroes. Only Modesitt is still alive, and of the three, only his characters are not misogynists. Nevertheless, I would love to hear them discuss the craft of writing from their viewpoints. Can you imagine the dinner conversation?

Me: OMG it would be awesome! Finally, if you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?

CJJ: I would be Uhura from the original Star Trek, because she got to play with the boys and she could talk to every species they met.

Me: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit me today. I’ve loved having you here! I wish you every success with your wonderful new book!

CJJ: Thank you for inviting me!

Okay, okay, I’ve teased you long enough and can’t hold it back any longer. Here is the EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Forbidden Road, just for you:

“Why does the land change so radically here?” Zan finally asked Edwin. “This is the worst road I’ve ever seen!”

“Tauron’s poison is nearly at the door,” replied Edwin, wondering what was bothering Zan. “It’s a mere fifty leagues away from the gap now. I thought you understood. We’ll be in Tauron’s Mal Evol in three days.”

“I knew it on one level, but I guess I didn’t understand what it meant,” replied Zan, feeling temporarily dismayed by the grim reality of the landscape. “I guess I was thinking of the adventure, not the reality. I was thinking it’d be like Aelfrid Firesword, all fun and adventure, with no worry.”

 “Actually, Aelfrid Firesword’s life must’ve been terribly difficult,” said Edwin, walking next to Zan. “Think about it. He was forced to kill his closest friend who’d become a rogue mage and gone over to Tauron. Can you imagine how you’d feel if, say, I went over to Tauron? How would you protect the people of Neveyah from me? What would you do?”

“I never thought about that aspect of the story,” Zan admitted. “Making those sorts of decisions, having to kill someone you love in order to protect others you love, I can’t imagine what that was like for Aelfrid.” He sighed. “But I’d do it, if I was forced to. I think it’d kill me, though.”

“I know.” Edwin clasped Zan’s shoulder. “Daryk was the most famous of the Dark-Mages, but most people don’t know he fought desperately against Tauron’s minions at Aelfrid’s side when the two of them first came into their powers. He worshipped Aeos, and loved Neveyah with all his heart. It never occurred to either Aelfrid or Daryk he would ever fall to Tauron, but there was no Temple, and no vows to protect him from Tauron’s blandishments. There was no college to teach young mages how to use their magic, so they had to learn how to control the build-up of chi and avoid the madness by gaining apprenticeships to older mages. Daryk was lured away from their kind master by a mindbender who was under Tauron’s spell. It was because of Aelfrid’s grief over the loss of the man who’d been closer than a brother, and his struggle to save the other mages still loyal to Aeos that Aeoven and the Temple exist today. Without Aelfrid we wouldn’t have the augmentations allowing us access to greater chi reserves, nor would we bind ourselves to the Goddess with the vows. It must’ve been a terribly hard time to live through.”

“I see what you mean,” admitted Zan. “As a kid I read all the stories, and just thought it was all good against evil, romance and happy endings. But maybe it’s just the way the bards tell it.”

Edwin laughed. “It wouldn’t be a good story if it was all dirt, bug bites and poor sanitary conditions now, would it?”

Forbidden Road will be available on Kindle from Amazon tomorrow (on both sides of the pond), with the paperback following soon.

Connie J JaspersonConnie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington.  Somewhat like the ‘Brady Bunch’, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music.

Tower of Bones Series – Planned for release in February 2013 is the second book in the series, Forbidden Road, the sequel to the best-selling epic-fantasy, Tower of Bones.

Billy’s Revenge SeriesBook 1 The Last Good Knight is a medieval fantasy. Book 2, Huw, the Bard is planned for release in 2013.

A collection of fairy tales and short-stories, Tales from the Dreamtime is also scheduled to be released in 2013.

Catch Connie on her blog at http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

 

 

Monochrome or Colour?

 Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a monochrome world?

It’s hard to imagine isn’t it?! Everywhere we look, we’re surrounded by colours; from nature, vehicles, advertisements, shops, soft furnishings and even our own clothes, and we take all this for granted because it’s always there. We don’t have to search it out because it’s everywhere we look.

 

 

But, indulge me for a moment . . . shut your eyes and try to picture everything around you purely in monochrome. It would be beyond boring to live in a world like that, with no colour to bring everything to life. It would be depressing to the nth degree!

That is what your writing is like if you don’t bring ‘colour’ into it.

There are so many ways you can do this:

Your characters

- Physical descriptions. You don’t have to go overboard, but your readers want to have an image in their mind of what your main characters look like. Is your protagonist a slim, hazel eyed brunette or a chubby blue-eyed blonde? This is better than nothing – at least you’ve given something for the reader to work with, but by taking it just a little further, you can write a picture of how they appear. Imagine them in your mind’s eye then write what you see. You can always cut superfluous information (which would happen during the editing process anyway), but you’ve brought your character to life just by adding some colour. And don’t forget your characters don’t have to be flawless; they’re more real if they have a small defect or two (like a scar from a childhood accident, or a lazy eye, or one lip being out of proportion with the other).

- Emotions. You need to show that your characters are ‘real’ by the way they react to certain situations – SHOW being with operative word here. “He was angry . . .” this phrase TELLS us something, but it has no colour. Now consider, “His skin flushed purple as his eyes narrowed, blazing with an icy fury and he clenched his fists so tight you could imagine the bones breaking through the skin . . .” Now you are showing the reader; you are giving them colour and an image they can relate to.

- Gestures. I’m an observer of people and I tend to particularly watch expressions and mannerisms. Some people use their hands a lot when they talk, some pull on an ear lobe when they’re lying, some run their fingers through their hair when they’re thinking. Some people bend forward when they’re vehemently trying to get a point across or arguing. Imagine telling a friend a secret when there are others around and you don’t want them to hear – what do you do? You lean towards them and whisper in their ear – right? The point is people don’t just tend to stand like mannequins, with no movement at all apart from their lips when they speak. Use these sorts of things to add colour.

For extra examples and help, look back at my three-part series called Describing People;

Part 1 http://wp.me/p1UhOl-1K Part 2 http://wp.me/p1UhOl-1Y

Part 3 http://wp.me/p1UhOl-2N

Immediate surroundings

Again you don’t want to overdo it, but give your readers a flavour of where your characters are. Are they in a 17th century mansion? Are they in a 1960’s semi-detached house? Are they in a café or posh restaurant? Are they in a park, wood or forest? Pick out one or two features and describe them a little so your readers can picture the scene.

World Building

When you write fantasy or sci-fi, you especially need to bring your world to your reader as it’ll be somewhere they can’t relate to. Is the sky always purple during the day? Is the grass blue? Do the trees have strange coloured leaves? Do the flowers talk?

 I’m going to use a small example here from Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson and her world of Neveyah. Her main characters are on a quest and they are approaching a place called Mal Evol which has been taken over by a dark God. She describes the Mountains of the Moon where some of the face is as shiny and smooth as glass. The land approaching Mal Evol has been turned from fertile to poisoned soil which will only sustain thorn bushes and trees higher than the head of the tallest character on the quest. She describes strange Rat People who seem part human yet are vicious and attack for no reason, Thundercows which cannot be eaten by humans and will only eat the thorn bushes. And so the list goes on. Through her brilliant depiction and use of ‘colour’, she had brought her world of Neveyah to life. But the best thing is she hasn’t overdone it. She gives the reader just enough description in each place for them to form a picture, without detracting from the action.

A thorn forest

 All these elements brought together in your writing will add the colour a reader looks for. So from now on, is your writing going to be Monochrome or Colour?

My thanks to Connie for allowing me to use information from her novel to emphasise my point.

Book Review: Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was going to be the typical fantasy premise of boy hero in training and female warrior who saves his butt. But I decided to give it a chance and was more than pleasantly surprised. I don’t want to give any spoilers away so I’m going to talk more about the overall writing than the plotlines.

The author wove an interesting story with some very unique elements that I’d not come across before. Her world-building was cleverly done in such a way that she made it believable and her descriptions were so good you could easily picture each area the characters found themselves in, particularly in and around Mal Evol .

Her magic system was well thought out and again used inimitable components that were surprising.

Her characters were designed with exceptional depth; I found the main four protagonists extremely likeable and rooted for them when they faced their trials and tribulations. I loved the way the relationships intertwined and how a novice mage (Edwin) became like a brother to those involved in the quest with him, and ended up instructing his teachers and mentors.

The antagonist was skilfully crafted, both in terms of description and the depths of his depravity. His magic system was different to that of the protagonists which made for an interesting twist. She built the tension well at the appropriate points and I certainly did not see the curve ball coming at the end.

The snippets of back story interlaced well, provided clarity to some of the unfolding events and were by no means overdone or overlong.

On the downside, I did find a few minor errors in the text, but they didn’t spoil the pleasure of reading the book.

In conclusion, Tower of Bones was an enjoyable and entertaining read and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Available from Amazon.com http://amzn.to/KcXTTs or Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/LqPiKK

Also by Connie J Jasperson – Last Good Knight

Connie J Jasperson

Limitations can be so liberating…

Today I’ve passed the keyboard to my good friend and amazing author, Connie J Jasperson and she shares with us why it’s so important to set boundaries. Take it away, Connie…

Limitations can be so liberating…

Good fantasy stories frequently involve magic, and you love good fantasy. You have this great idea for a story, and you want to tell it to the world. You sit at the keyboard and start pounding away, and the story just flows from your fingers. You are sailing, the story is flowing, and then suddenly you realize that Bart the Mage seems to have unlimited magic ability.

Well, I am here to tell you, that is no good because now there is no tension, no great ordeal for Bart to overcome. Bart can do anything!

Game over! End of story.

So now, it is at this point that you realize that you must create the ‘rules of magic’. I find it quite boring to read a book in which the author has never tried to imagine their own work beyond limitations of the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, or Robert Jordan. Those are wonderful, riveting, fascinating worlds, but they have already been done! If all I want to do is expand on their work, that is fine, but I have to accept that at best it will be looked at as ‘fan fiction’ and not a true creation of my own. I rarely read fan fiction, and so I rarely write it!

I am an author, but I have a passion for reading.  I spend many hours each day reading the works of wonderful writers, reading on average 4 to 5 books a week. When each book is done I analyze what it was that I loved about that story, or conversely what I didn’t love.

My favorite authors are evenly divided among the most well known of the mainstream authors and also the not-so-well known indie authors. Along with memorable works of enduring quality, I often read books that don’t really work for me. I always seek out the indies, because with indie authors it is more of a gamble. You have the chance of stumbling across a real gem, although some books are just plain awful, poorly thought out and poorly edited. With those, it is tough to get past the first chapter.

Then there are the so-so books.  These are books that have such potential that I stayed with them despite the fact that they didn’t ring my bells. The reason why some books failed to please me was simple when I thought about it.  I kept waiting for the tension, waiting for the plot to thicken and it just never did. Everything was just too simple, too easy for the hero. Or, the magic just sort of happened and was not at all believable.

A great plot and great characters must be supported by a world that is fully believable.  For a world to be believable there must be limitations. That is also the first rule of magic.

I want each world that I read about to be unique, a new experience. With that in mind when I am writing, I try to tailor the magic to fit each world consistently.

Take Bart. He is a lowly journeyman mage, of average ability and intelligence. For a multitude of reasons he has decided that he must rid the world of Evil Badguy, a very powerful, very naughty wizard. Evil Badguy is very strong, and has great magic – but there are rules and so he is not omnipotent. Just as in real life, the antagonist must have a weakness and our protagonists now have the opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential. They will do this in process of finding and exploiting that weakness.

Now let’s say that Bart is a mage with offensive magic – maybe he can cast lightning at an enemy, or perhaps he can set fires with his magic. Can he also use magic to heal people? Can he heal himself? What are the rules governing these abilities and how do these rules affect the progress of the story? When it comes to magic, limitations open up many possibilities for plot development.

Let’s say that Bart can only reliably use one sort of magic. This is good, because now you have need for other several characters with other abilities. They each have a story which will come out and which will contribute to the advancement of the plot. Each character will have limits to their abilities and because of that they will need to interact and work with each other and with Bart whether they like each other or not if they want to win the final battle against Evil Badguy. This gives you ample opportunity to introduce tension into the story. Each time you make parameters and frameworks for your magic you make opportunities for conflict within your fantasy world, and conflict is what drives the plot.

What challenge does Bart have to overcome in order to win the day? Is he unable to fully use his own abilities? If that is so, why is he hampered in that way? How does that inability affect his companions and how do they feel about it? Are they hampered in anyway themselves? What has to happen before Bart can fully realize his abilities? Without rules, there would be no conflict, no reason for Bart to struggle and no story to tell.

Thus it is the limitations that you set on your characters that drive the plot.  In the field of epic fantasy, characters are often given great ability, and how the abilities are used is what makes the story interesting.  J. K. Rowling’s completely evil character, Voldemort has great ability, and great strength of will. He is so powerful that he is believed by all to be unbeatable.  But while he is extremely powerful, he is not omnipotent. These limitations are what allow an 11 year old boy to grow up to be Lord Voldemort’s most feared opponent.  The plots of all seven Harry Potter books revolve around the limitations of what the characters can do. How boring that would have been, if Harry Potter had been omnipotent from the outset and all of his adventures had consisted of him winning the day with little or no effort!

Now, the most important aspect of creating and designing the rules of magic for your world is to be consistent.  Do not make a habit of breaking those rules in the course of the story, because that reduces the believability of your story.  Let’s say that in chapter two Bart is unable to cast lightning while standing in a puddle of water. But wait! In chapter twenty-nine you have him drowning in a raging river and now he manages to fling a lucky lightning bolt at Evil Badguy, knocking him off a cliff.  Readers remember things like that, and it ruins the flow of the story.

It is true that I have read many brilliantly crafted books where the author broke their own rules of the use of magic, but they did it within certain restrictions that made the conflict believable. The way they did that was to set up conditions under which an exception to the rule was possible.  This added to the dimension of the story, and enhanced the flow of the story.

I hope that as writers you will think about the limitations of your worlds when you are creating them.  Those limitations are what shape the tales you are so passionate about telling. Believable boundaries are what make a story that is really just another rehashing of the old Good VS Evil into a memorable and beloved classic tale of valor and battles won at great cost and against great odds. That tale will inspire and enthrall the reader, and I will be eagerly waiting to read that tale!

Wow! Thank you so much, Connie, for taking over my keyboard today and sharing your insights and tips – this article is great for both writers and readers!

As always, I’d love to read your comments on this fab article!

Connie J JaspersonConnie J Jasperson lives and writes in rural Washington State.  She and her husband share five children, nine grandchildren and a love of good food and great music.  Connie has worked as a field-hand for a Christmas tree grower, a dark-room technician, a hotel maid, a bookkeeper and also ‘did time’ in the data entry pools of several large corporations.  She now is semi-retired and is writing and blogging full time. She is the author of the epic fantasy ‘Tower of Bones’ based in the fictional world of Neveyah, and ‘The Last Good Knight’, a medieval fantasy.  Currently in the works is another book based on the adventures of several characters in ‘The Last Good Knight’ and an epic fantasy, ‘Mountains of the Moon’ another tale of Neveyah. She can be found blogging at http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com or http://bestinfantasy.blogspot.com.

 

Check out Connie’s books on Amazon – they are AMAZING!!!

Last Good Knight

To get it from Amazon.com  

To get it from Amazon UK  

Tower of Bones

To get it from Amazon.com 

To get it from Amazon UK