Change of Direction

When I finished writing Heart Search, I had an idea in my head for a fantasy novel. I knew it was going to be different from writing Paranormal Romance, but I’m not sure I was prepared for how different it was.

First I had to start with world building and this is far from simple. As well as deciding what type of structures people inhabit, you’ve also got to take into account the laws of the land, money, terrain, how people make a living, how their food is grown, if there are various social classes and how each related to the other. You have to decide what type of era to set it in, for example, do the people live in mud huts or buildings made from wood, stone, bricks etc. This will also help determine what clothing is worn and how people speak. In short, you need to know almost as much about your new world as you do your current one.

The next important step was the magic system people would be using and who would have access to magic. I wanted to try and come up with something unique, something no one else had used before. This was pretty hard considering how many fantasy books are out there and eventually I came up with an idea I thought might be unique.

I also decided to create creatures which were different to the normal ones seen in fantasy. This part was quite fun and I enjoyed it immensely.

Once all this preparation had been carried out and carefully documented, I was then able to begin writing. There were many times I had to refer back to my notes so I was glad I’d got them available.

As much as I enjoyed writing it, I must admit to being a tad nervous as to whether the novel came across as believable and sent it off to my editor, Connie J Jasperson, who also writes fantasy (check out Tower of Bones, Forbidden Road, and Huw the Bard). She loved the story and the main criticism was that I’d invented my own system for time and measurement which she felt the readers would get frustrated with, so I had to abandon it. However, the fact she liked the story made me feel really good about it and it’s given me the confidence to attempt another fantasy novel, which I’ve already started the background work on, like the world building.

So what’s this new novel? It’s called Of Ice & Air and here’s the blurb:

On her 21st birthday, Princess Kailani’s father tells her that when she was a baby, her mother was abducted. She also learns she has family in another world.

Defying her father, she travels from her Cloud Castle home to the ice kingdom of Idenvarlis where Kailani’s instincts drive her to find the mother she doesn’t remember.

Gifted with the magic of two worlds, and skilled in the use of weapons, she journeys into unknown and dangerous territory. Despite her determination to rescue her mother, she’s forced to overcome new fears and find a way to cope with all she encounters.

However, a person of authority will stop at nothing to prevent either of them returning.

Kailani faces isolation, wild beasts, rogue soldiers, and more as she battles to return to the Ice Palace. With the stakes so high, can she make it back alive?

And here is the cover:

OIAA cover

So, what do you think of it?

I’m hoping to release the book before the end of this month so keep your eyes peeled on here for the details and an exclusive excerpt.

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Penny Dreadful

I’ve just returned from a family reunion in Belfast and Dublin and everywhere I went there were reminders of how many great authors and poets have come from the green isles. You could be walking down a street and find a quote from work by Yeats or Oscar Wilde, to name but two, and I found it extremely inspirational.

Some of the places I visited gave me loads of ideas for my next series of books and it goes to show that you can get inspiration from almost anywhere, if only you take the time to look.

Dublin Castle was one such place. I didn’t go inside, it was the events unfolding in the courtyard that caught my attention. There were roped-off areas with old fashioned market stalls; some were the type that were on wheeled carts and others were static. As I looked around at the ‘wares’ it felt like I’d stepped back in time and it was a strange sensation. Suddenly I was in Victorian London and all around me were people dressed from that era. As I stared, drinking in the sights, I could picture certain scenes for my Seven Doors series and I couldn’t wait to write it down.

But what was happening there? Was it an exhibition the castle had staged? No. The reason certain areas were roped off was because an episode of the TV series, Penny Dreadful, was being filmed (although I didn’t realise that until I saw actress Billie Piper dressed in Victorian finery and boom mikes and camera equipment being wheeled or carried into the courtyard).

Rehearsal before filming

Rehearsal before filming

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard. This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it's all part of the memory.

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard.
This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it’s all part of the memory.

I took a few photos (as you do) and on the bus back to the hotel I took out my little pad and scribbled notes about the objects and scenes which had most inspired me. I know at least some of it will appear in one of the books in my upcoming Seven Doors series, but it certainly won’t be in the first one.

It certainly proves the point about inspiration. You never know what’s around to ignite that spark which sends your imagination into overdrive. So open your eyes, take the time to look around you, and make sure you have a pad and pen handy!

Book Review – Stealing Time by K J Waters

At the beginning of June, I featured K J Waters on here when she was celebrating the launch of her debut novel. If you missed the exclusive excerpt on launch day, interview, and guest post, just click on them to play catch-up.

Well, now I’ve had time to actually read the novel and want to share my thoughts with you. So here’s they are:

Book Review – Stealing Time by K J Waters

KJWaters-Front Cover for blog

I was intrigued by the blurb on this book, especially as it mentioned Hurricane Charley which I experienced in 2004, so although it’s not the sort of book I would normally read, I was interested enough to give it a go and I’m glad I did.

The concept of the plot was very original and I liked the way Waters constructed the method for the time travel to take place. She weaved the plot well and it certainly kept me turning the pages. KJ had certainly done her research about London and the time period. Factually it was very accurate, especially when it came to how women were treated more as chattels to be sold into a loveless marriage to advance the standing or financial position of the family. She’d also done her homework on what happened to women who were accused of witchcraft. The detail she included gave the reader an accurate picture, but I’m glad to say there wasn’t an info dump. The author intertwined it with the plot so it read as a natural progression within the story.

The detail included in the hurricane scenes was scarily realistic. Trees crashing through roofs, bringing down power lines, loss of power and water – these were all things I remembered only too well!

The main character, Ronnie, was well crafted. She had depth, was realistic, and relatable. When Ronnie became Regina, after the time travel incident, the confusion and desperation she felt was palpable – something which isn’t easy to achieve without over-emphasising. However, the author accomplished it with ease. I enjoyed the blossoming love between Ronnie/Regina and Matthias and I hope they meet again in the future. Matthias was the perfect gentleman, perhaps a little too perfect, but I liked him just the same. Jack, Regina’s brother, on the other hand, was a monster and I had a hard time believing parts of his story. I couldn’t understand how a man could treat his sister in such a horrendous way and then denounce her as a witch and all because she didn’t encourage the suitor of an arranged marriage. It seemed to me that his behaviour was way too extreme for the circumstances, which made his character less realistic.

The supporting cast were well thought out and, for the most part, likeable. Jeffery wasn’t a character I warmed to, probably because he used Ronnie for his own ends and was cheating on her too. Those directly involved in the Hurricane Charley part of the story showed myriad emotions and reacted as most people would under the same circumstances; this was very well done. I particularly liked the two main characters in this section.

The writing flowed nicely, the story lines were easy to follow, and the descriptions of places and events were extremely well written, without going over-the-top.

My only real criticism was that the proof reader didn’t do the greatest of jobs. However, this didn’t spoil my enjoyment too much. Overall, this was a page turner for me; I found myself invested in the story and characters to the extent that I really want to get my hands on book two. For a debut novel, I would have to say this is one of the best I’ve read in a while and would definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin

Yesterday my blog was hijacked, but I really didn’t mind. I thought the character interview was great. But moving on to today and it’s LAUNCH DAY for Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin. I have to say, I love this cover!

Vera's Song cover

I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the book in exchange for an honest review and this is what I thought of it:

Book Review – Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin

Having read the first book in this series and enjoyed it, I was interested to see what the author would do with this one. Was it going to be the dreaded second book in a series which didn’t live up to the promise of the first? Actually, no. In fact it was quite the opposite.

Erin introduces some new characters in this story and ties them in nicely with those from book one. Vera’s Song takes us forward about four years from where the previous tale leaves off. Kiatana has grown in confidence and taken the mantle of queen of the forest to the next level. Her son is typical for his age: curious, fearless, and a bundle of energy.

Wyntier, a new character, is deliciously evil. He’s hatching a plot and needs Kiatana’s son and his changer to make it work. Wyntier is cruel to the nth degree. He beats his changer, Vera, for the slightest thing and yet she loves him and does whatever he wants, even if she knows it’s wrong. There are no redeeming features in this character. He shows no remorse for anything he does, or the pain he causes. Driven by his need to be powerful and to control everything around him, he will stop at nothing to achieve it. I had to wonder why he was so brutal and driven and this was never addressed. It would have been interesting to know his background a little more, but even the flashbacks to his childhood showed a nasty boy who bullied weaker kids.

Vera’s a conflicted character who has been in love with Ionan, Keota’s changer, since they were young. She yearns to be reunited with him, but despite the harsh treatment she endures, she still won’t leave Wyntier. Vera’s character is well crafted. You feel her frustration, pain, love, and basically she has a good heart. She wants to do the right thing and tries in her own way to make life more comfortable for Wyntier’s victims. I found myself really sympathising with her plight and she’s the one who has stayed with me the most.

The other new characters all added something meaningful to the story. Some of them were written in a stronger voice though. Those from book one had all grown into their skins or pelts. However, I found Keota to be less effective in places and would have liked to see him as formidable as his wife, Kiatana.

The plot itself was exciting and dramatic. There were lulls, but they didn’t diminish the story; there needed to be some less intense moments so the reader could draw breath and take in what had happened in the previous few pages. There were no plot holes and the only part of it which felt contrived was an altercation with some elves. Later in the story, the elves return and the complete 180 didn’t quite sit right with me. However, the rest of the story was so engaging that this small irritation didn’t spoil it for me.

The world Erin built in book one was equally as strong in this one. From forests to icy mountains and beaches, her description was detailed without being overwhelming. She brought each part of the world seamlessly into the story giving good reasons why the characters were there.

For me, the definition of a good, enjoyable book is one you can remember several weeks later, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. I finished reading Vera’s Song about three weeks prior to writing this review and yet I find myself transported back into the pages as if I’d finished it only yesterday. There were enough errors which made me want to shoot the editor or proof reader for missing them, but they didn’t detract from my pleasure in reading it.

In conclusion, this book was better than expected, a good and memorable story with characters that stayed in my heart long after I finished it. If you’re looking for a fairy fantasy read with something a little different, I would certainly recommend Vera’s Song.

My Rating 4/5 stars

BOOK TAKEOVER: Vera’s Song

Hi! Remy Injay here, indie book reporter! Firstly, I’d like to thank Carlie for letting me takeover her website today for an interview! Today we’re interviewing Ionan, a fire breathing, emerald green dragon who takes center stage in the second book in the Creatures of the Lands series, Vera’s Song! Vera’s Song comes out this Friday, June 10th. 

Vera's Song cover

Thanks for being here today, Ionan. Can you tell us a little about the book?

It’s different, this time around. In the first book my companions and I had to journey the realm in order to find a cure for a strange illness. Now my friend Kia’s son has been kidnapped, and we must go beyond all reason in order to get him back.

This book is about your first love, Vera, correct?

Yes, that is what our sequel pertains to.

And? Details?

I’m not inclined to give any, at the moment. (Lets out a puff of smoke).

Darn! Okay, then tell us about your adventures. What can readers expect this time?

What else? Danger. Excitement. True love gone wrong for multiple couples, and a despicable creature out to destroy the Lands. Usual, I expect.

You sound rather grumpy today.

You cannot possibly imagine.

But this is your book!

Yes, it is my story, though not a particularly pleasant one all the way through. People died, you know. There’s a fair bit of tragedy among the adventure. Not everyone gets their happy ending this time. Sacrifices had to be made for the greater good. The first book was lighter. Things are getting darker.

I see. And you’re not inspired to tell us anything except for what’s on the back?

I am a dragon. I do not meddle in the affairs of humans. 

Irritable reptile.

Did you expect anything different?

Okay, fine. In the first book, you participated in a great battle to save Kia’s forest. Is this book going to be similar to last time?

Things involved more people in Book 1, but now all of our battles are on a much more personal scale. There’s more to lose for all of us, if you can believe it. Our children are at stake, and the people who have them like to play mind games.  

Wait a second…if this is your story then why aren’t you on the cover?

Because dragons are expensive to make, you fool. I suppose none of you humans could catch me in all my scaled, green glory anyway.

Will you behave?

I do not know the meaning of the word.

You know we could call your rider, Keota, in here. He’ll put a stop to this.

That’s what I thought. Can you tell me a little about the book’s antagonist, Wyntier? From your honest opinion?

I could tell you I want to rip him limb from limb until he goes out of this world screaming.

Ionan!

Well, you asked me to be honest. I am a fearsome creature, as you well know, and I don’t take well to people who try to destroy everything I hold dear. I don’t suppose anyone does, really. I’m certainly not going to sit down for tea and crumpets with him…that’s what you humans eat here, tea and crumpets? I’m sure that must be what the phrase is…

Fine, fine. What’s the last thing you want to say to readers?

Expect the unexpected. Things aren’t always what they appear in the Lands, and this time, enemies are lurking everywhere…even from within our circle of friends.

That’s a wrap! Thanks again Ionan for showing up…

I really shouldn’t have.

And make sure you grab a copy of Vera’s Song, which can be found here at Amazon!

Book Launch & Review for Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson

As you saw a couple of days ago, I revealed the cover and book trailer for Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson (in case you missed it, click here). Well, I’m really excited to announce that today is the official launch day and as I was lucky enough to see the manuscript prior to it being available for sale, I decided to write a book review for you.

First though, let’s just have a reminder of the blurb:

Charged by the goddess Aeos, Wynn and his companions bicker and bumble their way through the Mountains of the Moon. Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies chase them through a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps.

Can they survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s crumbling castle before his minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

And now, here are my thoughts on it.

Book Review – Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015

Having read Tower of Bones and Forbidden Road, I was thrilled when I discovered Connie was writing a story set two generations previous.

Wynn Farmer, the grandfather of Edwin (the main character in Tower of Bones), finds himself in what is, for him, unknown territory. He’s met by a mage who takes him to Aeoven, the main city in Neveyah, where he falls in love, marries, then finds out he needs to go on a quest with three others to stop a rogue mage from committing any further dastardly deeds.

I won’t say any more about the intricacies of the plot as I hate reading spoilers in reviews. However, I will discuss it in general terms.

The story begins slowly and gathers momentum as you continue through the pages, reaching an amazing climax just before the end – a bit like good sex really. But all innuendo aside, it has to be that way as the four questers train for a task that will test them to their limits. As the story unfolds, the main character grows into his skin, learning to control his magic along the way. Events affect all the companions prior to leaving for the quest which adds nicely to the story.

Once the quest begins and the four mages are on the outskirts of their destination, having had to deal with various strange creatures on route, the author turns up the heat. She twists and turns the fates of the four in ways which are totally unexpected. I’m not going to reveal whether they all make it out alive or uninjured – you’ll have to read the book for that – but suffice to say, the ending was momentous and satisfying.

Connie crafts her characters in totally relatable ways. None of them are without faults and some are more lovable than others, but all of the main cast are definitely memorable. The dialogue is as realistic as the characters. They have their strengths and weaknesses, fears, loves, and insecurities, just like you or I. My favourite character was Wynn, closely followed by Devyn D’Mal. Those of you who have read Tower of Bones will undoubtedly recognise that surname! Her ‘baddies’ are deliciously heinous, but are also realistic. They have aspirations to climb the proverbial ladder to success, which in their case is being rewarded by Tauron, the Bull God, but they also have their self-doubts, relationships, and varying degrees of arrogance and subservience.

Jasperson is one of the few writers on my bookshelf who can successfully build a world which is so exquisitely detailed, that it seems too real not to be fictional. She doesn’t go overboard with description, but gives just enough for the reader to fill in the gaps, yet does it in such a way that you don’t realise it. She knows the world she’s created as well as her own home town and it shows in her writing; there’s a confidence which runs through the writing as she talks about various places, which is a rare thing to find.

Overall, this book is well-written, gripping in all the right places, and a damn good story. I won’t hesitate to recommend this to fantasy fans, especially those who love epic fantasy, as I know for a fact there are more books being written in this whole series. And I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on them!

Buy Links – Amazon http://hyperurl.co/MountainsOfTheMoon

http://bit.ly/MOTMKindle

http://bit.ly/MOTMNook

Connie 2014

 

Connie J. Jasperson lives in Olympia, Washington.  A vegan, she and her husband share five children, a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, an editor for Myrddin Publishing Group, and is a writing coach. She is an active member of the both the Northwest Independent Writers Association and Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and is a founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group.  Music and food dominate her waking moments. When not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly. You can find her blogging on her writing life at: http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

Connie J. Jasperson’s  body of work includes:

WORLD OF NEVEYAH series by Connie J. Jasperson

Mountains of the Moon – Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies, lie deep in a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps. Can Wynn survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s stolen castle before the Bull God’s minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

TOWER OF BONES, series based in the World of Neveyah

The gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

This epic fantasy series opens with Tower of Bones, and follows Edwin Farmer as he journeys deep into the lands claimed by the dreaded Bull God, in an attempt to rescue a girl he has only met in his dreams.

Forbidden Road takes up Edwin’s story six years later. When four mages are sent into the shadowed lands claimed by the mad priest of the Bull God, who will return unscathed? Sorrow, peril, and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

OTHER BOOKS BY CONNIE J. JASPERSON

Huw, the Bard, a novel that 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. Available as an ebook and in paper.

Tales From the Dreamtime – a novella consisting of three modern fairy tales told in a traditional style. Available as an ebook, in paper, and as an Audiobook, narrated by the wonderful voice actor, Craig Allen.

Cover & Trailer Reveal – Mountains of the Moon by Connie J Jasperson

One of my most favourite authors, Connie J Jasperson, is about to launch another book in her epic fantasy World of Neveyah and Tower of Bones series. I love the world of Neveyah that she has created for both series; the detail is so exquisitely crafted and written, one could be forgiven for thinking it actually exists. I won’t say too much more about what I think of this book as it’ll spoil the review which I’ll be posting on the day the book launches.

Now, I have to say I think this cover is awesome. It’s so perfect for the book, it’s almost uncanny. So fanfare please……… put your hands together, scream and cheer for the cover of Mountains of the Moon:

MOTM Front Cover Final 6-18-2015

Isn’t that fantastic? I absolutely love it!

And now for the all-important blurb:

Charged by the goddess Aeos, Wynn and his companions bicker and bumble their way through the Mountains of the Moon. Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies chase them through a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps.

Can they survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s crumbling castle before his minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

The Gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

Sounds intriguing, eh? Now check out the book trailer:

Pretty cool, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve been lucky enough to score an excerpt from Connie from this awesome book to share with you all, so here it is:

The two prisoners heard heavy footsteps approaching, sounds that seemed to echo down a long passageway and stopped outside the door. A tired sounding voice said, “Well, your lordship. Did you feed them and give them water?”

“Of course I did,” replied the baron, in a quavering tenor. “I live, Jenner, but only because I serve. I understand that well.”

“They’re awake then. Those two soldiers of Tauron roughed them up pretty bad. Should I call Grakken to heal them now?”

The old man’s tones were sardonic. “Yes, you should. Your tame minotaurs were far gentler on them than they’ve been on some of the others, which isn’t saying much. At least these two big fellows have enough slack in their chains to be able to feed themselves and piss in a bucket.” His tones were scathing.

 “They’d better not have hurt them too badly. These two must be in good health for the ceremony tonight,” muttered the earth-mage. “Grakken is expecting a visit from High Priest Kandek today. The high priest will be pleased to have a real sacrifice to offer up on his new altar tonight instead of the usual miserable rabble.”

“I’m sure ‘the miserable rabble’ would have been glad to hear that if they’d survived your boss’s little frenzy the other day,” replied the old man. “Speaking of which, if we’re done here, I have to go and check on the one that does remain. I’m sure despite the ruckus of the other day, Grakken still has plans for her and wants to keep her alive even though he has these two fine specimens for tonight’s festivities, so….”

“Well, go about your duties then. I’m going to sit here just to keep those freaks from Serende from getting any ideas about using these two for sport. As soon as he’s awake, I’ll let Grakken know they’re here, through our link. He’ll be worried about their safety.”

“He should be worried about those soldiers, Jenner. They’re bored, and there’s nothing worse than a bored minotaur. Just so you’re aware, the woman likely won’t live through the day after their gentle courtship of her. You only have your minotaurs to blame for that. But it’s not my job to worry about the health of his sacrifices, especially since Grakken himself seems to be so careless with them.”

Well, if this doesn’t whet your appetite, I’ll be very surprised!

To contact Connie. find out more about her fabulous books, and to get to know her better, here are her links:

Twitter: @cjjasp  WattPad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ConnieJJasperson

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/connie-j-jasperson/33/94/b38/

Connie J Jasperson, Author on Facebook  – https://www.facebook.com/cjjasperson

Life in the Realm of Fantasy (Connie J Jasperson’s Author Blog)  http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

The Best in Fantasy Book Reviewshttp://bestinfantasy.blogspot.com

If you’re a newbie writer, you would be well-advised to visit Connie’s Author Blog. It’s chock full of extremely helpful and useful information!

In the meantime, here’s the lovely lady herself and more…

Connie 2014

Connie J. Jasperson lives in Olympia, Washington.  A vegan, she and her husband share five children, a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, an editor for Myrddin Publishing Group, and is a writing coach. She is an active member of the both the Northwest Independent Writers Association and Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and is a founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group.  Music and food dominate her waking moments. When not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly. You can find her blogging on her writing life at: http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

Connie J. Jasperson’s  body of work includes:

WORLD OF NEVEYAH series by Connie J. Jasperson

Mountains of the Moon – Danger, mystery, and dark prophecies, lie deep in a gauntlet of jagged peaks and deadly traps. Can Wynn survive the dark secret hidden in Tauron’s stolen castle before the Bull God’s minotaurs overrun Neveyah?

TOWER OF BONES, series based in the World of Neveyah

The gods are at war, and Neveyah is the battlefield.

This epic fantasy series opens with Tower of Bones, and follows Edwin Farmer as he journeys deep into the lands claimed by the dreaded Bull God, in an attempt to rescue a girl he has only met in his dreams.

Forbidden Road takes up Edwin’s story six years later. When four mages are sent into the shadowed lands claimed by the mad priest of the Bull God, who will return unscathed? Sorrow, peril, and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

OTHER BOOKS BY CONNIE J. JASPERSON

Huw, the Bard, a novel that 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. Available as an ebook and in paper.

Tales From the Dreamtime – a novella consisting of three modern fairy tales told in a traditional style. Available as an ebook, in paper, and as an Audiobook, narrated by the wonderful voice actor, Craig Allen.

Check back soon for launch details and my review of Mountain of the Moon.