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.

Book Review – Denai Touch by Tiffany Shand

In my last two posts, I treated you to the cover reveal, blurb, and a short excerpt for Denai Touch, the debut novel of Tiffany Shand. I promised you a review and I’m pleased to reveal it below.

Book Cover

But just before I do, let’s just have a quick reminder of the blurb:

Cate McCray is no ordinary witch.

Prophesised to be the one to destroy the Covenant, an age-old organisation who seeks to enslave all Magickind, the race is on for them to kill her before she attains immortality.

But before receiving the phenomenal power that comes with it, she must first survive the ascension and the only person who can help her is her elemental partner, Jason Talbot. But when the time comes, her forbidden love for Jason threatens to destroy them both.

As leader of Excalibar, an elite team of Enforcers, they work to infiltrate the Covenant leading Cate into life-threatening situations. Can she outwit them before it’s too late?

My review

I don’t want to give any spoilers during this review, but somehow I think it’s going to be hard not to.

Denai Touch centres around Cate, a very gifted young witch who is waiting for ‘Ascension’ when she will come into her full powers. The problem is there are those who are trying to stop her.

Cate really leapt off the page. She is larger than life and the author has done a great job of building her character. She comes across as feisty, confident, and in full control of her powers, but underneath is a vulnerable young woman who fears her ascension as much as she wants to embrace it. She’s also unnerved at the speed in which her powers are growing and how inconsistent they can be.

With a foe leading the Covenant, a band of dark witches who have been trying to take her family down for generations, who has targeted Cate and wants her dead before she ascends, the young witch has a great deal hanging over her head. Some of her insecurities show she has an Achilles heel, the main one being her Elemental, Jason, who she has feelings for. Cate is a well-rounded, realistic, and relatable character.

Jason is an enigmatic character with a huge secret. It becomes clear quite early that he cares for Cate and does everything in his power to protect her, even when she doesn’t want it. He has to endure a great deal of verbal abuse as he’s seen as a slave by the leader of Cate’s coven (her grandmother), but has the guts to answer back when he feels it’s necessary. I rather liked his character.

The Covenant is led by Raven, a dark witch who is focussed on what she wants and is willing to go to any lengths to get it. She doesn’t care about hurting innocents and encourages her right hand, the loathsome Tasha Phelps, to experiment on then. These are characters you love to hate and they come across as deliciously wicked.

All the other characters have their own personalities, some more so than others, and most are interesting in their own right. There were a couple who came across as bland, even though they were featured quite often and realistically it was possible to give them a bit more personality. However, the pace of the novel didn’t really allow for it.

The world building has been done well and, for the most part, you can picture the surroundings easily. There is good use of description throughout.

The plot itself is interesting, original, and well paced. It unfolds in such a way as to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. This is always a good sign as far as I’m concerned!

All things considered, this is a great debut novel and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Would I recommend it? If you love the Paranormal Romance genre then I absolutely would! Even if you don’t, it’s still a good read.

One thing’s for sure, Tiffany Shand is an author to keep an eye on!

To buy Denai Touch from Amazon, click here.

Coming up soon, is an interview with the lady herself so keep a close eye out for that. But in the meantime, here’s a short bio.

Profile Picture

Tiffany Shand was born in Essex, UK and started writing short stories when she was a child.

She has always done writing in one form or another and started writing novels in her early teens.

Tiffany loves to read books and discovered her love for fantasy and paranormal romance during this time.

She writes both non-fiction and fiction, but mostly fantasy and paranormal romance.

After doing a creative writing course in her early 20s she is now a freelance writer and professional proofreader. She is currently studying for a journalism degree.

Tiffany lives in Essex with her two spoiled cats and one very nutty hamster.

 

#AprilPrompts Day 13 – Throne

Hmmm, another tricky one. Well, it would have been if I hadn’t had an LOTR-fest last week. It was just the inspiration I needed.

Throne

Day 13 - Throne

Day 13 – Throne

When you visit royal palaces around the world, or see photographs of them, the thrones are almost always elaborate, heavily padded and look to be reasonably comfortable. Yet, in fantasy books, TV series and films, they appear about as uncomfortable as it is possible to make them.

 

The throne of Gondor from LOTR

The throne of Gondor from LOTR

Gondor’s throne is carved from stone or marble and ne’er a cushion in sight.

The throne of Rohan - also from LOTR

The throne of Rohan – also from LOTR

Although the wood is elaborately carved, it still looks very basic.

Finally, the one from Game of Thrones.

Finally, the one from Game of Thrones.

Despite the unusual design, this looks about as uncomfortable as you can get, and I certainly wouldn’t want to sit on it for any length of time!

Now, I have a theory as to why fantasy thrones are depicted this way. In epic and high fantasy, the amount of world-building necessary sometimes precludes attention to detail on smaller items like thrones. Writers strive to make their worlds believable so readers can connect with them, and the choice between describing an enemy fortress and a piece of furniture is a no-brainer. Tolkien, of course, was an exception in this regard, as he tended to portray everything in great detail.

So was Tolkien’s method correct or did he over-describe? I think it’s a matter of taste.

Monochrome or Colour?

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

Photograph by Sheila Smart

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