Reading Aloud: A Few Tips for Authors

During my book tour last September, quite a few people asked me after my readings if I had any tips on how to read aloud.  There really isn’t a right way or a wrong way to do this but I decided to share some things that worked for me over at the blog of Dianne Gardner.

Visit Ian’s Realm and More for my take on reading aloud to an audience.

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Behind the Book: The Birds of Anjdur

The city of Aulis, setting for The Jealousy Glass.

When I decided to write my second novel, The Jealousy Glass, one of the things that I considered was symbolism. The Universal Mirror contains a lot of small cultural details that I’d placed in the story but never picked up on–one of them was the use of different motifs for different noble houses in the nation of Cercia.

I loved the idea of retaining that concept as my characters traveled to a different land but debated about what to do with it. The land to which they go, Anjdur, is heavily based on my own research on the Byzantine Empire around the year 1200. Because of that, many of the symbols reflect Byzantine cultural values–emphasis placed on the eyes as a source of power (in this case, magical) and also on the sun. But how could I change that, I wondered, and fit in some of the symbols that had been used in Mirror as well?

That was when I came to the idea of birds. Birds struck me as a symbol of flight and also of travel towards a better destination, a perfect metaphor for one of the main characters of Jealousy Glass.

Creatures of the air, they also seemed to fit the delicate but surprisingly strong empress Irena while also befitting her mysterious sister, the former Empress Sophia. Different birds are woven throughout this story for each Anjduri character–from eagles to phoenixes, the characters with that heritage in their veins each have a bird figure as pivotal to an artifact either belonging to them or interfacing with them at some crucial point. Like the characters, the birds that appear in the Artifacts of Empire universe are sometimes magical and a few will have a recurring role in what lies ahead.

As I continue the series, I hope to incorporate more of these ideas so that readers can follow the threads and begin to gather clues about some of the bigger mysteries yet to come. Will there be more magical animals ahead? Perhaps. 🙂

The Jealousy Glass, book 2 in the Artifacts of Empire series, will be released December 1, 2012. Feel free to add it to your Goodreads list.

This blog entry is part of World Animal Day.  Visit the link below to take part in the giveaway!

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Writing Games: “Going Shopping”

Courtesy sxc.hu

On an old blog of mine, I used to post little writing exercises and dare others to do them.  It’s been a while and it’s a fun thing to do so I thought that I’d place an old prompt here and see what happens.

Write about a shopping list as if this list had much more meaning than it could possibly hold.

When you think about the prompt, realize that you don’t have to take any of the above literally and can adapt it to fit your own purposes. We’re not in this to stress out so simply freewrite on this prompt with a goal of 500 words or less. The idea is that you’ll scribble it out over the weekend and see where it takes you.

Feel free to share in your journal, keep to yourself, or comment here. If you like the meme, please link back to it!  I’d love to share some of your links so please share them with me here, on Twitter or on my Facebook wall.

My unedited example from a freewrite is below!

Continue reading

Free Books on 5/2/12 & 5/3/12–including The Universal Mirror!

This Wednesday and Thursday, you can download a Kindle copy of my novel, The Universal Mirror for FREE! This is also true of a number of fantastic books offered by my press, Hydra Publications. You can see (and find download links) for all the novels here.

But don’t think that the book is only being offered in the United States. You can also download it for free at Amazon UK, Amazon in France, Amazon in Germany, Amazon in Spain, Amazon in Italy, Amazon in Japan

I’ve only sold books in the UK and Germany so it’d be really fun to see someone pick it up in other countries.  (Though I note that it isn’t translated but is only available as an English edition.)

Here’s a little information about the book for those who haven’t heard about it:

“Not blood nor bone shall magic touch.”

On the island of Cercia, God is dead, killed by his followers and replaced with the study of magic. But the people are suspicious of magicians, believing them the cause of ill fortune. If the magicians aren’t kept in check, the people believe that they might wrestle God from his grave and take the universe for their own keeping. So the universities train magicians in the use of magic, as well as in the restrictions — or Heresies — that bind it. Magicians must not leave their homeland; they must not cast spells on the living—whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, and his friend Asahel are both magicians. But they come from very different backgrounds. Quentin belongs to an old bloodline, though his grandfather has whittled away the last of his family’s fortune. Asahel, on the other hand, always smells of the sea, his face smudged with dirt. He was decidedly out-of-place at the universities that trained magicians, since most of them came from the upper classes. Everyone but Quentin tormented Asahel in school; their curiosity,even now, is what binds them together. They both long to explore magic, rather than cage it.

Now, Quentin desperately dreams of healing the woman that he loves, Catharine. Catharine is pitted and scarred from the Plagues which came to Cercia just before she reached womanhood. She wants no part of Quentin because of her self-hatred, disliking it if he so much as looks at her. This husband and wife rarely talk, and what little time they spend together is fraught with tension. But Quentin adores Catharine. If he is to save her from herself, he must be able to use his magic to heal.

Learning to heal will take an act of desperation, an unthinkable rebellion — practicing on the bodies of the dead. It is madness — but Quentin convinces Asahel to go along with his plan. Under the cover of darkness, they dig up a grave to work a magic that affects life itself. Afterward, Quentin feels a terrible guilt for involving Asahel, who had defied authority by his friend’s side. Both of them are unaware that the search for this lost magic will bring them both to the edge of reason, threatening their very souls. How far are they willing to go for the sake of knowledge? What will they destroy to obtain it?

Now, I’m sure many authors and readers are curious as to why I’m so excited to give my book away.

First, it’s just fun to give away your book.  I write stories because I like to and it’s flattering to think that people own them and read them and often enjoy them.  I also admit that I like seeing how far up the sales charts my book can go, even if it’s free.  It makes me blush when I see my book anywhere near one of my favorite authors and well, as a small press author, this doesn’t happen that much.

Secondly… well, tell you what.  If there’s enough interest on this post, I’d be happy to write a bit about the experience of KDP Select from my point of view.  I feel that to do that, it’d probably be necessary to wait a bit but I can definitely compare and contrast this time and the last.  So if that’s of interest, please let me know in comments.  (Though know that I may be a little busy and not responding immediately as I try to give my book out to everyone!)

All of that said, I honestly appreciate everyone who follows the blog and hope that I can give a little bit back to you in the form of this sale.  If you’d like to share this post or a link to the book with others, please feel free.   (And in fact, I’ll adore those who do!)

And hey, if you like this book, I’ve got a sequel I want to tell you about. 😉

(And another, even more exciting, project in the wings.)