Just a little tidbit for Alen’s birthday…

Hey, kids, listen up! I have a very important announcement.

Today marks one year since I published Alen’s War!

 happy fun celebration parks and recreation celebrate GIF

Now, I’m characteristically forgetful about anniversaries, blogiversaries, any versaries… but this year I somehow remembered. So, luckily for all y’all, I was able to prepare a little celebration.

I present, for your consideration, a personality quiz: Which character from Alen’s War are you? (I made it myself, which means it’s 100% scientific and psychologically accurate.) If you’re curious, you can head over and take the quiz to find out! Oh, and please do share your results in the comments below. I want to see just how many villainous revolutionaries we have running around.

Also, if you happen to have any other ideas for how I can celebrate my book-versaries in the future, let me know that too! Fanart contests, Twitter trivia threads, more Ship’s Log… I want to hear all your ideas.

That’s it! Have a happy Friday.

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The Day Is Here

Yes! Hahaha! The time has come, the day long awaited.

Alen’s War releases today!

AlensWarECover2

Get the paperback book here

or the Kindle edition here

(If you won the giveaway last month, you’ll get your free eBook today.) Even better, once you buy the paperback, you can add the Kindle version for just 99 cents with the Matchbook program. But there’s still better news for all you avid readers. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read Alen’s War for free until October 23. Isn’t that awesome? I certainly think so.

And if you want to read a completely impartial review from an unbiased third party, check out my sister’s review on my other blog.

That’s it! In the next few days and weeks I’ll probably be doing promotions and countdown deals, so keep one eye open for those. For now, fare thee well, and have a blessed Thursday!

Cover Reveal, Survey, and a Giveaway

The title says it all. Next week we’ll be back to a normal posting schedule, I promise; but for now, we get some new goodies for Alen’s War!

Cover first…

AlensWarECover2

Ah, I fooled you, didn’t I? (sneaky Sheriff of Nottingham face) I said before that the color scheme would probably be deep red, but then I turned around and made it soft green. That wasn’t a lie. I initially did want a red cover to match Agran’s flag, but while I was playing with colors, the green really stood out to me and contrasted well with the ship. Oh, and it wasn’t as scary as deep blood red.

Inevitably someone is going to ask the question, so I’ll answer now: Yes, I designed the cover myself, but I had a lot of sound input from other artists and the useful features of Paint.net and Picmonkey.  Who said an indie cover had to be expensive?

And that brings us to my second announcement. I need your help with a new blog series: Q&A on indie/self publishing. I don’t pretend to be an expert self-publisher, but other new authors and interested readers are always asking me the many questions that I had to answer myself when I was publishing Son of Ren. Obviously it’s a hot topic. In order to write about it, I need to know what questions to answer, so if you have a question about self-publishing, post it in the comments or email me through this page. Thanks in advance for your help!

Finally, the fun part- the giveaway. It opens on Friday, and you can enter by following me or tweeting a message to your friends. Here’s the link. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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The Nitty-Gritty of Alen’s War

Here it is: the Big Blog Post about my upcoming novel, Alen’s War. And this one will be fun.

Let’s begin with the updated blurbWhich is probably the strangest word in the English language. This is likely the version that will end up on the back of the book, but suggestions are welcome before I finish the final cover design:

Alen, the son of the king of Agran, is given a simple secret task: find an insurrectionist named Galer and bring him back quietly to the capital for trial, but in a series of tragic mistakes Alen sets off a full-blown civil war. Now Agran is out to have Alen’s head for a wereguild. To save himself and his homeland, Alen and a small group of fighters  must capture Galer once and for all. Yet their own dark secrets haunt them at every turn and foil their plans.

What else can I explain here? I find it hard to classify this book as anything beyond the generic “fantasy.” It has a young protagonist on a quest, and much of it takes place on beautiful pirate ships and frozen seashores. However, the whole plot revolves around a war that began as a rebellion. So what do I call it? I call it my fantastical YA war story that feels like historical fiction about vikings.

And now for the real cast of characters. Some of this might be a repeat of my introductory post, but there’s also some new stuff, so stick around. Oh, and I’m doing the dream cast this time, too.

Name: Alen
Personality type: ISFJ
Dream cast: …Alas, I could not find the perfect actor for my young protagonist!

     The prisoner lifted his head, the deep look of hurt still hanging in his eyes. “Then what will you do to me now?”
     Alen grinned. “I hope to save your life.”

What can I say? Alen may be a son of the king of Agran, but he’s by no means a normal prince. He is adorable, but not too soft; uncertain, but not a chicken; fierce, but not too impulsive. In short, he is every “good kid” when he or she was sixteen years old. Strangely enough, loyalty is simultaneously his strongest asset and his worst fault. It is the quality that propels him forward to accomplish his mission and yet holds him back from truly achieving the truth. Alen feels that letting go of the past is disloyalty, so he has to keep everything inside of him, pushed down where he cannot forget it.

Name: Brandis
Personality type: ISTP
Dream cast: Richard Armitage

That torch, though. (credit)

     “Do you believe we will win?” Alen asked.
     Brandis turned sharply, as if surprised and even offended. “Do you disbelieve it?” he returned, and Alen nearly withered at the frown that Brandis gave him. Then Brandis laughed. “Well, so do I.”

Okay, I admit it: Brandis the raider is my favorite character I have ever written, and that’s coming from an author who has written over thirty unique characters in one fantasy world. He is (dare I say it) Long John Silver, Coriolanus, and Faramir all rolled into one- although I wasn’t thinking of all those characters while I wrote him. To be honest, I wrote Brandis specifically with Armitage in mind. Brandis is the enigma that refuses to be solved: the friend who betrays and then apologizes; the killer who rescues people from fires; the raider who speaks like an English professor. And all that is resolved in his dark secret.

Name: Turomar
Personality type: INTJ
Dream cast: Harry Lloyd

I know… another Robin Hood actor. If only he would lose the mustache. (credit)

Still Turomar stared out at the grey sea. “I do not need love.”

Ah, my resident Mastermind. In many ways, Turomar the strategist is me gone wrong. That is, if I had been abandoned and rejected for all of my life, I would have the skewed worldview and priorities that Turomar does- all of which may explain why he’s a close second for my favorite character. Turomar may have a few acquaintances, but he refuses to let anybody into his life for fear that he will be written off as worthless or rejected altogether.

Name: Galer
Personality type: ENFJ
Dream cast: Matthew Macfadyen

Just ignore the gun. They haven’t invented that kind yet. (credit)

“Each of us failed Agran once, whether in word or in deed, and even after all the good we could do, there is no going back. Never.”

My sister teases me about the central antagonist, calling him “Enjolras,” and I can admit that there is some resemblance. Galer does serve as the hopeful leader of a revolution who gets himself into serious trouble. Yet he is also incredibly intelligent and crafty, having many more resources at his disposal than Marius’ college friends ever dreamed of, and his influence only expands as the war rages on. In short, Galer has a chance of winning, and he desperately wants to do just that.

King Reyis
Personality type: ISTJ
Dream cast: Liam Neeson

Ah, you knew he would turn up in one of my dream-casts someday. (credit)

“Whoever promised that life would be easy?” Reyis stood up and straightened, looking again like a tall king with steely eyes and grey hair. “Certainly not me.”

Good ol’ Reyis. He is Alen’s father and also the king of the second-largest kingdom in the world, so despite playing a relatively small role in the story, he was a great deal of fun to write. He’s not exactly the most touchy-feely parent in the world, but he always does what he knows is best, and if he doesn’t know, he will find out. I can appreciate that kind of attitude.

Arila
Personality type: ESFJ
Dream cast: Lily James

Of course it’s Cinderella. (credit: IMDb)

Alen felt the dagger at his side. Maybe it had no real magic, but Arila surely did, and it was enough for him to keep fighting.

You knew I couldn’t write a book without any estrogen, didn’t you? Not, that is, without getting complaints from my romantically-minded mom. Again, as a bookkeeper at the capital, Arila has a relatively small role in the story. However, while she does play something of a love interest (at least at the beginning), Arila mainly serves as a sort of impact character, the one on whom the message depends. And she is really quite a sweet girl, which makes for a sweet subplot.

That’s all, folks! I’ll be doing some interviews at other blogs as the big day approaches, so keep an eye out for those. You can also preorder the Kindle version of Alen’s War or hold out for the paperback in July.

In Which I Reveal a Title, Plot, and Characters

Life struck last week, and by life I mean wisdom teeth surgery, clep tests, and some form of head cold. Maybe it’s time for a nice easy update. Oh, I know- how about a writing update? This is a writing blog, after all, and I did promise to write blog posts about my works-in-progress.

So here you go: this is the first official post on the subject of my non-sequel, and I have few bits of news to share. Hang onto your hats, kids, because it will be an awesome ride.

First and foremost, I have chosen the title. Drumroll…

ALEN’S WAR

Yes, Alen’s War it is. I was trying so hard to avoid YA-cliche titles and still score decently high with this neat little titlescorer that I overthought it. At last, after boiling the story down to its essence, I’m satisfied that this title does the trick.

Secondly, what on earth is the story about? Right now I can only give you a rough summary. Yet who knows? I might end up keeping this as the basis for my official blurb.

Alen, the son of the king of Agran, is given a simple secret task: find an insurrectionist named Galer and bring him back quietly to the capital for trial. Yet with one tragic mistake Alen destroys a town and helps Galer to set off a full-blown rebellion. Soon Agran is embroiled in civil war and Alen himself is captured by raiders, who only lead him to wreak more havoc on his homeland.

When Alen finally returns to his father, he realizes that Agran is out to have his head and that his only hope for acquittal is to do his part and fight to end the war. He recruits Brandis, an old companion from his raiding days, and Turomar, an ill-disposed surveyor with a brain for strategy. All three of them want to end the war, but their own dark secrets haunt them at every turn and foil their plans.

Finally, characters. I have a small cast this time, at least compared to the twenty named characters in Son of Ren. (Why, yes, I did write an encyclopedia of names; how under the sun did you guess?) This time I have room for a few details on the characters themselves; namely, a picture of how I imagine them, their personality type, and a few thoughts about them.

Alen is a little older than this, but it’s close enough. (image credit)

Alen: ISFJ. I love writing this young esquire because he is so much like my sister Grace Olivia. Alen is innocent and pure-hearted, yet it is his fierce loyalty that causes him so much trouble. And he’s adorably naive about pretty much everything except literature and crossbows. My hope is that we can all identify with Alen to some extent.

Galer: ENFJ. The aforementioned insurrectionist was the hardest to figure out. Even as I type, I still have questions about the finer points of Galer’s personality. At heart, though, he and Alen are one and the same: they both are pure-hearted and loyal to their country. It’s just that their loyalty leads them to fight on different sides.

Brandis: ISTP. I chuckle every time I think about this raider. He loves weapons and has a dark sense of humor, yet he still speaks with the vocabulary of Shakespeare and keeps dark secrets hidden behind his smirk. Even in my imagination he was such an enigma that I had to figure him out.

Turomar: INTJ, the schemer. He’s just an architect in a seaside town, yet he has the mental capacity to end wars. At the same time, Turomar has a lot of emotional and ethical issues to work through. He has a dark past and focuses all his strength on making his own future bright, and he thinks no one can be trusted to help him with that.

That is all I can tell you right now. No more spoilers.

Want to share about your current project? Do you have any questions about mine? You can write it all in the comments.