Did you check out the new 'Alonca's Quest' header? Isn't it pretty? The cover is even better, just needs one more touch before it's ready to reveal. The book's interior needs more than one touch (four beta readers, one revision, and one line edit, to be precise), but it is coming along. Barring prolonged illness or other major interruption, AQ should be released in April of next year. Please send up prayers, positive thoughts, kisses...whatever it takes, lol.
Finding 'qualified' beta readers was easier than I thought it would be, and I had enough volunteers almost as soon as my last blog post was published. I thank everyone who volunteered here, on facebook, and in person, I really appreciate it!
In about two and a half months, I'm going to be looking desperately for reviewers. I will send a free e-copy of any book to anyone who will review it on amazon and/or goodreads, assuming you have reviewed the previous books, and for people who have followers who read their reviews, I may even send paper copies if they prefer.
Reviews are vital for writers, especially writers like me who have less than one hundred fans, lol.
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Dear readers and friends,
I'm happy to announce that the third and final 'rough' draft of Alonca's Quest is complete. In a couple of weeks I will begin reading it from beginning to end, looking for areas that need to be revised and edited. When that process is finished, I would love to have a few people read it on paper with a colored pen handy to mark notes of anything remarkable, from typos to unclear paragraphs to repeated words… If you have an eye for grammar mistakes or plot holes, if you hate awkward dialogue and overuse of adjectives, you might be right for the job. You also need to live in the continental US, have the time to read a 120,000 word (240pg) novel, be honest, keep the details between you and me, and be comfortable using that pen.
If you would be willing to fill this role and think you could do well in it, I will send you a sample copy of the book to write on and the money to send it back to me when you're finished. Please, don't ask for a copy unless you honestly believe you will take enough good notes to make it worth the cost and effort of printing and shipping it. What's in it for you? Unfortunately, I haven't made much money on this hobby (it seems you have to actually market a book if you want to sell it), but I will send you an autographed copy of the final product and list your name in the 'thank you' section. Plus, you can brag to your friends that you were a beta reader for this amazing up and coming author ;).
If you're not the editing type but you want a copy to review before it's released, I'd love to talk about that too, but we're looking at several months before we're ready for that.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you're up for the job! I only plan to send out a few copies, so there may be some people who don't get them.
Thank you for your consideration!
If you want to experience cultural differences, but you don't have the time or cash to travel the world, consider signing up to host an exchange student. It's work, sure, but it's also a fantastic experience and can be a lot of fun. Watch this short video for a taste of hosting sweetness!
1. A while back I took Trooper to the post office, something I avoid when possible because for some reason it's never a wonderful experience. Well, this time I let him wander around a little bit in the large room while I waited in the smaller room where the patrons lined up, hoping that greeting people would keep him entertained. I could see him through the glass, otherwise he never would have gone by himself. He still has a healthy fear of being kidnapped. I had just reached the front of the line when he came in to hang on my waist. And then, in a move that made everyone else laugh, he turned me red-faced with embarrassment. "Are you almost done?" he said in a loud, growly voice. "It's getting boring, and people keep calling me sweetheart."
2. While working on his reading lesson, Trooper read a difficult word much more smoothly than is normal for him. "Nice!" I said as he broke out into applause for himself.
When he had finished clapping, he looked at each palm, carefully yet futilely searching for some transgressor. Then he licked them thoroughly and turned back to his work. He must have noticed me staring at him because he explained, "I have to stop clapping. It hurts my hands to clap, so I licked them to make them feel better."
All I could do was shiver.
3. Trooper, working on USA puzzle: That's West Consin. Sometimes we call it East Consin.
'Teeth of the Gods (Unweaving Chronicles Book 1)' by Sarah K.L. Wilson
I enjoyed Teeth of the Gods not only enough to finish it, but to buy the next book. It's fantasy, with a thought-out magic system, a love interest, and a quest, but it feels different from any fantasy I've ever read. The world is nothing like traditional fantasy worlds; the main character isn't a nobody, she isn't trying to save the world, and the characters aren't white. Also, events sometimes surprised me, especially at the end. I didn't see that coming at all. The writing is smooth and pleasant to read, has few errors, and only once or twice did I pause because I was confused about the situation, minor instances along the lines of 'if she's back to back with this person, how can she look in his eyes.' That's not an exact example, but the kind of thing I mean.
Some things in the story were eye-rollingly (new word) predictable, like, anything Tylira did once I realized she really was a completely selfish, immature, ungrateful little snot. There's a reason no one likes her. This is my biggest hang-up with the story. She's supposed to be this way, it's not a flaw of writing, but it still made the book difficult for someone like me to enjoy. I think there was a little character growth, or at least she thought so, but she has a long, long way to go before she'll become a person I could sit down for dinner with and not be tempted to catapult something hot and saucy at her with my spoon. This leaves me wondering about the love interest. Why does he love her, exactly? She doesn't even have a sense of humor.
So, why am I reading a series about a girl I don't like? I guess the rest of the story made up for that. I'm curious about what will happen. The world is interesting. I wonder if the protagonist will change, and if she does, how will that effect change in the world since her insufficiencies have many implications and are central to the plot in more ways than I can explain without spoiling? I like the love interest, find him relatable even though I don't understand why he likes Tylira. I do wish I could be inside his head for a minute to figure that one out.
Sexual Content: None. Only mild romance.
Language: I can't remember anything foul. They use their own swear words.
Violence: Yes. Most of it isn't super graphic.
Diversity: Yes! Big high five for diversity.
Overall Plot/Message: The entire plot is pushed forward by the selfish desires of the protagonist. There is an unpredictable twist, and everything makes sense, so it was well done even if not exactly 'good'. If there's a message, it's 'Selfish actions feel good in the moment but their end is the way of death.' Sounds like a Bible verse.
Find it here.
Usually, when people speak of being inspired they mean that they were encouraged to be stronger, kinder, greater people. Today, I'm using the word 'inspired' in a different way because I'm talking about my dog of thirteen years, Alethea.
Alethea didn't inspire me to be stronger, although she did harass me to put in more miles. She didn't inspire kindness, but she did help me learn patience, which is a part of kindness. She may not have made me greater, but her insatiable need for exercise and dominion drove me to Cesar Milan, whose books and TV show taught me to be a calmer, more assertive person with firm boundaries and expectations.
Alethea also inspired a character named 'Milah' in Kergulen. For those who need a refresher, Milah was Driston's goatherd who drove him crazy and terrified Rima. When she was young, and not so young, Alethea drove my husband and me absolutely crazy, to nearly Marley and Me levels. One night about twelve years ago I was working on Kergulen, Alethea was whining incessantly about only walking four miles instead of sixteen, and the character Milah was born. I didn't expect the character to become important to the plot, more just a way to write out frustrations, but in the end she did something very important. And I could say the same for Alethea. She never saved anyone's life, so far as I know, but she played an important role in our family, several, actually--the roles of child, older sister, guardian, exercise partner, teacher, friend, ice breaker and playmate. We joke that she prepared us for an attention-challenged Trooper.
It will be a long time before I stop finding fluffy white hair in the corners and imbedded in fabric, a long time before I get used to walking without her or forget that I used to trip over her in the dark. I'll probably never forget bandaging her feet a couple times a year when she'd chase four-wheelers so far and so hard that the pads would wear off her feet, or how she loved to jump off the dock and splash everyone, and then come up on land, always waiting to shake off the water until she stood in the middle of a crowd.
This dog has been a pain in the butt and a family member for thirteen years. I'm really going to miss her. But she's traded in a crippled, unreliable body for endless swimming, running, and wrestling, for paws that never wear out and knees that never go bad. Cheers.
Things Trooper did a couple weeks back while I was sick with strep throat, in no particular order:
1. He watered his school project, cucumber plants, by filling his mouth with water and then spitting it into the cups. I believe he was pretending to be an elephant.
2. He took a large chunk of dried out, leftover cornbread and rolled it between his hands, systematically spreading it over two thirds of the kitchen floor. Pretending to seed grass with a spreader?
3. He got into the brown sugar to steal a few bites and oops! Dropped the bin on the floor. Lost a little more than one quarter of the bin's contents about ten minutes after we cleaned up the cornbread.
4. He went out onto the lenai to run the vacuum, just for something to do while I was busy, and I heard the machine making a struggling noise. It turned out that he had filled the entire canister with cat litter from the litter box. It has yet to fully recover.
5. He took knobs off his dresser.
6. He broke the vacuum into three pieces. One of the pieces I was able to fix, and the other was the cover to the cord winder, which is now exposed.
7. He got strep throat because no matter how much he might complain about me, he can't stay away.
8. He dug a 3x3x.5 foot hole in the front yard while I made lunch. We have sand, so that makes digging much easier than you might believe if you're from anywhere but here.
9. He has lobbied continuously to be allowed to keep his baby snails, even though he doesn't remember to care for them and he lets the food get disgusting. I brought up releasing them again today, and he said, "No, I want to keep them and be their uncle."
10. He poured approximately 21.3 ounces of bubble soap into the tub. Before there was water in the bath.
I have a long overdue update about Alonca's Quest, so those who have been wondering about it should read on. If you don't really care about my books, and only read the blog because you enjoy reading posts about my family, well, what's wrong with you?
I have good news, but bear with me as I lay it out for you in a less than abrupt manner.
Kergulen is kind of like an overly long prequel to the main story. More than anything it's Rima's origin story. The main story is Rima and her friends saving their world from invaders both Haran and other. Originally I had intended to have the entire Haran conflict in one book, but it became clear that I would have to rush through the story to make that happen in fewer than a thousand pages and ten years. So, following the advice of my good friend and book consultant, Winter, I ended Kings of the Red Shell where I did and continued to work on book three, now titled Alonca's Quest. AQ, as I generally refer to it, was supposed to finish up the story, resolve the conflict with the Harans and their allies, and lead us into a completely different arc of stories about Rima and her friends.
But once again, the story is too big. There are too many foes, too many challenges, and too many characters to fit in one reasonably sized book. To do it well, AQ would be far longer than Kergulen, which most of you know is a very long book. Also, AQ as it currently sits is broken into two sub quests, anyway. I feel it demanding that I go back to flesh out other characters and enhance subplots. I wish I had done this with Kergulen, (it could have been two or three much better books than it is) but I didn't. I was inexperienced, I didn't have a team of people giving me tough advice, and it never even occurred to me that I could break it up. Readers had to tell me that.
I can't go back and change what's done, but going forward I can learn from it and make the hard choices that will make Alonca's Quest the best book so far (and I hear that it already is shaping up that way) and make the fourth book even better. Actually, I almost can't wait for book four because I've worked a lot on it already, and it's kind of awesome. But AQ will be great too! It just won't have quite as big a climax as book four, which only makes sense since book four will conclude this part of the series.
So, as I said, good news all around. The books will be better, AQ will be coming out much sooner than it would have, and more characters will have the chance to shine. I finally feel mostly settled here in Florida, so I've been able to spend more time working on books. If you ever want to kill a hobby, move to another state. Yeesh.
In a few months I'll be looking hard for additional beta readers to help me work the kinks out of AQ. If you think you have time and would help, let me know.
Love to all,
1. Trooper to a girl at the park as they carry around Spanish Moss: Do you have a tractor? Why not? My grandpa has a tractor. We're gonna need a wagon for this.
2. "What did you do with the dead mouse?"
Trooper gave me nothing but a blank stare, afraid of confessing to whatever it was that he wasn't supposed to do.
"What did you do with it? Did you touch it?" He had been outside where it lay in the driveway, and knowing him, there was no way he'd gone without doing something to it.
"Oh, no." Trooper said, relieved that touching the mouse was the action in question here. "I just told it it was going to be dead for a long, long time. And then I did a maniacal laugh."
And then I pictured the neighbors listening to this creepy little monologue, and I thought that maybe touching it wouldn't have been so bad.
Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog! Around here you'll find posts about my books, my family, our intercultural experiences, and things interracial.