This weekend I’ll be out and about celebrating Small Business Saturday at the Countdown to Christmas Vendor event hosted at the Salem Guldens UM Church in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I’ll be there with my young adult novels Tedenbarr of Have Lath and Thorunn from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. I’ll be signing any copies purchased on site, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone as we get into the holiday spirit!
More details regarding the event can be found at the Salem Guldens UM Church’s Facebook page.
Happy to report that the Fantasy Cartography workshop went really well. We had so much fun!
First we discussed maps, both historical and fantastical, and how the way we view the world, and thus represent it, changes over time – in fact boundaries are still being drawn and redrawn to this day! We explored the parallels between navigating unknown spaces in our real world and the uncharted territory of a first, second or even third draft – because the act of writing itself is akin to a grand adventure – and learned how to created an imaginary world that influences, or is influenced by, the maps we as authors and readers discover in the beginning of many fantasy and adventure novels.
Finally, we put everything we’d learned into practice, creating a variety of unique and interesting maps based on a mix of history and our imaginations. It was so wonderful to see the fun and imaginative worlds the children had designed come to life on their sketchbook pages.
Here is a small list of print and online resources you might find useful should you decide to explore fantasy cartography for yourself:
As is the case for many of you, I suspect, this year didn’t go at all like what I had planned.
My second novel, Thorunn, was released in May, and while I’ve certainly enjoyed discussing the book online, I struggled to put together offline events, for a number of reasons. However, I refused to let all the hurdles in my way make things grind completely to a halt. I was blessed to be able to throw together a few book signing events – one a more private, impromptu event at a yard sale I co-hosted over the summer, and the other two at more prominent, public locations.
The first of these was at The Reader’s Café, a charming little bookshop-slash-cafe in downtown Historic Hanover. The cafe was once a church before being turned into the book haven it is today, and has lovely internal architecture. Since it was also International Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course I had to go in cosplay, debuting another new look by mix-and-matching pieces I had already made. It was really wonderful to connect with avid readers while supporting a small business, and I hope to return in the future with more books!
The second place I was able to visit to sign books was the captivating cave at Indian Echo Caverns. I didn’t actually make it to the caves this time, since it was so windy I was afraid my books would fly away if I stepped away to take a quick peek, but being on the grounds (under a lovely Greek-styled stone pavilion), seeing all the animals, and enjoying the sights and smells of the surrounding food trucks was wonderful in its own way. And of course, chatting with book fans was the highlight.
By now, I think it’s apparent that I rather enjoy cosplay, so again, I went dressed as a character, one I debuted on Thorunn’s launch day, Lachelle Michaels, who is a soldier appearing in the second half of the novel.
All in all, despite the many limitations this year has brought, I am so thankful I was still able to make the best of it, and I consider these events to be a success! Here’s to looking forward to 2021, and until then, happy reading!
Today I’m so excited to be sharing an exclusive interview with dark fantasy author E.S. Barrison, as well as my review of Barrison’s debut novel The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice.
I first stumbled across Barrison on Tumblr, during an event focused on character backstories, and almost instantly fell in love with Brent, one of her main characters. Since then, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with this talented fellow author, and I’ve eagerly followed along on her journey to publication, looking excitedly forward to the day when I would be able to read her work in full.
Following is the interview, and then my review of the novel below that. (I will note that, as this is an adult fantasy book, there is rather a bit of language sprinkled throughout, as well as allusions to sensitive topics, so younger readers (teens) are advised to read with caution.)
I definitely enjoyed reading this book. It’s always exciting to follow along on a debut author’s journey, and I’ve eagerly soaked up the excerpts and illustrations Barrison has been generous enough to share as part of her pre-publication process.
Funnily enough, while I initially fell for Brent from the snippets posted on tumblr, when I actually started reading, I found I really connected with Rho. She’s quite intriguing, and has both an inner and outer strength that is perfectly tempered with her gentle and kind character. Rho was really the highlight of this novel for me, and she is a wonderful complement to Brent, who is determined to give up on himself from the very first chapter.
The prose was easy reading, which sucked me right into the world of the book, and I was never bored at any point. The novel moves along at quite a fast clip, allowing some down time here and there, but never lingering in any one place for too long, moving the reader along with the characters through each next adventure (some rather more bizarre than others!)
I did find the worldbuilding to be a bit confusing at first, but the more I read, the more was revealed, until I felt—for a time—that I also lived in Rosada, and understand this strange, and yet oddly familiar, world. There are a lot of characters and places, but the only ones I really struggled to remember were the Council—and I think that’s because of how sinister most of them seemed, blending together as a sort of faceless “bad.”
And speaking of the Council—while the Order were ostensibly the “villains” of the novel, lurking in the background, and pulling the shady strings of Brent and Rho’s lives, I found the Council—with their contradictory and obsfucatory ways—to be just as, if not more, unsettling. I felt terribly for Brent through much of the book, running from one bad situation headlong into another, all the while surrounded by people who professed a desire to help him, and never quite sure who to trust.
Brent’s powers were pretty cool, his abilities regarding stories something I think any storyteller can relate to, and the way the novel ended—wow! I’m highly intrigued about where his path will take him next.
Overall, I had quite the entertaining time reading this novel, and I think other fans of fantasy will have a wonderful lark indeed in this strange little world Barrison has created.
One of the greatest things about being an indie author is the sense of community. We don’t have the big 5 backing us, so we’ve got to stick together.
I met E.S. Barrison on writeblr – Tumblr’s writing community – a few years ago, and it’s been a wonderful experience. Barrison was an invaluable member (along with some other fantastic writers) of my Beta reading team for Thorunn, and I’ve eagerly followed along on her journey to publication.
Barrison’s debut novel, The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice, was released on June 14th, and is available as an e-book or in paperback & hardback versions. Of course I picked up a copy, and I’ve been reading in my scraps of spare time and really enjoying the novel so far.
With that in mind, I’m honoured and pleased to announce that this Saturday (June 20th) I’ll be interviewing Barrison live on Instagram.
Join us as we peek behind the scenes and uncover what went into the making of this intriguing fantasy novel, as well as chatting about all things MKA. (Why do lemons feature so heavily?)
As I mentioned, I’m avidly reading the book right now, and I’m super excited to find out even more about this fascinating world on Saturday.
Be sure to pick up a copy, and get your questions ready; for now, I’ll leave you all with a quote from the The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice, featuring Rho, the mysterious girl that Brent finds hidden in the tunnels . . .
Here it is, friends, the official ⚡️THORUNN⚡️ Spotify playlist, all 85 mins of it!
I listened to these songs quite a bit while drafting, revising, and putting the finishing touches on my novel, and it’s carefully curated (if listening from the desktop, or premium on the app) to give y’all the perfect ⚡️THORUNN⚡️listening experience. A good bit of these songs could apply to either Laine or Kenton, (though some are specific to each – kudos to you if you can accurately guess which!) but some also center around other characters – both friend and foe – and around themes from the novel: family, loss, forgiveness, hope.
The playlist starts off rather melancholy (given what happens to Kenton’s family in the beginning of the book), and bounces back and forth between anger and grief – with some encouragement slipped in between here and there – before leading to a defiant, hopeful ending. I’ve included some relevant lyrics from each song and there’s a mix of styles and genres from a wide variety of artists, though it does trend in the alt/rock direction. Music from the 70’s all the way to recent years has made the list, and there’s even a South African song gracing this collection!
Today is a very exciting day! For the last few years, I’ve been feverishly working on finishing my sophomore novel – my debut Young Adult Science Fiction novel to be exact – and I’m so pleased to announce that Thorunn (releasing May 20th, 2020) – is currently available for pre-order!
Many thrilling adventures await within the action packed pages of the novel, enhanced by cool futuristic tech, mysterious shape-shifting aliens, and heart-stopping (literally!) escapades, all underscored by themes of loss and forgiveness, hope and heartbreak, and greed and sacrifice.
The shadow of the Hexagon looms large over Laine, Kenton, and Bo, and they have no idea whether they’ll escape alive. . .
Speaking of libraries, I’m inviting you to be a part of my street team, and help make Thorunn a smashing success in its debut year!
Even if you plan to purchase a copy, one of the best ways you can help out is to request a copy from your local library. That way the novel can be enjoyed by hundreds of teens who might not be not able to purchase a copy themselves. (It also makes the libraries very happy that their services are being used to further the love of reading.)
Another thing you can do right now is to head over to Goodreads, and add Thorunn to your “want to read” shelf. Don’t forget to go back and leave a review once you’ve finished reading the novel! (And if possible, a review on Amazon would be highly appreciated from me.)
The last bit of exciting news today is that I’m hosting a giveaway! Two special winners will receive a signed paperback ARC, and five lucky people can get their hands on an exclusive eARC before the book releases in May!
To enter, simply follow me on Twitter (@etjwrites), retweet my pinned tweet, and tag me and two friends telling me how much you’d love to win a copy! This giveaway will be open until the end of March. Winners will be notified publicly and by DM.
I am planning a launch party, and the details of that will be announced very soon, so be sure to subscribe to the ETJ Writes Newsletter to be informed of when and where that will take place.
In the meantime, you can whet your appetite by checking out some sneak peeks of the novel over on Wattpad (and hurry, once the book comes out, many of those chapters will disappear!) or dive into Bo’s backstory, and his time as a kit living in the Hinnom Forest after the terrible events of chapter one.
I’m inexpressibly excited to go on this book launch journey with you all, so check that pre-order box, mark your calendars for May 20th, and get ready to join the fight to save Thorunn!