ETJ Writes

Archive for the tag “YA LIT”

2019 CHAP Convention!

Hello Friends!

books on con tableThis past weekend I went to my second CHAP convention (check out last year’s blog post to see what the 2018 convention was like!) with my wonderful mother – again featuring her memoir, Four Jewels in My Crown, a lovely tribute to biblical focused home education and an encouragement for other homeschooling familes.

Last year was tons of fun, and this year was even better! Naturally I was there with my medieval themed novel Tedenbarr of Have Lath, discussing the uplifting themes presented within, and connecting with other homeschool families at all different stages in their homeschool journeys.

I had so many more goodies to offer this year – crossword & word search puzzles (available for download right here) and two different colouring pages that were perfect for the little kids to attack with crayons while the parents and older siblings chatted.

Jones with reader Jones with Fan

Additionally, this year I debuted the hardcover editions of novel – beautiful glossy case laminate with larger print for easier reading – and sold my very first one to an avid young reader and an overall fan of books. I also got to meet a fan of Tedenbarr of Have Lath who told me told me she loves it so much it’s going on her extra-special bookshelf. Every author’s dream, and I couldn’t be happier!

Moments like these make every single minute of work worth it as I’m always so excited to meet young readers, and it’s my sincerest desire that each person who reads my novel comes away even more enthused about literature.

Of course this being
a homeschool convention,
I would be remiss if I
didn’t include a picture
of my mother again this
year, as her hard work
and dedication helped
mold myself and my
siblings into the people
we are today.
marann Jones with book chick fil a mascot

(It was also pretty fun meeting the Chick-Fil-A mascot on the first day of the convention. Eat more chicken!
New this year to CHAP were the Interactive Corners.

The one I hosted was called “acting out the story,” featuring short, one act plays based on scenes adapted from my novel wherein we read through the plays, discussed their meaning, and then, scripts in hand, acted them out using assorted props to really bring the story to life!

Doing so was such a fun experience, and one I hope to repeat over and over again, bringing the art of storytelling to young readers through play(s).

Don’t forget to check out my mother’s article on “Gardening with Children” in the CHAP 2019 Spring Magazine, and for those of you who weren’t able to make the convention this year, the kindle edition of Tedenbarr of Have Lath is on a countdown deal until the end of the week!

Many Blessings, & Happy Reading!

ETJ

College Park Book Fest 2019

Hello Friends!

On Saturday, Four Jewels in My Crown author Marann H. Jones and I attended the 7th Annual Book Festival co-hosted by the College Park Lions and the College Park Community Library.Marann and Esther Jones with their books

It was a bit farther afield than we’d ventured before, so we didn’t quite know what to expect, although the beautiful spring flowers blooming outside the event venue gave us a good feeling before we even went inside.

Straight away we met some amazing authors who had engaging, thoughtful, and interesting books, and every author we spoke to had a friendly smile to give and a kind word to say.


Here’s a few neat authors with poetry and prose of all kinds:

 

Esther Smiling with bookThe attendees were also great, and it was so much fun to watch the kids with their balloons animals and painted faces while munching on some free popcorn. Laughter and excitement filled the air, and we got to listen to some fascinating stories from people who have seen and experienced everything life can throw someone’s way.

Special thanks to all who bought copies Tedenbarr of Have Lath for themselves or friends and family; you’re in for a grand adventure!

I look forward to returning to the College Park Area for future events, and wish the Community Library much success in continuing to connect and grow with the College Park community.

And if you didn’t get the chance to attend the book festival and get a personally signed copy, I still have some online bonuses available. On the Games & Quizzes page Tedenbarr of Have Lath themed crossword and word search puzzles can be freely downloaded, and the kindle countdown deal is still running for a few more days, so be sure to snag a copy before the novel returns to full price!

Happy Reading!

ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Dreamer Review

Hello Friends!

I’m so excited to see everyone here, and to present you with my review of Dreamer! (It’s also posted on Goodreads, so be sure to head over there and add the book to your “want-to-read” shelves.)

I first came across Ja-Mel Vinson because of his ARC unboxing video that popped up in my twitter feed, and his genuine excitement and enthusiasm about his story caught my interest.

I also thought the cover was really neat and conveyed an air of mystery and wonder, so when an opportunity came along to review Vinson’s novel, I jumped at the chance. I feel that reading this book has given me a better understanding of Vinson’s brand as an author, and re-introduced me to a genre I’d almost forgotten about.

You may have noticed the picture that accompanies this review – in one of my livetweets from my reading sessions, I said that I hoped people would be eager to cosplay Vinson’s characters, and since I dabble a bit in the art myself, I thought I might as well lead the charge on that one. I had a lot of fun putting this together, so without further ado, let’s get to my thoughts about Dreamer.

Dreamer Dreamer by Ja-Mel Vinson | Category: NA/YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(Age range 14–25)
3.5 stars out of 5.

ja-mel-vinson

**Note: I received an ARC for this blog tour that in no way influenced my honest review**

“Dreamer” tells the story of Maya, a young adult whose troubling dreams begin to unfold in reality just as she embarks on her college adventures. Soon she discovers long buried secrets and a host of dangers that affect the lives of everyone she cares about, and in the middle of it all is the mysterious Lucent, whom Maya feels strongly compelled toward, for reasons she doesn’t understand.

I did like this novel. The opening of the story definitely grabbed my attention, and though I’m not a huge fan of first person POV, in this case that actually helped me to sink into Maya’s perspective and really believe the story was being told by a young lady and not the male author.

For the first six or so chapters, I had a hard time connecting with the story, particularly because of the rather high stakes presented with very little build up, but when the corset dresses were introduced, things began to click into place for me, and I realised that with its large cast of strong female characters, sparkly transformative powers, and animal companions that are more than they seem that “Dreamer” falls into the same category as “Cardcaptor Sakura,” “Tokyo Mew Mew,” or “Sailor Moon.” I felt like I was reading an anime in novel form, and that was only reinforced more and more as the book went along. Once I was able to visualise the novel in that way, the rest of the book made a lot more sense, as the storytelling tropes and plot devices of the genre sometimes referred to as “magical girl anime” rely on a set of very different rules that are not typical to your average western YA novel.

I very much enjoyed all the strong friendships the characters have, and the underlying mystery surrounding Lucent helps drive the story and keep it interesting. There are a few big plot twists and key events that Vinson pulled off nicely, and the way “Dreamer” ended was quite well done. For a story that foreshadowed rather a lot, and explained even more, I still found myself pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t quite predicted how everything would turn out.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the writing. “Dreamer” has good, clear prose interspersed with more poetic lines that demand attention without tipping into purple prose. It’s very easy to imagine what the characters look like, and my favourite bit of description comes from Chapter 10:

“The moon moved with its star-servants but remained higher and closer and larger to the eye. Atop its stellar seat, it commanded attention while clouds grew and shrank like animals bound by a leash. The moon was the ringleader, wielding power over everything, presumably even the bestial and elongated vapors that drifted ahead of it.”

(As an aside, having read the story, the cover is very symbolic of quite a few different events that happen, and I can see why Vinson is so thrilled with it.)

The one thing I was curious about was how the Tri-Curve looked, and upon reaching out to the author, he kindly provided me with a graphic which greatly helped to visualise it properly, and I’ve included my stylised version of it in this review:

Now, the world of Dreamer is similar to ours, but also quite different, with a large set of internal rules and in-depth history, and because of this, there is a lot of exposition to explain how everything works. At times this really slowed the pace of the story, and dragged out scenes longer than they needed to be. At some points, explanations are included very organically in the story, through training sessions, or information presented in class through learning games, but at other times, the story would be progressing, a new element would be introduced, the plot would pause as Maya reflected on it, and then the story would resume. For me, this resulted in uneven pacing that lacked urgency, especially when new expositional information continued to be introduced near the end of the story.

Overall pacing was also a little stilted, and I felt like the story really began once we reached chapter 12, which made the preceding chapters feel like backstory, or at least story arcs that could have been told at a later point to preserve the forward motion of the narrative. (Not that the novel ever came to a standstill, but sometimes I felt as if it were in slow motion.) I often felt that I was waiting for the plot to really kick in. Because of this, my actual rating for “Dreamer” comes to a 3.5, although I am giving it 4 stars since I don’t believe the quality of the novel merits only a 3, and there’s no option for including half star ratings.

All in all, I think this book is something 14-16 year me would have loved, given my (somewhat concerning) obsession with anything anime at the time, and I don’t doubt that other teens and young adults will enjoy it and relate to the characters and their friendships and conflicts. I’m looking forward to what Vinson produces next, and believe that his storycrafting can only continue to advance.

See all my reviews


(So there you have it, my review of Dreamer by Ja-Mel Vinson. I wish him much success with the launch of his debut novel, and many thanks to Shealea for making this whole blog tour experience very smooth and easy to navigate. (Launch post and other bloggers on the tour here.)

Don’t forget to join in on twitter March 2nd, 2019 for a live chat regarding Dreamer, and a chance to win a signed ARC of the novel!

 

 

Happy reading!
ETJ

Something Sweet for Valentine’s Day!

❤️Hello Friends, & Happy Valentine’s Day!❤️

Although Tedenbarr of Have Lath is an action packed adventure tale, you might be surprised to learn that love is Tedenbarr’s driving force throughout the story. Love for his friends, his home, and most importantly, for Keira, the girl he left behind on Have Lath and is (secretly!) betrothed to.

The story begins with this lovely poem:
_
Stormy winds blow hard
But to you I shall return
My love, wait for me.

_

And not much later we find Tedenbarr thinking of his love while tending to his duties on board “The Sailing Prison.”

“Dear one, I know that you are anxious to have word of my well being. Worry not, for I am quite safe and remain in good health.
_

Yesterday, the ship sailed past that peculiar rock formation known in legend as Slvyn Reigh, which marks the middle point of the Sheana sea. If all goes well, the captain anticipates that we shall reach the Eastern Kingdom in about a month. The return journey is predicted to catch the summer easterlies, and I shall be home much before the forest begins to turn gold.
_

Tell Myrc that I have not yet forgotten him. And my love, waiting is hard I know, but take comfort in the fact that three and a half months do not last forever. With love, your love,
Tedenbarr.”


_

As a boy, Tedenbarr had love on the brain when they met, (though he didn’t fall for Keira until his teenage years):

Tedenbarr thumped his head back against the cold walls of the pit. There was nothing he could do but wait and try to keep himself warm. He began to pace the confined space, singing to distract himself.

_
The song was a simple one that Myrc had taught him. The words were foreign and the cadence harsh, but he relished the feel of the ancient language gliding over his tongue, and though Tedenbarr was unsure of the exact meaning of the individual words, he held in his mind the translation that Myrc had provided, enjoying the sound of the sweet melody in the crisp forest air.

_
My love, true love
Abandon me not, if I thou lovest
Sayest not thou art improved
When in solitude thou art
Blue skies call thus,
Where birds sweetly sing,
And late summer’s harvest is grown and gold

_
“Oh, that’s bonny!” piped a voice, and Tedenbarr jumped in surprise, turning sharply in the direction of the newcomer.

_
“Who’s there?” he called. “Can you get me out of here?”

_
“I dinna ken,” replied the voice, and all of a sudden Tedenbarr saw a girl about his age peek over the edge. She smiled down at him. “Well yer in a right mess. Dinna ye worry though, I shall run an’ tell faither, an’ he’ll help ye.”

_
She skipped off, leaving Tedenbarr to wonder who she was and whether she would return.

Even in his most harrowing moments, Tedenbarr is strengthened by the thought of Keira waiting patiently for him, and though he knows their vastly different social classes will make the path to their happiness a struggle, he also knows that they can prove all the naysayers wrong – if he can survive the pirates, bandits, and other perils that face him on the treacherous journey back to Have Lath.


Written for middle grade audiences, “Tedenbarr of Have Lath” can be enjoyed by the whole family, read quietly in a secluded nook, or read aloud as a bedtime story (one half chapter at a time) to inspire adventure filled dreams.

It is my sincerest hope that as you read of Tedenbarr’s tales, no matter how old or young you are, that the deep love pervading the Tedenbarr’s hopes and wishes inspires you to hug the ones closest to you and tell them how special they are every single day.

So this Valentine’s day, to celebrate the love in my novel, my gift to you is the ability to freely download the kindle version of Tedenbarr of Have Lath, both today and tomorrow (the 14th & 15th), and dive into a fantastic story of adventure, love, and overcoming even the most challenging of hardships.

Happy Reading!

ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Brand New ETJ Writes Author Feature. (At addisoncarmichael.com)

HELLO FRIENDS!!!

I’m super excited to be sharing my first ever online author feature with you all! The lovely Addison Carmichael has graciously taken the time to feature me this month on her website:

I absolutely adore this pretty header Addison chose that goes so well with the content of the feature.

All the details are here, so go check it out!

And while you’re at it, add her newest upcoming book “Knight” from the “Sons of the Alpha” series to your to-be-read pile. I had a chance to read it in advance, and you can check out my goodreads review here.

Happy reading!
ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Tedenbarr of Have Lath – Quotes Round Up

Hello Friends!

As 2018 comes to a close and 2019 begins, I thought it time to gather all the quotes I’ve been posting on my @etjwrites Instagram gallery in one place. Some of these are a little more spoilery than others, which I trust will pique your interest and whet your appetite for more.

It truly has been a joy making these, and I can’t wait to post my first one of the New Year!

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Do keep your eyes peeled for a web event coming up in January, as well as some more exciting events to be announced throughout the year.

Happy Reading!
ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Kindle Countdown Deal

Hello Friends!

Winter is for cozy days, hot chocolate, and reading your favourite book by the fireplace.

When you gift your tween or teen with that brand new kindle this year, why not go ahead and preload it with a swashbuckling tale of action and adventure?
I’ve always loved reading, and my absolute favourite gift to receive from somebody when I was tween/teen was a brand new book! I’m hoping to help spread the joy of reading this holiday season by running my first ever Kindle Countdown deal!

While the paperback version of Tedenbarr of Have Lath may be $9.95, its kindle counterpart is only $3.95 – and that price is about to get even better! Thanks to the power of Kindle Countdown, you can pick up you or your family’s next favourite read for only .99¢! Who knew a dollar had the power to transport you into a whole new world full of bandits, pirates, and secrets threatening to tear a kingdom apart!? (And maybe there’s a hint of romance in there too.)

This deal won’t last long however, so beat the clock, snap it up and spread the joy of adventure among your friends and family this holiday season.

Happy Reading!

ETJ

 

Moodboard for Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Hello Friends!

Below is a copy of a post I made to my tumblr blog, which you all might enjoy reading as well:

Tedenbarr of Have Lath


Hello Writeblr Community! I guess I’ve never really introduced myself or my writing, so here we go!

I’m Esther T. Jones, I’m in my mid-20’s, I love cosplay, gardening, and music, (I studied classical & jazz flute and piano in college) and I’ve written a novel! (I’ve also got a WIP that I sometimes tweet about and that I will be mentioning on here in detail at some point.)

The novel is called Tedenbarr of Have Lath,” is aimed at Upper Middle Grade/Young Adult Readers, and has all the classic elements from a medieval adventure story. (Official Summary.)

You want swordfights? Got ‘em. Bandits? Got those too. Knights? Yep! Pirates? A driving force. Kings and nobles, and common folk and slaves? Castles and Dungeons? Secrets and Betrayal? PLOT TWISTS!? All. Right. Here. And of course, horses. All the horses!

Let me tell you about some of the characters:

  • Tedenbarr (Teddy) – the titular hero. Blond, blue eyed, 20 years old at the start of our story. He lives on an island of slaves named Have Lath, and is desperately in love with a free woman. Despite having reached almost to adulthood, he can be painfully naïve and tends to live in the epic poetic saga of his world that he has memorised line for line. He also loves animals.
  • Keira (Pronounced Kay-ee-rah) – Curly red hair, green eyes, speaks in a rich brogue. Tedenbarr’s fiancée; secretly of course, her aunt would never approve of her marrying a slave boy. About 19. Her father disappeared on one of his travels and never returned. When Tedenbarr also disappears during a routine voyage, amidst rumours that the Black Sailed Pirates have returned to the Sheana Sea, she fears the worst.
  • Lach – A boy of about 15/16, he is Tedenbarr’s best friend on “The Sailing Prison.” Together they work to escape the pirates boarding the ship, but get separated, and Tedenbarr alone makes it to the shores of the Eastern Kingdom. His face, along with all those who went down with the ship, plagues Tedenbarr at night.
  • Black Crow – Leader of the notorious bandit group living in the Linkwood Forest. Tedenbarr encounters his second in command, and right hand man – Light-Fingers (also known as Amiri of Caro) – in a series of events that take place before our story starts (detailed in chapter five in a flashback).
  • Shai Ten – Leader of the Resistance in the capital city of Aistes. He hails from one of the desert tribes in the Eastern Kingdom. After his cousin sold herself into slavery to buy them food for a year, and subsequently died an untimely death, he threw himself into the makings of an uprising to try and better the lives of the citizens of Aistes.
  • King Elymas Oglath – Feared by many, hated by most, loved by none. The sole remaining member of the Oglath family after the deaths of his brother and nephew, he rules with an iron fist. His most recent headache is the return of the Black Sailed Pirates, thirsty for revenge because he drove them out of the Sheana Sea 15 years ago on charges that they murdered his nephew.
  • The Pirates – a terrifying menace, no ship in the King’s Navy can outrun them, and they aim to sail up and down the coastlines of the Sheana sea, leaving destruction and ruin wherever they go. Their ace in the hole is their ability to set the sea on fire, hence the burning cutlasses emblazoned on their black flags and sails. Their ship is named Fraecana, after the spectral goddess of the underworld that many people in Tedenbarr’s world believe in.

There are many more characters, but those are the figures that are a constant during Tedenbarr’s travels, either at the forefront as he interacts with people, or in his thoughts, or as a looming presence in the background.

Tedenbarr’s world is filled with people who believe that there are greater forces at work, and though Tedenbarr himself doesn’t put too much stock in the fables and legends that he can recite by heart, here is a little bit of what people believe:

The goddess Myrna rules the sea, Fraecana the underworld. Ferra is a demigod, a trickster and fleet of foot, always getting himself and mortals into trouble. The clashes between himself and Agon – the heroic human king at the centre of the Agon cycle – are legendary.  Shirye is the patron god of forests and hunters.

Shrines exist all across the Kingdom of the West. They are dark, unpleasant places, thick with incense, and attended by greedy cultists who delight in swindling poor superstitious people out of what little money they have. Lach’s mother fell victim to one such scheme.


Let’s talk places!

  • Aistes – Capital city of the Kingdom of the West. Currently hiding a long forgotten secret, and the centre of what promises to be a bloody civil war between rich free-folk and poor slaves/servants.
  • Cal-Cah Mountains – an imposing mountain range in the Kingdom of the East that is very dangerous to navigate due to the bandits that often waylay merchant caravans and lone travellers.
  • Dirca Desert – a hot, dry expanse that marks the borders between the Kingdoms of East and West. Also inhabited by bandits, and very easy to get lost in.
  • Dolphin Bay – a secluded little retreat close to the major villages of Slern and Bajai. It’s also the first place that Tedenbarr dares to think he could be more than a slave.
  • Have Lath – Tedenbarr’s home. Only outcasts, soldiers and their families, and slaves live here. The island helps protect the mainland from the savage storms of the North Seas.
  • Linkwood Forest – the domain of yet another band of outlaws, wanted throughout the Western kingdom for crimes against the House of Jor, and against the Monarchy. Not even travelling along the King’s Highway is safe anymore with those rapscallions lurking behind every tree and shrub.
  • Old A’an – a fabled, long abandoned underground city where an ancient civilization used to live. Tedenbarr has always dreamed of visiting, but no one he knows has an inkling of where Old A’an might be located.
  • Sarenji – a major port town, and one the Black Sailed Pirates have their eye on after attacking Tedenbarr’s cargo ship.
  • Slvyn Reigh – a minor point of interest in the middle of the Sheana Sea. Legend has it that Agon once went head-to-head with the sea goddess Myrna in a fierce but good spirited competition atop a small, stony island, and the peculiar rock formation is all that now remains.

Whew! That was a lot! Please enjoy perusing the moodboard (which also contains some out of context spoilers – I’ll leave it to you to figure out what they are). Let me know if you would like to see a more detailed breakdown of some of the main characters, as well as the many secondary and even minor characters that I didn’t mention here.

Tedenbarr of Have Lath is available from Amazon in both paperback and ebook form (do you have Kindle Unlimited? Congrats, Tedenbarr of Have Lath is now yours, free!) and I’d be more than thrilled to answer any questions you want to shoot my way! This story is my baby, and I love talking to readers about it!

Happy reading!
ETJ

(Free stock images sourced legally from Pexels & Unsplash)

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