Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Becoming the Chateran" blog tour and COVER REVEAL!

So, today I want to take the time out and tell you all about a book (and its author) that I've been following for quite a while now. We at YAWA are honored to be a part of this awesome blog tour!

The book, Becoming the Chateran. The author, S. J. Aisling.
The story: When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in serving their sentence:
Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.
Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom of Gemworthy oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.
As the rest of The Chateran Series progresses, the affect of Rhea’s actions and the battle with the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen reaches beyond Gemworthy’s borders. The Dragons’ mistress seeks revenge for the damage done to her plans of conquest. Amidst the chaos, Rhea and her companions join forces with a motley troop of other brave men and women, all united by their call to protect their countries and their loved ones. They must learn to overcome their differences, pasts, and fears, and take up the quest of the Scintillatearian Swords to answer the challenge of evil as the Order of the Chateran.
An encouraging tale of friendship, true nobility, and coming of age that young adult readers can relate to, Becoming the Chateran also features over forty illustrations created by the author. 
Becoming the Chateran is a fantasy novel, the first book of The Chateran Series, and a good fit for teen through young adult readers. 
And now? for the official cover reveal!
Isn't that cover simply amazing? :D The author did it all herself too! I am also very pleased to share with you the interview portion of the blog tour! I got to ask Aisling some questions, so I'll let you see how that went. ;)
When will Becoming the Chateran be available for purchase, and where can I get it?
Becoming the Chateran will be available this December as an ebook and a paperback, and you can buy it via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the website of my publisher, Life Sentence/Aniko Press. In fact, you can preorder your own paperback copy now from the latter location - preordering it will up your chances of getting it in time for Christmas! 
Where did you find inspiration to write Becoming the Chateran?
Years ago while studying medieval history in school, a friend of mine and I pretended we were knightesses (prince/princess, knight/knightess, right?). I was Rhea, and my friend was Hiylienea. We had so much fun with our fantastical adventures that I decided to write everything down so we could remember it all, and so doing created the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has expanded and matured a lot since then, but all the major elements and characters of the original make-believe are still there.
Any hints as to what awaits in the rest of The Chateran Series?
~ Most of the characters from Becoming the Chateran will reappear throughout the rest of the series, as well as many new ones. I'm personally really excited for this second book of the series to come out, as it will tie up a several loose ends/foreshadowed events from Becoming the Chateran… as well as introducing new conundrums to tease you with. This second book features a shy minstrel girl, an awkward archer, a talking White Stag, revengeful SĂ­dhe, enchained jewelry, and a civil war.
The Chateran Series is medieval fantasy. Have you been doing much research for writing it?
~ For the past seven years and counting I have lived half in this world, and half in that of this series. I've been walking around with a notebook all but attached to me, stuffed with notes about food, geography, clothing, character sketches, scene descriptions, and snatches of poetry and ballads. Tailoring myself costumes based off those my characters wear was one of the most amusing and insightful things I did, as I'd dress up in full rig to act scenes out in my back yard or parks before I wrote them, to make the action and descriptions as accurate as possible. I also tried my hand at archery and horseback riding, proudly became the owner of several encyclopedias on world costume and armor, and studied heraldry and the cultures of multiple medieval cultures. My father is a research scientist. I think it rubbed off on me. 
Do you have any tips for fellow writers on staying focused on a story?
~ To me, staying driven to write a book depends on finding the happy medium between planning out what will happen and what they characters are like so you start out with good solid ground under you, and leaving enough out so that even you, the writer, is chaffing at the bit to find out what happens next. 
Also, I feel too many writers start out by trying to write what they don't know about, and their lack of knowledge and interest is crippling. But do more than simply write what you know. Write what you are passionate about – readers are smart people, and they'll notice the conviction ringing through your story, and it will touch them as only fervent honesty can. And as a side perk, you're more likely to actually WANT to write, as it will be something you feel/believe strongly about. This automatically makes the whole process a lot easier. 
When did you first fall in love with writing? 
~ Even though I'd always loved storytelling, I'd never given much thought to actually writing down the stories I made up until I was thirteen. That was when I started writing Becoming the Chateran, and there's been no looking back since.
What is your favorite genre to write?
~ Anything fantastical in any way; fantasy, science fantasy, science fiction, paranormal...  I'm the daughter of an artist and a research scientist, and I like to say I've inherited the happy medium of both of them: I love pushing the boundaries of my creativity, and yet I have a deep drive to keep everything as realistic and accurate as possible. 
On average, how long does it take you to complete a manuscript?
~ I've found it takes me about a year to get a story to a point where I'm fairly pleased with it. But now that I've got publication deadlines, I'm sure this will change. 
About your art: How long have you been sketching and drawing and whatnot?
~ I actually didn't take a real interest in art until I began writing Becoming the Chateran. So I've been drawing for about six or seven years. 
The author also kindly offered to share some of the artwork that was contained with the pages of her polished manuscript.
I just love looking at her artwork! You can pre-order Becoming the Chateran by clicking on the link provided in the following image.
(This is the link ^)
In the meantime, enjoy this blurb from the book! 
If Hiylienea had been dreaming, she would have woken up shivering. If she'd been reading one of her books, she would have clutched the volume tight and bit her lip until the scene was passed. But she couldn't wake up or skip ahead. It was awful. She was forced to watch with her heart bouncing around inside her and her breath quick, as Paladin fought for his life with the glittering, shrieking Firebird. 
A moment after the fire blazed up, however, Paladin appeared to be gaining the upper hand. But then the two rolled over again between the leaps in the firelight, and there came a horrible moment when Paladin was pinned underneath the Fallen, it's horny claws clutching his arms. Hiylienea glimpsed its darting, spearhead-shaped head jerk down, and there was an awful shriek. She closed her eyes and screamed, burying her head in her cloak. She couldn't see, but she could hear, and that alone was even worse.
   "Stop, wait, get back!"
  "Don't let it get away!"
  "Paladin, look out!"
   A second shriek tore the air, louder and more prickling than the first. Zephen gave an eruptive roar and then, after a sweep of wind and a snapping rustle, silence fell. 
Surely, some of you are wondering about this mysterious S.J. Aisling... ;) Well, lucky for you I have some information for ya!
Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning
 new things. She also enjoys helping with children's ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.
You can find the author in multiple places as she has scattered herself across the interwebs.
I do hope that you will all check out her debut novel! I know that I am anticipating its release!
Oh, and before I forget! Oh, yes, there was something else, wasn't there? Right. A contest! (See, I knew it was important)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Author Interview: Steve Rzasa

     Hey guys. Please welcome Steve Rzasa, our guest for today. Steve is an author of several Sci-Fi and Steampunk novels. Check out his latest book on amazon.

     So Steve, when did you first realize you wanted to write books?

     I’ve always loved to write stories, but I think the first time I recognized a desire to write books was when I was in high school. It took me a couple years at the time but I finished a space opera tale called Unifying Factors. You will never see that one published. But it was my first experiment to see if I could start and finish something novel-length.

     How many books have you written?

     Five, all for the Christian speculative fiction publisher Marcher Lord Press: The Word Reclaimed (2009) and its sequel, The Word Unleashed (2010); Broken Sight (2011), which follows chronologically after those first two; Crosswind (2012) and its sequel Sandstorm (2013).

     What inspired Sandstorm?

     I had such a blast writing Crosswind that I knew I wanted to revisit the steampunk world of the Sark brothers and take them on a new adventure. This time I patterned the story in a very Indiana Jones­ style way, with ancient ruins, tomb traps and dusty artifacts. But as always it contains a very strong spiritual element, and takes a closer look at this alternate Earth in which Ice Age mammals roam and people flit about in steam-powered airplanes. So I guess you could say it was a mix of factors that inspired this newest story.

     What genres have you written?

     All kinds. The Word Reclaimed, The Word Unleashed, and Broken Sight are all science-fiction. Crosswind and Sandstorm are steampunk. I’m currently working with Vox Day (A Throne of Bones, MLP 2012) on a sci-fi murder mystery and I have a fantasy tale in the mix. So I’ve been dabbling in several genres as of late.

     What is your writing process? Do you write regularly at certain times or just when inspiration hits?
     A little of both. I write every Wednesday between 11:30 and noon before I work the evening shift at the library. Plus, when I work Saturdays, I have Fridays off and since the rest of my family is in school I use those days to catch up. But I also carry a notebook at all times to write down ideas, characters or whole pages when the ideas strike.

     What was your favorite book or author as a teen? What’s your favorite now?

     Back in the 1990s and my young teen days it was the six-book TRIO series by R.A. Montgomery, a post-apocalyptic adventure set in the late 2010s. My wife was kind enough to buy me the whole set for my birthday this year, and I found them just as much fun as I did at 14.
My favorite series right now is Jim Butcher’s Dresiden Files, about Chicago’s only wizard detective, Harry Dresden. I have yet to read one of his books and not chuckle a half dozen times, often aloud.

     Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

     I love to read (of course) and draw. There’s tons of movies I enjoy watching, long trips I cherish with my family, and games I like playing with my boys. Bicycling and exploring new locales also rate highly on my list.

     Do you have any advice or resources you’d like to share with other writers?

     Just this: write. I know everyone says this is true, but it really is. I echo Michael Connelly, the mystery novelist who appeared as himself on the TV show Castle. His comment: “You know what I did after I wrote my first novel? I shut up and wrote twenty-three more.”

     And finally, where can we find you online?

     You can find me on Facebook and

     From all of us on YAWA, thanks for joining us.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekly Teaser

     Hey writers. This Wednsday we're going to be featuring an interview with Steve Rzasa, author of Steampunk novels Crosswind and Sandstorm, as well as several Sci-Fi novels. Be sure to check it out and leave a comment for him. In the meantime, you can check him out on Facebook and at his website, The Face of the Deep.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Hooking the Reader through World Building" with Sam Graber (part 3)

     Sam Graber is a homeschool graduate and avid reader and writer. He is a college student, and enjoys both playing and arranging music. Sam recently begun a novel titled Korina of Two Worlds, which he hopes to make his first published novel. You can find his author page on Facebook.

     Hey guys. Brian and Alex are both busy this week so I get to step in to give you a few tips on Hooking the Reader through World Building. Today I want to focus specifically on designing an interesting and realistic world, including a little bit about making maps.

 #1: Creating a landscape

     No matter what kind of story you're writing, it's going to be set in some kind of landscape. In a sense, this is similar to Alex's point that the world should reflect the story. In contemporary stories you'll have towns or cities. Often you can find real towns on the map to suit your purposes. Other times, you're creating your own world, so the landscape is up to you. In this case, you'll probably want to take some time to think about what your landscape is going to be like. This is especially important if you're making a map.

     Creating an interesting landscape isn't necessarily essential to a good story, but it can add interest. If you are creating a map, you probably want to make your landscape diverse, or else your map's going to look plain and not very realistic. However, sometimes it can be useful to make a 'plain' map with terrain that wouldn't appear in our world. That way you can draw attention to the world to add interest to the story. Brandon Sanderson does this in the Mistborn books, creating a desolate world where volcanic ashmounts cause ash to rain from the sky. The important thing is, if you're going to make an 'unrealistic' landscape, you'll want to draw attention to it in the story. Otherwise, readers will see your map and assume you were just too lazy to add terrain to it.

     #2: Making your populous realistic
     Another thing you'll need to think about for your story is what the populous is like. In particular, I'm going to focus on making your population sizes realistic. This is geared towards people who are building their own world, but it's also important to think about if you're writing in the real world. Are there too many people in the town?

     When creating a world, especially a less advanced world, you have to keep in mind that the cities aren't necessarily going to be the size of New York. The largest cities in the middle ages had populations of a few hundred thousand at the most. London had less than 50,000. Compare this with a present day population of over 8 million for both London and New York! One of the biggest reasons for this difference in population sizes is that farming techniques in the middle ages weren't capable of supporting that many people. If you're creating a medieval world, your population should be somewhere between 30 and 120 people per square mile. The largest city in your kingdom should be something on the order of 15 times the square root of the total population of the kingdom. That's about 15,000 for a kingdom of 1 million, and 47,500 for a kingdom of 10 million. For a more defined formula, as well as other helpful world building details, check out this article on medieval demographics:

     #3: Making your battles/wars realistic to the world

     Some of you may not have any major wars in your story, so this may not be relevant to you. For those who do, I want to give you a few tips specifically on making your army sizes realistic. If you have a kingdom with a population of 1 million and a capital of 15,000 people, they're not going to be fighting in a battle with an army of 500,000 men. If they did, the kingdom would experience a severe famine that year and they would probably lose more men to hunger than in battle! In reality, only a very small percent of a kingdom's population is actually going to find its way to the battlefield. Remember, half of the population is women. Unless your world is different, not many of them are going to join the army.

     Lets look at a few of the details. For an average kingdom, about 88% of your population isn't even going to make it to the draft pool for your army. This number is made up of women, men who are too old, boys who are too young, men who are exempt because of their profession, and outlaws who would refuse to serve in the army. Beyond that, only about 10% of your remaining pool (of the 12%) are likely to actually end up in the battle. Some will be unable to fight because of disease. Others will be called away to serve as the kingdom's navy, town watch, border guards, customs agents, bodyguards, garrisons, and camp guards. These men will be a part of the kingdom's military, but they won't actually end up on the battlefield. This leaves us with an estimate of about 1.2% of the kingdom's population on the battlefield. The kingdom with a population of 1 million would only be able to field 12,000 men. Depending on the circumstance, some kingdoms might be able to field more than 1.2% of it's population, but the army size is never going to go beyond 7% without risking a famine in the kingdom. Here's a site with a few more details about army sizes:

     Well, that concludes our third episode of "Hooking the Reader through World Building". I hope you enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, especially if you're planning to build a world of your own.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: Rachelle Rea

     Hey writers. Today I would like to present author and freelance editor Rachelle Rea! Rachelle's a member of both our group and the Go Teen Writers group. In addition, she's offering a special giveaway of a 10-page edit. Don't miss the opportunity to sign up for it.

     And now, on with the interview.

   Tell us a little about yourself first.

   I am a homeschool graduate who sloshed through Algebra and soared through History. I am a college girl attending a Christian university in pursuit of a Communications degree—senior year is almost upon me! I am a freelance editor who loves to perfect punctuation and is fearlessly loyal to semi-colons. 
   I blog about books, writing, and my favorite word at my personal blog, Inspiring Daring, and I can also be found on Meditations of His Love, Kindred Grace, and Adornabelle

     How much research do you usually put into your books?

     I write historicals, so plenty. J My writers’ group (Word Weavers) has asked me a number of times how I know all this stuff. And it’s funny because I feel like such a cheater. Some authors say they spend months researching medieval Italy or the anatomy of a WWII bomber plane. Yet I find nonfiction tomes about the Dutch Revolution dry, but I’ll consume a biography about William of Orange and come away from it with all sorts of ideas. I just search the Internet for all the itty-gritty details not included in biographies.
     In other words, there’s no way I would have survived as a novelist pre-Google. J

     What are a few interesting things you’ve studied/researched for your latest novel?

     What nuns wore in the 16th century (habits were indeed black by then). How far a horse can travel in a day (30-60 miles, depending on the horse’s health). How deep the English Channel is (at it’s deepest, app. 400 feet). The family tree of Philip II of Spain (convoluted). How to say “I love you” in Dutch (Ik hou van jou). 

     How does your real life interact/play a role in/interfere with your writing life?
     Oh, I like that you categorize “real life” and “writing life” as different. At this stage of my life (for the entirety of my college/university experience), my real life and writing life have operated in cycles. During semesters, I read, research, outline my next novel, edit my last one. During Christmas Break and summers, I write like mad.
     So, to answer the question, my real life and writing life glare at each other across the room because we all know only one of them can have my attention at a time. Talk to me in a year, though; that may have changed after I’m a college-educated woman no longer bound by the rigidity of the school year. J

     What do you do when you're not writing?

     I go to the beach or blast worship songs in my truck or watch TV dramas or princess movies. At my local YMCA, I coach gymnastics to preschoolers through pre-teens. Children are my joy; stories are my passion. I read. I blog. I blog about the books I’m reading.

     When you read, what is your favorite genre?

     Historical fiction, hands-down. My tastes have stretched recently; I’ll read dystopians (Roth rocks), YA (Stephanie Morrill and Laura Anderson Kurk), and even some contemporary (Jenny B. Jones and Kristen Heitzmann).
     But I start to get cranky after a fast from historical fiction—and a plunge into a different century is the only cure.

     What keeps you motivated?

     A pink sticky note greets me whenever I open the box that holds my earliest “manuscripts” (short stories riddled with perfect protagonists and speaker tags). It says, Write like you’re ten. When I was in middle and high school, I could sit for hours with a pen and paper (I detested the computer then) and just write. Not because I thought I should, but because I loved it. I lost that for a time, but I’ve got it back again: that thirst to put a story down in all its dazzling brilliance—and then edit it until it starts to actually resemble dazzling brilliance.

     If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

     Can I pick something that’s still related to the publishing industry? I think I’d like to be a publicist. Becoming a book blogger/reviewer has allowed me to use my passion for great stories to get those same great stories into readers’ newsfeeds, hands, and hearts. When I fall in love with a book, I can’t shut up about it (on my blog, social media, or in real life). Doing that for a living would be amazing.

     If you could have time travel abilities and could meet anyone from any time, who would you like to meet?

     Queen Elizabeth I. She has always been my favorite historical figure, because she was daring and utterly unpredictable. I love reading her biographies. Plus, the Elizabethan era is my favorite time period in which to write, so research trip!
     If the Doctor and his Tardis showed up on my front lawn, that would be where I’d ask to go.

     And finally, where can we find you online?

     I love connecting with new friends and kindred spirits! Find me on…

     From all of us at YAWA, thank you so much for being our guest today!

     My pleasure! Thank you for having me!

     And now, it is my pleasure to announce that Rachelle will be offering a 10-page edit to one lucky winner. Don't miss this awesome giveaway.

Rachelle Rea's Giveaway

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Memes - September 16, 2013

Guilt trip time...
Your story world's going to be the biggest flop ever if you don't write it down! :P

Have you ever gotten an idea for your story or story world, and then forgotten it because you didn't write it down?

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Hooking the Reader through World-Building" with Brian McBride (Part 2)

Brian A. McBride
Brian McBride is a Christian blogger, writer, and published author of a high fantasy novel geared toward the young-adult crowd. He is a musician, artist, and amateur photographer. He has recently started his third "official" novel, which is book three in The Starcrafters' Sagaand is editing book two. He writes fantasy, horror, dystopian, and science fiction of all sorts. You can find him on FacebookTwitterhis blog, and Goodreads.

    Sorry about the delay in today’s post! But welcome to the second post in this sub-series of Hooking the Reader! I hope you all enjoyed Scotty’s post last week!
    This post won’t be very long, but I’ll try to get my point across.
    #1 – Know your world.
    You need to know your world. Especially if you write in a fictional world, where the MC’s goal is to set off on a journey or a quest. You need to know where s/he is going/coming from. This will create a sense of realism that is needed in stories set in fictional worlds. How can you do this?
    Well, I like to draw rough maps to get an idea of where everything is located, which direction my characters would travel, what they might come across on their journey. Be organized.
    Also, know what the landscape is like. If your character ends up in a desert, know what the vegetation will be like, know your character’s physical limitations. If s/he ends up on a beach, know where your beach is. All fantasy worlds should have some realistic base. For instance, most fictional worlds maintain the North, South, East, and West directional markers. I keep these in Paradox as well. Why? Because your readers will know what you are talking about and they won’t spend half their time trying to remember what you said the direction for North was.

    #2 – Know your culture.
    What reader wants to read a book where the culture is a jumbled mess? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
    If you have multiple races (Elves, Dwarves, Wizards for fantasy; Aliens for sci-fi) know what their different cultures are like. Based off of lore and thousands of other stories, Elves are likely to live in forests or near water. Now, you could create your own Elvish culture, but this would create more work on your part. Not that more work is a bad thing. ;) Make sure that you organize your culture accordingly and in an intriguing way.

    #3 – Know your religions.
    If you follow the Go Teen Writers blog, then you probably know that they did a recent post on made-up religions. I’ll try not to plagiarize. ;)
    As with most other worlds, realistically, a world should have a set of diverse religions with their own beliefs, even their own cultures. Know what your different cultures and races believe. Do they believe in nothing? Do they believe in magic? Do they follow a God or some sort of religious leader? Be realistic.

    Well, that’s all I have to rant about today. Hopefully this post isn’t as non-sensical as I think it might be. XP