Category Archives: Age – Young Adult

great stories for young readers from 12 – 17

My Latest Titles

I was challenged to write a short story from the point of view (POV) of a non-human protagonist. Needle-Green was the result. A couple of humans make a very minor appearance in the story, but the POV character is a mystical version of a redwood sapling. I fell in love with Needle-Green. I hope you will too!

NEEDLE-GREENNeedleGreen
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Fantasy | General Audience | Short Story

Needle-Green, a redwood dryad who has made the leap from growing sprout to intelligent being, embarks on a journey to find the perfect place to put down permanent roots. Preferably far from the reach of interfering humans. Does such a sheltered refuge exist? Needle-Green hopes to discover that it does before s/he becomes too tall to walk the earth in anonymity.

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My alter-ego has a new story out! This one plays in Anthea Sharp’s Feyland universe. If you’re not familiar with Feyland, you really should check it out. I’m definitely a fan (which is why I wrote this story.) Find information here.

ON GUARD“OnGuard”
by Deb Logan
Audience: Fantasy | Teen | Short Story

A short tale set in Anthea Sharp’s Feyland universe.

Wallace, a fierce Norwegian Forest cat, has guarded the boy since he was an infant. Despite advancing age, Wallace isn’t about to shirk his duty now that the boy is old enough to play a dangerous game. Wallace doesn’t understand his boy’s fascination with Feyland, but he knows a threat when he sees one.

Buy Now: Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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Speaking of playing in other people’s universes … this is my first ever military science fiction space opera … and it’s written in Nick Webb’s Legacy Fleet universe. I had great fun putting this together 😀

THE WARBIRDS OF ABSAROKA“Warbirds”
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Military Space Opera | General Audience | Short Story

Brenna Standing Bear has been given an impossible task by her dying grandfather: convince Absaroka’s Planetary Council to build a fleet to defend against the Swarm. The problem? The council believes the Swarm was defeated sixty-eight years ago. Why should they expend precious resources to defend against a non-existent threat?

Exclusively Available from: Amazon

Storytime Bloghop: Chris Makowski

Usually I only host my own story for the quarterly Storytime Bloghop, but this was soooo good I just had to give it a place. It’s written by Chris Makowski, a fellow student in one of my writing classes. He doesn’t have his own website yet, so I am hosting his story for your pleasure. You’ll find his bio and the links to the other bloghop stories at the end of the post. Enjoy his story:

The Color Of …

Bent, weary, cold; the door pushed open as always, leaving me touching the lock I could never remember unlocking of late. Within, the dimness pushed back by fire – there were no more candles, and our lamp had little oil remaining, it being a miracle it stayed lit at all for as long as it had. The door sighed as I pushed it shut and stamped my boots clean enough to walk on mushroom and russet floors which had been swept clean as always. The window would let in enough light this day, even with …
“It’s nearly May, Father. And the snow is still on the ground.” I gave my wife a weak smile, for I did not know, and did not want to guess … but no, our daughter still sat silent in her chair, bundled in white quilts against the cold, as she had been since the leaves had fallen. The copper teakettle swung over the fire, merrily popping, the black iron pot hung below, warmed always and never allowed to grow cold – the only bit of happiness in our squalid little rooms. My wife would take the last of the roots, the onions and whatever else remained, and coax each morsel to give of itself – she had always been able to bring the full measure from everything she touched. Still, it had fallen from a thick stew to a thin broth, and each day, we looked to our daughter in wonder if this would be …
I turned the hourglass on the hearth. Tea, we would have. Herbal, mint perhaps, but not uncivilized. “Thank you, Mother.” I took the cup. Our daughter never had, never would. She sat there, looking out to the snow and the ice and the forest beyond, sometimes looking at the tightly closed flower sitting forlornly in it’s pot, on the sill by the window. Carefully she would shield it from her coughs when they overcame her.
Each day I looked out at the snow and each day some little thing touched – and ran away.

Tick …
Tick …
Tick …

I could only put on a brave face and ascend again into my attic, where tools, glass, springs, gears, clocks awaited my hands and skill. When dark came, drawing down the grayness, I came down, my fingers aching from opening the shutter and checking barometer, anemometer, hygrometer and thermometer again and again but still no answers. I could give my wife but a vague platitude and a smile I did not feel as I turned the glass again: the warm cup would do wonders for my fingers.

The next day came for worse, shadows growing from the trees as the sky fell from cerulean to cobalt not much past midday. Still, she sat and watched, her eyes never straying from that one tight bulb. My wife nearly called for someone, but no, not yet, just a few more days perhaps. I dared not tell her I had but one repair left, then my work would sit, and we would go hungry.

Tick …
Tick …
Tick …

I sat with my daughter as the sun came up, barely an ember in the sky. Winter barked and scratched at the door, the attic would be far too cold and there was nothing left there.
She took my hand, looked away from her bulb, and looked at the doorway, and smiled. What was there? A hat, a coat – threadbare – a few pegs?
Hanging there as if in answer, my keyring. I had quite forgotten it – four gold keys, from longest to littlest. Could the answer be so simple? Her skin had gone to alabaster; there was simply nothing left to lose. The pot and it’s tiny flower looked up at me, the tiny holes at the base to drain the water upon a simple saucer. Could it be? It would take a fine touch, especially in the cold, a fine touch against the cold and with shaking hand perhaps I could just …
To my attic, in the cold, in the night, in the dark, I said silent prayer and hoped and with only my lightest touch in the cold and the dark reached forth and …

Clickclickclick.
Clickclickclick.
Clickclickclick.
Tick!

I dared not move her as the sun rose – but it rose brighter, brighter than before! A shimmer of light sprang forth and through the frozen window, to sit on the edge of the pot, then a bit nearer, a bit more, a bit –
The light touched the silent bulb, lay there quiet in repose …
And the bulb opened slowly –
Tick-tock …
Tick-tock …
Tick-tock …
Tick!
The petals shifted, unwove, sprang apart, a sniff of perfume filled the air. And she smiled – my daughter smiled! And the ice began to break, and fall, until the window itself stood clear, and the snow upon the ground had begun to sink and slurry and flow under the bright goldenness of a perfect awakening … her skin, her skin, from alabaster it reached to peach, rose in her cheeks, cherries on her lips. She looked up with her perfect blue eyes, and all of her was smiling.

My wife came in, her bonnet set, her smile proud, her back straightening. She cried “Molla, Molla!” My daughter looked and smiled at her name and sat up, took a long breath of that perfect bloom and stood up, the quilts falling away. A bird – or was it two? – sounded outside, the day growing brighter and brighter as we had hoped but not quite dreamed … and I took up my hourglass and remembered … Her dress, celadon now but soon viridescent, flowed about her knees down to her bare feet.

“Father,” she smiled, touched the watch in my vest and took my keys from my hand, and held up the longest. “Please don’t forget again to wind the sun.”

 

Chris was born in the Pacific Northwest and lived briefly in Hawaii before being reared in New England. After traveling up and down and back and forth from coast to coast, he was dragged kicking and screaming in the bonds of matrimony to the State of Texas and has been mostly residing there ever since with his wife, son, two neurotic dogs, and a possessed cat.

 

 

I loved this story and hope you liked it just as much as I did. Now, there are bound to be many more lovely stories in this hop, so you’d better go and read them:

Nightmare by Erica Damon
Pick Up Lines by Bill Bush
The Scorpius Gate by Sandra Fikes
V is for Vortex by Elizabeth McCleary
Deep Dive by Juneta Key
Bugs by Gina Fabio
Secret by J. Q. Rose
Journal of Anah by J Lenni Dorner
The Vineyard at Mar Mozambique by Karen Lynn
Stealing Space by Barbara Lund
The Day I was Clever by Katharina Gerlach
Never kid a kidder by Angela Wooldridge

New Titles for March!

March has been an exciting month. First, at the very beginning of the month, Cat and I attended a workshop together on the beautiful Oregon Coast … our first in-person meeting! It was a delight to get to know her in the real world after all the experiences we’ve shared online 😀

Now, I’m excited to announce that my publisher, WDM Publishing, has released two new titles for March … one for each of my pen names 😀

First, Deb Logan gives us a new Faery adventure. I’m hoping you’ll enjoy this reunion with Claire and Roddy.

OF DRAGONS AND CENTAURS“Dragons”
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Contemporary Fantasy | Young Adult | Short Story

Claire’s 15th birthday brings a huge surprise: she’s inherited her grandmother’s dragon! Imagine her surprise when the toy her grandmother carries with her everywhere turns out to be a real live dragon. One who looks like a toy when any uninitiated person is around. Life is about to get very interesting.

Buy Now: Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

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Next, Debbie Mumford gives us a collection of her historical fiction. From the early 20th century to the Highlands of Scotland in the 1400s, we know you’ll enjoy this new edition!

TALES OF BYGONE DAYSBygone
by Debbie Mumford
Audience:
Historical Fiction | General Audience | Collection

From the struggle for women’s suffrage in the early 20th century (“Sisters in Suffrage”) to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the late 19th century (“Incident on the High Line”) to an account of the Cherokee Removal in the late 1830s (“The Trail Where We Cried”) and ending with a time-travel romance in 15th century Scotland (“Her Highland Laird”), this collection of three short stories and one novella will take you on a journey through history.

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IMAGINE THIS: Faeries and Families

FaeryUn-2x3One of the first stories I ever wrote was based on the idea of a family curse (?) passed from grandmother to granddaughter down through the ages. It skipped every other generation, so the mother of the next to inherit had no idea about what was happening, but her mother did! I sold that very first story (Deirdre’s Dragon) to an online magazine…my first sale! But that initial story didn’t quench my thirst for the idea. I needed a larger format. A novel! And so, my first novel FAERY UNEXPECTED was born 😀

I still love these characters and may eventually find my way back to Claire’s world and discover just exactly what happened next. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy meeting Claire in these opening pages…

FAMILIES ARE GREAT, but there are times when they stink. I mean, I love my mom and dad, but wouldn’t you think they’d at least have asked me if I wanted to spend a month on the French Riviera with them? Honestly! I could’ve made arrangements to go, even studied while sunning in the south of France. The first few weeks of high school aren’t that important. But the parents refused to listen to reason. Instead, they arranged for Gran — Mom’s decidedly weird mother who never went anywhere without her even weirder toy dragon — to stay with me while Mom and Dad defected to Europe to laze in the sun. I figured by the time I survived the first week, I’d have earned a vacation of my own.

What a rip. I’d been searching for a solution to my high school dilemma, and they’d handed me the answer and then snatched it away, all in the space of a two minute conversation. Man! My first day at Jefferson High was racing down on me and I still didn’t have a concrete plan for leaving the middle school nerd behind. I didn’t need to be the most popular girl at school, but I definitely wanted to improve my social standing.

In middle school I’d been a dork, and Danielle, the cheerleader-from-hell, teased me mercilessly about my good grades, happy family, and that stupid book report on fairies I’d done in seventh grade. Hello, I’d done my Shakespearean research, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone? But that didn’t matter. She called me ‘Fairy Clairey’ for the rest of middle school. Even got her friends in on it. Made me sound like a complete idiot.

For a whole, shining minute I’d had my answer — before my parents ripped it away by uninviting me on their little European jaunt — but if I closed my eyes I could still picture the beautiful vision: me swaggering through the front doors of Jefferson High three weeks into the first term; my usually pallid skin crisp from a month of sun and sea; my unruly mop of short, curly black hair fashionably styled in the latest Paris do; my outfit straight off a tres chic fashion runway… Danielle would have a cow, and I’d be the reigning queen of the class. I might even have a chance at getting a boyfriend.

But no. Instead I got stuck with crazy Gran and her bizarre stories of dragons and centaurs and the magical adventures of her childhood. Gag!

So here I sat on the first day of September at Portland International Airport with my parents, waiting for Gran to show up. I stared out the window, watching her jet unload. I leaned my forehead against the glass and listened to my parents’ quiet conversation.

“Relax, Emily,” said Dad, a tall square man sporting thick glasses and a warm smile. “She can’t get lost. Everyone from the concourse channels past this waiting area. We won’t miss her.”

I glanced at my parents, but kept my forehead against the cool glass. Mom was dressed in creased gray wool slacks, ice blue blouse and a gray cardigan embroidered with small birds and vining leaves. She smiled and tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear. “I know, but it’s hard not to worry. I just can’t get over feeling like I should’ve gone to get her. She’s so helpless without Daddy. He did everything for her when he was alive…she never even had to fill the car with gas.”

“Yes, he was old-school to the core,” Dad agreed. “But I think he underestimated your mother. Don’t make the same mistake, Em. Deirdre is tougher than you give her credit for.”

A flash of golden light out of the corner of my eye made me glance back at Gran’s jet. For a moment, I swear I saw something hovering over the plane. More than simple heat haze rising from the tarmac, something shimmered in the air above the airplane, like a window into another world. I blinked, and it disappeared. But the green-blue after image burned behind my eyelids…a castle in the sky.

Great. Just the thought of Gran’s stories and I was already getting all stressed out and weird. Give her a month and my elevator wouldn’t go all the way to the top.

I used to love having Gran visit, but that was before I grew up and realized she was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. What little kid wouldn’t love a grandmother who told them dragons were real and made them believe they could ride the wind on the back of an awesome, intelligent beast? Every kid wants to believe in magic.

I scootched lower in my seat, found a cooler bit of window for my cheek, and tried to convince myself that it wouldn’t be so bad having Gran around for a month. I’d be at school all day during the week. I’d just have to make sure I had plenty of invitations for sleep-overs on the weekends. My birthday might pose a problem, though. What if she decided to throw me a party?

Oh. My. Gawd. I could just imagine what my friends would say if Gran started telling dragon stories. I’d have to head her off. Maybe let it slip that my heart’s desire would be dinner and a movie…just us girls!

I didn’t have time to hatch a better plan because Gran came striding purposefully around the corner. My heart thumped, and I jumped to my feet. She might be weird, but she was family.

“Gran,” I shouted above the general din of other sons and daughters, grandkids and friends calling to their loved ones.

“Here, Mother,” called Mom. “We’re over here!”

“Deirdre,” boomed Dad, visibly restraining himself. I knew he itched to grab her carry-on luggage out of her hands, but couldn’t do anything until she moved past the security barrier.

And then she sailed through the gate and we hugged and tugged, a mass of flailing arms and clutching fingers, until we managed to bob out of the stream of excited humanity into our own quiet pool of reunion.

“Claire! Look at you,” cried Gran, breaking from the jubilant tangle to hold me at arm’s length. “You’re practically a grown woman.

“You’ve blossomed, my dear,” she said with a wink. “But I’m pleased to see you haven’t overblown.”

Well! Nice to know my understated cleavage pleased someone.

“You look wonderful, too, Gran,” I said with a forced smile. She did. If you liked the psychedelic look of the sixties crossed with demented dandelion. Gran sported a cheese orange rain poncho, lime green rubber boots, short, wiry gray hair that sprang from her head with no discernible style or direction, and Roddy, the ever-present two-foot long toy dragon attached to her shoulder on his Velcro perch. But her eyes sparkled merrily and her smile illuminated the dreary waiting area.

My frosty welcome melted and I hugged her with genuine appreciation. After all, blood is blood. She might be a dingbat, but she was my dingbat, and I loved her.

“We’re going to have the best month of your life,” she whispered in my ear. “Just you wait and see!”

“Peter, if you’ll get my bag,” Gran said, taking charge. “Claire, bring Roddy, please, and Emily, tell me all your news!” She disentangled herself from me, dropped the toy dragon in my abruptly empty arms, grabbed Mom by the elbow and headed for baggage claim, her head close to Mom’s.

Dad and I exchanged glances, shrugged, and carried out our assigned tasks. I held the toy dragon up to my face and stared into his beady green eyes. “Okay, Roddy,” I said, only half teasing. “Here’s the deal. You stay out of my way and I won’t accidentally knock you into the trash compactor.”

Dad laughed, grabbed Gran’s rolling duffle in one hand and dropped the other on my shoulder.

“You’re going to be fine, Claire. Just fine.”

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News, Releases, and SALES!

My alter-ego, Deb Logan, has been experiencing some really good luck in the last few months! First her short story, TERRORS, was included in an awesome anthology: FICTION RIVER: SPARKS.

Next, another of her short stories appeared in CHRONICLE WORLDS: FEYLAND which hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list and really boosted Deb’s author ranking!

Then, she sold a short story to Dreaming Robot Press‘s 2017 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide which is scheduled to come out early next year!

Hooray for short stories and great anthologies!

Okay, that was the NEWS part of this post. Now we move to RELEASES 😀

WDM Publishing just released TERRORS as a stand-along Spun Yarns short story! *happy dancing*

TERRORS Terrors-6x9
By Deb Logan

Audience: Juvenile | Paranormal | Short Story

Artie Woodward sees the invisible beings that haunt our world. She recognizes their evil but doesn’t know what to do about it, so she’s learned to hide from their notice. Until Jed Kendrick moves to town. Suddenly, Artie has an ally, a friend, someone else who sees the unseen. Only Jed doesn’t hide. Jed fights back!

Electronic Edition Publication Date: July 2016
Buy Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

FaeryUn-2x3And finally, in the SALES category … Deb is participating in a 53 author Urban Fantasy HOT SALE on July 28 – 30! Just think, 53 books priced at either $0.99 or FREE! Be sure to check it out! With that many authors, there’s bound to be something of interest 😀

Deb’s YA urban fantasy, FAERY UNEXPECTED, will be included in the $0.99 group (down from its usual $5.49!), so grab a copy while the sale lasts!

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Cover Reveal: Flare by Rabia Gale

I’ve read the first two books in this series and loved them. So it was a no-brainer when Rabia Gale approached me about the cover reveal. I can tell you, you’re in for a visual treat. All three covers are brilliant and vibrant in their colors, just like the stories behind them (I’m assuming the third is going to be just as good as the first one and will buy a copy as soon as it is available).

Let me introduce you to Rabia Gale and her “Sunless World” series:

 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my upcoming release, Flare, Book Two of The Sunless World, an epic fantasy series with a steampunk flavor.

Flare COVER REVEAL

Rafe and Isabella are back

The mages of old saved their world, but left it in eternal darkness. Now it’s time to bring back the light.

After two years of training his magical gifts, Rafe returns home to a land wracked by war. Desperate states struggle to protect their resources of luminous quartz. Magic pulses and earthquakes devastate a world on the brink of extinction.

Rafe’s old enemy Karzov has gathered a band of prodigies obedient to his will. He seeks the power of the ancient mages for an audacious and sinister purpose. It’s up to Rafe and his ally, Isabella, to stop him—and undo the mistakes of the past to put their world right again.

Flare will be out in September 2016!

The Sunless World series

The Sunless World BLOG

Quartz: The Sunless World introduces a rich and credible backdrop to the adventures of her characters, with a deadly political mire underlying the bright colours of high society.” – By Rite of Word Reviews

This story is fast, fascinating and highly recommended.” – Amazon.com review

The Sunless World series begins with Quartz (Book One) and Flux (A Sunless World Novel).

About the Author

Rabia Gale Headshot I create weird worlds full of magic and machines, and write characters who are called on to be heroes. I’m fascinated by light and darkness, transformation, and things that fly. Giant squid and space dragons appear in my work—you have been warned!

A native of Pakistan, I now reside in Northern Virginia, where I read, write, doodle, avoid housework, and homeschool my children.

Find me online at:
Website: http://www.rabiagale.com
Newsletter: http://www.rabiagale.com/thank-you/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rabiagalewriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rabiagale

CHRONICLE WORLDS: FEYLAND

Chronicle Worlds_Feyland eBook Cover-finalI’m a huge fan of Anthea Sharp’s Feyland novels, and was thrilled when Samuel Peralta’s Chronicle Worlds anthology series gave me the opportunity to play in her world! Having read every single Feyland story, I’m very familiar with the world’s delights … and its dangers.

“On Guard” was inspired by a family vacation where my twelve-year-old grandson was so entranced by a video game that he lost track of time and had to be coaxed into family activities. I could easily imagine my grandson playing Feyland, but “On Guard” was born when I decided to make his pet Norwegian Forest cat the hero of the tale.

Here’s a short blurb about the story:

Wallace, a fierce Norwegian Forest cat, has guarded the boy since he was an infant. Despite advancing age, Wallace isn’t about to shirk his duty now that the boy is old enough to play a dangerous game. Wallace doesn’t understand his boy’s fascination with Feyland, but he knows a threat when he sees one.

Chronicle Worlds: Feyland is available for only 99 cents for a limited time from Amazon! Grab your copy today 😀

Fun with Book Bundles!

I’m excited to be part of a book bundle over at BundleRabbit! If you’re not familiar with this site, you should really check it out 😀

BannerAd

Get “Faery Unexpected” and “Demon Daze” (both by Deb Logan) along with over $60 worth of other great novels featuring TEEN SUPER HEROES for less than $10!

https://bundlerabbit.com/teen-super-heroes
#‎bargain‬ ‪#‎sale‬ ‪#‎4sale‬ ‪#‎ebooks‬

For kindle, kobo, nook, and more. Instant download of ALL books!

An Interview with Annie Lima

Q: Well, harumph. I can’t say I’m happy to be doing a “civilized” interview, after the fun I’ve had in Hahn_critic_1my author interview dungeon. Alas, all the cool stuff has been moved to my home blog now; here on IB, there are only soft, cushy chairs, curtains too thick to use for binding ropes and some completely dull, soft plastic tea cups. How am I going to get any information from this vict- ahm, guest? ::muttering:: It’s been so long since I’ve been polite during questioning.

::game-show face :: We welcome Annie Douglass Lima today to talk about her new release The Gladiator and the Guard. This is the second title in her Krillonian Chronicles series, set in a world where modern life coexists with permanent slavery.

Q: Let’s see, a tale of arena combat? You won’t need to work hard to hook this former history teacher! Of course, in the Roman Empire most gladiators had families, and some were quite young, though we hardly think of that. Where did you get the idea to combine these threads and have siblings face the pressures of the arena? It’s a terrific dilemma, very evocative.

Annie Douglass LimaA: Thank you! The idea grew out of the first book, in which I established the principles of slavery and how it works in the Krillonian Empire, a modern world very similar to our own. Of course slaves would have families, and of course they would be separated from them if they were sold away. I just had to decide how and why people would become gladiators (who are perceived by most of that world as athletic heroes but are really still just slaves). In The Gladiator and the Guard, the arena manager obtains new “glads” primarily by purchasing slaves who are already martial arts experts. He occasionally offers contracts to free athletes, but it’s rare for anyone to accept, since that involves payment in advance and then voluntarily entering into slavery in the arena. Plus, contracts are always for a lifetime (and glads’ lives are notoriously short). In the Krillonian Empire, enslavement (usually involving sale by auction) is the legal punishment for certain crimes, so he also keeps an eye on the online auction sites. When violent criminals become available – or anyone with combat experience or documented martial arts abilities runs afoul of the law – he is quick to place a bid.

Q: This is fabulous, a kind of lifetime slavery that’s not strictly racial. Could you elaborate on the kinds of crimes that can get you dumped into this fate? We seem to be talking about people not born to slavery, and that’s always tricky. {Of course, everyone would like to believe they’d heroically resist, and succeed- but then Stockholm Syndrome was discovered…}. But at any rate, Bensin and his sister didn’t do anything wrong, did they?

A: Bensin and his sister actually were born into slavery. Slavery is hereditary, but there are other ways to become a slave, too. Bensin’s parents were enslaved as kids, when their homeland of Tarnestra (originally an independent nation) became part of the Krillonian Empire. The people of Tarnestra fought valiantly to retain independence, and when their resistance was eventually crushed, tens of thousands of Tarnestrans were ripped from their homes and sold into slavery across the empire as a warning to anyone else who might be tempted to resist imperial progress.

Punishing certain crimes with enslavement (not only for the perpetrator but for his or her family) is the government’s way of motivating people to keep the law. Bensin’s friend Ricky, for example, was born free but enslaved at age ten along with his parents and brother, when his dad (who worked for a government agency) was caught embezzling money from his employer. Other crimes punishable by enslavement include murder, armed robbery, and attempting to illegally free slaves.

Q: These works lie very close to the more orthodox epic and heroic fantasy genres, so that leads me to two questions, both driven by envy. When you laid in the “world-building” of the Krillonian Empire, did you find it necessary to go back and pull some out, move some around, etc. or else lose energy in the plot? And do you think it was easier to describe a setting closer to the Alleged Real World (except for, you know, slavery and people fighting for amusement), or was it perhaps harder?

A: I did a lot of planning and prewriting before I started my first draft of the first book, so I didn’t end up having to make too many changes to the worldbuilding once I had begun. Occasionally I thought of new details that I was able to add in as I went along, but those were mostly pretty minor. For example, since slavery in the Krillonian Empire is not based on race, there had to be a specific way to identify slaves. I knew from the beginning that they wear steel collars that lock around their necks, providing their names and their owners’ contact information. Obviously that makes it much harder for slaves to escape, but there are certainly tools out there (in any world) that can cut through metal. In The Collar and the Cavvarach, there came a point when I realized I needed to establish a reason why anyone with bolt cutters couldn’t just go around freeing slaves. So I had a certain mechanic explain to an inquiring young slave that he had to have a special kind of license to own and use such tools in his car repair shop, and that involved security cameras through which the authorities could be watching him at any given moment.

Q: BTW, try to get a little episode called “Gamesters of Triskelion” on your viewing list. Captain Kirk in his beefcake-prime and slave-collars you’ll really like!

I’ll keep that in mind! As for your second question, it was both easier and harder in different ways to create a setting so close to the Alleged Real World. I have a fantasy series that takes place in a totally different world, and with that one, I was able to make all the rules. But it took an awful lot of worldbuilding to flesh everything out. With this series in the Krillonian Empire, I mainly just combined a couple of modern-day Earth cultures and left it at that, of course with the addition of slavery and a made-up martial art. But then there was the challenge of making sure everything I said was consistent with how things really work in our world. For example, I know very little about firearms or martial arts training or the types of mechanical problems an old pickup truck could encounter, but I needed to make those details realistic in the story. I should say, I knew very little about those topics. Dozens of hours of research later, I’m much more knowledgeable!

Q: I should probably have asked this earlier, but who do you think is the target audience for these stories, in terms of age but also anything else you can think of? And is that your “core” audience, I mean the one you always thought you’d be trying to reach?

A: These books are young adult fiction, meaning they’re geared toward teens and adults. I teach fifth grade, and while I know a few of my students have read and enjoyed The Collar and the Cavvarach, I have never suggested it to them, or to anyone else below middle school, as recommended reading (unlike my fantasy books). The subject matter is dark in places, and while there is no sex or language, I don’t really want my fifth graders pondering issues like why the characters would say slavery is worse for girls, for example. The first book contains just a little violence, and that’s mostly in controlled settings like tournaments, where participants fight with unsharpened blades. But the second book would definitely be rated PG-13 for violence, as well as for a few mentions of blood and gore.

I would say the target audience consists of any teens and adults who like an exciting adventure story. Anyone with an interest in martial arts, or perhaps in the gladiators of ancient Rome, would be especially interested. I never thought I would write a martial arts story; I never used to be particularly interested in martial arts myself, and it had never been my goal to reach readers who are. But then along came Bensin with a story that just had to be told, and martial arts were an inextricable part of it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q: Can you give us a quick run-down on the gladiatorial combat, called cavvara shil, that happens in the tales? The weapon looks decently wicked, but the cover of Book Two also shows a disappointingly-protective looking helmet. You don’t mean to tell me fighters sometimes survive?

A: The martial art of cavvara shil is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  cavvarachI wanted cavvara shil to be a combination of two or three different fighting styles, involving elements of unarmed combat as well as the use of a weapon. It took a few false starts before I had a fighting style I liked. At first I just pictured using a sword, but I wanted something a little less stereotypical.  The cavvarach, with its hook, ended up being just right for what I had in mind. Combatants try to snag their opponent’s hook to tug the weapon out of the other person’s hand, which is one way to win a duel. (They can also knock it away with their own cavvarach, or kick it away.) Besides disarming an opponent, you can win by knocking them over and pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds. Oh, and you can block blows with your shil, which is like a narrow shield that barely covers one forearm.

In The Collar and the Cavvarach, 14-year-old Bensin competes in cavvara shil tournaments to earn prize money for his owner. Like everyone else there, he fights with an unsharpened blade and wears poncho-like padding to protect his torso and groin in the event of a missed parry. Worse injuries than bruises or the occasional bloody nose are rare at such events. In The Gladiator and the Guard, however, Bensin (now 18) is forced to be a gladiator, and he soon discovers that everything works differently in the arena. All blades are razor sharp, and protective padding doesn’t exist. Most duels are not intended to end in death (that would be a waste; gladiators are valuable), but accidents can and do happen. The helmet you see on the cover is actually for the guards who keep an eye on the combat from a safe distance to serve as referees and (when necessary) bring the injured in on stretchers at the end.

Q: Oh, the helmet is for the guards? OK, then I’m glad it’s been broken! I couldn’t let you go without a nod to your life in the Alleged Real World. You may be the guest who’s come the furthest of anyone to be here on the Independent Bookworm! Assuming of course that “here” is in the US or Europe… pardon me, my ethnocentrism is showing. But do tell us a bit about your world, the one you see when you turn away from the screen.

A: At the moment, when I turn away from my screen I see twenty-six empty desks and walls covered with colorful science project display boards. (My students are out at lunch recess right now.) I teach at Morrison Academy in the city of Taichung, Taiwan. It’s a wonderful job in a wonderful place! My husband and I have lived in Taiwan for nearly nine years now, and we love it here! I’ve enjoyed inserting elements of Taiwanese culture into these two books. For example, some characters chew betel nut, a mild narcotic sold legally in shops decorated with flashing colored lights. When money is awarded as a prize, it’s given in a red envelope. Cheap boxed meals available at “hole-in-the-wall” eateries are a common and convenient meal for laborers or anyone in a hurry or short on cash. New Year is the most important holiday of the year in both places. In Book 3 (which I hope to draft in the fall), much of the action will take place in a different city of the Krillonian Empire, one which I plan to pattern closely after Taichung.

Q: Cities, climate, customs– too much to ask about! Let’s just call this a pause, and perhaps have you back when Book 3 is ready. I’d love to ::cough-cough :: show you my ahm, interview chambers, you’d love the decor. Thanks very much Annie for a terrific peek at an interesting world. Make sure to leave us with your contact links and a blurb about your current release.

=====================================

I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.

First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

 What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The Collar and the Cavvarach

sword isolated on white background; Shutterstock ID 109466807

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon 

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!

 And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

The Gladiator and the Guard.jpg

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!

 Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats) 

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AnnieDouglassLima

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

Google Plus: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!

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Leipzig Book Fair

The last few months have been extremely busy and this blog got too little attention from me. I’m sorry for that and hope to change it again. I like the variety of authors we’ve got here. Today, I’d like to introduce the best book fair for interacting with German readers to you: Leipzig Book Fair.

Leipzig Book Fair Logo

There are two big book fairs in Germany every year (and tons of smaller, more targeted ones), one in Frankfurt and one, lesser known, in Leipzig. The book fair in Frankfurt is a lot bigger than the one in Leipzig, and it’s more focused on the publishing professionals. Leipzig is more cozy and fully aimed at readers. So if you plan on connecting with readers, Leipzig is the place to go.

I joined a group of German Indies who all received the Qindie (a quality badge for Indie publications) and we set up our booth for the second time. Last year was successful (with quite a long tail of sales after the fair) but flawed. This year, we came better prepared.

 

Here are a few tips on how to visit a book fair as a presenter:

  • no more than 2 authors at the booth or there’s no room for readers
  • put several samples, flyers, bookmarks etc. into one folder, readers like to take those along much more than loose booklets or pieces of paper. We spread nearly 1000 of those
  • know at least the basic gist of the books on display so you can help readers to find the right book; even if they don’t buy yours, they will remember the friendly face and maybe recommend you to a friend (happened to me) and also, the other author will help to promote your books if he notices your efforts
  • if possible walk around the fair and look at other booths so you can talk about the fair in general with the people stopping at your booth- enjoy yourself; getting a booth usually is expensive and you will most likely not make the money back during the fair, but the increase in visibility will help you long term
  • bring food since buying it at the fair is expensive

 

Now to the Leipzig Book Fair in particular.

lbm2016_0869There are 5 halls connected with glass tunnels. Usually one of the halls is reserved for Comics, Mangas, Anime, and Cosplayer. Naturally the Cosplayer spill over into the other halls too, so you’ve always got something to look at with awe (I’ll be posting the nicest costumes on my author blog soon). Be prepared for crowds, especially in the reading arenas, often many people squeeze together to listen to a presentation. I really enjoyed all the halls, but spend only little time with the school books. One thing to take into account is how tired your feet grow when you move around the halls for any length of time.

This year 260,000 visitors came to Leipzig, and of those 195K entered the halls (96K for the Mangas and Comics alone). Despite there being more people than last year, I think they spread out better. I was able to move through the halls on every day. Last year I got stuck in the corridors and tunnels. In total there were0 2.250 presenters from 42 countries.

If you plan to come to the next Leipzig Book Fair (as a visitor or a presenter) please contact me. I’d love to meet you there. And now, tell me if you’ve been to a book fair in your home country. What was it like? And if you haven’t, what’s preventing you from it?

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