Friday, April 19, 2013

Special Announcement: 2nd Edition

I have mentioned this briefly, but I thought I'd make an official announcement. This fall (prior to the release of "Legacy of the Blood") I will be releasing a 2nd edition of "The Threshold Child" that will include maps, a glossary, and have some slight revisions! I have received some comments on the pacing of the story, and also there are a few grammar errors that escaped the notice of my previous editor (no worries, Shawn!) that will be corrected. If you have noticed any mistakes, please let me know and I will see them corrected. Also, those of you who have already bought the book can feel all special about having scenes that will be no longer available (I will be editing out material). You special people, you! I will also provide the maps and glossary for free for those of you who have already purchased a copy of my book. So, look forward to that!

Heart List: Road Trips

I love a good road trip! My longest road trip was about 37 hours of straight driving (we rotated drivers, of course), but most of the ones I take are around 6-12 hours. My husband and I just got back from a trip, and it was just the thing we needed. We left Lewis in the care of family (our first time being away from him for more than a few hours), and we took a couple of days to go on vacation. Our destination was only about a 3 1/2 hour drive away, but that gave us plenty of time to talk and laugh. That's my favorite part about driving--taking the opportunity to really talk with someone. It doesn't have to be important (in fact, my husband and I tend to talk about silly things in such circumstances), but it always becomes meaningful. I have many fond memories of driving somewhere on a family vacation, singing Beatles songs, and making up funny games to pass the time. I hope that I can continue that tradition with Lewis, so that he grows to love road trips as much as I do!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview with Cover Artist Alyssa Harper

I've had quite a few questions about Alyssa Harper, the artist who did the cover for my book, so I thought it'd be fun to post an interview with her. I sent her a handful of questions, and here are her answers:

Q: When did you first start painting/drawing?
A: I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in high school, but I suppose I've always drawn...ever since I can remember.

Q: Have you been formally trained or is it all natural skill?
A: My first formal "lessons" were my AP art class I started my junior year of high school. After that, I graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, emphasis in Painting and Drawing.

Q: What kind of art do you prefer to do?
A: I love figure studies. I think the human body is beautiful and so expressive. Any image including a figure tells such a story.

Q: What is your favorite medium?
A: I probably prefer oil paints, but since I don't have a studio, my paints and solvents would be stored all over my kitchen. Out of safety concern for my young children, I use acrylic paints instead. No paint thinner fumes. :)

Q: What was your thought process when creating the cover art for "The Threshold Child"?
A: Callie was very specific on several things. She didn't want Adesina's face showing, she wanted her dressed in her full Shimat garb, and Adesina's sword had to be the epitome of cool. I did a lot of research on fabrics (eventually went with almost entirely leather), clothing design, and especially on the sword. The old forest had a unique presence and relationship to characters in the book, so that was used as the setting for the cover. I wanted it to look unruly and overgrown, and I think that worked well against Adesina's sleek form.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of the finished product?
A: I'm pretty happy with how Adesina's sword came about. We went through several sketches and reworked the design to get the weapon to something Callie approved of. The basic form is inspired by a curved, Japanese long sword. It's an elegant weapon that, if needed, can be wielded in a variety of different methods, which seemed to work well with Adesina's more fluid fighting capabilities.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of the finished product? (Would you change anything?)
A: Not that I had this option available to me, since it wasn't a hardcopy publication, but the title would have looked dang cool in gold leaf. ;)

Q: What is your favorite part of the book itself?
A: I liked the portions tied to the High City. Those images stand out most poignant in my mind. Callie did an awesome job of making it obvious how different Adesina was from the "normal" people around her, yet it was when Adesina was in that city that she felt most relatable to me. The feeling of being out of place, yet wanting to fit in to some degree, is something everyone can relate to at some time or another. The High City is where I thought of Adesina less like an insanely talented super-warrior and more like a normal, human girl.

Q: Will you be doing the cover art for the sequel?
A: Yes. I'm super stoked about it.

Q: Who is your favorite artist? Why?
A: Phew. What a question. Narrowing it down is really difficult, but if I had to choose one artist, I'd probably go with Michael Carson. He's a genius, and I covet his work.

If you'd like to see more of Alyssa's work, visit her blog:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Evil Overlord: Part 6

Things I will Remember if I Ever Become Evil Overlord

* I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

* I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

* My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cell mate tells the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead of opening up the cell for a look.

* If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?" I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

* I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.

* I will not tell my Legions of Terror, "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be, "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

* If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.

* Prior to kidnapping an older male scientist and forcing him to work for me, I will investigate his offspring and make sure that he has neither a beautiful but naive daughter who is willing to risk anything to get him back, nor an estranged son who works in the same field but had a falling-out with his father many years ago.

* Rather than having only one secret escape pod, which the hero can easily spot and follow, I'll simultaneously launch a few dozen decoys to throw him off track.

* My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

* No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.

* I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.

* The gun turrets on my fortress will not rotate enough so that they may direct fire inward or at each other.

* I will not engage an enemy single-handedly until all my soldiers are dead.

* I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum--a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

* I will funnel some of my ill-gotten gains into urban renewal projects. Although slums add a quaint and picturesque quality to any city, they too often contain unexpected allies for heroes.

* I will make several ludicrously erroneous maps to secret passages in my fortress and hire travelers to entrust them to aged hermits.

* If I capture the hero's starship, I will keep it in the landing bay with the ramp down, only a few token guards on duty and a ton of explosives set to go off as soon as it clears the blast-range.

* If I decide to hold a contest of skill open to the general public, contestants will be required to remove their hooded cloaks and shave their beards before entering.

* If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable superweapon on them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Threshold Q&A with the Author

I thought it would be fun to have a Q&A with my readers, so I've been collecting questions they have had. I will probably do another one, so let me know if there are questions that haven't been answered here! Also, there are some questions with spoilers at the bottom of this post. I will put a gap and a warning, so don't scroll down to them unless you're ready! Enjoy!

·      How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Quite often I see a scene in my mind, and that is the beginning of an idea for a story. Usually the scene takes place somewhere in the middle of the story, so I begin asking myself questions to expand outward. I think about where the plot goes from there, and how did they get there in the first place. With “The Threshold Child” it was a little different, because the scene I saw was the very first one. I imagined a figure in black, crouching in a tree and waiting to attack. I asked myself who the figure was, why they were in the tree, who were they attacking, and what happens next. I keep asking myself questions until I know the whole story.

·      Are any of the characters or experiences based off of real life?
There are actually a number of characters in the book that are based off of real people. I started writing this book in high school, so the basis of those characters began with how I knew certain people then. Gradually, they became different from their inspirations. For example, L’iam is based on a young man that I had a crush on in high school, but the two couldn’t be more different now. Other characters like Gainor, Deasa, Rina, and Kendan (and others) were also inspired by people I knew.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been through the same experiences as Adesina, but I’ve known what it’s like to wonder who you are. I’ve felt the same kind of frustration and helplessness in being lost. I think most people have gone through that at one point or another. That’s what makes her story relatable, even though it’s set in a world of magic.

·      What characteristics were you hoping for Adesina show?
I wanted Adesina to be a classic teenager in unusual circumstances. She’s uncertain of herself, but tries to compensate with overconfidence. She is stubborn and has a temper, and she’s trying to assert her independence in what ways she can. She occasionally makes bad decisions, but she really is trying to do the best that she can. She’s also loyal and hardworking, and she has an affectionate heart. I have high hopes that she’ll turn out well.

·      What section of the book was the most enjoyable to write?
I really liked writing about Adesina’s discoveries along the way. I liked writing her conversations with Ravi, her lessons with L’iam, her visit to Yavar, etc. I also liked writing characters like Rissa and L’era. They are spots of sunshine is a rather somber tale.

·      Is there a character in the book that you relate to the most?
I would have to say Adesina. I was a teenager when I started writing this book, and so it makes sense that I would infuse my main character with a lot of my own thoughts and values. I wouldn’t say that she’s based off of me, but her reactions to certain situations are what mine would have been at that age.

·      Does Adesina miss the High City?
In a way. There was a lot of monotony, and she wasn’t accustomed to such rigid gender roles. However, she enjoyed the simple living and sense of community. I think the High City was the other extreme to her life at the fortress, and she needs a home somewhere in the middle.

·      Will Ravi always be with Adesina?
Yes, he will. His fate is tied to hers, so he needs to be with her.

·      Are we going to learn more about Ravi’s past and the Rashad?
I did a blog post here on the Rashad. As for Ravi, specifically, that will probably be covered if I do a third (and final) book in the series.

·      Can Ravi predict the future?
Sort of. He has visions, and sometimes they can indicate future events if interpreted correctly.

·      How does the Sharifal get selected? Does the previous one have to die?
Technically, a Sharifal could retire, but there never has been one who has lived long enough to try. They live dangerous lives, even those in administration. It is understood that when you have gained enough experience as a Shimat, you are given a sort of status (the best of the best, sort of thing). Only a handful of Shimat possess such authority. The Sharifal must be chosen from that elite group by a majority vote. In Adesina’s time, there are about two dozen elite Shimat (including the Sharifal).

·      Do the Shimat have plans to expand?
This will be covered in the future, but yes. The organization is already bigger than Adesina realizes, and it plans to continue growing.

·      Will we learn more about L’iam’s background in the second book?
L’iam does play a central role in the sequel, but I will only discuss certain aspects of his past. Most of what it discussed has to do with the present and the future.

·      What are your plans for Adesina in the next book? What do you hope for her to accomplish and how will her experiences in the current book change her?
Adesina is still figuring out who she is (I feel this can be a long process), but she feels she’s found her place in life. She is still flawed, but I hope to convey that she’s trying to change. She’s more open-minded and less selfish. She still has a temper, though, and she thinks she can take on more than she should. I hope for her to step into her role as a leader in the upcoming book, and to learn about the responsibility and sacrifice that goes with it.

·      When do you think the second book will be finished?
My goal is for it to be done in September or October. I also want to release a 2nd edition of “The Threshold Child” with maps, an appendix, and some revisions.

WARNING: the following questions contain spoilers. Continue at your own risk.

·      Why were the L’avan so passive in their living, and why were they so easily defeated (especially since they knew trouble was coming)?
The simple answer is: habit. They had been living in isolation for centuries, and they felt secure. They kept up their military, but only because of tradition. Adesina points out that there are flaws in their training that could be fatal. It was only in recent years that the L’avan decided to try branching out of their homeland, and even that was only done minimally. They knew trouble was coming, and they prepared the best they could, but they in no position to face such an enemy.

·      Where are the L’avan going to start over?
They will be finding some empty land more towards the central lands of their nation. This will be covered in the second book.

·      Why did Aleron and L’era die? Who killed them?
You know, Aleron was my husband’s favorite character and he was pretty upset when he read the death scene. That seems to be a common reaction, and I openly admit that it was rude of me to write it that way. Here’s the honest truth, though: sometimes people are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those two really shouldn’t have been there at all, but circumstances seemed to push them in that direction. Were their deaths senseless? Yes. Unfortunately, that’s life. They were killed by some Shimat who were scouting the area. Aleron built a fire, but he didn’t hide its light, and that attracted their attention. Adesina takes note of this fact when they find the bodies, and I think she feels responsible for not warning him about such a danger. Would they have been discovered without the fire? Possibly. It’s just a sad situation in general, and I mourn their deaths, too.

·      What happened to Faryl in the Shimat dungeon?
That will be addressed in the upcoming sequel.