Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Character Interview: Kaniev

Introducing Kaniev the Source-Fixer, one of the main characters in Source-Breaker:

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
Kaniev Orvig's-son. (It's pronounced KAHN-yev)

2. How old are you?
Old enough to know better, too old to care :-D Seriously, though, I'm 40.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
I have a mother and a father and several brothers and sisters. The men in my family have been fishermen going back generations. I haven't seen my family since I left to begin my apprenticeship when I was 13, but I had a happy childhood in the fiords and have fond memories of them. The only thing I didn't like was the prospect of being a fisherman like my father and grandfather and great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather and so on. I thought it sounded boring. Right about now, though, the way things are going, a little boredom sounds pretty good.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
Her name was... It's been so long, I don't remember. Pretty girl in my village. I was 12, she was a little older, maybe had already turned 13. It was the first of many kisses, and I've loved every single one of them.

5. What is your occupation?
I'm a Source-Fixer. Or, THE Source-Fixer, since I'm the only one. I repair magical Sources that aren't working right. Or try, anyway; lately, I haven't been having much luck. It's hard to believe I'm getting too old for this and my skills are starting to slip. My master was 60 when he found me and nearly 70 when he finally retired. But something's wrong, and I need to figure out what before I run out of money.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I'm very good at what I do. Or was, anyway. I'm pretty easygoing and even-tempered; I suspect some people think I'm annoyingly cheerful. I tell good stories. And I've kept myself in good shape, which comes in handy if I'm trying to get to a hard-to-reach Source, and the ladies certainly appreciate it.

On the other hand, I have a bad habit of flirting with every female who crosses my path - only the ones of age, of course. I'm not that shameless. But there have been a few women who thought I was after something more serious than a good time together, and I ended up disappointing them. I do feel bad about that.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
I love all kinds of women. But I'm especially drawn to strong, smart, spirited women who can challenge me to keep up with them.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Ah. Well. Reading the answers to some of these questions, you can probably guess.

But also, I love my work. I love using magic and my unique talents to figure out what's wrong with malfunctioning Sources and put them back the way they should be. It's always interesting and challenging, and every Source and problem is different, a puzzle to figure out, and putting them right again is almost a work of art.

9. What is your greatest fear?
Losing my magical abilities. They're part of me; I wouldn't be who I am without them. Even when I was a young boy, before my master found me and took me on as his apprentice, working magic came as easily to me as breathing. Which got me in trouble more than once and is why my parents were so willing to let me go.

I also worry about failing to fix a Source I've been hired to fix, which has been happening a little too often lately, and someone getting hurt or killed or some sort of serious damage occurring as a result. Fortunately, that hasn't happened. Yet.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
My magical talents. My good old horse, Mai. My Source lodestone, handed down through generations of Source-Fixers; it's the only one in the world and I couldn't do my job without it. And my freedom. Other than my responsibility for keeping the Sources functioning properly, I have no obligations, no duties, no one I have to answer to.

Source-Breaker, coming soon! For release news and news about special promotions, sign up for my email alerts.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Home on the Range: A Daughter of the Wildings Holiday Story

© Adina Nani | Dreamstime Stock Photos
 Ducking in between bouts of cooking to announce that I've posted Home on the Range: A Daughter of the Wildings Holiday Story, free to read here on my site. It takes place between book 3, The Rancher's Daughter, and book 4, To the Gap. I wrote this earlier this year, then took it out the other night for a quick edit. I think I got all the mistakes and removed the worst of the spoilers. Enjoy!

Wishing you a merry and blessed Christmas, Chanukah, and whatever other celebrations you're enjoying this time of year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Changing the World

My fantasy world, that is. Or at least the name.

Yes, Estelend, the world of Chosen of Azara, The Warrior and the Holy Man, and my two upcoming novels, Source-Breaker and Heir of Tanaris, is getting a name change. A long time ago when I first started developing this world, I just called it Source-World. Easy, and it made sense - the world is based on the idea of magic coming from Sources that are natural features, such as caves, springs, trees, etc. Not a terribly original idea, but it's a lot of fun to work with and offers a lot of possibilities for conflicts and stories, and for characters who are involved with these Sources in one way or another. When I was still doing this writing thing just for fun, Source-World worked fine as a name. But when it came time to start putting these stories out in public, I realized that Source-World wouldn't work because the people living in that world wouldn't think of it that way.

So I went looking for another name. I don't remember the exact process by which I came up with Estelend, but I do remember it involved consulting the etymology section at the back of my trusty vintage American Heritage dictionary. Anyway, so I came up with Estelend and it seemed okay. I wasn't wild about it, but it was better than Source-World. But I've never really liked the sound of it, and I think it looks funny, and that's been bothering me more and more. Another thing I don't like about it is that, to my ear, it seems a little reminiscent of Westeros, the world of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire. I'll just say that I'm not a fan of those books and I really don't want to have any suggestion of association with them, and I don't want people to think I'm trying to invoke them.

I put off doing anything about changing the name, because it seemed like an awful lot of work and would involve making (admittedly minor) changes in work that's already been published, including to the covers. But I was disliking Estelend more and more, and realized that with two more novels set in the world about to come out, it's now or never - if I don't make the change now, I'm stuck with Estelend.

So I chose the words that express the idea of this world, magic or power and source, and went to a site that lists what words are in lots of different languages. "Magic" is pretty much the same in most languages, and I didn't want something so identifiable, so I also looked for words for "power." I tried out lots of different combinations, then did some Googling to make sure I wasn't using something that was someone's name or had an unfortunate meaning. One of my possible names, when I Googled it, Google didn't recognize it and suggested "Gardevoir" instead. Gardevoir is a Pokemon, and a very cool Pokemon, but I don't want something else coming up should readers Google for the name of my world.

After all this, I finally settled on the new name for Estelend, Tehovir. It means "power source" in a mashup of a couple of different languages, and looks cool; it fits with a lot of the other names I've invented for this world. How to pronounce it? However you want, since it's not a real word :-D In my mind I say it "TAY-hoe-Vir" (short i). But really, you can pronounce it however you want. Right now I'm in the process of making the change on the covers (fortunately, I do my own lettering and save everything in a Photoshop version so it's easy to go in and just change one word) and doing search-and-replaces in the books and stories set in that world. The publishing services at a lot of the stores I sell through are closed/on reduced hours for the holidays right now, so I'll wait until I've got everything switched around to start uploading. In the meantime, I'll start changing the old covers out on the site and also create a new Tehovir blog category and a page for the series. Because the week before Christmas, trying to get the next book out, what I need most is another task like this :-P But it's really a relief to not have that nagging at me any more, hating the name Estelend and wondering if I should do something about it.

In the meantime, if you really want to help make a small change in the world for authors struggling with health or financial difficulties, head on over to the Help an Author Christmas promotion. (Read more about it in this post.) You can browse (full price) books by authors who have donated to the assistance fund, and even make a donation yourself, if you want. The Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3 and Love and Magic box sets are in the promo, and for each copy of those titles sold during December (whether through the promo or otherwise), I'll make an additional donation to the fund. Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Help an Author Holiday Promotion

Holy cats, it's been a while. What can I say, I've been busy writing.

Anyway. A fantasy and science fiction authors group I'm in got together to raise money to help authors in need. In the words of the founder/leader/person running things, Patty Jansen:

"If you spend any time in spaces where authors hang out, you cannot fail to notice that there are a lot of authors who are struggling with finances or health or both. Why is this? Well, when life gives you lemons, writing is one of the few things that you can continue to do."

I know the truth of this; this is where I am in my life. As disabled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as I am, I'm unable to work outside the home or for any kind of regular working hours. Writing is pretty much the only job I can manage, and it isn't a very dependable source of income. Fortunately, I have a spouse with a steady income, but others aren't so lucky, or are facing situations where even that isn't enough to cover whatever crisis they're facing.

To help these authors, we in the group donated money which will be distributed to authors in need in packages of $250. That amount will pay for a cover and formatting to get the next book published, or for a license to Vellum, a book formatting program, or a year-plus subscription the Grammarly, or a copy of Photoshop Elements and a bunch of stock art for DYI covers, or some advertising. It could also pay a chunk of rent or mortgage, buy some groceries, or pay for some prescriptions.

In exchange for our donations, the authors who have donated get to have books listed on the promo page. You'll find a wide variety of science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, sci fi/fantasy romance, and even a bunch of box sets. These books are full price, $2.99 and up. More books will be listed as more authors donate to the fund. There's also a donate button on the page if you want to throw a little money into the fund. So go have a browse and discover some new books!