Kenrya — A tough beginning…

Kenrya is one of the two marked females in The Journey of the Marked. She starts in chapter one of the book, watching Eros as he attempts to escape his predators.

While she has something of an attitude, I find Kenrya to be a fascinating character. Her earliest memories are of an Arlian that abused her. Her parents abandoned her with him and she has no recollection of them. She ran away at a young age and grew up on the streets of Caldot. Unlike the other four marked teens, she’s grown up without immediate family.

Kenrya’s challenges have shaped who she is. She has a strong personality and isn’t one to messRed Wings around with what she sees as nonsense. As you can see in the picture drawn by Heather McCray, her ears curve up at the tip and have a series of feathery-like pieces from midpoint to top along the back. She’s a fierce fighter and could easily be a strong ally, if her attitude doesn’t get in the way.

But, of course, then there’s the odd smell….


Blog Update

If you’ve been reading my blog, I’m sure you’ve noticed the gap in posts. I’ve been in the process of moving, settling in somewhere new, and welcoming a first child into my life. Now that the “dust” is settling a little, I plan to start posting background on the various species and characters in The Miyran Heir series again. I hope you find it useful.

As always, reach out to me if you have specific questions as I may incorporate the answer.

Valuing Differences — The Journey of the Marked

Bullying. Bias. Judgment. Almost daily we see news reports and articles about someone being treated negatively because he or she is different. Yet, it’s those differences that make the world an interesting place. I couldn’t imagine living in a world of cookie cutter people like me. So when I started to write my story, I focused on creating something that was entertaining, but carried a strong message.

Valuing differences.

This is the fundamental message behind my novel, The Journey of the Marked, and the related series. Regardless of ability or appearance, everyone can contribute, everyone can make a difference.

The Miyran Heir

The Miyran Heir

While I wanted to highlight the advantages of differences, I also wanted to write something entertaining that I loved, which led me down the path of gritty sci-fi mixed with high fantasy. My story takes place on a different world and, while there are Humans, I created a number of species, each with unique abilities, which allowed me to highlight ways their various strengths were important.

There’s the Plinte that are land-based, but have breathing slits that allow them to breathe underwater. They’re raised to fight, which is a carryover from their culture prior to landing on the planet. Then there’s the Liput — While they don’t train to fight, the Liput are extremely skilled mechanics and can be quite clever. As well, there’s the Krystic female, a beauty that can tame even the scariest of beasts on the planet. The Krystics tend to avoid fighting, as well, but if properly trained, have some unique skills that are useful.

Red WingsThe dire circumstances on the planet throws a group of teenagers together, attempting to reach a training camp while being hunted. While tempers flare, they must learn to work together and accept each others’ strengths and weaknesses in order to survive.

The fundamental concept of the book will continue throughout the series. And, of course, where there are differences, there’s also often persecution. So don’t be surprised if that surfaces in various forms in the series.

Stirring the Imagination

I love to travel. There’s just something that fascinates me about new places. Whether I’m strolling through a city park, a thriving city, or the countryside, I consistently find beauty in the simplest of things. And why does that intrigue me? It sets my imagination in motion.

IMG_0580In the summer of 2015, I travelled to London with my family. As part of our London adventure, we visited the Harry Potter studios north of town. Do you recognize the picture on the left? This is the door from the vaults of Gringotts.

While I certainly noticed it in the movie, I didn’t appreciate how intricate and beautiful it is — the symmetry of the long, silver bars and composite of the pieces is stunning. I find myself lost in the details, imaging castles and eras long past. And yes, spurred by the indication of fantasy and realms unknown.

Red WingsOnce my imagination kicks in, I’m pulled back into my series, The Miyran Heir. I can feel the desperation, the fear… the hope. All it takes is a single image and I’m off wandering in my own world. I love that.



Yale Writers’ Conference, Summer 2015

A few months ago, an author friend told me that he had attended a writers’ conference at Yale and what a fantastic experience it had been. I checked out the website and found the agenda interesting. While I’ve already published one book, The Journey of the Marked, I’m a firm believer that you can always improve and learn new things. So I decided to give it a try and submitted my application and writing sample (chapter one from book two).

They accepted me into the program. Great! Wait… what exactly had I just gotten myself into? I’d attended writing classes, but never a workshop. I re-read the agenda, but really had no idea what to expect. Nor did I appreciate the amount of work (reading, editing, writing) that the program would entail, though I do understand it’s a lower level than other programs. However, information continued to roll in from the organizers and instructors and I departed for New Haven, CT  in early June fairly well prepared.

IMG_0504The first thing that struck me is how beautiful the Yale campus is. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to spend two weeks among such stunning architecture — a visit to the past. The second thing I realized was exactly how packed the agenda was. If I attended every class, speaker, and activity, I’d be busy from morning to night, but I was determined to try. What an amazing experience! A huge thank you to John for suggesting it.

So, what were my key takeaways, the things I’ll remember?

Relationships – What stands out to me the most are the other writers, instructors, and speakers that I had the opportunity to meet and get to know. From a young adult fantasy discussion with author, Lev Grossman, to highlighting race issues through writing with a fellow author, the conversations never disappointed. And those are relationships and a support network that are continuing beyond the program.

Red WingsOpportunity – Session I of the program offers the chance to “pitch” your work to agents and publishers. Regardless of where these conversations ended, the experience was definitely worthwhile. I enjoyed the chance to speak with various individuals and hear their reactions to my work — especially the positive ones.

Information – Through the workshops and private instructor sessions, I learned more about my genre, my writing, and myself. As a result of the discussions, I’m splitting book two of my series into two books and I have clearer understanding of how to address certain items in my next book.

Writing conferences and workshops seem to vary, but I enjoyed this program and recommend it if you’re looking for a program with a mix of activities. Check it out here.

The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance by Glen Barrera (5 stars)

I sped through this action-packed thriller — Believable characters and a well-spun tale.

The story jumps from storyline / location to the next at a fast pace. The first character you’re introduced to is killed and then the second one almost killed. At about 5% into the novel, I thought everyone might die. But, I’m pleased to say this wasn’t the case. I expected the book to primarily focus on Hector, the assassin, but there were a number of key characters highlighted throughout the story. While Hector played a key role, there was far more to the tale. The story hinges on unethical behavior by a group of US military that prompted the chain of events leading to the present day conflict. As the novel progresses, the chain of events is explained and all of the seemingly random pieces fit into place.

The author developed believable characters, as I’ve noted above. While some do fit a familiar mold, there are traits of others that are fresh and new. I’m particularly pleased that Hector was unique in comparison to the stereotypical assassin.

The descriptions and dialogue flowed easily. I found myself able to picture the scenes without having to wade through excessive detail. The book stirs a number of emotions and is built on more than just action. While I made a close guess as to how the story would end, there were still some surprises in the wrapping up of loose ends.

If I had to list one item that might bother some readers, it would be the quick jumps at the beginning of the story. However, after a chapter or two, you’ll be comfortable with the characters and find the pace easy to follow.

In summary, I loved the story and the key characters. I look forward to the next one by this author.

Eros, the Voice of Reason (The Miyran Heir)

Let’s talk about Eros, another character from The Journey of the Marked and one of the marked youth. The book description includes a brief introduction to his journey and he appears in chapter one, along with a marked female (I’ll talk about her later). I recently discovered two readers who are taken with him. So, a bit more about him.

Twitter_snipFirst, he’s Human, so that part is simple. Outside of describing his blond, disorderly hair, most of what you learn about him is driven by his thoughts and actions. However, he’s the boy depicted on the cover of the novel (picture to the left — by my artist, EJ Wright). I’ll attach a second picture below (fan art), created by Heather L. McCray.

When Eros first arrives in the city, he encounters trouble with the Graeliths. He happens into an alley where a marked girl, Kenrya, is hiding and she saves his life. This begins their journey together…and the start of their troubles. Kenrya is cynical and stubborn, while Eros has a broader view of life.

ErosEros provides a calm perspective to most situations. His mother believed he would be marked, so she prepared him for this future. While he doesn’t consider himself a leader, he posses a confidence and reason that draws others to him. Well, all except for Kenrya.

While adult males guided him throughout his childhood, Eros was raised by a single mother. His mother never told him about his father, which surfaces early in the story. Part of the journey becomes his own self-discovery about his heritage and abilities.

Red WingsEros wants to protect his family and friends and their way of life. He finds honor in the mark. But, will he be able to leverage all his mother taught him and survive? Even more important to him, will he be able to protect his newly found friends?

The Labyrinth of Time by T.W. Fendley (5 Stars)

This is a Teen/YA fantasy novel with a native/ancient American culture influence. The story is fresh and unique.

Jade is a sixteen-year-old girl that accompanies her grandmother to Peru on a tour. Her grandmother has always been interested in a certain culture/studies that she was first intoduced to by a Shaman from the region they’re visiting. Jade meets a boy her age named Felix and they have to work together to save the world.

So, that does sound a little cliche, but the story is well-written and weaves together a fascinating series of clues that lead them toward their destiny. I found the mixture of real culture and fantasy interesting. Some of the tale is complicated, though the author does a good job of reminding or explaining the various facets as you work your way through. I did find the first 20% or so a little slow because there’s a fair bit of background that you need, but once you hit the nighttime activities where they’re trying to find the Labryinth, the pace really picks up.

I think this could appeal to immediate pre-teens, as well; I think it might be a little complicated for those too much younger. The one thing that seemed odd to me was how extremely familiar with American culture, phrasing, etc. the people of Peru were. While I know this is the fantasy, I did find it just a little distracting, but I suspect teenagers and those that haven’t traveled internationally wouldn’t notice it.

All in all, this was a clever, well-written story with wonderful characters and an interesting glance at an alternate culture.

Tip — Everyone Loves an Underdog

When I ask readers which character from The Journey of the Marked is their favorite, more often than not, the response is Tip. I recently had two readers panic that something happens to Tip when I mentioned a death. This caused me to question why Tip warrants such a consistent reaction. First, a little background on Tip:

Tip from MarketMy cover artist, Em Wright, based the picture on the left on my description of Tip. He’s Liput, so the tips of his hair change color each day randomly. Consistent with the average Liput, he’s skilled with machinery. While he’s strong from farming, he lacks the skill to fight effectively.

Liputs avoided the earlier conflicts on the planet; yet Tip’s two brothers were marked at 16 followed by him. While most of the marked find honor in the call to Anyamae’s side, Tip fears what he must face when he abandons his home. Tip is an underdog.

Red WingsThroughout book one, Tip slowly evolves, gaining courage and forging a bond with the other marked ones. But how will he contribute to the journey if fighting isn’t his strength? And will the others afford him the same respect they do those that can fight? It’s this fascination that makes Tip popular. You find yourself cheering for him and hoping he succeeds.

Yes, I think we’ll all have to keep cheering for Tip. After all, he needs a confidence boost!

A little more background…

When I returned to writing a handful of years ago, I wrote for myself. I started with a general concept for a story, but without a fully fleshed out plot. The more my story evolved, the more I began to realize that others might enjoy it. I finally reached a turning point and committed myself to writing a series.

Red WingsWhat’s fascinating, even to me, is that my story quickly became an epic adventure. The world I’ve created holds a varied and interesting cast of species and characters. However, I recognize that it’s hard to keep track of everyone, especially with gaps between novels. In an effort to assist my readers, I’m creating something of an encyclopedia on my webpage. I’m avoiding spoilers and including unique facts and backgrounds.

If you have a question not addressed in a post, please ask. As well, I’m creating pages for each post, which are indexed on the About the Series page for ease of use. Happy Reading!