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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: fantasy, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. slow and steady....

slow and steady
©the enchanted easel 2014
not only wins the race...but the heart of a beautiful, strawberry pink haired mermaid. :)

these two cuties were shipped off to new york this past monday and are ready to be welcomed into their new home in a baby girl's nursery.

{that pink hair...be still my heart. ;)}

PRINTS AVAILABLE THOUGH THE SHOP LINK FOUND HERE:

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2. Guest Post: Lara Morgan, Author of Betrayal

Please welcome Lara Morgan, author of Betrayal, to the virtual offices this morning!  I asked Lara to share a list of her essential items to have a really productive day.  I really wish I could try #3 here!

 

Top 5 items for a productive day…. by Lara Morgan

1. Tea. Lots of it.

2. Time

3. Tim tams

4. Twitter free

5. Toddler absent

As you can see the above list is quite wishful. Tea yes I always have but time?! Perhaps I should have added Tardis so I could regain some and as a stay home mum Twitter is often what keeps me sane – as in there are other adults out there! So generally at the moment productivity is not high. And there are NEVER enough tim tams.

About the book:

From fantasy writer Lara Morgan comes the second in her engrossing, enchanting, exciting Twins of Saranthium trilogy, perfect for curbing Game of Thrones withdrawals.

Shaan and Tallis have escaped from the fallen god, Azoth, but his dark shadow stretches over the enslaved people of the Wild Lands and the terrifying army of human-serpent warriors. War is coming, but the Council of Nine turn from the twins and their tales of Azoth’s menace, focusing instead on a war on the Free Lands.

Meanwhile, the Four Lost Gods have awoken, ready to reclaim the Birthstone currently in Azoth’s possession. But rather than the saviours Shaan and Tallis needed, the Four begin to exert terrible control over the people of Saranthium. With Tallis struggling to control the growing power within, and Shaan attempting to resist the pull of Azoth, the twins are under assault from all sides. Victory may still be possible, but only through a devastating act of betrayal.

The post Guest Post: Lara Morgan, Author of Betrayal appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Writer Wednesday: Deal Announcement


I had an exciting start to my week. Not only did I finally get to move back home, but I also got this picture from my amazing agent Sarah Negovetich.
If you're having trouble reading that, it's the deal announcement for Fading Into the Shadows, which will be published by Spencer Hill Press in 2016!

I love my editor at SHP. Trisha just gets me and the way my mind works, so I'm thrilled to work on another book with her. And this book was one that grabbed my attention from the start. It's actually the book that gave me the idea for the Touch of Death series. Yes, I drafted it before Touch of Death. I revised it after I completed the series though.

I can't wait to share more info with you, but for now I'll say it's fantasy and it involves a girl who will do anything to save her best friend after he goes missing. Of course she didn't realize "anything" involved another world of shadows and real life constellations trying to kill her.

Anyone else have good writing news to share this week? Tackle a difficult chapter, finish a revision, get a new book idea? Let's celebrate together.

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4. Cakes in space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Imagine packing up your home, leaving Earth and setting out to travel across space to colonise a new planet.

The journey will take so long you’ll be put into a cryptobiotic state. But there is absolutely nothing to fear: You’re on sleek new spaceship, looked after by a team of well-programmed robots, and everything has been carefully thought through. When you finally arrive at Nova Mundi (it only takes 199 years to get there), you’ll be woken up to a delicious breakfast and the start of a whole new and wonderful life.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

cakesinspacecoverAnd so it is in Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Astra and her family are on their way to their new home but – you’ve guessed it – something goes wrong. Astra wakes from her suspended sleep, and feeling peckish goes off in search of a chocolate biscuit.

The Nom-O-Tron (a highly developed version of Star Trek’s Replicator) satisfies Astra’s request, but when she’s tempted to ask for something a little more outlandish (how many times have you seen the word “Ultimate” used to describe a dish?) something goes awry. Soon Astra is hurtling through space surrounded by cakes which have learned to evolve. Cakes which are fed up of being eaten themselves. Cakes which have developed a killer instinct.

Will Astra be able to save her family from the Ravenous Crispy Slices and Ferocious Fruit Cakes stalking the spaceship’s corridors? How much more complicated will things get when a second front opens up and her spaceship is raided by alien life forms known as Poglites, desperately searching for their holy grail, that technology which they haven’t been able to master: SPOONS.

Yes, this is a totally surreal and deliciously outrageous story of friendship, ingenuity and hundreds and thousands.

It’s fast-moving, exciting, just ever so slightly scary in that enjoyably adrenalin pumping way and above all it’s FUNNY! Add into the mix some genuinely beautiful writing (sometimes young fiction is all about the plot and the language – especially for an adult reading it aloud – can be somewhat unremarkable, but Reeve at times writes sentences which I found myself wanting to copy out), a plot which will enthral both boys and girls of a wide age range, and the subtle inclusion of some philosophically meatier issues (the consequences of greedy desire, the demonisation of that which we don’t know and can’t name) and you’ve got yourself a remarkable book.

Image: Sarah McIntyre. Please click on the image to be taken to the original blog post - well worth reading!

Image: Sarah McIntyre. Please click on the image to be taken to the original blog post – well worth reading!

McIntyre’s illustrations are a crazy but perfect mix of 1950s brave new world sleekness and outrageous sponge-and-icing based fantasy. I’m delighted that Astra’s family are mixed race (this isn’t mentioned in the text at all, but how great to see some diversity just as-is, without it being an issue in the book).

The top-notch content of Cakes in Space is matched by a stunningly produced physical book. Like last year’s Reeve and McIntyre production, Oliver and the Seawigs, this is first being published as a small hardback in pleasingly chunky, strokingly hand-holdable format. Everything about the book is appealing.

After indulging in a solo read, I read this book aloud to both girls over a couple of days last week. Before we’d even finished the books my girls were off to raid the cutlery draw in the kitchen for highly prized spoons to create a collection of which any Poglite would be proud.

spooncollection1

spooncollection2

Carefully curated, they labelled every spoon with where it had been found in the galaxy, its rarity and its monetary value (I can see how this could develop into a Top Trumps game…)
spooncollection3

Spoons are one thing, but cake is another, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to host our own mini Cakes in Space party. We baked a host of fairy cakes and then turned them into KILLER CAKES…

cakesinspace3

Lollies made great eyes on stalks…

cakesinspace6

… as did Maltesers and Aero balls.

cakesinspace9

We had fun making teeth out of snapped white chocolate buttons, tictacs and rice paper snipped to look like rows of sharp teeth.

cakesinspace10

We also had some Ferocious Florentines and Sinister Swiss Rolls (helped along with edible eyes).

cakesinspace4

cakesinspace5

Other characters from the book were also present: The Nameless Horror was a big bowl of wobbly jelly dyed black with food colouring and with licorice shoelaces reaching out across the table, and jars of purple gloop (thinned down Angel Delight, again dyed to give a good purple colour) with gummy snakes in them made perfect Poglite snacks. Alas these were guzzled before I got to take a photo!

Preparing for the party was at least as much fun as the party itself…

cakesinspace7

Great music for a Cakes in Space party includes:

  • Cake by Mindy Hester & The Time Outs – heavily influenced by George Michael’s Faith
  • Peggy Seeger with Ewan MacColl, “The Space Girl’s Song”
  • I like Pie, I like Cake by the Four Clefs
  • To the Moon by the Mighty Buzzniks
  • Man in the Moon by The Full English. This comes from the album Sarah McIntyre listened to a lot whilst illustrating Cakes in Space.
  • Crunch munchy honey cakes by The Wiggles… not everyone’s cup of tea but it is sort of earwormy…
  • Other activities which would make for a great Cakes in Space party include:

  • COSTUMES! Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve have the most amazing Cakes in Space costumes (you can see them here), but if you want some inspiration for your own costumes you could try these: Using a bucket and plastic tray to create an astronaut costume as per Spoonful, how to create a papier-mâché helmet on StitchCraftCreations, a Pinterest board dedicated to cake costumes.
  • ROBOTS! I’d pile a load of “junk” from the recycling bin on the table and let the kids loose on designing and building their own robots or spaceships. NurtureStore has some ideas to get you going.
  • SLEEPING PODS! For the grown ups at the party if no-one else… You could use large cardboard boxes painted silver lined with duvets, and with the lids cut out and replaced with something see-through, with bottle tops/lids stuck on for the various buttons… you get the idea!
  • We’ve all heard of Death by Chocolate, but what’s the nearest you’ve come to being killed by a cake?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Cakes in Space from the publishers.

    4 Comments on Cakes in space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, last added: 8/18/2014
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    5. Throwback Thursday: Ship of Souls

    Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott (2011, ARC) 
    Amazon Publishing

    Rating: 3.5/5

    IQ "Kids on my block called 'reject'. Grown folks at church called me an 'old soul'. One girl at school told me I talked like a whiteboy. But when I ask Mom about it she just said, 'you are black. And nothing you say, or do, or pretend to be will ever change that fact. So just be yourself, Dmitri. Be who you are." pg. 3

    Dmitri, known as D, is living with a foster family after his mother dies of breast cancer. D is used to having his foster mom all to himself, when she takes in Mercy, a crack-addicted baby he finds himself unable to cope. He is at a new school and while tutoring he becomes friend with Hakeem, a basketball star who needs extra math help and Nyla, a military brat both boys have crushes on. Sometimes after school D bird watches in Prospect Park and he discovers a mysterious bird, Nuru that can communicate with him. He enlists Hakeem and Nyla to help him help Nuru (who is injured) escape evil forces, the ghosts of soldiers that died during the Revolutionary War. They journey from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in Manhattan to assist Nuru in freeing the souls that reside there.

    I wish some of the fantasy elements had been developed a bit further, such as Nuru's role, his dialogue also came across sounding a little ridiculous and heavy on the 'wise mentor' scale. The characters did come across as having a message. It is made very clear that Hakeem is Muslim and Nyla is 'different from the stereotype. I wish the individuality of the characters had come off in a more subtle way (for example when Hakeem describes how his older sister listed all Muslim basketball players to convince his dad to let him play. And then Hakim lists them all and weaves in tidbits about the hijab. It came across as stilted for middle school dialogue). But then again this book is intended for a younger audience who need it hammered in that it's dangerous to define people and put them in boxes. I also wish the book had been longer just by a few chapters, selfishly because I wanted more historical tidbits but also because I felt that the fantasy elements happened so fast as did the sudden strong friendship with Hakeem and Nyla. And the love triangle made me sad but that's not the author's fault! Although I would have been happy without it.

    Yet again Zetta Elliott seamlessly blends together history and fantasy, Black American history that is often ignored in textbooks. Unlike the descriptions of the characters I found the historical tidbits woven in artfully. There are so many goodies in here about the importance of working with other people, that heroes need not go it alone. This is especially vital because the author makes it explicitly clear that D is unbearably lonely but he keeps himself isolated from other people because he doesn't want to be abandoned or disappointed or lose them in a tragic way as happened with his mother. The author does a great job of making you truly feel and understand D's loneliness and your heart aches for him. Also while I didn't think the friendship had enough time to really grow into the strong bonds that developed so quickly, it was a very genuine friendship (once you suspend your disbelief) in terms of doing anything and everything for your friends and believing the seemingly improbable. It is also clear that the author has a strong appreciation of nature and that makes the fantasy elements more interesting while also making it appear more realistic.

    Ship of Souls is a great story that focuses on a portion and population of the American Revolution that is completely ignored by most history outlets. The fantasy world is well-thought out, I only wish the book had been longer to explain more about the world D and his friends get involved in as well as more time to believably develop their friendship. The characters are strong, but they were written with a heavy hand that tries hard to point out how they defy stereotypes.  I devoured the story not just because of the length but because it is so different from anything else out there and it's a lovely addition to the YA/MG fantasy world. I can't wait to see what the author does next and again I adored her first YA novel A Wish After Midnight. I recommend both books.

    Disclosure: Received from the author, who I do consider a wonderful friend and mentor. Many thanks Zetta!

    0 Comments on Throwback Thursday: Ship of Souls as of 8/14/2014 10:12:00 PM
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    6. Review of A Creature of Moonlight

    hahn creature of moonlight Review of A Creature of MoonlightA Creature of Moonlight
    by Rebecca Hahn
    Middle School, High School    Houghton    314 pp.
    5/14    978-0-544-10935-3    $17.99
    e-book ed.  978-0-544-11009-0    $17.99

    Marni is the daughter of a princess and the powerful dragon who presides over the kingdom’s magicked woods. When she was a baby, her grandfather surrendered his throne to his son to save her life. Marni has grown up in relative obscurity with Gramps in a hut on the kingdom’s outskirts. Now she is almost seventeen, and the woods are encroaching on the kingdom — her dragon father’s attempt to call her to him. After tragedy strikes, Marni (the king’s only heir) leaves home to make a life for herself at court — and to seek vengeance on her uncle for her mother’s murder. But the king’s increased fear and hatred eventually drives Marni to seek out her father. While in the woods, she finally chooses who she will be and where home truly lies. Full of court intrigue, family secrets, marriage proposals (several by a beguiling and bewildering lord), fantastical creatures, legends, and magic, Hahn’s debut novel is first and foremost a journey of self-discovery. Marni, like Katsa in Graceling (rev. 11/08) and the eponymous Seraphina (rev. 7/12), is a strong, plainspoken protagonist who learns to embrace her uniqueness and power with newfound confidence and fierce independence. Hahn’s poetic style gives the narrative depth and beauty with vividly rendered settings and sophisticatedly complex characters. It’s an eloquent story about free will, the meaning of home, and love’s varied forms.

    From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

    share save 171 16 Review of A Creature of Moonlight

    The post Review of A Creature of Moonlight appeared first on The Horn Book.

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    7. this beauty....

    ©the enchanted easel 2014
    on the easel this week.

    a custom mermaid....and a very cute, very enamored little sea turtle.

    {so, take that mr. hare. slow and steady definitely wins this race...or at least the heart of a very beautiful little mermaid. :)}

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    8. Storm - a review

    Napoli, Donna Jo. 2014. Storm. New York: Simon & Schuster.

    Stormtold in first person, present tense prose, presents the story of the biblical flood through the eyes of 16-year-old Sebah, an unlikely stowaway aboard Noah's massive ark.

    The story unfolds in chapters that correspond with the biblical timeline - 40 days of rain, 150 days for the waters to recede, 10 months until the mountains become visible, 40 days until the release of a bird, etc.
    (All can be found in the 7th and 8th chapters of Genesis.)

    After chronicling Sebah's three week struggle to survive the deluge with her companion Aban, the chapter titled, "Day 22," ends,

    It's another creature.  Like the first, but larger.  And obviously male.  He perches in a round hole high in the side of the ship.  There is a line of such holes.  And I passed another line below as I climbed.
    A whole ship of these creatures.
    I think of letting go, disappearing into the sea. I let loose one hand and look down. The sea is far below. I feel the energy seep from me. It would be so easy to just give up.
    ...
    The creature behind me nudges my dangling hand.
    I reach for the male's hand, and I am half pulled, half shoved up through the hole and into the ship.

    Ms. Napoli clearly put an enormous amount of thought into the logistics of preparing for a massive exodus of animals with little or no possibility of resupply for more than a year. She details the grueling work of the voyage.  While Sebah struggles to remain hidden and survive in the enclosure of the bonobos, Noah and his family have a huge responsibility to the ark's inhabitants. The animals must be secure from each other, their enclosures must be cleaned, they must be fed, they must have fresh water. Their survival is imperative. The family collects rainwater, they dry and ration supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables for the ark's herbivores, they fish to obtain fresh food for the carnivores. The family's nerves grow frayed under the stress.  They begin to argue and turn against one another.  The hidden Sebah sees much,

    "Respect!" Noah claps his hands above his head, and dust flies through the dim light.  "And haven't you learned arguing gets us nowhere?"  He takes his ax back from Ham. "The bottom deck stinks.  I have to breathe shallow to stand going down there.  Everyone has to help Japheth and me clean it out.  Today! Let our wives feed and water the animals of this deck and the top —while we shovel waste.  Noah goes up the ladder with Japheth at his heels.
    How you will perceive this book will depend greatly upon how you perceive the biblical story of the great flood. Arguments could be made for classification as historical fiction, alternative history, survival fiction, dystopian fiction, or fantasy. However you choose to view the book, it cannot be denied that it is a thought-provoking look at the nature of humans and animals, of loss and love, of despair and hope.

    An Author's Note, Timeline from Genesis Verses, and Bibliography are included.  Visit the author's website http://www.donnajonapoli.com/ya.html#STORM to read an excerpt.

    (I'm not a Russell Crowe fan, but now I think that I might want to watch the movie, Noah, just to see another perspective.)

    (My copy of the book was provided by the publisher, and was an Advance Reader Copy)


    0 Comments on Storm - a review as of 8/11/2014 7:56:00 AM
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    9. The Unwanteds: Book 1, by Lisa McMann, 400 pp, RL 4

    The Unwanteds, the first book in Lisa McMann's Unwanteds series came out in 2011 and the blurb on the cover, "The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter," didn't grab me, despite the fact that I read and admire both series. I was  burned out on dystopian settings and wary of any book that is compared to Harry Potter. But, The Unwanteds won the California Young Reader Medal medal for best

    0 Comments on The Unwanteds: Book 1, by Lisa McMann, 400 pp, RL 4 as of 8/11/2014 4:46:00 AM
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    10. Ask an Editor: Nailing the Story

    In this series, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares advice for aspiring authors, especially those considering submitting to our New Visions Award

    Last week on the blog, I talked about hooking the reader early and ways to write so you have that “zing” that captivates from the very beginning. This week, I wanted to go into more detail about the story and plot itself. When teaching at writing conferences, my first question to the audience is this:

     What is the most important thing about a multicultural book?

    I let the audience respond for a little while, and many people have really good answers: getting the culture right, authenticity, understanding the character… these are all important things in diverse books.

    But I think that the most important part of a diverse novel is the same thing that’s the most important thing about any novel: a good story. All of the other components of getting diversity right won’t matter if you don’t have a good story! And getting those details wrong affects how good the story is for me and for many readers.

    So as we continue our series discussing things to keep in mind as you polish your New Visions Award manuscripts, let’s move the discussion on to how to write a good story, beyond just following the directions and getting a good hook in your first few pages. This week, we’ll focus on refining plot.

    Here are a few of the kinds of comments readers might make if your plot isn’t quite there yet:

    • Part of story came out of nowhere (couldn’t see connection)
    • Too confusing
    • Confusing backstory
    • Plot not set up well enough in first 3 chapters
    • Bizarre plot
    • Confusing plot—jumped around too much
    • underdeveloped plot
    • Too complicated
    • Excessive detail/hard to keep track
    • Too hard to follow, not sure what world characters are in

    We’ll look at pacing issues too, as they’re often related:

    • Chapters way too long
    • Pacing too slow (so slow hard to see where story is going)
    • Nothing gripped me
    • Too predictable

    block quote 1Getting your plot and pacing right is a complicated matter. Just being able to see whether something is dragging too long or getting too convoluted can be hard when you’re talking about anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand words, all in one long file. Entire books have been written on how to plot a good science fiction and fantasy book. More books have been written on how to plot a good mystery. If you need more in-depth work on this topic, refer to them (see the list at the end of this post).

    So we won’t get too in depth here, but let’s cover a few points.

    Know your target audience

    When you’re writing for children, especially young children (middle grade, chapter books, and below), your plot should be much more linear than a plot for older readers who can hold several threads in their heads at once.

    Teens are developmentally ready for more complications—many of them move up to adult novels during this age, after all—but YA as a category is generally simpler on plot structure than adult novels in the same genre. This is not to say the books are simple-minded. Just not as convoluted… usually. (This varies with the book—and how well the author can pull it off. Can you?)

    But the difference between middle grade and YA is there for a reason—kids who are 7 or 8 or 9 years old and newly independent readers need plots that challenge them but don’t confuse them. And even adults get confused if so much is going on at once that we can’t keep things straight. Remember what we talked about last time regarding backstory—sometimes we don’t need to know everything all at once. What is the core of your story?

    Linear plot

    Note that “too complicated” is one of the main complaints of plot-related comments readers had while reading submissions to the last New Visions Award.

    Don’t say, “But Writer Smith wrote The Curly-Eared Bunny’s Revenge for middle graders and it had TEN plot threads going at once!” Writer Smith may have done it successfully, but in general, there shouldn’t be more than one main plot and a small handful of subplots happening in a stand-alone novel for middle-grade readers.

    If you intend your book to be the first in a series of seven or ten or a hundred books, you might have seeds in mind you’d like to plant for book seventy-two. Unless you’re contracted to write a hundred books, though, the phrase here to remember is stand-alone with series potential. Even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was pretty straightforward in its plotting—hinting at backstory, but not dumping backstory on readers in book one; setting the stage for potential conflicts down the road but not introducing them beforetime. Book 1 of Harry Potter really could have just stood on its own and never gone on to book 2. It wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying as having the full 7-book arc, but note how seamlessly details were woven in, not calling attention to themselves even though they’re setting the stage for something later. Everything serves the linear plot of the main arc of book 1’s story. We only realize later that those details were doing double duty.

    Thus, when you’re writing for children and young adults, remember that a linear main plot is your priority, and that anything in the story that is not serving the main plot is up on the chopping block, only to be saved if it proves its service to the main plot is true.block quote 2Plotting affects pace

    In genre fiction for young readers, pacing is always an issue. Pacing can get bogged down by too many subplots—the reader gets annoyed or bored when it takes forever to get back to the main thrust of the story when you’re wandering in the byways of the world you created.

    Fantasy readers love worldbuilding (to be covered in another post), but when writing for young readers, make sure that worldbuilding serves as much to move the plot forward as to simply show off some cool worldbuilding. Keep it moving along.

    Character affects plot

    This was not a complaint from the last New Visions Award, but another thing to keep in mind when plotting is that as your rising action brings your character into new complications, the character’s personality will affect his or her choices—which will affect which direction the plot moves. We’ll discuss characterization more another day, but just keep in mind that the plot is dependent upon the choices of your characters and the people around them (whether antagonists or otherwise). Even in a plot that revolves around a force of nature (tornado stories, for example), who the character is (or is becoming) will determine whether the plot goes in one direction or another.

    Find an organizational method that works for you

    This is not a craft recommendation so much as a tool. Plotting a novel can get overwhelming. You need a method of keeping track of who is going where when, and why. There are multiple methods for doing this.

    Scrivener doesn’t work for all writers, so it might not be your thing, but I recommend trying out its corkboard feature, which allows you to connect summaries of plot points on a virtual corkboard to chapters in your book. If you need to move a plot point, the chapter travels along for the ride.

    An old-fashioned corkboard where you can note plot points and move them around might be just as easy as entering them in Scrivener, if you like the more tactile approach.

    Another handy tool is Cheryl Klein’s Plot Checklist, which has a similar purpose: it makes the writer think about the reason each plot point is in the story, and whether those points serve the greater story.

    Whether you use a physical corkboard, a white board, Scrivener, or a form of outlining, getting the plot points into a form where you can see everything happening at once can help you to see where things are getting gummed up.

    Further resources

    This post is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plotting a book. Here are some books and essays that will be of use to the writer seeking to fix his or her plot problems. (Note that some of these resources will be more useful to some writers than others, and vice versa. Find what works for you.)

    • “Muddles, Morals, and Making It Through: Or Plots and Popularity,” by Cheryl Klein in her book of essays on writing and revising, Second Sight.
    • In the same book by Cheryl Klein, “Quartet: Plot” and her plot checklist.
    • The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson
    • I haven’t had experience with this resource, but writer friends suggest the 7-point plot ideas of Larry Brooks, which is covered both in a blog series and in his books

    And remember!

     

    keep calm and write on

    Further Reading:

    New Visions Award: What NOT to Do

    Ask an Editor: Hooking the Reader Early

    The New Visions Guidelines

    Stacy Whitman photoStacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. 


    Filed under: Awards, New Voices/New Visions Award, Publishing 101, Tu Books, Writer Resources Tagged: fantasy, fantasy writing, New Visions Award, plotlines, sci-fi writing, science fiction, writing, writing 101, writing award, writing tips, young adult

    1 Comments on Ask an Editor: Nailing the Story, last added: 8/11/2014
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    11. Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp

     

    I have a couple cover reveals this morning.  First up:  I read about The Elementalists last week, and the plot sounds intriguing.  Besides, anything with dragons gets a second look from me.  What do you think of the cover?

    The Elementalists

    C. Sharp

    It is the hottest year on record for the fifth year in a row, and famine riots spread across much of Africa. Along the Gulf Coast, the hurricane season is one of the worst in memory. The latest in a string of 9.0 strength earthquakes has claimed two-hundred thousand lives in central China. Far below the earth’s crust, imprisoned in ancient slumber, the elemental powers of the land grow restless…

    All seems normal in small town Virginia, where fifteen year old Chloe McClellan dreads the start of her sophomore year. Whip-smart, athletic and genuine, she’s also a bit of an angry loner who is totally unaware of her charms. Despite her plans to stay under the radar, Chloe becomes a target for the fiery queen of the It-girls in fifth period gym. She then draws instant notoriety when she’s struck by lightning after her first disastrous day of school. As if that weren’t bad enough, she soon comes to believe, that either she’s going insane, or her accident has unleashed a powerful and terrifying creature from the mythological world—triggering the final countdown to the world’s sixth great extinction level event.

    Chloe finds some solace as she inexplicably wins the affections of an unlikely trio of male classmates: the earthy and gregarious captain of the football team, the flighty stoner with a secret, and an enigmatic transfer student who longs for the sea. All the while she struggles with the growing realization that “Dragons” exist, and she may be the only one who can stop them.

    The Elementalists, book one of the Tipping Point Prophecy, follows Chloe and her group of friends, and enemies, as they struggle to save humanity by harnessing the power of the elements.

    Author bio:

    This is C. Sharp’s debut novel. He studied English Literature and Anthropology at Brown University and Mayan Archaeology at the Harvard Field School in Honduras. He works in film and commercial production. Chris now lives in Concord, MA with his wife and daughter.

    Goodreads link:

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22838892-the-elementalists

    Sales widget:

    https://ganxy.com/i/95879/c-sharp/the-elementalists-the-tipping-point-prophecy-book-one

    eISBN:

    9781626813113

    Price:

    $4.99

    The post Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    12. The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

    Rump: The True Story of RumpelstiltskinWhat would you do if your name decided your destiny? Some might be thrilled with the potential of a powerful name. On the other hand, being named after a cow’s rear end would make me feel rather blue. That is the case for Rump who lives in The Kingdom where names mean everything. Rump is constantly picked on due to his name. Rump knows in his heart that his mother gave him a wonderful name, but she died before she was able to communicate it fully.

    On his twelfth birthday, Rump discovers an old spinning wheel in his woodpile. The wheel belonged to his mother and he desperately wants to keep the item since it was once hers. Rump tries spinning the wheel against his Gran’s wishes and learns there is a magical outcome. In this land magic can be dangerous and Rump quickly gets himself into a heap of trouble. Rump has to find a way to make things right while he also attempts to learn his whole name.

    Many children know the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but Shurtliff has created a marvelous story that will keep readers engaged as they learn Rump’s side of the classic fairy tale. What really makes this story magical is how the author is able to get readers to root for a normally disliked character.

    Posted by: Katie


    0 Comments on The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff as of 8/7/2014 12:12:00 PM
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    13. Interview with Anna Kashina, Author of The Guild of Assassins and Giveaway

      [Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Anna! Describe yourself in five words or less.

    [Anna Kashina] A self-questioning over-committed dreamer.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

    [Anna Kashina] “The Guild of Assassins” is an adventure fantasy featuring the elite Majat warriors, best described in present day terms as ninjas in a medieval European setting. This is book 2 in the Majat Code series, but I hope it can be read as a stand alone. In addition to fast-paced action, this book also has strong elements of romance.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

    [Anna Kashina] In a way, when I wrote this book, it all came to me on its own. The overall concept that always fascinated me was the idea of extreme power confined by very strict outside circumstances. In the case of the Majat warriors, their deadly fighting skill comes at a price of absolute obedience to the code of their guild. And then, you throw real people into this situation, with passions, desires, and a strong sense of honor, and watch it all go awry.

    In my story, the two central characters are Kara and Mai, both of them top-ranked Majat warriors. Kara has acted on her honor and disobeyed her guild, earning a death warrant. Mai had been sent after her, but at the critical moment he chose to spare her life. Now Mai has to pay for what he has done, and Kara is determined to interfere and draw the heat away from him. Of course, all this is bound to trigger some feelings on both sides. I just loved playing it out.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    [Anna Kashina] I have to shamefully confess that in this book I enjoyed writing the romance, and the ensuing tension between the characters. There is a love triangle between the three main characters, which infuses all their interactions with so much feeling that the air tended to crackle in the room as I wrote. I could not wait to get to writing every day, and finished the first draft in less than a month. To me, the whole book was driven by these feelings. I only hope I managed to convey some of them to the readers.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

    [Anna Kashina] The fact that some of the relationships were bound to end up badly, as is inevitable for a love triangle. Kara must choose between two men who are very different from each other. I felt very bad for the one who ended up alone.

    I went with the characters when I wrote the book, so until very late in the story I kept wondering if things will resolve differently, but in the end I felt everything happened the only way it could possibly have gone. This, in itself, was gratifying.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

    [Anna Kashina] I am not good at theme songs. I have to say, however, that even though I don’t normally write to music, a lot of this novel was written to the soundtrack of “Totem” by Cirque du Soleil. A lot of that music combines middle eastern build with ethnic rhythms, and is made for very fast action. It was perfect for the mood of the story.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

    [Anna Kashina] My purse? OK, that envelops a whole bunch of things. In these days, probably my cell phone would be one, closely followed by my Kindle.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

    [Anna Kashina] A pen, a note pad, and a flash drive. These were first the first three out of many, my desk tends to get messy.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

    [Anna Kashina] My all-time favorite fantasy author is Terry Pratchett, so I would love to be in his head for one day and get a glimpse of where all this beautiful writing comes from.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

    [Anna Kashina] One of my favorite recent books is N. K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”. More recently I enjoyed the “Hearts and Thrones” trilogy by Amy Raby and “The Assassin’s Curse” duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

    [Anna Kashina] Reading, when I am not too tired. When I am tired I like watching adventure movies or playing computer games. Sadly, not much time for those.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

    [Anna Kashina] I have a blog at http://www.annakashina.com

    I am also on Facebook and Twitter:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593

    https://twitter.com/annakashina

    Please stop by. I love to hear from readers at all times on any topics!

     

    The Guild of Assassins

    Majat Code #2

    By: Anna Kashina

    Releasing Aug 5th, 2014

    Blurb

    Kara, an elite warrior from the Majat Guild, has escaped execution and achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!
    But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.
    Is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a ploy sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

    Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/06/now-booking-tasty-virtual-tour-for_7.html

    Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19325184-the-guild-of-assassins

    Buy Links

    Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Guild-Assassins-Book-Majat-Code-ebook/dp/B00I75ET7A/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402088430&sr=1-3

    Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-guild-of-assassins-anna-kashina/1117541969?ean=9780857665270

    Random House: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/239563/the-guild-of-assassins-by-anna-kashina

    The prequel, The Majat Testing, is FREE!

    Author Info

    Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors. She is a recent medalist in the ForeWord Book of the Year and Independent Publishers Book Award contests.

    Author Links

    http://annakashinablog.wordpress.com/

    https://twitter.com/annakashina

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593

    Rafflecopter Giveaway (Print copy of BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE and THE GUILD OF ASSASSINS (US Only))

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    14. Giveaway: Win The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman!

    This morning I have a special giveaway, thanks to Penguin Books! The Magician’s Land, the final installment of Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Trilogy, just hit store shelves and you can win a copy!

     

    The stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy

    THE MAGICIAN’S LAND

    By Lev Grossman

    AN INDIE NEXT PICK FOR AUGUST 2014

    “Deeply satisfying finale to the best-selling fantasy trilogy… Grossman captures the magic of fantasy books cherished in youth and repurposes it to decidedly adult ends… The essence of being a magician, as Quentin learns to define it, could easily serve as a thumbnail description of Grossman’s art: ‘the power to enchant the world.’” — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

    “[THE MAGICIAN’S LAND] is endlessly fascinating and always proceeds apace…This is an absolutely brilliant fantasy filled with memorable characters—old and new—and prodigious feats of imagination. At one point, Quentin muses, ‘Magic and books: there aren’t many things more important than that.’ THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is ineffable proof of that claim.

    Fantasy fans will rejoice at its publication.”

    — Booklist (Starred Review)

    “[T]his series taken as a whole brings new life and energy to the fantasy genre.”

    —Library Journal

    “An elegantly written third act to Quentin’s bildungsroman…Fans of the trilogy will be pleased.”
    —Publishers Weekly

    “Lev Grossman has conjured a rare creature: a trilogy that simply gets better and better as it goes along. THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is sumptuous and surprising yet deliciously familiar…Literary perfection for those of us who grew up testing the structural integrity of the backs of wardrobes.”

    —Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

    Viking is thrilled to release THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, the spectacular conclusion to Lev Grossman’s New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy (On-sale: August 5, 2014; 978-0-670-01567-2; $27.95). 

    The trilogy opened with The Magicians which The New Yorker called “a darkly cunning story about the power of imagination itself…An unexpectedly moving coming-of-age story.” NPR called the sequel The Magician King “a spellbinding stereograph, a literary adventure novel that is also about privilege, power and the limits of being human.”   Legions of fans now await THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, a novel full of the subversive brilliance that has put Grossman at the forefront of modern fantasy, which will bring the Magicians trilogy to a shattering, triumphant conclusion.

    Familiar faces return alongside new characters in THE MAGICIAN’S LAND. After being booted unceremoniously from Fillory, Quentin Coldwater returns to his alma mater, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, to make a new life as a teacher—even as Eliot and Janet race to save Fillory itself from a spectacular apocalypse. The demons of Quentin’s past catch up to him and send him on a crooked quest through magic’s seedy underworld, back to old haunts, old friends and old enemies. He discovers a powerful spell that would create a new magical land, but he must face his fears, and fix the errors of his past, before he can find the power to save the future. 

    THE MAGICIAN’S LAND is a tale of love and redemption—the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.  Old readers will devour the rich and riveting final book, and the completed arc will welcome newcomers who can binge-read the series in full.

    About the Author

    Lev Grossman is the book critic and lead technology writer for Time magazine and a widely published cultural critic. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novels The Magicians and The Magician King. A graduate of Harvard and Yale, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can learn more about Lev Grossman on his website www.levgrossman.com and follow him on Twitter @leverus.

    LEV GROSSMAN WILL BE TOURING TO:

    Burlington, MA                       Readercon                                                       July 10-13

    San Diego, CA                         Comic Con                                                      July 24 – 27

    Orlando, FL                            LeakyCon                                                         July 30 – Aug 3

    Brooklyn, NY                          St. Joseph’s College / 7pm                              August 5

    Sponsored by Greenlight Bookstore

    New York, NY                          Barnes & Noble (Upper West Side) / 7pm      August 6

    Boston, MA                             Brookline Booksmith / 7pm                           August 7

    Minneapolis, MN                     Club Book, Roseville Library / 7pm               August 11

    Houston, TX                           Murder by the Book / 6:30pm                        August 12

    Los Angeles, CA                      Vroman’s / 7pm                                              August 13

    San Francisco, CA                   Rakestraw / 7pm                                             August 14

    San Francisco, CA                   Kepler’s / 7:30pm                                           August 15

    Chapel Hill, NC                       Flyleaf Books / 7pm                                       August 28

    Atlanta, GA                             Decatur Book Festival                                    August 29 – 31

                                                    Dragon Con                                                    August 29 – 31

    Winston-Salem, NC                 Bookmarks Festival                                         September 6

    www.us.penguingroup.com

    www.levgrossman.com

    THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman

    Viking ? $27.95.00 ? On-sale date: August 5, 2014 ? ISBN: 978-0-670-01567-2

    Also available as an e-book

    US residents only, please

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    15. An Interview with Frances Hardinge - by C.J. Busby

    I first met Frances Hardinge as part of an intrepid SAS contingent that stormed the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton in October 2013. We had a great time, although there were fewer costumes than I'd hoped, and no centaurs galloping through the plenary session...


    Myself, Teresa Flavin and Katherine Roberts do the costume thing...
    I recently read and reviewed Frances Hardinge's new book, Cuckoo Song, for ABBA reviews (you can find the review here).  I loved it - and I wanted to ask Frances some questions about it, and about her writing in general, of which I am great admirer. So I thought I would hijack my ABBA post this month to interview her. Luckily, she is a very accommodating person, and was happy to allow me to grill her. As we live at opposite ends of the country, this had to be by email: but let's pretend we met in a chippy in Brighton for this conversation...

    Waiting for fish and chips
    So, Frances, unlike in previous novels, Cuckoo Song is set in a real historical period. How did you find that compared with setting your stories in secondary worlds where you are free to make it all up? 


    Writing a book set in a specific real world time period is much harder. There's always the fear of getting some detail wrong, and being caught out. One becomes obsessed with checking historical minutae, even for details that probably won't make the final cut. In a way it's a lot of fun, and you discover lots of new things during the research, but you can go quite, quite mad. In spite of my checking, I'm sure there are still lurking errors.

    I did find myself making some compromises. Sometimes to preserve the pace of the book, you can't afford to detour into lengthy explanations of historical context. 

    And I had to compromise when it came to the dialogue. At first I really wanted to have my characters using plenty of slang from the time. Then I started looking at the things people actually said in 1920s Britain.

    I say! Rather! I should think so! Jolly decent. A good sort. Old thing. Old bean. Old man. Ragging. Blighter. What rot! What a lark! That's torn it!

    Nowadays we can't read these phrases without hearing them in the voice of Bertie Wooster or Billy Bunter. They sound flippant, innocent, comical and bit twee. When one is trying to build suspense in a tale of psychological horror, that's the last thing you need. The characters might as well be exclaiming:
    “Oh well, never mind, old girl. What ho! Ginger beer!”

    Yes - that would have ruined the atmosphere for sure! It's a bit like the dilemma of using Shakespearian language in an Elizabethan setting - the odd words and phrases give a sense of a different time, but too many 'thee's and 'thou's and it starts to sound like a send up. Of course, in Cuckoo Song it's not only a case of real-world historical details, because you are also depicting another world - the fairie realm. I loved the idea of fairies as these strange bird-like Besiders who lurk in out-of-the-way places. How much did you draw on particular details for myths and folktales as inspiration when developing your otherworld characters?

    In the case of Cuckoo Song, I drew quite heavily on the old changeling folktales. These tales make for a disturbing read, not just because of the nightmare scenario of a malignant imposter taking the place of one's child. In the stories, the human hosts usually rid themselves of the changeling through utter cruelty - leaving them on a dunghill, flinging them into deep water, hurling them into the fire, etc. (It's particularly unpleasant because there's evidence that in past centuries some children with severe disabilities really did die from such brutal treatment, because they were thought to be 'changelings'.)

    The nature of the changeling varies from one folktale to another. Sometimes it's a fretful, sickly fairy child, swapped for a healthy human infant by envious fairy parents. Sometimes it's a full-grown adult fairy, infiltrating the mortal cottage so that it can be pampered and fed. Occasionally, however, the changeling nothing more than a doll, fashioned from leaves, wood or wax, and enchanted to look like an ailing child. It was the third type that started to fascinate me.

    The journey of Triss and Pen into the Underbelly is inspired by a particular folktale called "The Smith and the Fairies". After his son is stolen by fairies, a smith is advised by a wise man to go to the green hill on a certain night, armed with only a dirk, a Bible and a crowing cock. The way into the hill will be open that night. He must drive the dirk into the ground to make sure the hill does not close behind him. The Bible is protection. It is the rooster, however, that will most upset the fairies...

    In some ways, however, I deliberately deviated from traditional fairy lore. The fairies of folklore tend to be vulnerable to cold iron, but also to trappings of the church - Bibles, prayers, blessings, church bells. In my book, the Besiders are twilight creatures, inhabitants of the in-between and unmapped places, and their great enemy is certainty. Most iron will not hurt them, but they have a horror of scissors, which cleanly and cruelly divide, leaving nothing in between. Religious faith is dangerous to them, but so is faith and certainty of all kinds.

    I found the idea of the scissors as a symbol of dividing everything neatly into one side or the other quite chilling - as you make clear, so much cruelty comes from that kind of black and white thinking. The book is very good at delving into the grey areas between, and showing how mixed-up most people's characters are. I especially liked your portrayal of the relationship between the two sisters, Triss and Pen. As one of two sisters myself, I totally recognised that combination of fierce hatred and love - the way your sister can be both your worst enemy and the one person you can always rely on. Do you have sisters, or was that an impressive feat of imagination?

    I do have a sister. I was older, but by only eleven months, and it always felt as though we were basically the same age. We constructed elaborate imaginary worlds together, tried to set up a detective agency (we never got any cases), wrote plays with songs, invented codes and fought like fury. The first time one of my milk teeth came out, it was because I was biting my sister.

    Ha, ha. I knew it! I was also the eldest and my sister was thirteen months younger, so a very similar gap. And yes, we fought bitterly, but also collaborated to create imaginary worlds and games, write letters in code, make maps and search for hidden treasure (we never found any). It's a great apprenticeship for writing children's books! 

    One of the things I also like about your books is that you never really hurt or destroy your main characters - they may have some heart-stopping or tearful moments, but they are generally put down gently on safe ground at the end. Are you conscious of that, and is it related to the age you write for, or is it just part of who you are as a writer, that you don't have a desire to take your readers to very dark or unhappy places? (Or do you secretly nurse a desire to write a book with a massacre in it?)

    Funnily enough, one of my books does have a massacre in it! It's my third book, Gullstruck Island. I won't say any more since it's an important plot event, and I wouldn't want to commit spoilers.

    Ah - I haven't read that one! (Orders it from the library immediately...)

    My books tend to have a bodycount, and for the course of the story I like my readers to be in real doubt about whether my main character will survive. Most of them live in quite unforgiving worlds. I suspect that in fact I probably do take my protagonists to some dark and unhappy places... but then allow them to find a way out again, through their own ingenuity, courage and strength of will. 

    My books don't often have neat or straightforward 'happy endings', but hope generally triumphs. That isn't because I'm softening my books for a younger audience, but because I'm naturally quite a hopeful person. I'm a cynical optimist.

    I think that's what I meant, really - not that there aren't dark times or places, but that as a reader I feel safe. I know that somehow it will work out, the main characters will find a way. I like the idea of being a cynical optimist - I think I'm probably one, too.

    I'd like to finish  by asking you a bit about the nuts and bolts of how you write. Your language is wonderfully inventive - your descriptions always fresh and original. Is that something that just flows from your pen or do you refine a lot in subsequent versions?

    I am not one of those authors who manages to produce the same number of words each day (though I admire the discipline of all those who do). I have spurts of productivity where I turn out a lot of text in a day. Afterwards I go back and fiddle with it neurotically, and usually the 'fiddling' takes the form of cutting. I have a terrible addiction to metaphors, so when I revise my own work it usually involves the gentle patter of snipped metaphors and similes hitting the floor.

    That's interesting - so the first draft has even more of that inventive figurative language! I'd love to see a Frances Hardinge text before it's been pruned, all overgrown and tangled with trailing metaphors. What a treat! But your stories aren't just beautifully described, they have cracking plots. Do you work these out beforehand, or follow leads as they come up? In other words, are you a plotter or a pantser?

    I always plot out my books before I write them. For my first book I even had a chapter by chapter outline. I haven't gone into quite that much detail in plans for my later books, but I always map out the main incidents, and know what the ending will be.

    However, there's always some room for making things up on the fly. A book should be a journey of discovery for the writer as well as the reader, otherwise the writing process can become dull and leaden. My stories surprise me. Characters develop in unexpected ways. Just now and then, I change my mind about my plot structure halfway through writing the book. It's still useful to have that first plan, though, even if I decide to deviate from it. I need that trellis, even if I can't full predict how my story-vine will grow.

    What do you do when you get stuck? How do you get the ideas and words flowing again?

    I seldom reach a point where I can't write. Instead, I get a form of writers' block where I write the same chapter over and over again, and can't get the text to 'work'. It lies there on the screen like a stunned weasel.

    If you're sitting alone in a study for too long you can get hypnotised by your own screen. Sometimes I go for a ten-mile hike, just so that I can work through some plot knots in my head. 

    I find it a lot easier to write, however, if there is a deadline looming, even if it's an artifical one. I belong to a couple of writers' groups, and I find that I become a lot more productive just before the sessions...

    I think that's probably enough. I could happily carry on all day, but we need to get started on those chips! Many thanks for answering my questions, and good luck with the next book!

    It's been a pleasure. Pass the ketchup!




    I hope everyone's enjoyed this conversation as much as I did - and if any of you haven't come across Frances's books, do go and seek them out. They are among the most inventive, delightful and original books for older children I've read.



    C.J. Busby writes funny fantasy for 7-10. Her latest book, Deep Amber, is out with Templar. The sequel, Dragon Amber, will be published in September.


    Twitter: @ceciliabusby


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    16. Review: House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

    May Contain Spoilers

    Review:

    I admit it!  I wanted to read House of the Four Winds because of the cover.  I think it is absolutely breathtaking.  We all know the problem with judging a book by its cover, though.  Sometimes the story doesn’t live up to that gorgeous cover.  In this case, I’m glad I did pick it up.  While the pacing was occasionally frustrating, House of the Fours Winds was a gripping read none the less.

    I can’t think of the last Mercedes Lackey novel that I’ve read.  It’s been years and years, so I was curious to see if I’d like her writing style now.  I don’t think I liked it way back when, but after reading this, I’m going to have to give her backlist another look. The storytelling reminded me of Diane Zahler, told to a slightly older audience.  While House of the Four Winds is an adult fantasy, I don’t think there is anything objectionable within the pages, making this a great candidate for a motivated younger reader looking for a challenge.  Clarice, the heroine, is 18, making her highly relatable to a teen reader, and I thought the writing skewed young.

    The set up was a bit difficult to swallow.  Princess Clarice is the oldest of twelve daughters, and after her mother finally gives birth to a son, the girls are all informed that they must make their own way in the world.  Swansgaard, their tiny kingdom, would be ruined if the treasury had to provide for twelve dowries.  Instead, each girl will seek her fortune upon attaining the age of 18.  Clarice, gifted with a sword, has decided to become a swordmaster.  Unfortunately, she needs some practical experience if she expects to attract any students, so off she goes, seeking adventure.

    Disguised as Clarence, she buys passage on a ship bound for the new world.  Once aboard the ship, she questions the wisdom of her decision.  The captain and the senior officers are cruel men, quick to punish the crew for any infraction.  The only solace is her friendship with the young navigator Dominick.  He is the opposite of the captain; good and kind, he is outraged by the treatment of the crew, but he is powerless to help them.  Until the day the men are pushed too far, and they take up arms against their leaders.  Before she knows it, Clarice finds herself caught up in the munity, even taking an active part when Dominick’s life is threatened.

    So, yeah!  House of the Four Winds has a cross-dressing heroine, mutiny at sea, pirates, and magic.  The first 10% of the book dragged for me, and I was tempted to put it down.  I have so many books to read that a slow start almost guarantees a quick trip back to the TBR mountain.  By 15%, though, I couldn’t put it down.  The pacing slowed periodically, but I liked the characters so much that I didn’t mind getting to know them better.  Much of the book is character driven, with bursts of action and danger, and while I was expecting more action, I didn’t mind its absence.  The treacherous journey under the control of the evil sorceress more than made up for it,  and the end of the book was fraught with terrible challenges for the ever shrinking crew to deal with.

    Another thing I enjoyed about the book – Clarice is a strong, intelligent heroine.  She saves Dominick far more often than he saves her, and I really enjoyed that.  Instead of waiting for her prince to find her, Clarice took control of whichever situation presented itself, and became her own prince.  That doesn’t happen nearly enough in the books I read.  Now I’m curious to see if her sisters are as confident and capable as Clarice, so I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

    Grade:  B

    Review copy provided by publisher

    From Amazon:

    Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Valdemar series and romantic fantasies like Beauty and the Werewolf and The Fairy Godmother. JAMES MALLORY and Lackey have collaborated on six novels. Now. these New York Times and USA Today bestselling collaborators bring romance to the fore with The House of Four Winds.

    The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

    Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
    Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight. 

    Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp by a pair of bestselling writers.

    The post Review: House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    17. Monday Mishmash 8/4/14


    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. Into the Fire SWAG  I have awesome swag for Into the Fire! I'm loving the fire pendants and phoenix buttons. Check them out. Watch for a giveaway soon since the book releases on September 9th!

    2. Free Monthly Newsletter  My newsletter goes out this evening. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here.
    3. Blog Tour Posts  I'm getting all my blog tour posts for Into the Fire together this week. Thank you to everyone who signed up for the tour. If you tried to sign up and were told the schedule was full, feel free to contact me. We can still set something up separate from the tour.
    4. Reading  I've been a little LOT stressed lately with the construction on my house. I'm coping by reading.
    5. Leap Books Editor  I'm so excited to be part of the editorial team at Leap Books. I'll be editing for all three of their imprints! I couldn't be happier about it. If you missed the big announcement about the new direction of Leap Books on August 1st, you can read it here. If you're interested in submitting to Leap Books (I'm not the acquisitions editor.), you can find their guidelines here.
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?


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    18. Call for Speculative Poetry Submissions: Eye to the Telescope

    Eye to the Telescope call for poetry submissions

    Eye to the Telescope (ETTT) is a guest-edited online publication of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. ETTT 14 will be edited by John C. Mannone, who is looking for ekphrastic submissions for the October 2014 issue. Deadline September 15, 2014.

    There is no particular theme for this issue, but the speculative poems (sci-fi, fantasy, surrealism, etc.) must be exactly 100 words (excluding titles and epigraphs/postscripts that cite other sources) and be connected to the visual art linked below (see website). They may contain tones of humor or horror, but most importantly, I am looking for literary quality writing with literary depth. All forms/styles are accepted. Either write a poem directly inspired by one of the images posted on our site or pair up a poem influenced by a current science event (include an online reference) that also complements one of the pictures. Identify which image elicited each poem.

    See our website for the links to the pictures and for more submission details.

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    19. Interview with Kat Kruger, Author of The Night is Found and Giveaway!

    Please give a warm welcome to Kat Kruger!  Kat’s here to answer a few questions, and then you can enter for a chance to win her Magdeburg Trilogy (digital). 

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] Hi, Kat!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

    [Kat Kruger] Geek-girl, online-junkie, pizza-enthusiast, nature-lover, walking-paradox. (I hyphenated to cheat the word count.)

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Night is Found?

    [Kat Kruger] It’s the third book in The Magdeburg Trilogy about 17-year-old Connor Lewis who gets a scholarship to study in Paris and winds up in the middle of a werewolf war. In this final book, he’s had to take on a leadership role to help stop two separate groups who threaten the existence of all werewolves. He returns home to NYC to seek out help from the New World packs who are rumored to have united. Meanwhile, the girl he’s crushing on gets mixed up with the enemy overseas.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

    [Kat Kruger] This is a tough one because there was so much “closure” in this book and a lot of spoilers if I talk about any of it. The epilogue for sure is my fave. I’ve had that scene in my head since well before I started writing this book but, again, I feel like I can’t talk about it.

    There’s a Madison chapter called Absolution where she ‘s running from the enemy with Josh. She’s been a divisive character for some readers who fall either in the love or love-to-hate camps. What unfolds in the chapter is a resolution of their post break-up angst. I won’t lie. I cried a lot writing this scene.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the series?

    [Kat Kruger] This book. For real. As I mentioned already, there’s a lot of closure that had to happen in this final book so I felt a lot of pressure (mostly self-imposed) to do right by all of the characters and readers. I had a couple of false starts writing the first draft and cut at least 5,000 words from the beginning before I got a really clear picture of where to begin. The rest was about finding the right way to end things between everyone. There also had to be a ramping up of stakes and action happening at the same time. It was an exhausting book to write, more so than the other two put together, but with the help of a great editor and trusted beta readers I’m really happy with the outcome.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

    [Kat Kruger] My iPhone. It has everything. My calendar, my music, my notes, my games, and a means of communicating with people.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

    [Kat Kruger] The paperback edition of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock. A sketchbook. My iPhone.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

    [Kat Kruger] Zooey Deschanel. She would be my quirky spirit animal if there was such a thing. I like how she’s one of the women behind HelloGiggles and that she’s a positive role-model for girls. I’d like to know what makes her tick and what it’s like to be her for a day. During my day as her, I’d also try to sneak in a lunch date with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

    [Kat Kruger] I guess there are two ways I could answer. One is the altruistic route where I’d ask for telekenisis and make the evildoers of the world see the error of their ways and put an end to the terrible things that people in power can do. Seems like a tall order for one week though.

    The other option for me would be to just take teleportation and visit destinations around the world that are out of my travel range (price- or other-wise). That would reduce my carbon footprint though so it’s not entirely selfish…

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

    [Kat Kruger] I’ve actually had “reader’s block” for a while now. Between all the deadlines for the series and working freelance writing gigs during the day it’s been a struggle to get back into reading, which is a first for me. Usually I’m a voracious reader. That said, I recently picked up The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova. It’s the first in a trilogy about a merdude. Loved it and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

    I also lifted a self-imposed werewolf book embargo now that I’m done writing my own series so I just started Kathleen Peacock’s Hemlock trilogy and am really enjoying it.

    [Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

    Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube.

    “A superb series from start to finish that, like the best musical mashups, takes something old (werewolf mythology) and makes something completely fresh out of its source material.” — Charles de Lint, award-winning author of The Newford series

    When they tried to kill a prince, they made a king

    In the aftermath of his pack leader’s assassination Connor Lewis is ready to take control. Rodolfus de Aquila’s plan before he died was to unite the European werewolf packs against their common enemies: the Hounds of God who make the laws and enforce them ruthlessly with questionable motives, and the Luparii, an intergovernmental group of werewolf hunters now bent on the extermination of his kind. The uneasy alliance between these two factions has fallen apart, and now a battle wages leaving the pack werewolves scrambling to escape bio-chemical warfare on one side, and total domination on the other.

    After hearing rumors of a union between the American packs Connor returns with Amara to his home city of New York to learn how to bring the Old World packs together. Werewolf society in the New World has taken a very different course from that of Europe, but when Connor meets the American leaders he begins to question if their ways are, in fact, the path forward.

    A world away from Madison, Arden, and all those that he is trying to protect, Connor must discover the secret to uniting and leading the packs under one final charge, or else risk extinction for their entire species in the epic conclusion to The Magdeburg Trilogy.

    “When they tried to kill a prince, they made a king.”

    The Night Is Found, the final book in Kat Kruger’s popular Magdeburg Trilogy, is now available for pre-order

    Enter to win a digital copy of the entire Magdeburg Trilogy! The Night Has Teeth, The Night Has Claws, and The Night is Found!  Thanks to Fierce Ink Press for making this giveaway possible!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The post Interview with Kat Kruger, Author of The Night is Found and Giveaway! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    20. Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan

     

     

    KNIGHT AVENGED
    Circe of Seven, #2
    Released July 15

    Alone in a world on the brink of war…two unlikely allies will discover a love greater than time.

    Exiled from her home, powerful oracle Cosmina Cordei holds the key to uniting those protecting mankind from evil. But just as she makes her way into the holy city to perform an ancient rite, the enemy closes in for the kill.

    Drawn by a destiny he won’t accept…elite assassin, Henrik Lazar, detests the mystical curse handed down by his mother. But when the sorcery in his blood is activated and past pain comes back to haunt him, his new abilities come into play and he must learn to control them.

    Rescued by Henrik in the heat of battle, Cosmina must decide whether to trust the assassin who loathes the goddess she serves or face certain death on her own. Forced into an untenable position, Henrik is left with a terrible choice—protect the magical Order he despises, or deny destiny and lose the woman he loves forever.

    Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Avenged-Circle-Seven-2-ebook/dp/B008H5VWVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398342253&sr=8-1&keywords=knight+avenged

    So pick up your copy today. And if you haven’t had a chance, grab the first book in the series, Knight Awakened, too and settle in for a wild, magic-filled ride.

    BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/o_KdxrTIIlU

     

    KNIGHT AWAKENED
    Circe of Seven, #1

    In AD 1331, warlord Vladimir Barbu seizes control of Transylvania. But in spite of his bloody triumph, his claim to the throne remains out of reach. The king of Hungary opposes his rule, the Transylvanian people despise his brutal ways, and the high priestess needed to crown him has vanished without a trace. But Barbu hasn’t come this far only to be thwarted by a woman. He unleashes his best hunters to track her down and bring her to him — dead or alive. For Xavian Ramir, killing is the only life he has ever known. Torn from his family when he was a child, he was trained from an early age to be an elite assassin. But now he longs for something more, vowing to start anew after one last job. The bounty on his target’s head is enough to set him up for good — if he can resist the long-dead conscience that stirs to life when he meets his beautiful mark. Afina Lazar never wanted to become high priestess, but the brutal murders of her beloved mother and sister leave her no choice. Now she is running for her life, desperate to protect the magical amulet entrusted to her care. But when Barbu’s assassin comes for her, she realizes her only chance of stopping the warlord’s rise to power is to convince this enigmatic — and handsome — hunter that she is more valuable alive than dead. Dramatic and fast-paced, Knight Awakened is a stirring love story between two people searching for a second chance in a magical world of assassins, warlords, unearthly beasts, and nonstop adventure.

    Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Awakened-Circle-Coreene-Callahan/dp/1455885908/ref=la_B006NAHH48_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1349251261&sr=1-4

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    As the only girl on all guys hockey teams from age six through her college years, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write about them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

    After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally succumbed to her overactive imagination and returned to her first love: writing. And when she’s not writing, she’s dreaming of magical worlds full of dragon-shifters, elite assassins, and romance that’s too hot to handle. Callahan currently lives in Canada with her family and writing buddy, a fun-loving golden retriever.

    Connect with Coreene:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

    http://www.coreenecallahan.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coreene-Callahan/173981189346509

    https://twitter.com/coreenecallahan

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5321960.Coreene_Callahan

    GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

    A signed copy if Knight Avenged & some dragon swag

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    21. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, 255 pp, RL 5

    The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman combines time-travel fantasy and historical fiction in an different way that makes for an interesting read. Sherman begins her novel introducing us to the thirteen-year-old Sophie Martineau and the very different world of 1960s Louisiana. Sophie's mama is a Fairchild of Oak River, which was once a great sugar cane plantation. Now, the remains of the

    0 Comments on The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, 255 pp, RL 5 as of 7/28/2014 5:34:00 AM
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    22. MIDDLE-GRADE FANTASY (for the beach AND the classroom)

    Looking for some recommendations for a middle grader who loves fantasy? Well, we’ve got just the list for you!

    Here are some stellar picks for the kid looking for magical powers, mysterious forests, heros, and villains to take to the beach with him.

    The Thickety

    THE THICKETY, by J. A. White, is the start of a new fantasy series set in a world where magic is forbidden but exists in the dark woods called the Thickety. This book would be a great recommendation for fans of the Septimus Heap series, and here’s a book talk prepared by librarian, author, and Common Core workshop presenter Kathleen Odean:

    How would you like to have the power to summon amazing creatures to do your will? When Kara finds a book in the Thickety, a dangerous forest, it awakens her magical powers. Local villagers view magic as evil but for Kara, it’s a connection to her mother, who was executed as a witch. The spells thrill Kara until the magic starts to change her in frightening ways. Is Kara in control of the magic—or is it in control of her? If she doesn’t figure it out soon, she could lose everyone and everything she loves.

    There’s even a Common Core-aligned discussion guide with activities written by the author, J. A. White—an elementary school teacher! (You may not want to send this to the beach, though. Maybe save it for September.)

     

    The Castle Behind Thorns

    THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, by Schneider Award winner Merrie Haskell, is a magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that will appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.

    When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Everything in the castle—from dishes to candles to apples—is torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. To survive, Sand does what he knows best—he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place? With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

    Thinking ahead to the new school year, Common Core applications include: Comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; and analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

    The Dyerville Tales

    THE DYERVILLE TALES, by M. P. Kozlowsky, tells the story of a young orphan who searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather’s book of lost fairy tales.

    Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

    If you’d like to bring this one into your classroom next year, Common Core applications include: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text; analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone; describing how a particular story’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes; and describing how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

    The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw

    THE HERO’S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW, by Christopher Healy, is the hilarious and action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed hit series that began with THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM.

    Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

    And Common Core applications for this one include: Explaining how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text; comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; and analyzing how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

    Happy reading!

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    23. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

    The Glass SentenceWe all know that different countries have different customs that make it an adjustment to travel across borders, and that there’s a famous saying trying to explain how disconcerting it can be to adjust to those different customs: “the past is a foreign country.” But what if each foreign country was in the past? Or more specifically, what if by traveling across borders, you could travel to different times?

    In The Glass Sentence, the Great Disruption happened in 1799–the world’s countries came unstuck in time and each settled in a different era. Boston remained in the 18th (and then 19th) centuries, but Canada and northern Europe reverted to the Ice Age, the Italy and western Europe returned to the middle ages, and the western part of America and Mexico has settled in a mixture of many ages, including the distant past and parts of the future!

    Sophia lives in Boston with her uncle Shadrack, a famous cartologer–he maps not only the way to get to different countries and eras, but can map sights, smells, and even memories from certain places. Soon after Shadrack shows Sophia his secret map room, filled with maps that seem almost magic, he is kidnapped by thugs working for a terrifying creature who will do anything to find the one map that Shadrack says he doesn’t have. Sophia teams up with a boy escaped from a traveling show to track down Shadrack’s captors, and as she travels into the Baldlands, finds herself farther from Boston–both physically and mentally–than she could have ever imagined.

    This book is wholly original and utterly amazing. The imagery and descriptive language is such that I could perfectly see every landscape, every character, every object, no matter how fantastical. The book stood alone perfectly well, but I was thrilled to discover later that it is the first book in a series! I look forward to the continuing adventures of Sophia and Shadrack, and I can’t wait to see what countries and eras they visit next.

    Posted by: Sarah


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    24. Harry Potter read-alikes

    These titles — all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine — offer a mix of magic, adventure, humor, and suspense that will enchant Harry Potter fans.

    duane so you want to be a wizard Harry Potter read alikesSo You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane [Young Wizards series] (Delacorte, 1983; reissued by Harcourt, 2003)
    A splendid, unusual fantasy tells of the efforts of two young wizards, Nita and Kit, to keep the world from being overcome by the Prince of Darkness. This twentieth-anniversary edition of the first book in the series contains a new afterword and a short story about Nita and Kit, originally published in Jane Yolen’s anthology Dragons and Dreams.

    jones charmed life Harry Potter read alikesCharmed Life, The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci, Conrad’s Fate, and The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones [The Chrestomanci Chronicles] (reissued by Greenwillow, 2001)
    This series is linked by the character Chrestomanci, a magician with nine lives, whose charge is to maintain the balance of magic among parallel universes.

    jones merlin conspiracy Harry Potter read alikesThe Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow, 2003)
    The story is narrated in alternating chapters by Roddy (a girl) and Nick. Roddy and a friend summon Nick, an unknown helper, when they discover that the Merlin (in charge of magic) has been murdered. Writing on an epic scale, the author deftly creates a fully realized fantasy universe with a series of worlds that resemble one another and our own but with distinct differences. This is a vastly absorbing story of good battling evil.

    nix sabriel Harry Potter read alikesSabriel by Garth Nix (HarperCollins, 1995)
    A compelling fantasy has for a heroine Sabriel, the daughter of the necromancer whose duty it is to protect the Old Kingdom: unlike other mages, he has the power to bind the dead as well as bring the dead back to life. The story is remarkable for the level of originality of the fantastic elements and for the subtle presentation, which leaves readers to explore for themselves the complex structure and significance of the magical elements. The story continues in sequels Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr and Abhorsen; a prequel, Clariel, will be published in October 2014.

    prineas magic thief Harry Potter read alikesThe Magic Thief written by Sarah Prineas; illus. by Antonio Javier Caparo (HarperCollins, 2008)
    Precocious pickpocket Conn becomes an apprentice to Nevery Flinglas, a wizard trying to stem the loss of magic from the city. Readers will find the familiar character types and straightforward plotting of this amiable tale (akin to that of another well-known boy wizard) easy to grasp, while the evolving conflicts and distinctive setting will draw them on.

    rutkoski cabinet of wonders Harry Potter read alikesThe Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski [Kronos Chronicles series] (Farrar, 2008)
    Petra Kronos’s father has magical abilities to construct creatures out of tin and to make a wondrous weather-controlling clock. When the prince of Bohemia blinds Kronos, cutting out his eyes and magicking them for his own use, Petra resolves to steal them back from the prince’s Cabinet of Wonders. Rutkoski’s bucolic old-world atmosphere keeps her workmanlike plotting feeling fresh and fortuitous. The story continues in sequels The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash.

    stephens emerald atlas Harry Potter read alikesThe Emerald Atlas by John Stephens [Books of Beginning series] (Knopf, 2011)
    Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma discover a book that transports them back fifteen years in time. Thus begins their adventure with the Atlas, one of three Books of Beginning–powerful magical volumes whose secrets brought the universe to life. This imaginative and enjoyable series starter explores the bonds of family and magic while setting up an inevitable good-versus-evil showdown. The story continues in The Fire Chronicles.

    share save 171 16 Harry Potter read alikes

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    25. Best New Kids Stories | August 2014

    This month we're featuring a decidedly fantastical themed list of popular kids stories perfect for ages 8-12. Star Wars fans will be stoked to read Jeffrey Brown's Goodnight Darth Vader (an all ages funny read) and Tom Angleberger's latest Origami Yoda book.

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