Shael and the dragon in Days of Wind and Snow

Days - meeting XwunThe meeting between Shael and the dragon was one of the scenes I enjoyed writing most in Days of Wind and Snow – especially as he took over the page, arriving complete with attitude and smelly breath!

Fight scenes in the Hyllethan Gifts trilogy

days - fight 2Two weeks to go till the release of Days of Wind and Snow. Since the first chapter was attached to the back of Dawn of Purple and Gray, some of you may remember the excerpt reproduced in the picture.

Writing fighting scenes can be both fun and problematic. Short phrases instead of whole sentences, or short sentences help to quicken the pace and give the impression of a lot happening in a short time. Alternatively, one can ‘stretch’ a moment in time to create tension and a feeling of doom. Using multiple senses (smell, touch, sound, not just sight) helps too to make the scene seem realistic. Below is an excerpt from a fight scene in book 1:

The (cloak’s) ties dug into Shael’s airways. She couldn’t breathe. Frantically, she groped for the hilt of the knife in her boot. The comforting touch of wood in her grasp, Shael slashed.

Yelping, the girl let go of the material, a line of blood trickling down her arm.

Shael gulped in air, sweat stinging her eyes. She pulled herself away from under the girl’s weight, the asphyxiating smell of unwashed clothing and stale sweat making her head spin even more.

As can be seen from the above passage, concentrating on the protagonist’s thoughts and reactions and on particular details (e.g. the smell of unwashed clothing) makes, I think, for a better read than a blow-by-blow account.

Do you enjoy reading fight scenes? What makes them enjoyable, or not?

 

Short Stories 366:9 — “A Crooked Road Home,” by Caroline Sciriha

A great review on one of the stories I enjoyed writing 🙂

'Nathan Burgoine

coverMost of the stories in Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) bring a protagonist to the table to really root for, and while Sciriha’s pirate is conflicted, I struggled to wish well of him given the first we see of him is his dooming a colony ship worth of passengers to suffocate and die. So this wasn’t going to be a Rah-rah, you go, guy! kind of story.

Pirates aren’t kind people, and even in a futuristic setting there’s going to be that level of death in play, and as his past is explored, there was some sympathy given for how he got to where he got. He feels bad about it, and that’s at least something, and he’s in an impossible situation, too, with a horrendous father higher up on the piracy food-chain, and a near insurmountable debt he can only repay by piracy, but… I couldn’t…

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Release of Hyllethan Gifts #2: Days of Wind and Snow

Days - Cienti.pngI’ve been busy these last couple of weeks editing book 2 and there’s still some more work left to be done, so I wasn’t surprised when the publisher told me we’re running late. This means the release date of Days of Wind and Snow has been postponed by a couple of weeks. Sorry to disappoint those of you who told me they can’t wait (!) to dive into book 2. However, since we’re about a month away from the release date, I’ll start dropping a few teasers—hmm—excerpts 🙂 from it. Here’s the first one from the opening paragraphs of Days of Wind and Snow.

(If anyone who’s enjoyed Dawn of Purple and Gray (now also available through Book Depository) feels like leaving a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, it would be greatly appreciated… 🙂 )

Names and the Hyllethan language in the Hyllethan Gifts trilogy

dawn - languageWhen choosing Hyllethan names and stringing Hyllethan utterances, I deliberately played with the voiceless consonants (ch, f, k, p, s, sh, t, th [as in “this”]) and liquid consonants (l, r) to make up the words because I wanted to associate Hylletha with serenity and gentleness. This gave rise to the names Hylletha, Theis and Shael, among others, and to the Hyllethan utterance, “Maytha mess parthesar.”

Of course, there are Hyllethan names that do not follow this ‘rule’, as in Dracon’s name – but there is a reason why these names aren’t as ‘soft’ as others. More about this when book 2 is released. 🙂

When reading, how much does the choice of a character’s name affect whether you are drawn—or not—to the character?

Zy’el’s Pit in Dawn of Purple and Gray

dawn - zy'el's pitIn my last post I mentioned music as a means of entertainment and subtle manipulation in the Hyllethan world. But apart from music, playing Zy’el’s Pit is another way people in the three countries (Hylletha, the Inner Lands and Dragonia) pass the time.
The idea behind Zy’el’s Pit is loosely based on chess and the 4 X 4 sliding jigsaw puzzles I used to love as a child. Do you remember those? Making up rules for the revolving board game, checking to see if it could work and devising figurine counters was fun. It became even more so when I realised the game, and the moves the players make, could be interpreted as a metaphor of much of what was going on in the story. Of course it becomes more than just a ‘game’ at the end of Dawn of Purple and Gray
I’d love to know what readers think of this game and what other counters—apart from those mentioned in book 1—you’d imagine would be ideal for this game.

Music in the Hyllethan Gifts trilogy

dawn - music Listening to, and playing, music is one of the main means of entertainment in the Hyllethan trilogy. Music – especially Hyllethan music –  in Dawn of Purple and Gray and in the other two books of the trilogy, however, is not just a means of entertainment but can be used as a subtle means of affecting and modifying people’s feelings and mood.

Which is what music does in reality, but more so if played by a master musician like Dracon. 🎼 🎼 🎼

#2 Days of Wind and Snow

On the day of the release of Dawn of Purple and Gray, Castrum Press surprised me with another beautiful cover and the pre-release of book #2.  Days of Wind and Snow – book #2 in the Hyllethan Gifts series is available for pre-order from Amazon.com. The ebook version will be released on 17th January. 

Days - pre order 2Three crowns. Two power-hungry mages. One untrained girl standing in their way.

(If you haven’t yet read book #1 beware: SPOILERS ALERT!)

Book #2 takes us a month forward. Shael and her foster brother Andrey are now living in Hylletha. A ship arrives bearing an ambassador from her brother Iysel – the new king of the Inner Lands. In a shocking move, Andrey is kidnapped and taken back to the Inner Lands.

Armed with her limited knowledge of magic and the uncertain friendship of a dragon, Shael sets off to rescue Andrey. Shael faces intrigue and betrayal on all sides and can only rely on her wits and grit to distinguish between friend and foe—especially as magic is dying in the world.

Desperately, Shael searches for a way to save not only Andrey but the people of three kingdoms – even if it means losing the man she loves.