Back in episode 31 I interviewed Karl Becktrand for the podcast. I asked him if there were any authors he thought would be good on the podcast and he reccomended Connie Walker. She's in his writing group and he described her as "One of the most underappreciated writers" he knows.
So, for ten weeks now I've been trying to get her interview done and I keep messing up on times and Skypes and all that stuff. I was scheduled to interview her last week and got the day messed up. She waited for me to call her while I sat in la la land, thinking we were scheduled for the next day.
I felt so bad that I went ahead and bought her book and promised to do an Amazon review.
After reading the first few chapters I understood why Karl said what he did. Connie is a wonderful writer and deserves to get more attention.
The Spire of Kylet starts with a prolog of about ten pages, so, I'm going to read that for you now.
The Spire of Kylet, a young adult fantasy, is the first book in The Wolkarean Inscription Trilogy.
Here's the Kindle blurb about the book.
Katrine of Banur has a scheme to escape the tedious life of a herder, with its forced early marriage, that her father has planned for her.
Secretly she applies to the illustrious Recorder’s School in the city of Pardish, where only a few exceptional apprentices are accepted each year. But Katrine has been honing her artistic talents and believes she has all the qualifications necessary to become one of the Regent’s elite historian-couriers. She has saved almost enough money from what she earns working on the family ranch in order to pay for the caravan trip. Regardless of what her parents say, she intends to leave home as soon as she receives notification of her acceptance.
Shortly after Katrine finds a spire, a magical weapon created centuries earlier by the sorcerer Kylet, a series of strange events assail her. Because of an act of heroism, she is adopted by one of the mystical Crennese tribes, the Glainites, and is given powers she does not understand and cannot control. She has upheavals of emotion and peculiar sensations in her body. She is plagued by headaches and blurry vision and horrible nightmares.
She fears her dream of becoming a Recorder is doomed.
Then, unexpectedly, she finds herself on a journey to Pardish in the company of a Master Recorder, his new apprentice, her most despised cousin, and a legendary Warrior. As they travel across the countryside, Katrine is faced with unimaginable dangers and decisions. Before she reaches her destination, she faces death three times, redefining her understanding of the world and her place in it.
The second and third books in the trilogy, The Eyes of Landor and Triumph at Serpent’s Head, are also available.
Spire was published in August of 2012 and has six reviews, all five stars.
The book cover shows a girl on a horse, leaning off toward something spining in the air that looks like a dreamcatcher. The picture is a small inset in the cover and is probably too small for getting atttention on Amazon. I give the cover only 3 stars and it may be the reason this book hasn't gotten more traction on Kindle.
The writing is immaculate. Karl Beckstand describes it in his Amazon review: The Spire of Kylet gets your attention from the start. Walker knows how to weave a great adventure--and she's artful in her use of language.
I agree one hundred percent. She has an economy to her writing. There are no redundant or superflous words.
Plausability: She sets up her magical system and shows the price of using magic in the very beginning. Horrifyingly, Elnid-Kyeh sucks the life force from a little girl to restore his waning strength. His magic is powerful--using a talisman to communicate with a distant underling and drawing up the vision of two young women--but there is an underlying method to the abilities which creates the sense of plausability.
Description: Again, Connie's economy of language and "artful use of language" clearly develop the scene we observe from Elnid-Kyeh's desceptive kindness to the little girl and his callused indiference to the prisoners he will soon consume to maintain his strength.
Setting: Whether with Elnid-Kyeh in the tower above the crashing waves or looking down on the two young women in the open field the setting is broad and believable.
Characters: We only truly meet Elnid-Kyeh in the prolog, though we are introduced to a girl who we will soon find out is Katrine, the heroine of the story. We learn a lot about Elnid-Kyeh in these first ten pages, what a cruel and calculating man he is, what his potential is, and the lengths he will go to achieve his desires. I look forward to learning more about the other characters of the story.
My overall rating is Five Stars. I will definately read the rest of this book. Not only because I promised Connie I would, but because I found the first chapter compelling and indicative of a well crafted story of fantasy and adventure.
I recomend that you read it as well.
My insatiable curiosity about people and culture developed at an early age, and was likely the result of many European misadventures and my experiences living in England, Denmark, and Canada. There is nothing like playing among the columns of a Bronze Age palace surrounded by the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean to pique an eight year old's interest and imagination.
I focused my University studies in Classical Archeology and Literature, Physical Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminology. For those of you questioning my use of the word 'focused' ...well, you'll just have to trust me when I say that I couldn't file my interests down to any sharper a point. I tried. The yearly course lists crammed with intriguing possibilities made me feel like a kid in a candy store - one of those really big stores with colorful jars lining the walls from floor to ceiling.
My career path has continued in the same vein. I was my grandmother's caregiver for two years; an opportunity for which I am ever grateful as spending that time with such a remarkable woman shaped me in ways I am still discovering. Among other things, I've been a vet assistant, worked at a halfway house for high-risk offenders, sat on many kids as a mascot, been the operations manager for a private investigation firm, and spent several months in Ontario with the Red Cross helping refugees from Kosovo acclimatize to Canada. I've also volunteered within maximum-security prisons and the community to help people serving life sentences transition from the regimented bubble of prison back to a very changed outside world.
Why I Write
Simply put - I write to explore, express, and connect. I delve into the web of relationships linking humans, animals, and the environment. I peer into my characters inner worlds and explore the inherent violence and compassion bound together in the human spirit. My guiding principle is that the human mosaic is beautiful because of the unique nature of each piece and I do my best to celebrate this diversity in my work.
I grew up in Calgary, Alberta on the divide between the prairie and Mountains. Calgary is a city that's surrounded by wide empty spaces. I think there's something about the pressing wilderness that makes one appreciate the inherent fragility of human society.
I've always been a bit of a dreamer with one foot in a world of make-believe. I learned to read very young and it's been my addiction ever since. Speculative 'what if' style stories (James and the Giant Peach) or stories that take you entirely out of the human frame of reference (Watership Down) quickly lead me into harder stuff (Tolkien, Heinlein)
My urge to see the world took me to Kingston, Ontario for university, then to Berkshire, England for a few years, though I'm generally drawn back to Calgary by ties of blood and friendship. Though we're often fooled by distance. You don't need to move half-way around the world to gain a new perspective, sometimes moving a few miles can make just as much of a difference.
I studied Engineering at university, though while there I was drawn in to the online community on the old IBM mainframe and then into this new and fascinating idea out of CERN called the 'World Wide Web'. This led me into tinkering with computer programming which became a bit of an obsession that luckily people like to pay me for.
I remember being told that the made-up worlds I loved were a childish thing that I would need to grow out of if I wanted to succeed in life. The older I get, the more I realise how wrong this is. In just the past few millennia, humans have moved from chipping tools out of stones to space exploration and heart transplants. Every step on that path was driven by someone who dreamed up something impossible.
Some of the writers that inspire me today are Lois Bujold, David Drake and C.J. Cherryh. These authors take on tough questions about what it means to be moral and the destiny of humanity without flinching. They inspire me to be a better person, as well as a better writer.
As an avid reader I'll never lose sight of the fact that the Author's first duty is to entertain but beyond that my goal is to bring back a sense of optimism about human achievement. The dark side of our natures will always be with us but I'm convinced that humanity has an amazing future ahead and prefer to dream big.
Rebecca Brae is a freelance writer, artist, and fog enthusiast, with a background in sociology and weird pets. Adriaan Brae is a software developer and tech-geek, with a passion for languages and martial arts. Their divergent interests can be challenging at times but their love of new ideas, storytelling, and Lego always brings them together.
BOOK 1: CHAOS BOUND (2014)
When the going gets weird, the tough are useless. You need a geek.
Jessica is no superhero, and though she believes being smart, curious, and compassionate should be considered qualifications, society has yet to agree.
Her life in Coldwater is low-key and predictable, just the way she likes it. Her biggest worries are staying at the top of her classes and avoiding the popular crowd, but a change that will shake the world is already taking hold in her small town.
The death of a classmate kicks her out of her safe routine. Stalked by the supernatural killer, she’ll need to embrace the chaos in order to survive: Lying, stealing, invoking barely understood magic, and even crashing a house party.
Abandoned by her friends and labelled a troublemaker, she’s determined to find a way to stop the killer. But at what cost?
BOOK 2: CURSE BOUND (2016)
When the world goes crazy, it helps to have a head start.
Mutant science projects, a troubled werewolf, and other magic-related dangers are Jessica’s new normal, but someone has started targeting the students of Coldwater High with powerful curses, and she’s a suspect. A serious mistake forces her to question whether she deserves Drew and Michiru’s loyalty, and with the gatekeeper’s alien influence in her head, she’s not even sure she can trust herself.
Just as Jessica realizes she has also been hit with a lethal curse, a disastrously magical Valentine’s Day leaves her cut off from friends and forces her to put her life in the hands of her worst enemy.
MIST WARDEN SERIES BLURB (YA Urban Fantasy)
The town of Coldwater is a quiet, in-between kind of place on the outskirts of Calgary at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Nestled up against the edge of a First Nation reserve, the town is a classic mix of big-city commuters and rural residents. But there are more secrets lost to history than anyone could imagine and now Coldwater is set to return to a more central role in the workings of the universe.
Three teens just entering high school are caught up in the transformation:
Jessica has lived in Coldwater all her life and loves the quiet. A proud geek, she's far happier lost in a book or an equation than dealing with the so-called ‘real world’. When dangerous forces are set loose in her town and start maiming and killing her classmates, she’s compelled to investigate. She never could leave a mystery alone.
Drew is one of the new First Nation students at Coldwater High and his goal is to be anywhere else as soon as possible. Armed with his trusty laptop and an extensive knowledge of tech and random facts, he becomes Jessica’s reluctant ally. His curiosity drives him to get involved and help out against his better judgement, but he does it all with his trademark wit and wicked snark.
Michiru is a force of nature and exceptional athlete who has lived all over the world, with most of her time spent in big cities like London, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, and Toronto. She confidently expects her stay in Coldwater to be every kind of dull, except for the camping and skiing, but is pleasantly surprised to find all the excitement she could want and more.
Nancy Norbeck wrote her first story, inspired by her brother's case of chicken pox, when she was in fourth grade. She flirted with writing off and on over the years, but began to take it seriously in high school, and then in college. After teaching writing to English as a Second Language students for several years, and working on her own writing projects, she enrolled in Goddard College's MFA in creative writing program, which she completed in 2009. The Silver Child is her first novel. She currently works as a writing and creative process coach.
Nancy is a longtime fan of Doctor Who and can often be found spoiling her two nephews rotten. She lives in New Jersey and loves to travel, especially when she can go back in time via a good book.
For more information on current projects, upcoming releases, and coaching services, please subscribe at nancynorbeck.com or follow her on Twitter @NancyNorbeck. She would love to hear from you.
Maia Starfield is on the run, having successfully hidden her ability to create silver just by singing—until government thugs arrived to take her away. Her mother sent her out the door just in time, giving her only one piece of advice: Find Dr. Martus.
Albert Martus has no idea why Maia was sent to find him—the doctor who delivered her 17 years ago. But from the moment she turns up, his story becomes intertwined with hers…as it has been since before she was born.
Follow this unlikely team as they discover the truth about the past and their present, the regime known as the Brotherhood, and the magical and ordinary power they each carry deep inside.
“Nancy Norbeck's THE SILVER CHILD shows us a fantasy world that is all too real, ruled by a modern Inquisition that seeks to control minds and wipe out history. Maia, the Silver Child of the title, is a natural magician who has only the faintest awareness of her powers. More important, she is alive, a vividly drawn teenage girl who must discover who she is in a time of terror. The story is big, the characters both heroic and sweet.”
~Rachel Pollack, World Fantasy Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novelist
For more about Nancy you can check out nancynorbeck.com (generally speaking), and more specifically, the page for the course that just ended is at nancynorbeck.com/intuitive-writing. They can also sign up on either of those pages to get my newsletter, which includes info about upcoming courses, writing prompts, etc.
YA Books Podcast Episode 38 - A 1st 10 Page Review of "The Rithmatist" by Brandon Sanderson
In my humble opinion Brandon Sanderson is one of the most masterful writers of genre fiction. He's produced many epic fantasy series, for his magical systems and how they are enmeshed in his intensely detailed worlds.
He's probably best known recently in the YA genre for his Reckoners series which started with, "Steelheart". I thought that book was good and the second in the series, "Firefight" was okay. I'm not saying I could write better, by any means. They're filled with very powerful, smack talking, superheroes and anti-heroes, with description, plot and conflict like no one other than Brandon Sanderson can write.
Before Steelheart, (by nearly five months) there was The Rithmatist. Published in May of 2013 it didn't seem to get the attention the later book would elicit.
I'm more of a Peter Parker fan, than I am a Bruce Wayne.
609 reviews, 4.6 average
Here's the blurb:
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity's only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.
The Rithmatist starts with a prolog to give a background foundation to the conversation in the first chapter.
Here's the prolog.
I've been listening to the first dozen or so episodes of the "Writing Excuses" podcast in the last few weeks. You may or may not know that Brandon Sanderson is one of the four main podcasters of the show. In the most recent episode I've been listening to they talk about "Idea as a Genre." They even comment that this is one of Brandon's favorite genres to write in. In it, the reader should be wowwed and fascinated as elements of the world and story unfold.
I think the Rithmatist fits this genre and we can see from the prolog that the idea is, "How would it be if magic could be performed by drawing with chalk on the ground." Elements of conflict in this short intro fascinated me as the little chalk animals chewed through the spell caster's defenses.
The first chapter is too long for me to read and still feel like I'm only providing a short excerpt for editorial discussion. So I'm going to read the first scene of the chapter which brings the total of pages read to about 10. That short enough to asauge my conscience from believing I have violated any copy right.
Listen for elements of wonder:
I'm obviously giving this first chapter a solid 5 Star. It makes me want to read on, and did three years ago when I read it (Or listened to it on Audible).
The cover has a Steampunk flavor. The writing and description are excellent. He creates a foundation for all of his magical or plat based assertions so there is no challenge to the plausibility of the characters actions or plot events. The setting is clear and the characters realistic and dynamic.
I have this book on audio, I have the ebook, and a paperback copy. I had planned on going to the Storymaker's conference in Provo Utah this weekend and corner Brandon and interview him in person, but because of my job change and other concerns, I had to stay home. So this is the next best thing for me to reccomend this book that I enjoyed immensely and hope you will too.
Get it here: