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Public Speaking for Authors

 

Lately, this has been the topic I’ve been tackling in my day-to-day life, so I thought I should tackle it here as well.

Stage-Fright-Holding-You-BackLike most writers I know, I’m an introvert. I prefer to write, read, edit, and generally work behind the scenes. When I go out to network, sell books and meet people, I often find myself needing to hole up and recharge afterwards. It takes a lot out of me. But, it’s also a big part of what I do as a publisher and a published author.

Especially this month. Somehow this month’s schedule got filled with speaking engagements, and opportunities to read my book aloud in public. And all of those opportunities happening to fall within the same week and a half have caused my nerves to fray terribly.

So, how, as an introverted person, do I deal with this?

Be prepared

This might seem like a no-brainer, but picking out what section you’re going to read in advance and/or writing out your presentation or speech beforehand and editing it as thoroughly as you might edit your query letter to a publisher will help you feel more at ease with what you’re doing and it will make you more familiar with what you’re going to be reading or saying.

keep-calm-and-let-s-practice-11Practice

Once you have your words picked out, practice saying them out loud. Read to your cats, or like Murandy did, your baby. Read alone, or to someone you trust. It’s all about practicing in a judgment-free zone until you feel more comfortable.

Try not to dwell on it

Whenever you start thinking about it and you feel that anxiety creeping up on you, try to force it down, or will it away. Find something else to focus on and whatever else you do, don’t wallow in that feeling; that will only make it stronger. Find a friend to distract you, or play a video game or something, it will pass.

Speak confidently and slowly

When you get to the actual moment of reading or speaking start loud and keep that pitch, then make sure everything you say is said with emphasis and that you don’t speed up out of nervousness. Speak slowly and enunciate, just like you practiced.

a076a7851bc423dcd8645975b8d4e2c2Make jokes

If you can get the audience to laugh, you’ll feel loads better. If your subject warrants it, or if comedy helps you feel more comfortable, then use it. Engage with your audience and make eye contact with them when you can so speaking to them feels more like a conversation and less like a speech.

Celebrate afterwards!

Never underestimate the value of rewarding yourself for a job well done. If you got over your fear and accomplished what you set out to do, then go celebrate. You’ve earned it.

Planning for Pantsers

I’m a pantser. What does that mean? It means that I’d rather ‘write by the seat of my pants’ than plan anything beforehand. However, with my latest book Uncharted, written with my co-writer Murandy Damodred, we did more planning than I’m used to and I think it helped us.

Making Notes:kelsey-blog-pic-3-1o07fm8


Since Murandy and I co-write, we use Google Drive to keep everything straight. If you’re not familiar with Google Drive or Google Docs, it’s an open platform where you can share your documents and multiple accounts can work on the same document at the same time. It also serves as a cloud drive, so your work is saved and backed up automatically and anyone you give access to the files can open them up and work on them. This helped us with planning because while writing we always had access to our notes file, which became a living document, changing as the story expanded.

Uncharted CoverSetting and Worldbuilding:

Usually I do a lot of the world building in my own head, but since Uncharted is an adventure story that takes place in a variety of settings and cultures, I made a point of writing down a handful of things to keep in mind about the settings, so I would make sure to include them.

stock-vector-hand-drawn-cartoon-characters-on-checked-paper-broken-divided-group-65099188Characters:

This is where the planning really came in handy. Before we started writing, Murandy and I wrote out detailed backstories for each of our main characters and at least a sentence or two about our minor characters as we invented them. This helped to flesh everyone out and make sure we knew where they had come from and what was important to them because of that.

Plot:

This is where our best of intentions sort of fell apart, but in a good way. Before we started writing, we formed a point form list of plot points then we proceeded to ignore them. As we wrote, we went back and added new plot points to our list and kept adding to that list to stay a few steps ahead of the story, but ultimately this was a form of pantsing more than planning.  

Editing:

Where the notes really came in handy was when I went to write the second draft. All throughout the first draft, instead of going back and fixing things that needed changing, I took notes instead. Then, when I went over the finished first draft, I applied the changes or checked for the problems I’d indicated. It saved me a ton of time and it also meant that Murandy and I could write quickly, without feeling like we were making a mess of things.

pantser-or-plotter-writing
All in all, if you’re a pantser, like me, I suggest trying to apply some planning to your process just to see what you can learn. And if you’re a planner, take a risk and try a little pantsing! Thanks for reading!

Revealing the Cover of Sharon Ledwith’s Lost and Found

Fairy Falls was bores-ville from the get-go. Then the animals started talking… 

Sharon Ledwith has a brand new series coming June 17th, 2017 and today, we’re revealing the cover! So get ready for the teen psychic mystery series; Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls! Book 1: Lost and Found.fairy-falls-3-1

Here is some information about the book:

Print Length: 220 pages
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Publication Date: June 17, 2017

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

Are You Ready for the Cover?

CoverLFtest2

And good news! You can already pre-order the book!

Mirror World Publishing:
Paperback:
https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/poetry/products/lost-and-found-paperback
Ebook:
https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/poetry/products/lost-and-found-ebook
Other Retailers:Saphs Book Promotions
Amazon US:
http://amzn.to/2q2Alfv
Amazon CA:
https://www.amazon.ca/Found-Mysterious-Tales-Fairy-Falls-ebook/dp/B0713S1DCR/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493565088&sr=1-1&keywords=Lost+and+Found+Sharon+Ledwith
Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/lost-and-found-175
Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-and-found-sharon-ledwith/1126287196?ean=9781987976281

Sharon Ledwith and pets #3

Meet the Author:
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOKTWITTERGOOGLE+, and GOODREADS.

 

HELP! We need a book title!

Are you a fan of the Mirror World series? Well, if you’ve read Mirror’s Hope and/or Mirror’s Heart, you’ll be pleased to hear the Murandy Damodred and I have completed the first draft of the next book in the series. However, since we started working on this one, we’ve had some real trouble coming up with a title. So, as I mentioned in last week’s blog post How to choose a title for your novel, we’re putting it to a vote!

A little bit of background information first. The Mirror World series is about a set of parallel worlds. The first two novels, Mirror’s Hope and Mirror’s Heart, are set in one of the two worlds, while the next two will focus on the other world. So in that sense, the series doesn’t have to be read chronologically, ie. book 1 through book 4, but instead the reader can choose to read about one of the two worlds, and then the other, in any order they please. We want the title to reflect that.

http://www.strawpoll.me/12886634 Follow this link to cast your vote, or read the description below to get a better idea of what this next installment is about:

Mirena Calanais is destined to change the world. Her rival has made a desperate flight to the past to stop her.

A gifted student of majik, Mirena is on the verge of graduating from a secret college that will give her a leg up in her political career, when her achievements are overshadowed by the arrival of a mysterious woman with an unknown agenda.  Desperate to keep what she sees as her rightful place in the spotlight, Mirena goes to astounding lengths including taking it upon herself to pose as a double agent to investigate a rebel force plotting to destabilize the government. Unfortunately, her actions cost her the trust of those around her, so when she is proclaimed the Dark Avatar of the Destroyer, she finds she has nowhere to turn.

In a seeming utopia, Mirena is now a pariah with the force of Destroyer behind her and her once bright dreams have darkened, leaving her a threat not only to herself, but to those she cares about. Can she turn her life around, or will someone need to stop her before she goes too far?

Thanks for reading and thanks for your help! Again, here’s the link to go and vote. http://www.strawpoll.me/12886634 We really appreciate it!

 

M|W Recommends: The Sun God’s Heir: Rebirth, Book 2 by Elliott Baker

A little while back we featured book 1: The Sun God’s Heir by Elliott Baker. Now, the sequel is out! Take a look: The Sun God's Heir, Book 2

Book Information:
Title: The Sun God’s Heir: Rebirth, Book 2
Author Name: Elliott Baker
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Grab Your Copy from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lEnUke

Visit the Tour Hosts:
http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/2017/05/book-tour-schedule-sun-gods-heir.html

About The Sun God’s Heir: Rebirth, Book 2:
The Count of Monte Cristo meets ancient Egypt in this riveting sequel to The Sun God’s Heir: Return.

Set during the wave tossed years of white slavery and Barbary pirates, this is the epic story of René Gilbert, a journey that defies time as he must draw on a larger awareness earned in previous lifetimes.

The plague’s dark fingers curl around Bordeaux. René must return home to save those he loves. But first he has to escape a Moroccan sultan’s clutches. In Bordeaux, an enemy waits, filled with a hatred three thousand years old. Only René can defeat this dark power, and only if he reclaims his own ancient past. In this arena, death is but the least of failure’s penalties.

Meet the Author:elliott-baker-photo
Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and produced in the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to release his first novels. The Sun God’s Heir: Return, book one of the trilogy, was released this past January, and book two, Rebirth will come out on April 18th, followed in July by the third and final book of the series, Redemption. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.

Saphs Book PromotionsBuy Links: 
Book One, Return https://books.pronoun.com/the-sun-gods-heir-return/
Book Two, Rebirth https://books.pronoun.com/the-sun-gods-heir-rebirth/

 

How to Choose a title for your novel!

First, I would like to note that I usually find this to be an easy task. Or, at least, usually a title comes to me either before the book is written or while I am writing it. However, that’s not the case with the third book in the Mirror World series, which despite being nearly done the first draft, Murandy and I do not have a title for yet! And it’s soooo frustrating.

If you’re trying to figure out a title for your novel, here’s what usually works for me.

The title should be relevant to your story.
This can be something to do with where the story is set, with the theme, a line of dialogue, or the name or title of a character. What’s important is that your title ties into your book somehow. For example, Neo Central, is the name of the only remaining city in my first novel.

The title should be meaningful.frontMW1copy
At first, the title may only have meaning to you, the author, but at some point in the process of reading your novel, the reader should have an ‘ah-ha!’ moment where they understand the reason for your selection. This moment can happen as early as when they read the blurb on the back of your book, or as late as the last line, but there should be some connection made between the title and something within the story.

For example the title, Mirror’s Hope, is chalk-full of meaning. One character goes by the name of Mira and the other, Hope. It’s a romance. Also, there are parallel worlds called, Mirror Worlds, in which everyone has a double of themselves, called a Mirror. So the title has multiple meanings, just by being a play on words.

The title should be memorable.
Essentially this boils down to the title should stick in your potential readers’ minds. It should be short, catchy, possibly mysterious. Whatever you need to make sure whoever sees it will want to read it and remember it for later.

Uncover3The title should try and evoke a sense of genre.
Each genre comes with its own set of tropes and expectations. I’m not saying you have to abide by them, but if your title can evoke a sense of genre, your reader will more easily know what to expect and potential readers may be drawn to your novel more easily. To do this, research some titles in the genre you are reading and see if you can spot some patterns.

For example, Unintended, is a play on the word ‘intended’ which implies marriage in a historical or fantasy setting. Adding the ‘Un’ before it, implies comedy. At least I think so.

Your title should be as original as you can make it.
This is tough because a lot of names have already been taken. A good rule of thumb is to do some research and make sure that no other books, especially in your genre, have the same name. If you do end up with the same name as something else, it could cause problems or confusion down the road which is best to avoid.

coming-soon

So as you can see, coming up with a good title is no simple matter! That’s why Murandy and I need your help! We’re going to be putting out a poll next week to help us choose the title for the next book in the Mirror World series. Stay tuned, or subscribe to this blog to be kept informed of developments!

Thanks for reading and good luck with your book titles!

How to co-write your novel

Murandy Damodred and I wrote our fantasy / romantic comedy novel, Uncharted, together. This is not our first co-written novel. In fact, it’s our fifth, so we’ve got a system worked out. There are lots of ways to divide the work, but here’s our method:

cowriteFirst we split up the characters:

Since we write primarily romance, our stories have at least a male protagonist and a female protagonist, so for Murandy and I what works best is to divide the characters by gender. Murandy tends to write the female main character or characters and I write the male ones. This way, we split up the work and while writing, it’s easier and more interesting to have conversations with each other.

For Uncharted, that’s Meredith as the protagonist and Reginald and Grey as the lead male characters.

We discuss the story and the world and decide where we want to start:

Generally speaking any planning we do as far as coming up with the concept of the story and who the characters are has been done before this point, but now that we know who’s who, we can flesh things out. We bounce ideas off of one another to decide where the story begins and where the inciting incident is.

Ismera copy

In Uncharted, we started with the prologue. We wanted to show the moment that sets Meredith on her journey, as that journey was going to be central to the plot.

I set the scene:

As the narrator, it’s my job to describe the setting and to set the scene for the character(s).

From the prologue of Uncharted:

Noiseless on slippered feet, Meredith darted swiftly to the oversized double doors of the Celestial Chamber. She glanced once quickly over each shoulder to make sure she was still alone in the Great Hall before she gave the wide gilded handle a tug and felt the latch give way. With a grimace of effort, she pulled the heavy door open just enough to allow herself to squeeze into the chamber beyond.

Expecting darkness, moonlight dazzled her senses. The silvery light pooled in the middle of a wide and perfectly round central platform, serving to bring focus to the reason for this room’s existence: an ethereal-looking blue bowl lined with silver and filled with glittering water.

The Celestial Bowl beckoned to Meredith from its place on the solitary stone pedestal in the centre of the chamber. The sound of rushing water from the underground river that surfaced briefly in this room filled her ears as she let the heavy door fall quietly shut behind her.

Murandy decides what her character is thinking, doing, or saying:

In response to the information I’ve given her in my description of the scene, Murandy decides what happens next based on her character’s motivations.

I shouldn’t be in here, a small voice in the back of her mind reminded her, even as she took a step toward the glittering artifact. It’s only that I just can’t help but question if this life is for me. I want a family, a home…and a husband. I owe the Order for what they’ve done for me, but if I stay here and become a Priestess, I can’t have any of those things.

If I can just have a look at my destiny tonight, then maybe the path I should take will become clear. Besides, she countered the nagging sound of her conscience, if I wait until tomorrow’s ceremony to see my future, it will be too late to change it.

I let her know how the world or the characters around her react:

Her decision made, Meredith closed the distance between herself and the bowl with purpose, crossing the small, railless stone bridge spanning a gap over the rushing water beneath. As she neared the bowl, she kept her eyes fixated on the calm, reflective surface of the water within, not wanting to chance missing even the slightest bit of whatever vision it might grant her. Moonlight glinted off the silver interior of the bowl, making the room seem brighter than it actually was. As if in a trance, she lost herself in the beauty of the dancing light and that was when she saw it.

A man, no…only his torso, wearing a dark grey suit coat buttoned over his left breast. He stood with pride in his bearing, but beyond the grey coat and a single purple flower in his lapel the image cut off at the neck and didn’t show his face. Meredith leaned forward, trying to get a better angle.

The vision, if that’s what it was, continued and she saw herself from behind, unmistakeable with her lengthy waves of chocolate brown hair cascading over the hood of her light grey Priestess cloak. The vision of herself flung herself at this man and his arms reached up to hold her. Engrossed now, Meredith leaned directly over the bowl, determined to get a glimpse at the face of her mystery man when the image in the silver-lined water abruptly disappeared.

bigstock-Best-Idea-Light-Bulbs-Concept-67921225-290x193

And so it goes:

Back and forth, the action and dialogue unfold as control of the scene is passed between us. And when one scene ends, we repeat the process, deciding where to start, setting the scene, adding thoughts, actions and dialogue, and responding. This is what works for Murandy and I, but there are lots of ways to co-write and divide the work. The trick is to work with someone you can rely on, trust, and generally get along with because co-writing takes a lot of compromise and being on the same page.

Thanks for reading! Have any thoughts or questions about co-writing? Have you tried it? Leave your comments below!

It’s an update… and a preview!

Hello, everyone! I’ve been a little less consistent than usual with the content on this blog and I want to apologize for that. As you may or may not be aware, I make a point to post here twice a week and to vary the types of posts and the topics. Generally, you can expect:

  1. News about our books: new releases, cover reveals, sales, ect.
  2. Excerpts
  3. Author interviews
  4. The occasional guest post
  5. Short fiction or serial fiction
  6. Literary Topics
  7. Publishing Topics
  8. Writing Topics
  9. Marketing Topics
  10. Creative expression/Art related topics
  11. Updates with what things we’re doing
  12. Special programs, events, or shout-outs

If you’d like to see more or less of any of the above, or would like to suggest something else we can cover or provide for you, please leave us a note in the comments below!

Onto the update!

Uncharted CoverMonday, we released Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett (that’s me!) and Murandy Damodred. It’s a fun and comedic fantasy/romance and I sincerely encourage you to check it out. So much so that I’m going to give you $3 OFF if you order it from our online store this month. Just use promo code: FEATURE at check out for $3 OFF either the ebook or the paperback! Here’s the link to the store. 

Next up I’ll be attending a number of events. I’ve been invited by the London Writers Society to come and speak to them during their May meeting about local indie publishing and Mirror World Publishing  in specific. Then May 17th, I’ll be reading at Riverside Library in Windsor as a part of Urban Farmhouse Press’ By the River Reading Series. Then, May 24th, I’ll be at Phog Lounge in Windsor with our friends at Adventure Worlds Press for the ChiSeries Readings. You can look any of these events up on Facebook.

Following that, we’ve got another book coming up in June! Sharon Ledwith is bringing us her brand new teen psychic series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls and we’re kicking things off with Book #1: Lost and Found. fairy-falls-3-1

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey – a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation – to find a new pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear…

So keep your eyes open for the Cover Reveal which is coming up fast and information concerning the launch day celebration as well! Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with more great content!

Justine

 

 

It’s Release Day for Uncharted!

This is it! The big day! Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred is here! I’ve talked a lot about this book in the past while, so I’ll just let this lovely cover speak for itself:

Uncharted Cover

Title: Uncharted
Author Name: Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred
Page Count:  344 pgs.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance, Historical, Comedy, Adventure, Swashbuckling
Release Date: April 17, 2017

Order the book from your favorite retailer or from us:
 https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/

Saphs Book Promotions
Follow the Tour:
 http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/2017/
04/book-tour-schedule-uncharted-by-justine.html

Enter the giveaway:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/85ce0958152/?

Destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice…

Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order.  A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact.  Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner, the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.

And how about an excerpt?

     The door to her ‘room’ on The Clover was just as she remembered it, although it seemed much smaller now that she was older. No larger than a water closet, the addition on the backside of the Captain’s Quarters that had been built for her was still there as though, after all this time, it was waiting for her return.

     Reaching for the small brass ring that served as a handle, Meredith pulled the half-sized door open and was dismayed to find that there was no way she’d fit inside the small space. It was filled to the brim with all manner of junk. Tackle boxes, rope, a crate filled with empty bottles, and a pile of soiled linen; her ‘bedroom’ had been repurposed into the ship’s dumping ground.

    This is my room. For no reason that she could fully articulate, Meredith felt indignant. Even if it’s been more than ten years, it was built for me and I’m taking it back! The irrational desire to re-stake her claim on something that hadn’t been hers for a decade took over and she grabbed the nearest thing to her and turned with purpose, ready to hoist a crate filled with empty liquor bottles over the railing and into the water below.

     “Whoa, hold on just a minute!” Captain Laurent’s son grabbed hold of her arm before she could gain the height she needed to throw the crate overboard.

      His noble friend, minus his navy suit jacket now, stood just behind him, almost as if staying out of her range. His white shirt was nearly clean, though she could see where brownish grey stew coloured the frills of his collar.       Meredith felt only slightly guilty about her little ‘outburst’. He deserved it…he’s a jerk.

     “No,” she stated, imploring him to listen, “you destroyed my room and I’m taking it back. It’s the only home I ever really had.”

     “Your…room?” A light went on behind the young Captain’s eyes. “That’s why it had a bed in there…I always thought it was a dog house. Didn’t know why my dad would’ve wanted a dog aboard a ship, but he was always doing all sorts of foolish things.”

     “Like taking in strays?” Meredith demanded, arching a brow disdainfully in his direction. “Is that what you’re implying?”

     “Ah, no!” Reginald’s eyes went wide, his hands going up in a defensive fashion. “No, of course not! My dad was always winning strange sorts of stuff in poker tournaments. He was gambler.”

     “Are you now implying that I was bought or won in a card game, like some sort of…child slave?”

     His eyes bugged even further out of his head, if that was possible, and his cheeks flushed. “Ah…no…I mean…you weren’t, were you?”

     “Of course not!”

     “So now that we’ve established that you aren’t a stray dog or a child slave,” the noble interjected in a no-nonsense tone of voice, his grey eyes dark, “do you mind telling us who you are and what you’re doing here?”

     Meredith fought the urge to laugh because the bit of mushy carrot in his hair was so at odds with his expression.

     “I am here because I need passage out of Saegard. I fell in the water, got drenched, then walked here during the night. I was cold, wet, and badly bruised…from my fall. No one was around on deck, so I thought I would warm up inside. I took my clothes off to dry so I wouldn’t catch a cold and I used the silks because they were all I could find. That’s when I fell asleep. And I would have told you all of that, if you weren’t being such a jerk!”

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Learn more about the authors, here.

The World of Uncharted

While writing our last novel, Unintended, Murandy Damodred and I knew that we weren’t done with the world we had created. We wanted to tell more stories in the world of Ismera. Unintended, a romantic comedy set in our own fantasy version of England, Scotland, Italy and France, focuses on the royal family of Ismera (England) and is set mainly in the capital city of Ismer. But we’d done so much more in the way of world building that there was a whole world left to explore. So we started working on Uncharted and set it in and around the Isle of Saegard (France) and we decided to focus on characters who were more on the fringes of their society, rather than the rulers.

Now, if you’ve read Unintended, you’ll have learned a little bit about Ismeran culture and politics. Ismerans are native English-speakers. They prize traditions, propriety and politeness. However, they are also political schemers and thrive on intrigue. The Ismeran government is a monarchy with the current ruling family, the Authiers, controlling the Capital city of Ismer, as well as their own native lands in the north, Authera. Authier is one of the twelve royal houses, each of which are responsible for their own lands under the general oversight of the King. The intrigue generally results in power changing hands every couple of generations, if not more frequently. And the latest King has only been in power for a few decades.

North of Ismera, is Haldoram, a land ruled by several nomadic clans with their own culture and politics. South of Ismera is Welland, a rich Italian-speaking nation ruled by a council of Lords with a very steep hierarchy, largely fueled by their capitalist economy.

Ismera copy

Saegard, the main setting of Uncharted, is the Island nation to the east of the mainland. Saegard is known for its multiculturalism, but its primary language is French. Instead of a Monarchy, Saegard is ruled by two councils; one for the military and one for the merchants. They are fairly separate, but the rulers of each meet on occasion to deliberate on concerns that affect the whole nation.

Culturally, Saegard is egalitarian. They are a very open-minded and accepting people, especially when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. Men and women are found equally in all professions and they have very liberal views on marriage and sex.

This might seem strange, given that Saegard is home to the Order of Saegardian Priestesses, but the Order’s purpose is not overly religious, rather the Priestesses act as teachers, medical professionals, therapists, mediators, and ect for Saegard and the mainland. It’s true that they only allow women to become priestesses, but men can join the Order as well and become Companions who are trained as bodyguards, law keepers and assistants to the Priestesses.

I knew when we started writing Uncharted what I wanted Saegardian culture to be and how I wanted it to contrast with the culture in Ismera, but I still found writing in the cultural details to be a challenge. The hardest part was in acknowledging my own implicit bias and dismissing it, so I could make Saegard a place without sexism or intolerance. Murandy and I both worked very hard on all the little details in the world we created and we hope that you will enjoy the time you spend there as much as we did.

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