People on my list already know this story (list members get early access to a lot of stuff and some exclusivity and special offers), but I want to share it with you too. Here is an introductory snippet for Moira (in German it’s been posted on Kathleens Bücherwelt in today’s tour stop). The English post for the day is about names in worldbuilding. Check it out here.
Moira wriggled on the chair in front of the principal’s office. Her hands felt strangely empty. Up to this point it had been very comforting to hold on to her application papers. What should she do with her hands now?
The door opened and the secretary looked out, the gray bob over her haggard features blending in with the mint colored walls.
“You may come in now.”
Moira’s heart began to beat faster, and the palms of her hands grew wet. What if her application was declined? This was the only chance she was going to get, and it was a miracle already that the Academy had invited her for an interview. She forced her trembling legs to get up and follow the secretary along a narrow corridor with many doors. Not one of them was labeled, but she assumed they led to the teachers’ conference rooms. At the end of the corridor, the secretary showed her through a big oaken door into a gigantic room. It was so different from what Moira had expected, she stopped and stared at the expanse. Big windows on the far side allowed the sun to light up the room, blurring it into a bright nothingness. White walls emphasized the feeling of being out of this world. On the left side of the door stood two comfortable looking chairs and a low table with two cups, a coffee pot, and a plate with cookies. It was the only furniture in the room.
Moira’s gaze searched for the Academy’s principal but aside from her, there was no one in sight. Even the secretary had left. Feeling small and insignificant, she walked to the seating arrangement but didn’t dare to sit down. Patiently, she waited.
“Please, make yourself comfortable.” The principal’s voice she knew from a previous parlebol call filled the room before a dark shadow appeared beside her and condensed into a portly man with a big, curled mustache.
With his wide, black robe and the beak-like nose, the principal reminded Moira of a rather plump raven. She curtsied and stammered a greeting before her legs gave and she settled into the nearest chair. Did he always appear like this? Would she ever get a chance to get used to this?
He sat too and filled both cups with coffee, leaving it to her to add sugar or milk.
“You seem rather young to be sitting here.” Stirring his own cup, he leaned back and studied her. “I understand that you skipped two classes, and I must say, I was impressed by your grades. They’re the one reason why I decided to take a look at you. You’d be a great addition to the Gendarmerie Générale. So, why do you insist on joining the Gendarmerie Magique?”
“I’ve been working very hard to be considered.” Moira hated to feel so defensive. She knew she was lacking in magical skills. “My parents have both been very successful officers, and it’s been my dream for as long as I can remember.”
“Not all dreams come true.” The principal drained the cup and set it down. He got up and stepped into the middle of the bright room. “Convince me you’re good enough for the basics. With a deficiency like yours, you’d be a liability for your colleagues.”
Moira swallowed. Did he mean she was supposed to do magic? Here? She followed him, marveling at the fact that her legs were still supporting her. The closer she got, the more the principal blurred. When she reached the middle of the room, only his face was still sharply defined, the rest merged with the whiteness.
“If you find my bureau, I will sign your acceptance paper,” he said and vanished completely.
Dumbstruck, Moira stared at the place where he had just been. Surely it wasn’t so very difficult to find his office? She turned toward the door, but it had vanished together with the principal and the furniture. Everything around her was white and blurred into a mist in the distance. She picked a random direction and walked but nothing changed. Drat. How was she supposed to find anything if she was stuck in the middle of a bright, white mist?
This clearly was a test, and the only qualification that needed testing was her magical ability. Since the principal had said he was only looking for the bare minimum of skills, it couldn’t be too difficult. She probably only needed to use a simple Guide-Moi spell. The problem was that she couldn’t even do first grade stuff. She’d tried often enough to know it wouldn’t work. So, she had to find a way that would lead her to the principal’s office and make him believe she used magic. Fine. The GM-spell was simple and straightforward. People using it looked like sleepwalkers. Moira closed her eyes and let her arms dangle as if using the spell. She turned a full circle, hoping for something, anything that might indicate the direction the principal had left. When nothing presented itself, she opened her eyes again but didn’t move her arms. Surely she would be watched closely.
Surprised, she discovered that the windows were still there. A fine web of golden strands ran over their frames. She had seen this kind of webbing before. It indicated active spells. Well, it was nice to know that the whiteness around her was some sort of spell but it didn’t really help, or did it? She walked toward the windows, the only point of orientation she had in the fog. Against her expectations, she was able to get closer. Soon, she stood in front of a windowpane twice the height of her bedroom at home. Outside, she could see the Academy’s running arena. Several students were training. For a split second, her longing to be one of them became so strong she thought her heart would burst. Biting her lip, she turned away from the window. A thin, blue line led from the window into the mist and vanished in the distance. This hadn’t been there before.
Moira hesitated, but only for a second. It was the only hint she could see, and whether it would lead her to the principal or take her out of the Academy and shatter her dream of joining the Gendarmerie Magique was irrelevant at this point. She couldn’t stay here, so she had to follow the blue line. A fifty-fifty chance was always better than no chance at all. With a sigh, she set out, still letting her arms hang limply at her side as if she were using a GM spell.
The floating blue ribbon led her ten steps away from the window, and then angled sharply to the right. Another seven steps took her to a door. Gently, she touched the surface. Yes, it was a real door, solid oak, like the others she had seen in the Academy. She knocked, and it swung open silently, revealing an office stuffed with books and dark oak furniture. The eyes of several teachers and the principal turned to her. Warmth spread through Moira’s belly. All was well.
P.S.: Please excuse any misspellings and grammar errors. If you want more of these, join my list.
Today, the first volume of my first ever Fantasy series went life, and I feel like bubbling over with joy. I don’t know why but it took me nearly a month to get everything in place. Formatting seemed to take forever. I wish I could afford to get someone else to do it for me. Sigh…
That said, I simply love the way the book turned out, and I’m really looking forward to sending out a couple of print copies (although shipping will take a while since the books will be delivered to me here in Germany first and then get sent out again).
So without further ado, here’s “Swordplay”, the first volume in the “Gendarmerie Magique” series.
Swordplay – A Gendarmerie Magique Novel
About the Book
CSI with magic but without the gore
Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn’t part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.
For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up
At the moment, I’m running a Giveaway on Goodreads for my next release “Swordplay”, the first volume in the “Gendarmerie Magique” series. The book will be released on January the 31st, and you can win a copy right here already. What are you waiting for?
I’m happy to be able to host a writer that I have known and admired for quite a while already: Chrystal Collier. With the release of her new novel Moonless, she is touring the world (virtually of course, who could afford anythign else) and popped in here for a short interview.
Why did you choose a socially challenged heroine?
MOONLESS is written for young adults. As a teenager, I remember that being one of my greatest struggles—figuring out my place in the world and feeling like I just didn’t fit in. Who doesn’t feel that at some point?
What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
Call this an alternate history if you will, but what if there was another race of people hidden just below the surface of society? Now let’s say these people are gifted and unique, but nature is all about balance, so they have an antithesis or predator. Keep in mind they don’t propagate as easily as humanity which makes them a minority, and their discovery in the past has led to wars, racial cleansing, etc. Because of that, they’re very interested in remaining unknown, even while their battle for survival rages in the shadows.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you wrote your novel?
Some people write dozens of novels before they get published. I rewrite the same book again and again and again until I get it right—or at least, that’s how it worked with Moonless. During rewrites we’ve lived in 3 different states, had two kids, worked on and off with producers for a Broadway aimed musical, and I’ve been a composer/writer for an audio/video production company. Do we need to add any more excitement?
Tell us about your writing day schedule.
My days starts with study, then I’m getting kids fed, dressed and into a home school day. After a couple lessons (and while the littles are occupied with assignments), I check in with email, the blogosphere, maybe even some critiquing. Finally, mid to late afternoon my littles get free time and I dive into writing, with regular interruptions, praying for a solid two hours.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I believe we are infinitely powerful beings. We can accomplish anything through hard work and perseverance. My only complaint is the need for a time-stopper. (Which the scientists locked in my Floridian basement are desperately working to complete.)
Thank you for answering our question, Chrystal. We wish you a lot of success for your books.
Here is my latest release, “Paralan’s Children“, a YA soft SciFi story. Hopefully, you’ll like it. It’s available for 99ct as a special introductory price until tomorrow, 23rd of May. Then, the price will go up to $4.99 for good.
Fresh from the academy, ambitious Galaktipol officer Vera Staven has been transferred to the only human settlement on the ice planet Paralan. Aside from smuggling, crimes are rare and the suicide rate is high. But something at the latest find nags at Vera, although no clues indicate it’s anything but a suicide.
When native Galaktipol officer Joloran Durim Brunàhgan meets the mother of his wee-ones for the yearly egg-opening feast, he doesn’t know he’s facing the worst case of his career. The next morning, fifteen Paralan wee-ones went missing, girls only. A catastrophe for the natives. Joloran hurls himself into the investigation, but he can’t get the murder of two wee-ones out of his mind that he couldn’t solve many years ago.
Paralan and humans harbor prejudices, making it hard for Joloran to follow all clues. Against his will, his superior requests support from the humans. POK Vera Staven is assigned to him, the only woman in the human Galaktipol station on Paralan. And time is running out. With every passing day, the probability of finding the wee-ones alive shrinks. But only as a team, Joloran and Vera might have a chance. Can they overcome their prejudices and cooperate, or will they find these children disemboweled in the icy wilderness of the planet’s far side too?
My Monday Cup of Tea (ehm Cocoa): Paralan’s Children
My next release is coming closer and I’m now working on the cover art and the back cover blurb. I will reveal the cover next Monday. Now, I’ll tell you a little about my story. It was the one that got me my agent in Germany some years back.
As I said in my Friday post, it is set on a planet that’s mostly covered in ice. The main species of the planet resemble polar bears but their snouts are much longer and they’ve got tufted ears. Also, their internal organs are very different from polar bears (e.g. two brains, gigantic olfactory nerve-cluster etc.). Humans would have never been interested in their planet if it weren’t for a rare mineral their FTL drives need (faster than light, for the non-SciFi readers). Thus, there is a single human colony under the planet’s ice and a space-port on the ice. The settlement is closely monitored by the Paralans who don’t like humans to be there but are depending on them to deliver an active ingredient for a medicine extracted from a Terran plant.
In this uneasy truce, both sides harbor prejudices. When fifteen female Paralan children are kidnapped, a male Paralan officer and a human graduate, the only girl in the human Galactipol station on Paralan, have to learn to work together to follow the traces, and with every passing hour the chances of finding the girls alive are sinking.
When I wrote this story, I played around with gender issues. The main female character is facing harassment by her colleagues and the situation only change gradually when she works with the Paralans, and in the Paralan society, the roles of father and mother are reverted. There are even rewards for exceptional breeding success (meaning at least 3 of the six hatchlings survive). I had so much fun developing the world and its inhabitants, I even came up with Paralan mythology.
I’m really interested to see if you’ll enjoy reading the story as much as I did writing it.
Now, let me know, if you had to create life on an ice planet, what kind of creature would you come up with?
I read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett for the first time when I was twelve (In German of course). I loved it so much, I bought all available books by the same author.
About the book
When orphaned Mary Lennox, lonely and sad, comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire moors, she finds it full of secrets. At night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors. Outside, she meets Dickon, a magical boy who can charm and talk to animals. Then, one day, with the help of a friendly robin, Mary discovers the most mysterious wonder of all–a secret garden, walled and locked, which has been completely forgotten for years and years. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?
I liked the love best that Mary felt for the garden and her efforts to make it come alive. It was evident in every chapter how much the author loved nature. This was a direct tie to my heart. I didn’t learn landscape gardening and studied forestry without reason. Even if the book is old-fashioned and the beginning seems slow to today’s readers, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves nature.
I read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken first when I was twelve, and it was one of my favorites immediately. I keep rereading the whole series all the time and still find it fascinating.
About the Book:
Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease. With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?
These were truly believable characters, and they were dropped into a really nasty situation. No one likes losing their parents, but adding the loss of their home topped it all. I loved the way the two girls never let themselves get down. They fought back with everything they had. Since this story takes place in an England with slightly alternate history, the story also taught me (unconsciously) about the way of live in GB. Joan Aiken is a genius. What I loved best about this series is that she took one minor character from the first book and made him the hero of the next and so on. That way, there was always room for the characters to grow, and I was never bored. I might borrow this idea some day. 😉
When I began reading English, my Scottish mother (adopted) bought me a book. It was quite slim so I wasn’t too frightened to try, and it turned into one of my all time favorites to this day. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye is a story for all ages.
About the book:
Along with Wit, Charm, Health, and Courage, Princess Amy of Phantasmorania receives a special fairy christening gift: Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown hair and freckles, and would rather have adventures than play the harp, embroider tapestries… or become a Queen. When her royal parents try to marry her off, Amy runs away and, because she’s so ordinary, easily becomes the fourteenth assistant kitchen maid at a neighboring palace. And there… much to everyone’s surprise… she meets a prince just as ordinary (and special) as she is!
This book shows everyone that ordinariness or it’s opposite lie in the eye of the beholder. Princess Amy is anything but ordinary. Her problem is that she’s not what her parents want her to be. She doesn’t behave like princesses are supposed to, and she isn’t fixated on beauty (hard to do when you’ve got freckles believe me). When her parents come up with a nightmare idea to marry her, she takes matters into her own hands. This is the absolute anti-Cinderella story and that’s why I love it so much. It contains just as much romance and some typical fairy tale elements, but it twists them in a way that makes them new and exciting. If you haven’t yet, give this story a try. It’s not very expensive and you can get it as an eBook too.