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The Legacy of Androva Series

Plotter: Knows the beginning, middle, and end of the story before writing it
Pantser: Hopes the beginning, middle, and end of the story are in there somewhere

I am a pantser, not a plotter, though I wish I weren’t. I would love to have the story of every book figured out, chapter by chapter, before I sit down and start typing. I have this (probably misguided) belief that if only I had an outline, I would never get writers block. I’d be able to fly through the entire process like one of the great eagles in the Lord of the Rings ☺. However, the skill continues to elude me.

The best I’ve been able to do in terms of plotting for my current series is to write a prologue – usually a short scene from part-way through the book where my characters are in a dangerous situation. Once I have this scene, it gives me something to aim for and some structure to the arc of the story. Where are they? How did they get there? Will they survive?

Then I write in a linear way, one chapter at a time. Some days it’s easy, other days it’s impossible. I have next to no idea of what I’ll write until I actually start typing.

Here is the prologue from Controlling Magic as an example. When I started writing this book, I had nothing to go on except these 256 words. It was a lot of fun figuring out the story, but I wish I’d been able to do some of that figuring out in advance!

The surrounding walls of water shivered slightly, as if the spell holding them back were weakening. The air was thick with moisture, and with every breath, Shannon was struggling a little more. The boy looked at her with a cold detachment that was much more terrifying than his previous cruelty.
“He won’t do it,” Shannon said through gritted teeth. She breathed faster, feeling as if her lungs were slowly filling up with water. The spell was taking all her strength, and her fear was making it more difficult.
“Do what?” he asked, sounding bored.
“Open the portal, of course!” she snapped.
He looked at her with an amused expression. “Weren’t you paying attention earlier? He will do whatever I tell him to.”
Jax was on his knees in the magically created underwater cave, and Shannon was hopeful for a second that the shock of the cold water had changed him back. “He would never harm Androva,” she told the boy, trying to sound confident.
The boy arched one white eyebrow. “Won’t he?” he asked.
Jax raised his hand, and, to Shannon’s horror, started to create the required symbols. They glittered silver against the water, the magical energy sharp and precise. Speechless with shock, she watched Jax prepare to open the doorway that would submerge Androva and everyone on it beneath a mile of seawater.
“Jax!” she said desperately. Jax turned. His green eyes were totally and utterly blank, as if he were in a trance. They looked straight through her. Shannon opened her mouth and screamed.

I take comfort from this quote, which describes my writing style pretty well:
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E. L. Doctorow.

How would you write, if you could choose? Would you be a plotter, or a pantser, or something in between? Thank you for reading!

To celebrate Breaking Magic's new cover, I have set up a giveaway on Goodreads! It starts today and ends next Sunday. If you'd like to enter, you can find the details HERE

Also, just as a reminder, anyone in the US who buys (or has ever bought) a physical copy of my books can get the Kindle version for free using Matchbook ☺

This very useful link will tell you which titles are available on Matchbook from any physical copy you've ever bought no matter who the author is!
Matchbook info

Hope you are having a great weekend, and if you're spending some of it reading, I hope you're enjoying the book(s) you've chosen!

There are six disciplines taught at the Seminary of Magic on Androva: Combat, Remedies, History, Living Magic, Physical and Manipulation. Today's post is about History.

OK, so History doesn't sound like the most exciting of subjects, does it? Too many books and not enough spells. It's true that most underage magicians find History a bit boring. There was a temporary surge of interest when the treaty between Androva and our world became common knowledge. But, aside from that, it's definitely the least popular subject.

However, there is an element of spell projection to the lessons. Androvans don't have any historic monuments or museums to visit, but they can try out the older version of the spells to get an idea of how their ancestors lived.

For example, first years at the Seminary have to use the original Cleaning Spell for three days in a row. The modern-day version is a gently spinning cloud of silver which does such a great job that Shannon hardly ever goes into her bathroom at home anymore. (Especially since Jax looked at her toothpaste and toothbrush with horror and said it must be like chewing a small mint-flavoured slug). The original Cleaning Spell was a little less gentle and a lot less effective. All of the older years at the Seminary look forward to the time when first years go through the Cleaning Spell trial. You can't pass year one unless you do it properly, but it's a long seventy-two hours. Greasy hair, clammy skin, grimy teeth, and dirty clothes. Not nice!

I quite enjoy History as a subject, especially when I get to research things like Ancient Rome for my books. If I could go back to a time in our world's history to experience it for myself, I think I would go there first. What about you? Where would you go? I hope you enjoyed today's post and thank you for reading!

Isn't the new cover beautiful? It's all thanks to Kerry Hynds for coming up with such an amazing design. She does brilliant work - you can visit her website here to see what I mean.

The seven-pointed star at the top is Jax's Sygnus (now professionally illustrated!). It will represent the Legacy of Androva on all future covers, because Jax is in every book and Shannon has no Sygnus. At least, she has no Sygnus yet ☺

I also joined Twitter a few days ago! You can find me here: @alexcvick and I'd love to hear from you with questions or comments about the books and characters, or recommendations, or just to say hello ☺

When the paperback version goes live, I'll be setting up a giveaway, so check back in a week or so for the details. In the meantime the ebook price is going to stay at $0.99 until the end of July.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

There are six disciplines taught at the Seminary of Magic on Androva: Combat, Remedies, History, Living Magic, Physical and Manipulation. Today's post is about Remedies.

I'm going to leave it to one of my characters to explain more, (see early extract from book six below), but the most straightforward definition of Remedies is that they are spells in a bottle. Their primary purpose is medicinal, and a skilled Remedax is able to create sophisticated combinations to treat all manner of illnesses and injuries. However, they can also be used to entertain and confuse, for good reasons and bad, depending on the circumstances and the magician.

Here is what Galen thinks about Remedies when he begins to learn them at the Seminary of Magic:

Remedies took me a long time to learn. I could create the spells, I just couldn’t turn them into remedies.
Spell projection, in the traditional way, was much easier. I could use one or both hands, I could increase or decrease the intensity, I could start and stop as I wished. I tended to adjust spells as I went along, according to how my force field was responding.
However, all remedies, from the most basic to the most complicated, required a completely standardised output of magical energy.
Twenty drops per small bottle, and each drop had to be identical, falling from our fingertips like glittering tears. Different colours according to whichever remedy we were creating.
“No,” said Professor Minra for about the hundredth time. How she managed not to raise her voice, I don’t know. I was close to yelling with frustration.
“This is not an intuitive spell, Galen.” She sighed, tucking a loose strand of blonde hair behind one ear. “It is learnt and then followed precisely. Any remedy you produce will be dangerous unless you can distill your magic properly.”
Evander had a whole row of different coloured bottles next to him, freshly filled with Headache, Fever, Sleep and Portal Remedies. He gave me a slightly smug smile.
“Professor’s pet,” I grumbled.
“Hilarious,” he countered, “coming from you. You do realise you’re top of the class in everything else?”
Well, on balance, I suppose I didn’t think that particular insult through.
I couldn’t come up with a reply, and he grinned.

If you could design your own Remedy, what would you create? Something practical or perhaps something more fun? I hope you enjoyed today's post and thank you for reading!

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