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The Legacy of Androva Series


 “There are people who think that things that happen in fiction do not really happen. These people are wrong.”
― Neil Gaiman

 “While we read a novel, we are insane—bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren't there, we hear their voices...”
― Ursula K. Le Guin


“With reading, we get to live other lives vicariously, and this is doubly so with writing. It is like a lucid dream, where we guide the outcome.”

― Dean F.Wilson


Today’s blog post is a writing update for the Beyond Androva series, and the update comes with a few thoughts on the consequences of creating a strong-willed character. The character I’m talking about is Kellan, a seventeen-year-old magician who escaped from prison just in time to turn the events of Engraved in Magic upside down. He’s graduating from secondary character to protagonist.


As a self-confessed pantser (someone who “writes by the seat of their pants” instead of planning stories in advance) I’m accustomed to letting my characters take the lead. Stories evolve around their choices. I approached the new book in the same way, but I hadn’t written more than a thousand words before I had to confront a couple of Kellan-sized problems.


First problem: “It’s not your story, it’s my story…”


I might not plan stories in advance, but I always know how they’re going to start.


In Matched in Magic, Serena’s adventure naturally began as she went to Xytovia for the first time and met Art. In Engraved in Magic, Art picked up the story at the exact moment Serena stopped, so I could explore the aftermath from Art’s point of view.


I meant for the third book in the series to follow that pattern. After the prologue, which takes place about a century before the main timeline, Kellan would take over where Art left off, focusing on the search for his grandmother. That’s what I tried to write. Several times, unsuccessfully.


Kellan insisted the story had to begin at the moment he went into the Dimension Cell. This was something I didn’t want because it would require a retelling of Engraved in Magic’s plot. Kellan argued that important things had happened while he was off the page, things that were vital to “his” story. He also said his version of events would be much better than Art’s.


(By the way, I know it’s strange to describe Kellan as if he’s a real person... He’s not real, of course, but in the context of my writing imagination, he exists, and he has very strong views!)


Second problem: Looking for a little likeability


Each Beyond Androva story is told from a different point of view as the series arc evolves and its focal point moves between characters, but the incoming protagonist/narrator isn’t a stranger. They’ve been introduced through the eyes of the outgoing protagonist.


However, despite Kellan’s contribution to Engraved in Magic, I didn’t feel like I knew him at all. His point of view is hard to write! On the face of it, he isn’t a particularly sympathetic/likeable character. His self-confidence borders on arrogance and he has very little accountability. It took me a while to get past his exterior to the person underneath, and the Dimension Cell scene (the scene I hadn’t planned on writing) turned out to be really important.


In conclusion, I’m pleased to say that the third book in the Beyond Androva series is officially underway with a starting point that seems to be working and a (mostly) willing protagonist. I’m not sure how the prologue will link up with Kellan’s story, but I’m looking forward to the journey!


Which fictional characters are your favourites? Would you choose to meet them in real life if you could? Thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.


"The sea is like music, it has all the dreams of the soul within itself and sounds them over."
-- Carl Jung

(All photos: Lyme Regis, Dorset, 20th August 2020)

As summer draws to a close, I'm making a start on a new book, and it's going to be the third Beyond Androva story. The prologue is finished, and the next decision I have to make is whether Kellan will be the narrator or not. He's a little more morally ambiguous than my other protagonists, so I'm not sure if he can be trusted to tell the story!

The space between books is always an opportunity to give your imagination free rein because you have the whole manuscript ahead of you, and anything could happen. I had the chance to visit the south coast a couple of weeks ago, and it was the perfect place to be inspired, with windswept beaches, sunshine and summer rain, and evening lights in all colours of the rainbow. Today's blog post matches those images with a few quotes. I hope you enjoy them, and thank you very much for visiting πŸ’•.

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more."
-- Lord Byron

"How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious"
-- Lisel Mueller

"What does the cup of ocean hold?
Glory of purple and glint of gold;
Tenderest greens and heavenly blue,
Shot with the sunlight through and through;
Wayward ripples that idly roam.
Tumbling breakers with gallant foam;
Sands and pebbles that chase and slide;
Mystic currents that softly glide;
Mighty spell of the ages old,
This does the cup of ocean hold."
-- Amos Russel Wells

"Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways."
-- Oscar Wilde


Now that Engraved in Magic has been released, I'm faced with the very happy task of deciding what to write next. I'm pretty sure it's going to be another Beyond Androva book, but we'll see ☺. There are so many possibilities at the beginning of a new story, and I'm looking forward to getting started!

To help me decide, I spent a little time in the imaginary setting that is Xytovia's xyleander woods interviewing Kellan, one of the new characters in Engraved in Magic. Thank you very much for visiting my blog today, and I hope you enjoy meeting Kellan!

Interview with Kellan, set before Engraved in Magic

Me: Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Kellan: (smiles faintly) I don’t have much ability to influence what happens in here. Dimension Cells are pretty good at restricting a person’s choices.

Me: I suppose so. Although you could have ignored me.

Kellan: I know. I considered it. But an imaginary visitor is better than nothing. Why are you here?  

Me: I’m a writer. I’m going to write about you.

Kellan: (silence)

Me: Is that a problem?

Kellan: (sighs) No. Even before they convicted me, I knew a biography was planned. I just… I guess I thought my imagination could do better.

Me: (hides a smile) I see.

Kellan: (folds arms) I have to warn you, I’m not interested in talking about my life history. I can’t think of anything more boring than sifting through my childhood memories. And if you’re expecting me to tell you whether I’m guilty, you’d better make yourself comfortable because you’ll be waiting a long time.

Me: I’m not that sort of writer. I tell stories.

Kellan: Stories? What kind of stories?

Me: Mainly about magicians your age having life-threatening adventures. There are enterprising villains, dangerous spells, magical journeys… that kind of thing.

Kellan: Hmm. I suppose that could be interesting.

Me: There’s romance too.

Kellan: (makes a face)

Me: There are also different worlds.

Kellan: (frowns) Impossible. I might consider participating in far-fetched fiction, but not outright fantasy. Xytovia is the world. The sun, the moons and the stars aren’t inhabitable. Those are facts.

Me: Don’t tell me you’d rather stay in here. Besides, it might be fun.

Kellan: I’d rather keep my dignity intact if it’s all the same to you, Storyteller.

Me: (considers) I suppose I could rewrite your part. It would be a lot of hassle, but if you’re really not keen…

Kellan: (eyes narrow) My part? What do you mean? I thought this was my story.

Me: I never said that.

Kellan: Obviously, I assumed it was. Who on Xytovia has a better one?

Me: You’ve been in here a long time, Kellan. Xytovia has changed.

Kellan: Changed how?

Me: I’m offering you the chance to find out for yourself.

Kellan: No. Tell me. And it had better be good if you want me to downgrade myself from protagonist to supporting character.

Me: I can’t tell you. I’m sharing this interview with readers, and spoilers would be a bad idea. But I do think it’s worth it. Your role is vital to the story.

Kellan: (sarcastically) Awesome. Next you’ll be telling me I die to save the hero.

Me: No comment.

Kellan: (rolls eyes) I never thought I would imagine a visitor as annoying as you. My subconscious must be very keen to escape.

Me: Then you’ll do it?

Kellan: (pauses) I suppose so. (brightens) Anyway, who’s to say I can’t change the story once I’m a part of it?

Me: If any character could manage it, you would be the one.

Kellan: Is that a compliment?

Me: Sort of.

Kellan: (grins) I’ll take it. When do we start?

Me: You won’t have to wait too long. You turn up in Chapter Six.

Kellan: OK. You know, you really should consider giving me my own book one day. Promise me you’ll think about it.

Me: I promise I’ll think about it.

Kellan: (nods) It’s a deal.

Me: And that’s the end of the interview. Thank you very much for reading!



To celebrate the release of Engraved in Magic, up to and including Monday 27th July 2020, the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price on Amazon! Stealing MagicCapturing Magic, and Seeking Magic will be FREE and the other four books in the series will be priced at $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon US and UK.

You can find The Legacy of Androva series here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva

Spell Tracker is still free to read on this blog under the New series label. Just go to the end of the page for Chapter One and scroll up ☺


I have an update on the new series that I'm very happy to share...

Engraved in Magic will be released this month! The second book in the Beyond Androva series has a description and a beautiful cover to go with its title πŸ’œ. 

The story begins at the exact moment Matched in Magic left off, and Art is the narrator this time. I hope you'll enjoy seeing Xytovia through his eyes and accompanying him on his next adventure with Serena. I loved getting to know Art better and giving him the chance to figure out what kind of a magician he could be.

Here's the description:

An ancient criminal. A deadly trade.
Every life has a price.

Art’s fourth day as a magician isn’t going very well. Returning to Xytovia to face the consequences of his actions was always going to be a challenge. But getting lost in an enchanted wood and accidentally opening a Dimension Cell creates a complication he and Serena didn’t expect.

Inside the cell is a seventeen-year-old prisoner who says he’s from a different Xytovia. A Xytovia before the war and before mage-sickness. He also makes an extraordinary claim about Art’s magic. One that will change Art’s life forever if it’s true.

The subsequent upheaval catches the attention of a new enemy whose interest in Art’s magic goes far beyond curiosity. While Art and Serena are distracted by their attempts to abolish Xytovia’s Bonding Spell, they don’t realise the danger. They’re up against a unique and deadly skill set, and time is running out… 

The pre-order for the eBook (25th July 2020) will be up on Amazon very soon, and I'll update this post with a link when it's available. The price will remain at £0.99/€0.99/$0.99 until the release date.

Update ☺
Amazon UK Engraved in Magic
Amazon US Engraved in Magic

Kerry at Aero Gallerie has created all the Androva covers, and I love how this new one turned out. Thank you very much for visiting my blog today, and if you decide to read Engraved in Magic, I hope you enjoy it!


Life has changed so much in recent months, but the joy of escaping into a good book remains the same as ever. In fact, an imaginary journey is pretty much the only way to travel right now, and with that in mind, today’s post is a reading update πŸ“–☺. The great thing about books is that there are no limits to the journeys you can take. I decided to look at fairy tale retellings for my next reading choices, and the fairy tale I’ve chosen is Beauty and the Beast.

La Belle et la BΓͺte was originally written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, so it’s almost three hundred years old. The story has been retold many times in books and film, but certain elements from the original are typically retained, including a curse on the ‘beast’ that can only be broken by true love, a rose 🌹, a deadline, and a heroine who is different from her peers, often because she loves books and reading.

I spent an enjoyable afternoon researching the many fascinating choices available, and I narrowed it down to the following five books. They are now at the top of my TBR list πŸ“š. I hope you find them interesting—you may have read some of them already!—and thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.

** Engraved in Magic is still on track for publication in late July **


A Curse So Dark and Lonely, by Brigid Kemmerer

I like the sound of this one because although it has a traditional fairy-tale setting, one of the main characters, Harper, is from the contemporary world, and she isn’t at all happy to find herself in Emberfall. It also has dual POV, so the reader has the chance to see things from the perspective of Prince Rhen (the ‘beast’) as well as Harper.

Description:

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall… and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Quotes:

1.     We must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.

2.     “I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says.
Her words are not a surprise. I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”

3.     This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.


Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge

This version appeals to me because there are elements of Greek mythology in the story and because the premise is intriguing. Nyx starts out intending to commit an act of murder to free her people—something she’s been trained for her whole life. I imagine she won’t succeed immediately otherwise there would be no story, but I look forward to reading how the romance is presented.

Description:

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

Quotes:

1.     “Have you seen lamplight shine through dusty air, setting the dust motes on fire?” He waved a hand. “Imagine that, spread across the night sky—but ten thousand motes and ten thousand times brighter, glittering like the eyes of all the gods.”

2.     I was alone, and I had no hands to clench around my memories. I had no memories, no name, only the knowledge (deeper and colder than any darkness) that I had lost what I loved more than life. And then I forgot I had lost it. Time unwound. Prices were unpaid. The world changed.

3.     “And don’t tell me you’re sorry, because that would make you a very pitiful assassin.”
“I’m not an assassin!” My head snapped up and I saw that he was kneeling right beside me.
“Oh. I’m sorry. That would make you a very pitiful saboteur who carries a knife for nonviolent purposes.” His crimson cat eyes were laughing at me.


Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

The description caught my interest because there’s no mention of a curse to be broken. Instead the ‘beast’ is described as an ageless wizard who returns his captives to their homes after ten years of service. Also, Agnieszka sounds like a very interesting protagonist!

Description:

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest's dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she's everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it's not Kasia he takes.

Quotes:

1.     I’d been watching only to be sure he actually left; it took nearly all the caution left in me not to throw something down at his head, and I don’t mean a token of my regard.

2.     He looked at me, baffled and for the first time uncertain, as though he had stumbled into something, unprepared. His long narrow hands were cradled around mine, both of us holding the rose together. Magic was singing in me, through me; I felt the murmur of his power singing back that same song.

3.     Then he spluttered at me, “You impossible, wretched, nonsensical contradiction, what on earth have you done now?”


Heart's Blood, by Juliet Marillier

I’m interested in reading this version because Whistling Tor is described as a safe haven for Caitrin. That’s a little different to the traditional construct where the heroine is imprisoned by the beast against her will.

Description:

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

Quotes:

1.     Trust can be a hard lesson; hope still more difficult.

2.     I cannot expiate my sin, yet I am compelled to try. My mind will not let me rest. There must be something I could have done, some way I could have acted, something I could have changed to snatch victory from bitter defeat.

3.     “How could you not know?" His voice was full of wonderment. "You changed me utterly.”


Hunted, by Meagan Spooner

I can’t wait to read about Yeva. She’s described as a hunter who is very familiar with the forest, but it’s also clear she has no first-hand experience of magic or fairy tales. The book’s description doesn’t give anything away in terms of who the ‘beast’ is and how much of a challenge Yeva faces.

Description:

Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman.

But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Quotes:

1.     There's no such thing as living happily ever after — there's only living. We make the choice to do it happily.

2.     It’s the wanting that brought me here, to her. To another soul as empty as mine, and yet not empty at all, because it’s so full of everything I thought only I ever felt. Her soul against mine feels like music, like a heartbeat, like magic. Like beauty.

3.     She hated the indecisiveness of people in town, how they waited to make decisions, took weeks or months or years to settle, until the decisions were made for them by inaction.


I'm making good progress with Engraved in Magic, the sequel to Matched in Magic, and it seems like a good time to reflect on how things are going with the story. I've mentioned before on this blog that I'm not a planner. Despite my best efforts to define plots in advance, I never succeed, and I figure out each book while I'm writing it.

That said, Engraved in Magic is a sequel. And sequels are a little different because I obviously have a fixed starting point and usually some ongoing plot lines to pursue as well. For today's post, I thought I'd compare the story I'm writing to the story I intended to write by way of a top ten plan v reality list ☺.


The Plan
The Reality



1
Art to take over as narrator.
Yes, Art tells the story. It’s been a challenge for me to get to know him because he’s lacking in self-confidence, but he has a kind of quiet determination that’s very appealing. One of my beta readers sums it up by saying that Art is much more of a Darius than a Jax!



2
An extended timeline for the story. Matched in Magic happened over just four days, and I expect Engraved in Magic to be longer.
No. I’m pretty sure Engraved in Magic is going to be around four days too. There seems to be a lot happening in Vayl since the sponsorship model was overthrown.



3
Galen, Serena’s brother, to get the chance to help the Ricard family.
Not exactly. The Ricards and mage-sickness are definitely a part of the story. But it’s not Galen who takes the lead.



4
A new villain.
Yes. I always try to introduce a new villain/threat with every book, although the identity of the villain is proving a little difficult to pin down this time. I’ve changed my mind once already.



5
Character development for Xavic Dantail.
A little. There is the potential for Xavic’s story to be part of a future book. He's popular with beta readers, so we'll see.



6
A meeting with Darix, Art’s brother.
Yes. In fact, Darix is a bigger part of this story than I expected.



7
Different/new magic either in the form of spells unique to Xytovia or something invented by Galen.
There is a lot of brand-new magic/history revealed in this book, but it has nothing to do with Galen. Sorry, Galen… but you did get Surviving Magic all to yourself!



8
No significant new characters except for the villain.
No. This didn’t work out as I thought it would because a new character turned up early in the story almost from nowhere, and he grabbed the limelight immediately. His name is Kellan.



9
Art to become more familiar with using magic.
And then some! Art discovers that he’s not an ordinary magician in a way that dramatically changes the course of the story.



10
Art’s and Serena’s relationship progresses.
Yes. They made a promise to stay together at the end of Matched in Magic, and I’m trying to make sure they keep it. This story is not about Art and Serena breaking up.

It looks like about half of what I planned is happening (kind of) the way I planned it. I don't think that's too bad. At least I know it's worth making a top ten next time!

Engraved in Magic is currently scheduled for a late July release date. I hope everyone is keeping safe and well, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today. Happy reading πŸ’•.