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Drumroll… Blurb reveal!

It is with much excitement, spiced with a hefty dose of trepidation, that I’d like to reveal a couple of versions of my blurb. No big deal, I’ve only worked on this for, oh, 11 years or so now.

First off, here are some details about my debut novel.

The Essentials

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Name of book: First Drop
Name of trilogy: The Mage Academy Journals
Approximate word count: 130,000
Status: Polishing and finishing epilogue
Intended audienceAdults (not necessarily YA)

Tropical Island

Quite close to how I imagine the tropical setting of my novel. Heavily influenced by my experiences of growing up in Papua New Guinea. (Image taken from public domain and modified to smudge out anachronisms, etc.)

One-sentence Pitch

I find it extremely hard to sum up my story in a single sentence, but it’s something that is often requested, so here is what I think is its essence:

My story is about a boy who returns to his tropical island home after years amongst pale-skinned northerners to find himself the focal point of intrigues and prophecies due to his unique heritage and blend of abilities.

Extended Pitch

If I had a few more sentences to pitch my work, it’d go a little something like this:

My story is about a boy who returns home after years amongst the pale-skinned northerners to find himself the focal point of intrigues and prophecies due to his unique heritage and blend of abilities.

His own people won’t accept him unless he undergoes their initiation rites. The martial Vennar want to deny his family even exists, let alone escaped from slavery. The pale Nothrans, who’ve built a Mage Academy on his tropical home island, want to manipulate him.

All he wants is to be reunited with what’s left of his family.

Longer Blurb (250 words)

So this is what I’d ideally like to have on the back cover if it were up to me:

Having the potential to learn the magic of the pale-skinned Nothrans, who have been allowed to build their Mage Academy on his tropical home island, Miniri, opens up a whole realm of possibilities for fifteen-year-old Kentos. But, having already spent several years amongst the Nothrans in their lands far to the north, he knows he will have to endure racism from those who cannot see past his dark skin, and studying at the Academy will only serve to further ostracise him from his fellow Quemin.

Carrying the blood of the reviled Vennar in his veins means Kentos can master their ability to discern the visualised intentions of others, which makes that martial race peerless fighters. Yet this stain upon his family’s honour must remain secret, for the Vennar’s enslavement of the Quemin was officially supposed to have ended many generations ago.

These are challenges Kentos believes he can handle, even as he recovers from an attack that killed his sister and crushed his foot. What he has yet to learn, however, is that his parents have escaped from slavery with even more secrets – secrets that will make him the subject of prophecies, and of manipulation attempts from multiple unexpected angles.

As his friendship with fellow student Tesliah, who uncovers his story by reading his journals, begins to blossom into a tender first love, and as his path converges with that of Ri, a Vennara he once called friend, Kentos will have to face decisions: most of them difficult… one disastrous.

Shorter Blurb (169 words)

If I had to limit myself a bit more, although cutting each word hurts like heck, I might be able to live with shortening it to this:

Having the potential to learn the magic of the pale-skinned Nothrans, who’ve built their Mage Academy on his tropical home island, opens up a realm of possibilities for fifteen-year-old Kentos. But, having spent several years amongst Nothrans, he knows he must endure racism from those who cannot see past his dark skin.

Carrying the blood of the reviled martial Vennar in his veins means Kentos can learn to discern people’s visualised intentions, but this stain upon his family must remain secret, for the enslavement of his people ended long ago – at least officially.

These are challenges Kentos believes he can handle. What he has yet to learn is that his family has even more secrets that will make him the subject of manipulation attempts from multiple unexpected directions.

As the friendship with fellow student Tesliah, who uncovers his story by reading his journals, deepens, and as his path converges with that of Ri, a Vennara he once called friend, many decisions Kentos must face will be difficult… one disastrous.

What’s Next?

Well, once I finish up the epilogue of Book 1 (quite tricky getting the right threads tied up and leaving enough open to promote interest in the larger story) and complete my current editing run, I’d love to get feedback from beta readers. I have two fellow bloggers who have expressed an interest, and I hope they’ll be as honest as they can with things like pacing, repetition, character development, whether dialogue feels natural enough, whether I have some “pet expressions” I’m not aware of, etc. Thus far, I’ve only had family and close friends read my work, and as grateful as I am to each and every one of them, it’s not quite the same as feedback from objective readers, especially ones who have been through the writing process themselves and know what to look out for.

After that (and I have no idea how long that will take), I’ll have to go through the whole daunting submission process, reading rejection letters and so on. Fun times! 🙂

Yours Truly – A to Z: Y

Y is for me. I mean, for Yours Truly. Which is me. In other words, I’m going to be sharing a few little things about myself. It’s something I’ve mostly avoided thus far, apart from a post about my pets, an introduction, and my about me page.

If I count correctly, this will be my 50th (public) post on this blog. Yay! The A to Z Challenge has definitely helped get that count up, and in the coming weeks and months, I’m sure I’ll be posting closer to one post per week than one per day, but that way, I’ll get back some more time for what I really want to be doing, which is working on my book. Not that I don’t like blogging – I do, more than I expected I would – but the Challenge has taken up much more time than I’d anticipated. I’m not very good at just writing quick 100- or 200-word posts and leaving it at that; I tend to rave on and check my facts online more than I probably need to. I spend time looking for images that I don’t end up using (I don’t get to use images when writing my book, and while I know blogs are different, it sort of feels like cheating to insert images not my own) and getting side-tracked in facts and details.

My blog-writing is a little different from my book-writing in that I’m more informal here, but I guess that’s not unusual. Either way, I’m still a stickler for details, I hate making mistakes (so if you see any, please feel free to point them out in the comments!), although I have some strong opinions that may be very different from what seems to be the “conventional wisdom” many writers and editors follow. Some of these I’ve mentioned in my posts or in comments I’ve left on other sites; for instance, I don’t like people speaking in absolutes, or blindly following “rules” that were meant more as “don’t overuse” advice than iron-clad “you must never” laws. There are so many writers trying to find the perfect formula, and too many sites give advice that would make all their writing boring, in my opinion. Be different, be bold, be unique, just don’t fall into certain traps and overuse certain patterns that seem to raise some editors’ hackles.

About me personally? I’d still like to keep my “author persona” largely separate from my “private self”, but some things about me that make me who I am are these: I grew up in three very different cultures, speaking three different languages, moved around a lot as a “missionary kid”, had lived in three countries by the time I was one year old and moved 18 times before I was 18. Most influential were formative years that I spent in the tropical jungles of Papua New Guinea, something that has most definitely influenced my writing.

I met my wonderful and amazing wife when we were both teenagers in high school, and we have three great kids, two of them now teenagers themselves. I’m a family person above all else: above my job which I really enjoy, and even above writing, which I’ve come to enjoy so much I dream about doing it for a living (while realising that the chances of achieving that dream are frighteningly slim, even if I were the most brilliant writer on the planet – not that I’m claiming to be that). Two dogs and two cats allow us to share a beautiful house in Perth’s northern suburbs with them, though the tenancy agreement has several clawses clauses about things like feeding, grooming and walking them. I also have a great sense of humour, which even allows me to see the irony in stating that.

I think all this gives me a unique perspective on things like culture shock, racism, being an outsider, and cherishing one’s family, all of which I’m channelling into my writing. I look forward to learning more about my fellow writer-bloggers, to learning more about creating an online presence, and to being able to share the ups and downs of my writing adventure with like-minded people from all walks of life.

Truth be told, I’m also looking forward to the end of this A to Z Challenge and to being able to blog at a slower pace (so that I can spend more time writing). 😉