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Month: October 2015

Progress Update – New and Improved Blurb! Also There's News on my Cartographer and Cover Designer

Goodness me, it’s been a busy week let me tell ya! Where do I start?

Let’s do this in order. If you check my twitter and/or facebook you’ll already know these two bits of news so feel free to skip to the new blurb at the end.

On Monday, I confirmed which cartographer I’ll be working with on the map of Rifarne (and later, the whole world) and am thrilled to say that I’ll be working with Monkey Blood Design! As a fellow gamer I liked their maps immediately and am now patiently awaiting news on the first map draft (I’m treating myself to a beautiful colour version in A4 which I can show off at home, not just the small monochrome version which will go into the book).

Then on Tuesday I confirmed that I’ll be working with Design for Writers on my book cover! I love their beautiful covers and their personal approach, so I’m beyond chuffed to be working with them. They’ve been nothing but lovely and forthcoming with info so far and I can’t wait to get started early next year. It’s always a good start when tea habits get discussed and established early on.. 🙂

Now, to the bit you won’t have seen anywhere yet! Since I’ve been looking for a cover designer I figured I might as well sharpen my book’s blurb, since that would also be a good short summary to give to them. I’m not saying that this is definitely the final version but it’s not very far from it now, and it’s miles better than the old one I’d thrown together. Here ya go, a sweet brief description of Rise of the Sparrows:

“Rifarne is a country opposed to magic. When its people demand harsh action, King Aeric sees himself with no other choice but to outlaw those with the gift. Rachael, a homeless orphan with the rare gift of a Seer, soon finds herself with visions of her own violent death. When her escape goes wrong and she ends up in the clutches of a vicious witch woman lusting for her blood, she finds she is the only person to stop the war against people like her – and assassinating the King to become Queen to a people who once wanted her dead may well be the only way to do just that.”

~Sarina

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All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.

For all previous updates on Rise of the Sparrow‘s progress, click me!

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

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Getting Comfy on Goodreads

goodreads
Who wants to be reading buddies? Source

Earlier this week I’ve finally signed up with Goodreads (beats me how I hadn’t done this already, given that I read religiously and write)! Since I haven’t published Rise of the Sparrows yet I can’t upgrade to an author account yet, but for anyone interested in seeing what I’m currently reading and for the promise of future giveaways, we can be reading buddies here 🙂

I’ll see you in my cosy virtual reading nook!

~Sarina

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Weekly Quote #18

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” (Anne Lamott)

This week I’ve just got a brief reminder for you that your first draft is allowed to suck. Even your first book is allowed to be imperfect. No one starts out with something new, something they maybe have never done before, and are already perfect from the start. You get better as you go, you’ll improve as you take feedback on board. Don’t beat yourself up if your first attempts didn’t go as well as you hoped. You’re allowed to do badly at first, just pick yourself up and try again. If you keep trying you’ll improve along the way.

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For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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How many backups do you have?

Whether it’s a book you’re writing or an essay or a dissertation, chances are you don’t want to lose everything you’ve done to date (just imagine the horror!). Working in a university library I’ve seen far too many students who have lost all their progress because they don’t save their work regularly and when they do, they only save it in one place.

Losing all your progress is painful, stressful and immensely demotivating to put it mildly. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being in that position you’ll know what I mean. If you’ve never been in that position, consider everything you’ve written so far and then imagine losing all of it without a chance in hell of getting it back. That’s not a hole you want to dig for yourself.

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Don’t let this be you.

When you write something –anything-, no matter what it is, you want to have backups. One at the very least so that you’ll always have your work saved somewhere, even if you lose the copy saved to your desktop. I currently have my draft saved to the desktop, and have additional copies on two memory sticks – one of which I regularly take with me when I go somewhere, just in case the house burns down while I’m out (I’m paranoid that way). That makes for three copies in total! If I was to lose all of those at the same time now I’d probably take that as a hint from the universe that this book shouldn’t be published.

Losing all your progress is not a nice feeling, so be sensible, avoid disaster, and back up your work.

How many backups do you have? Have you ever lost all of your work – be it an essay, a draft for a book, a dissertation or something else – and couldn’t recover what you’d lost? Please feel free to share your experience below. And please, don’t hold back, we want people to be scared of this possibility.

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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10 Minutes – Nameless

Hurting and cold, she looked down at her bloody hands. The skin had broken open, blood was still flowing unhindered and her fingers felt so stiff she didn’t believe she would ever be able to move them again. It hurt. How had she gotten these wounds again? Her mind was blank, no information to be found there.

She looked around, hoping to know where she was. There was a forest to the far left and a river closer to her to the right. She could wash her hands off there before finding the nearest town. Besides her no one else seemed to be on this stretch of road, but far up ahead and a little to the right she thought she could see a village.

Her whole body screaming in protest she reached the river, shocked to see her own reflection. A pained gasp escaped her to see her mirror image. It wasn’t just her hands which were bloody. Her entire body was covered in blood, some of which had begun to dry and more yet which was still gushing forth. Pieces of clothing had been wrapped around her cuts, but she could not remember how long they had been there or who had put them on. Her head swimming with all this missing information, she slowly waded into the shallow water, hissing through her teeth as the icy liquid flowed around her wounds mercilessly. It hurt terribly to clean herself, but she was not about to wander into a town  looking like this!

To take her mind of the sharp pain flooding her consciousness, she decided to plan ahead. The town looked a long walk off, but it was something at least. Something she could walk towards to. But then what would she do? As far as she could tell she had no money. All she would be able to tell them was that she was- was-

Feeling defeated she sank fully into the river, her nose barely above water level. She could not even remember her own name. What was it? Ai- Aish- No. That was all wrong.

She sighed, giving her arms a last pained wash before getting up and leaving the icy safety of the river. It was still light out – should it be dark by now? – if she walked fast she would reach the village before sunset.

Many hours would pass before she reached the gates. It would give her enough time to make up  a name, at least. A reason she was out here, covered in bloody rags and cuts which were already beginning to bleed again.

Maybe someone there would know who she was. There had to be a reason she had been here when she had woken up – if she could call it that. She hadn’t been lying down when she had regained consciousness, but rather she had already been walking. How far had she come before she realised where she was? Would anyone in the far-away town know?

Something told her she needed to get there, see someone. Until her memory returned, it was as good a hint as any.

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All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.

For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.

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Progress Update – Map and Cover Design News!

First, let me tell ya I do not take well to this draft proofing period! Waiting a full month before starting the edit is hard, people!

Fortunately I’ve still got loads to do before the 16/11 to keep me distracted. This week I’ve been in touch with several cover designers as well as cartographers (I’ve also had a first look at the cost of editing – my head is still swimming with the figures but it’ll have to deal with it) and will be able to give you some definite answers on both next week. For now, just suffice it to say that I’m leaning quite strongly towards one cartographer and that I’ll have my cover design covered (hehe..) very soon as well 🙂

I’ve also drawn up a sketch of the country map this week. While the entire continent, never mind the whole world, won’t matter too much for Book One, the country of Rifarne will so I’ve drawn a map for it from my rather terrible sketches I’ve made on tiny pieces of paper. So here it is – a first glance at the country where Book One takes place! (in glorious A3!)

Map of Rifarne Draft 1
How the hell do you draw trees??

Never mind the space above the Mountains. We’ll get to that 😉

Keep an eye on my facebook page and/or my twitter for news on the cover design and the cartographer – I expect I’ll have some before next week Friday 🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got another tea to drink.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Sarina

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All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.

For all previous updates on Rise of the Sparrow‘s progress, click me!

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

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Weekly Quote #17

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than grey matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” (Jack London)

You may have noticed this already but I love notebooks. I don’t go anywhere without at least one notebook on me and recently I even downloaded an app for my phone which acts as a notebook (you never know when your pen might run out of ink…) and I adore that, too (it allows you to colour-code different notes! colour-code!!).

No matter how good your memory is, you will forget something you suddenly thought of on your daily commute to work. And then you will kick yourself. Taking a notebook with you gives you an easy way to record any ideas which might pop into your head so you can come back to them later. I have been in situations too often where I was sure I’d remember that cool thing easily once I got home, and then had no clue what it could have been. No. Idea. Whatsoever.

If you’re not a fan of actual notebooks (??) download an app. You never know what you might forget otherwise.

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For more weekly quotes, check out this page here.

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Review: The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller

Summer Reading List The Falcon Throne

The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller

“EVERY CROWN IS TARNISHED BY THE BLOOD OF AMBITION.

In a divided kingdom, some will do anything to seize the crown.

A BASTARD LORD, rising up against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.

A ROYAL CHILD, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father’s stolen throne.

A DUKE’S WIDOW, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who’d control them both.

And TWO BROTHERS, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.

All of this will come to pass, and nothing will remain as it once was. Royal houses will fall, empires will be reborn, and those who seek the Falcon Throne will pay for it in blood.”

I shall be careful not to give away too much. If you do decide to read any of the ‘reviewed’ books I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending for you, or give away any other major plot twists, so I’ll try to be as vague as possible. However, these won’t be completely spoiler free so if that bugs you stop reading here.

What I thought:

Now, let me say this right away – you’ll want this as a paperback. Not only is there a beautiful map of a rather large world at the front of the book, but you also get a list of important characters so you don’t lose track of who’s who. And there are a lot of characters, so this list is useful. It’s much easier to navigate both when you have a physical copy in your hands. I read this on my kindle and let me tell ya, I wanted to quickly peek at the beginning a lot throughout this book. Paperback is definitely advised, people!

Now, to the review… I was already a fan of Karen Miller when I bought this, so I knew I was going to like it. In fact, this is the first I’ve seen the blurb at the back I think. You know when you like an author so much you don’t even care what the new book is about, you’ll buy it anyway? The Falcon Throne was that book for me. And I was not let down.

As the blurb above states very clearly there’s a lot of bloodshed, deceit, betrayal and intrigue going on. The story takes places in a rather large area of the world (again, you want the paperback so you can easily get to the map whenever you want to, it’ll be a huge help) and, best of all, it has multiple narratives. I love multiple narratives because it shows you the same story from different angles and enriches the story in ways one single narrative just can’t. As mentioned above there are a lot of different people in this, with very different view points and reading about all of them is highly intriguing. I usually always have firm favourites but The Falcon Throne made me change who I was rooting for several times. (for the record, my rooting for Roric and Catrain never stopped)

All of the characters develop in very believable, very natural ways, and while you may very well hate some of them you will also likely understand perfectly why they do what they do. Not that this stops the hatred for them. I understand that Humbert acted the way he did because he wanted to protect his country at all costs, but the way he treated his daughter is still unforgivable. You don’t marry your only child to a man she doesn’t want to marry, while she already deeply loves another man and you’re very aware of that fact. You just don’t. Okay?

Now, before this review gets too long and you get bored… If you have any love for fantasy books, add this one to your shelf. It’s quite long and took me a while to read through so you’ll need to bring time (remember I usually only read on my lunch breaks), but it’ll be worth it. Since this is the first in a new series Karen Miller is working on, I’m excited for book two (especially after how everything went to hell at the end of this one).

(Did I mention there’s magic? No? There’s magic.)

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I don’t review books professionally, neither do I get paid for it. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Amazon listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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10 Minutes – Wind's Sister

Ayra stood on top of the mountain, gazing into the valley below. A cold gust of wind feathered her hair and left cold shivers on her arm, but she did not mind. She barely felt the cold it left on her. Her grandmother had always said that she was special. Nature’s friend, she had called her. Wind’s sister. As if the breeze itself was a person, another relative she could talk to and hide with when needed.

She smiled to herself as another gentle caress touched her already cold skin. She felt warm amidst it all, not begrudging the icy air for doing what it did best. For doing the only thing it knew.

Her grandma had been right. She was special, maybe, if not in the same sense all those adventure novels spoke off. She could not breath fire or wish impossible things into being or fly, even. But she did feel that affinity with the air around her, and she was beginning to think that the wind could feel it too. Wind’s sister. Such a strange thing to be, she thought.

Slowly, she spread out her arms, wishing for another gust to sweep over her skin. The breeze came almost instantly, gently swirling around her arms and soon encasing her entire body in a gentle embrace. Even though it was freezing up here, so far away from another person and her family, she was warm. This was where she belonged, in the embrace of her sister.

The breeze had accepted her. She could tell by how it came willingly when she asked silently. Ayra took a deep breath in, soaking up the icy chill to warm her from the inside. It lit her throat on fire, but she did not mind. She felt stronger for it, and knew that from this moment forth her grandma’s words were finally true.

She was Wind’s sister.

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All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.

For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.

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Excerpt – Prologue

Below is the prologue from my upcoming book, Rise of the Sparrows. Please remember that this excerpt was taken from the first draft and is therefore not in its final version yet. I hope you’ll enjoy it and if you do, please feel free to leave some feedback – I’d love to hear from you!

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Prologue

Amidst comforting fumes and the soft caress of a warm breeze, Kaida woke from her trance her eyes aching and bleeding. Her heart clenched in sorrow for what was to come she took a moment to ground herself, took in the soft laughter of child’s play outside her home and allowed the summer breeze to comfort her mind. There was no reason to panic just yet. What her vision had revealed lay many years in the future yet, and could easily be stopped if she acted at the right time. The darkness, the intense pain she had witnessed, did not have to come to pass if she would not allow it.

Slowly, like a mantra, she spoke the prophecy her vision had warned her about.

The Night the Blue Blood flows freely,

the Sparrows will rise.

Find the Sparrow who sees ahead

and it will lead you to victory.

Trust the Fox

and it will betray you before the end.

Do not accept the Ar’Zac,

for it will only lead you to ruin.

Over and over again she spoke the words, let their soothing familiarity comfort her until her heart was no longer racing and her hands had stopped trembling. The night prophecy spoke off was many years away yet. The Sparrow, however, was born today far to the north. Out of her reach.

It did not matter. Nothing was truly out of her reach. When the time was right she would use magic to reach the Sparrow, or maybe she would fly there. It had been a while since she had last spread her wings, the exercise and the feel of cold air brushing over her scales would be a freeing experience.

The mention of the Ar’Zac, however, had her hands in cold sweat once more. It was an ancient order, long before her time even when things were different. Very different. How could it be that prophecy warned her about it? Which part was it referring to? None of their old equipment had survived their war. Their opposition had burnt their homes and families to the ground and had destroyed their weapons and armours alike. No part of their civilisation had been seen in centuries.

No, she would not worry about it. The men who had received this prophecy and written it down had lived around the same time as the old order had still ruled. They had been arrogant in their beliefs, and over-confident. Was that not the reason they had been slaughtered to the last soldier? They had either not yet made the decision that would bring about their downfall when this prophecy had been written, or else they had been too arrogant to accept the truth. The old order of Ar’Zac was lost. She had more important things to worry about than some long dead people.

For now, there was nothing she could do. The Fox would be born in a few years time, and she would not interfere even then. To kill an infant was wrong, no matter what prophecy said. Things would play out as they were meant to, and she would not think herself above the laws of time and nature.

When the time was right she would aid the Sparrow. Maybe even protect it.

Standing on the roof of her home, high above the city that had adopted her all these years ago, she longed to feel the gentle caress of an icy breeze on her scales. It had been too long since her last flight, and it would help take her mind of things.

With an ease unimaginable to most, she transformed into a dragon – the form she had been born into – and soared high above the streets and laughter of child’s play to relax.

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For all other excerpts and info click me.

For the entire blog, see here.

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