The defining characteristic of books in the fantasy genre is the existence of magic and/or magical creatures. Last month, we explored the magic used by the Traveling order in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. This month’s focus is the Order of the Seekers.
For many, both in fantastical worlds and also here in the real world, the pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong process that is both gratifying and compelling. Researchers, writers, documentary creators, and news reporters (to name a few) all seek out the facts they need to prove a point, entertain, inform, or improve the world around them.
Seekers are no different, except they have magic at their disposal. Where a Traveler can manipulate the location of themselves, items, and others, a Seeker can use their magic to locate items and facts. Some seekers are rumored to even be able to peer into time itself and see the past or future to an extent.
Most seekers prefer working as historians and spend their days recording their insights on significant events. Some, however, choose to be informants and use their skill to uncover plots and learn the truth behind circulating rumors.
The darker side of those in the seeker order is the unsavory practice of extracting information from those who don’t wish to give it. Stonebearer society has strict rules governing when and if this practice can be allowed.
As we said when we were learning about Travelers, the use of the power is inherently dangerous. Seekers tend to be the safest of the five orders as it’s difficult to overextend oneself.
The most notable Seekers in the first book in the Stonebearer series are Bremin, the High Lady Alystra’s master spy and Regulus, Isben’s master and Wrothe’s first victim.
If you missed the post talking about the overall structure of the Stonebearer Magic System, look no further!
Back in January, I shared a little about the magic system that exists in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Today I’d like to dive deeper into the magic system and talk more about Travelers.
Star Trek fans can appreciate the science and technology surrounding the idea of teleportation and how useful it can be. If you can move from one place to another in moments rather than hours, a whole new reality presents itself. With this ability, escaping from danger or running to the rescue can happen in a heartbeat. No prison can hold a Traveler and no location is secure, unless protected by a greater magic.
In the Stonebearer universe, the use of magic is dangerous and therefore those who possess it must use caution. Those who have a talent for Traveling, are able to manipulate objects and themselves through space using a series of magical symbols or glyphs.
The most important rule a Traveler must adhere to is that they can only send themselves the same distance they can travel on foot in the course of a day. Pushing to move themselves farther than this drains their energy beyond what is considered safe and they risk loss of consciousness or even death.
When sending objects, a Traveler must consider the items weight and the distance. The lighter the item, the further it can be sent. This is why Travelers tend to be great spies. Not only can they escape from danger, they can send messages to someone days away. The places they can travel to, or send things to, are limited to where a Traveler has visited personally.
The energy to work all magic, including Traveling glyphs, comes from within and can be replenished with rest and time. In an emergency they can draw this energy from other people, but avoid doing so.
In Stonebearer’s Betrayal, the most conspicuous Traveler is the High Lady Alystra. Not only is she the head of the Stonebearer Society, she is head of the Traveling Order. She uses her power to maintain lines of communication among the Society as a whole and has a network of spies that help her stay informed. Her head spy is Bremin, a member of the order of Seekers and her bonded companion.
While there are a lot of books out there with terrific messages, there are also a rampant amount of books out there that idolize unhealthy relationships and glorify questionable life choices.
While Stonebearer’s Betrayal is far from perfect, it does contain several positive messages that I think are important for everyone.
#1 – The power is in you
Perhaps the most important message in Katira’s story is that everyone, regardless of if they have magic or not, has the power to change a situation. Choosing to be brave and make hard decisions can be scary, but in the long run it’s ultimately more rewarding.
#2 – There is a special magic that can only happen between people who have been together for years and years.
Katira’s parents, Jarand and Mirelle, have been together for almost two hundred years. They share a magic bond that helps them feel and understand what the other is feeling. Throughout the story we get to see the beautiful give and take of their relationship and how close they are to each other. While magic like this doesn’t exist in the real world, this kind of closeness and empathy can be cultivated when a couple is willing to continually work on improving their understanding of each others needs.
#3 – If a relationship isn’t working out, it’s okay to part in friendship.
Sometimes things don’t work between people. It happens. Pop culture constantly shows us that this break up calls for drama and nastiness, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Often, all that’s needed is a heartfelt conversation where each person feels safe to talk about how they feel. It takes a lot of courage to do this because as we all know, feelings hurt. The more people can see this happen in the media they consume, the more likely they will be willing to try.
#4 – It’s okay for things to go badly, it’s not okay to endlessly wallow in it.
Most fiction does an admirable job showing that those who wallow in self-pity only manage to prolong their own suffering and cause themselves additional problems. However, sometimes stories reinforce the message that the sad person gets all the attention while the person who chooses to move on is portrayed as heartless or uncaring. There can be a balance. It’s okay to feel bad when things go wrong, in fact it’s healthy to allow a moment to mourn or be angry. It’s not healthy to remain there longer than necessary.
#5 – You don’t have to be a princess or specially chosen to do something amazing.
There is this very damaging idea that ordinary people can’t do important things, that they need special permission or the perfect opportunity or the right people to guide them. This is far from true. Anyone can take steps to work toward a challenging goal. It takes courage to step out of the box, to break the mold, and to do the incredible – and that’s why it’s powerful to see when others succeed. You can succeed too!
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Mother to Katira, the main character in Stonebearer’s Betrayal, and companion to Jarand, Mirelle is both a nurturer and councilor. In sticky situations, she is the one most likely to stay rational and calm and keep the other characters from making rash decisions. This works well because both Katira and Jarand both tend to let their emotions guide their actions.
From her youth, Mirelle has been passionate about the healers art. It came as no surprise that when her powers manifested, her strength and talent aligned with this passion leading her to join the Order of Healers. She is unique among healers with the power, as she also has gathered a wealth of information regarding medicinal herbs. This knowledge is put to good use in the small town of Namragan, where she lives with Jarand and Katira and works as the town’s healer.
Among her peers, Mirelle is considered one of the best Stonebearer healers, second to Master Firen the head of the healing arts at Amul Dun, the mountain fortress of the Stonebearers.
Katira grew up watching her mother work healing the sick, tending to the wounded, and preparing salves, tinctures, and other medicines, all with an expert hand. Katira admired her mother so much in this ability to make people feel better that she begged to learn the healing art as well. As soon as she could lift the heavy mortar and pestle she pulled up a chair and worked alongside her mother. When Katira was old enough to announce her trade as a young teen, she proudly declared she would follow in her mother’s footsteps.
Want to learn more about the cast of Stonebearer’s Betrayal? Check out these posts:
Magic, the final frontier, these are the voyages of… Wait a minute, wrong franchise. But seriously, let’s talk about the different kinds of magic that appear in Stonebearer’s Betrayal.
In the world of Roshnii, a choice few are born with magic in them. Despite the historians efforts to link it to lineage, it appears at random. Those blessed, or some believe cursed, with the magic are fated to live abnormally long lives and die violent deaths. This magic is formally known as the power of the Khandashii.
To earn the title of Stonebearer one must survive training and pass through the fires of testing. A proper Stonebearer has the right to carry a motherstone which allows them to more accurately use their powers to manipulate the world.
There are those born with the power who escape the attention of the towers are referred to as wielders. They are considered highly dangerous. Most don’t survive long, as the magic kills those who can’t control it.
The magic is granted by the Stonemother and she chooses those she believes are destined to have it, for good or for ill. She shows her mercy by keeping the magic dormant until a child is strong enough to command it. The longer a child lives without it manifesting, the stronger their magic is. Those who have used the power for decades develop markings along their arms, necks, and backs.
The magic is divided into five abilities. Each of these abilities has it’s own order and headmaster. While a Stonebearer in theory can work each ability to some degree, they have a natural affinity toward one far stronger than the rest. This determines what order they belong to.
The magic manipulates the physical nature of the world through a series of symbols and glyphs. The energy needed for the magic to perform a task is taken from the Stonebearer and if they use too much, it can kill them. Using an ability they don’t have an affinity for requires a prohibitive amount of energy.
The Five Orders
Travelers – can manipulate the location of objects, including themselves, and instantly move them up to the distance they can walk in a day. They enable communication over long distances and are also excellent spies, especially when pared with a seeker.
Guardians – can alter the physical strength of an object, making it either stronger or weaker. They are tasked with keeping the peace and most train to be expert fighters.
Seekers – can locate both items and knowledge in the immediate area. They are responsible for documenting the history of the world and also keeping track of magic powered artifacts. Some can see glimpses into the future.
Benders – can change the nature of an object by manipulating its particles into new formations. While it is strictly prohibited, some can even change how people think and act.
Healers – can repair what is broken and restore what has been corrupted. Most will formally train to heal people and become town and village doctors.
Katira, the main character of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, begins the story believing the magic is nothing more than a legend, a story told to children at festivals, or to scare them in to staying in their beds. She discovers, much to her horror, that the magic is indeed real when one of those storybook monsters attacks her. The world is not as it seems, it has never been. If she is to survive, she must fight against those who want to use her as a pawn in a much larger game between a dangerous demon and the entire society of Stonebearers.
I believe I’ve said it here before, but creating a book is a lot like having a baby, morning sickness and all.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had several people want to hear about my journey of what it’s been like to publish a book. Last year, I wrote a post about my experience with querying and finding a publisher. Ironically, that post was immediately preceded by one talking about rejection and accepting yourself as you are, proving that this industry is indeed a roller-coaster ride of emotion.
What a year it’s been!
If my book “pregnancy” officially began the day I signed the contract, then the morning sickness set in when I started work with my editor. Women suffering from morning sickness will tell themselves it will all be worth it in the end as a way to cope with the misery. During the editing process, I kept telling myself that the nauseating discomfort of learning about all the weak parts of my book had to be a good thing as well. My editor at one point in the process may, or may not, have compared my main character to Bella Swan from Twilight. Ouch.
Editing is hard work. Each chapter, sometimes each page, takes long hours of intense focused thought to bring it to the next level. When I’ve done my own rounds of polishing and editing it’s taken months to work from cover to cover. Under contract, I’m given thirty days to complete an editing pass. Fun fact – if I spend one hour per page, editing the book would take over 300 hours. That’s THIRTY ten hour work days back-to-back with no breaks. Which is why it really wasn’t fair for my kids to be off-track during the first crucial editing pass as I transformed my main character Katira away from being a passive Bella and into a strong, capable protagonist.
Deadlines are aptly named. If you aren’t feeling half-dead with exhaustion as you slide your edited manuscript back, you probably have better time management practices in place than I do. In the first pass, we cut away almost 15,000 words of dead weight and replaced them with hundreds of small additions sprinkled through the book like salt. I learned quickly that one of my writing weaknesses (besides poor Bella) was not tagging dialogue in a way that added motion and life into a scene. After spending days of work inserting more action into my dialogue sequences, I think I’ve learned my lesson.
This process is repeated until both editor and author agree the book is as good as it can get, or can’t stand to look at it again. I’m still not sure which. Morning sickness fades into a period of waiting, preparation, and sheer terror contemplating the vastness of all that should be done. There’s waiting for the proofreader to finish, waiting for the cover artist, waiting for formatting, waiting for proofs, waiting for digital copies, waiting for early reviewers – so much waiting.
At this point self-publishing starts to look good. While I’ve loved having the support of a company to help me through this process, especially since it’s my first time, the waiting and not knowing what’s happening – or if anything is happening – can drive anyone a little nuts.
Just like a first-time mom, a first-time author (despite all their research, and best efforts, and fellow author friends who try to show them the way) experiences so much uncertainty with the whole process that the stress is unbelievable. Looking back, I could have done so much more with this waiting period to prepare for the books release, but I was naive. Now I’ve been through it I know what really needs to be done, and when I go through this again I’ll have a much better plan.
Launch day is literally a book’s birthday. It is pushed out into the world and is on display for all to see, warts and all. All the early teasers, quotes, articles, and efforts that happen before the launch are the same as showing people ultrasounds. As the author, I can see the cute little nose and the tiny precious fingers, and all that amazing potential inside because I’ve studied it – but to everyone else it’s just another static filled picture.
There’s no way to feel truly prepared for launch day. Some authors do hundreds of hours of prep and set up and marketing and a blog tour – the options are dizzying. Some moms fill their freezer with weeks’ worth of meals and create and fill a schedule for people to come help them.
The results are the same. The book still comes, the baby is born. The family and friends that planned on supporting and helping the author still show up. Sometimes friends of friends are dragged in as well.
Unlike a baby who demands care, feeding, and endless love and attention, a book won’t demand anything and immediately starts fading into obscurity unless the author continues to push and work to keep it in the public eye.
This is where I am now. My book has entered its infancy where it still doesn’t know its place in the world. I’m working everyday, trying hard just to keep it alive until it can start building momentum on its own. Just like a real infant, the work keeps me awake at night and requires a steady stream of care and feeding for it to thrive.
It’s exhausting, but worth it.
My family will tell you that this process has changed me. I believe it. I’m a stronger more confident person than I was before. I’ve learned how to squeeze the most out of short periods of time, and utilize every moment – especially when I’m under a deadline. These skills have transferred into home life as well. Putting off doing something I don’t like doing, like creating a meal plan, only serves to prolong stress. Get it over with. Having a messy house won’t kill me, but it doesn’t help me find peace either. It’s important to seek out ways to feel centered, even when lots of crazy is going on.
While I wrote the book because it was one of my life goals, it has helped my kids see that they can reach hard goals as well and that anything worth doing takes real work. I love hearing the pride in their voices as they tell their teachers and friends that their mom is an author.
Hopefully they don’t mind too much that this book baby might be expecting a little brother in 2020…!
Interested in checking out my book baby? It’s a great read for fans of Wheel of Time, appropriate for ages 12 and up (although my 11-year-old loved it too!) Here’s a handy link to Amazon to learn more.
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Tonight is the launch party for Stonebearer’s Betrtayal and I can think of no better way to celebrate than to have family, friends, and fantasy lovers come and enjoy food and fun together.
At 7pm, I will be reading a selection from Stonebearer’s Betrayal followed by time for those attending to ask questions. The signing will begin immediately afterwards. Books are available on site for purchase. There will also be a sword display courtesy of Wasatch Historical European Martial Arts, and prizes.
Come join Us!
Tonight, Friday November 16, 2018 from 7-9pm at:
The Printed Garden
9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070
(closest intersection: 700 E and 9400 S)
5×7″ Leather journal with rosewood pen
4×6″ Leather journal with rosewood pen
Earthenware mug with patterned cloth wall hanging and custom pendant
Earthenware mug with patterned cloth wall hanging and custom pendant
This is it, the day I’ve been waiting and working for since I started this blog ages ago. I’m so excited to share this moment with you.
Stonebearer’s Betrayal is now available for purchase on all major online book retailers.
There, I said it! Squee!
Last night, my 12-year-old finished reading it. He came up to me and said the best thing he could have possibly said.
“Mom, this is amazing!”
Yes, he’s a little biased, but he also reads plenty so I value his opinion.
So, what is Stonebearer’s Betrayal about?
At the very adult age of eighteen, Katira had her life figured out. She knew her place, understood her path, and was destined to be the best healer in the northern Panthara mountains, just like her mother.
That all changes when monsters from legends step into her real life, throw her world into chaos, and threaten to destroy both her and her family. To survive, she must accept that her world is far different from what she ever imagined and she must fight to protect what she loves.
Stonebearer’s Betrayal is a fast-paced coming-of-age story fueled with action, adventure, and danger suitable for readers 12 and up. It’s the perfect holiday gift for the fantasy lover in your family.
A few weeks ago we discussed the main character of Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Katira. That discussion can’t be complete without also learning about her father, Jarand Pathara.
Jarand wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life as a father, husband, and blacksmith, hidden away in the remote village of Namragan. He wants to raise his daughter and teach her the wisdom he’s gathered over the long years of his life. He knows it can’t last, there are forces at work that will put an end to this peace, but at the start of Stonebearer’s Betrayal he refuses to dwell on the changes that will come.
He chose Namragan for one reason alone, it is the least likely place his enemies would look for him and the best possible place to keep Katira safe. Jarand’s history stretches back further than a mortal man, he wasn’t always a simple blacksmith. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know immortals play key roles in this story. Jarand is one of them.
Jarand is an oath-bound Stonebearer of the Khandashii. While his immediate concerns are to protect his family, his larger duty is to protect the people of the world against dark creatures escaping from the mirror realm. If you’d like to learn more about what it means to wear the stone, there’s a blog post about that too.
Amidst the Stonebearer society, there are five orders that stem from the five distinct types of magic. Jarand is a guardian and well-trained in warfare. He survived the great wars when the world turned against those who could use the power.
I mentioned in the blog post about Katira that in the early days of writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal, Jarand used to be the main character. I loved writing about him because I loved what his character represented. In the end, it wasn’t his story to tell.
His creation is a result of my own wish fulfillment. I took the best traits of all my favorite characters and allowed him to grow from them. In Jarand, we find the wisdom and fierce protectiveness also found in Doctor Who. We also see how time has worn him down. He is a world-weary tired warrior, much like Geralt of Rivia. He holds his oaths dearly and for that there is a feeling of nobleness to him, much like Ned Stark. I promise, I’ll let Jarand keep his head.
The 11th Doctor
Geralt of Rivia
The big question is – do I see Jarand as the perfect man? My answer is no, simply because there is no such thing as a universally ‘perfect’ man. He is a good man and something all men can strive towards. He is caring, selfless, and hard-working. He’s also had hundreds of years to learn from his mistakes and discover what brings him the most fulfillment, which for him is the safety and happiness of his family.
Join the conversation! Who is your favorite “noble man” character? Brownie points for sharing why they are important to you.
Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. Pick your favorite platform, either here on WordPress, or you can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Each phase of the publishing process brings with it a mix of excitement and carefully controlled terror. Excitement springs from completing another step and coming that much closer to bringing your book baby into the world. Terror lurks around each turn, because there is always the possibility of something going wrong.
Whoever compared creating a book to having a baby is absolutely right. Each month of a healthy pregnancy is cheered, each milestone celebrated, but disaster is unpredictable and always a heartbeat away. Until the baby is born, all mothers understand the fear of something going wrong as they carry their child. I know I did with all three of my pregnancies. I’m doing the same now with my book.
But, you can’t allow fear to stop you. In fact, if you aren’t doing something that scares you from time to time, then you aren’t stretching to meet your potential.
Allowing myself to trust my cover artist to create an image that represented the entirety of a project I’d been working on for years was scary. Really scary. I’m glad I did. She did amazing work.
So, here it is. The moment I’ve been teasing about for the last few weeks.
A secret society of immortals, tasked to protect the world.
A demon bent on revenge.
A girl brave enough to fight for her family when the two collide.
Archdemoness Wrothe stirs the ashes from a long dead war, rekindling a fire that threatens to burn the world. Only the legendary Stonebearers of the Khandashii have the power to stop her, if they catch wind of her plans in time.
Katira didn’t believe the legends. She didn’t believe a person could alter the fabric of reality or live forever. She didn’t believe in the dark mirror realm or in the dangerous creatures prowling there either.
That was before the first shadow hound came for her.
Release date for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is November 13th, 2018. Available at online retailers where books are sold.
Mini Blog Tour
Two awesome friends from the Twitter #DarkLitChat offered to help spread the word. As a thank you I encourage you to go check out their blogs, not just because I wrote mini articles there, but because they went above and beyond for me to help with my cover reveal.