The uneducated rumbled Rube.

I’ll be honest – I had to look this daily prompt up and work out what it meant: Rube! It’s a word that I’ve never come across before. However, I have recently been writing a chapter where I think this is demonstrated…

The tower appeared on the road. Made from large grey stones, hewn from the local mountain side it was quickly lost in the canopy as they drew closer. It was a large square building with stables and cleared paddock beside it. A pair of bay horses looked up as they approached, tails shaking off the pestilence of summer flies. A large archway extended across from the side of the tower, over the road. Where the pillars of the arch ended, and on the far side of the tower, a stone wall extended. This was the border between Ipito and Staven.

They were forced to slow their horses, or charge through the guards who stood in the centre of the arch. Their helmets were rounded at the top and shone with polish. They were both tall, broad men wearing chain main beneath a tunic with the King’s crest emblazoned on the front. As Kit and Lyris approached, they levelled spears at the charging horses, the wooden butts pressed into the hard dirt and steadying the points. Kit’s pony was first to stop, skidding to a halt and twisting away. Kit turned her quickly and waved a greeting at the men.

Storm, always reluctant to obey anyone other than his own desires had run further and was forced to rear, kicking out at the spears. Lyris clung to his neck, praying that she wouldn’t fall off and break her neck, before they could rescue Arn. When the horse landed on his four feet again, huffing with fury, he danced on light feet and she remained, clinging to his main. Her legs and arms felt like water, flowing and trembling with every small movement. This was not the time to be afraid. The young woman forced herself to sit up. Sparrows were hopping between the pine trees and a hawk circled overhead, casting a shadow on the mottled ground.

‘Speak,’ the first guard demanded, ‘what is your business in Staven?’

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ The words tumbled free, breathless. Lyris had intended to introduce herself, thoughts of formal requests for help spinning through her mind. The young woman knew that she needed their assistance, and quick passage through the pass but despite the churning concern, the words came again before the guard could answer. Lyris steadied Storm with a hand against the tall horses’ neck.

‘Did a cart pass this way?’ She demanded, urgent.

The guard, affronted, glanced at his companion before, features stern. ‘Our question first, mistress.’

As Lyris opened her mouth to protest, he lifted a gloved hand from the spear and set the weapon on it’s end resting against his shoulder. The guard beside him copied his action and Lyris felt Storm release a breath of tension. Long legs quivering beneath her.

‘It’s our duty to stop and question all those who pass,’ confident that he had regained control the first man had settled into a slower speech and northern drawl. His a’s and r’s extending.

Kit had circled his pony again and drew level with his companion.

‘Sir,’ he bowed low across the front of the saddle, hand swept with dramatic gallantry to one side. The trader looked to Lyris, begging a moment of her patience before he continued. ‘We’re tracking a wagon that passed through these gates,’

The guards looked uninspired.

‘Has a wagon passed through?’

The young woman lifted her eyes to the heavens, the pale blue sky was starting to darken again. A natural rain was gathering at the peak of the mountain.  If they could move on with their journey, she could track Arn without draining her powers.

‘A lot of wagons’ pass through here, lad,’ the first guard lent on his spear, ‘but that doesn’t explain your business beyond the border.’

So this is more of an extract from the Poisoned Well and it’s the chapter responsible for slowing me down! The paragraphs from this section must have been written months apart but hopefully you can’t notice…

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Short Story Release! The Last Charter

Happy Friday Everyone!

Just a sneaky little update for today – woohoo!

Burning Embers is set in Arenith, an empire that has been crumbling for three hundred years. Now, with all of the edits to bring my novel to print and publication; chapters and additional story arcs have been brutally hacked away; until now.

I’m delighted to release: The Last Charter. It’s a short story set in the world of Arenith and might just tie in with the events of Burning Embers… but I’m not giving too much away about that!

The Last Charter is available for free download: here!

Adobe Spark (1)

I hope that you enjoy it! I love hearing from you all, so please feel free to leave comments about the cover or the story itself!

There will be more short stories from Arenith to follow, along with some from the other worlds that are floating around in my imagination.

In the meantime – two weeks before Burning Embers is released! Argh! You can still pre-order on Amazon, or for a signed copy with limited artwork print directly from yours truly: Shop.

Happy Reading!

Fibi xx

Self-Exceptional

I was thinking on the way back home from another dreary commute about self-belief. This is something I consider a lot, considering Burning Embers is all about the importance of accepting and loving who you are. You’ve got to be yourself because you can’t be anyone else – and no one else could do it as well!

Having made this decision to self-publish, I’ve been coming up with a few goals and targets for myself. A way to test if what I’ve written is exceptional. What is going to constitute success for all of the time and investment that’s gone into Feia’s story?

I want to have targets that I can reach – but that are also challenging. After all, if I set myself a target of one person to buy the novel and then that person is me, we’ll I can pat myself on the back for meeting my goal, but is it worth?

I set myself a few targets this year with my blog. I wanted to reach 1000 views this year, have 500 visitors and 200 followers. It won’t make this the most successful year for Fibijeeves, but it is a considerable improvement on the last two years where my blogging has been sporadic at best. Those two goals are in touching distance and I get a little thrill after each post and I can see them growing closer.

Now, Burning Embers…what do I want to achieve? What will be success and what would be Exceptional?

How will I achieve my goals?

A cunning marketing strategy I hear you cry!

Well…I’m going to give it ago. Is it a strategy? I’m planning to increase my blog posts (hello!) and twitter feed, and update my facebook page more regularly. I’m reaching out to bloggers who review YA fantasy – if that’s you or you’d be interested in reviewing Burning Embers then drop me a message or e-mail me at fibijeeves@gmail.com.

So, I’m doing all of those things, and I’m reaching out to friends and family to say that this is -finally- happening, after the many many years of people asking me how the book is going. I will now be able to say IT IS DONE! Not only is it done, but I’m working on something new…

I’m also posting chapters on Wattpad, which is something I’m really excited about. It just seems the right platform to try and find my readers. Readers of YA and NA fiction, readers who will (hopefully) fall in love with the world and want to know more about the characters, the places. I want fans that want to live in Arenith, the way that I never wanted to leave Narnia behind. Wattpad seems the place to find these passionate and creative people. Second Chapter is going up as soon as this blog post is done published.

What are my goals? I’m going to be honest with them, and I’ll let you know if I meet them or not. I’d love to sell 100 copies before release. That’s 100 pre-orders on ebook and print.

I’d love 600 people to buy the book in the next six months. Is that even achievable – I just don’t know!

In utter fantasy land, 1000 copies within a year would be a dream. This would be the exceptional, incredible ending (or beginning) to my adventures in Arenith with Feia.

Wish me luck!

Let me know what your goals are and how you’re working towards them.

Also, don’t forget to get in touch if you would like to review Burning Embers. I’ll accept totally honest reviews!

Happy Reading

Fibi xxx

Touching the Stars

My manuscript for Burning Embers has come back from the Editor – cue excited squealing! So this leaves me with a whole list of things to do, as quickly as I can do them!

First things first, I am so excited to reveal the cover for Burning Embers. I hope that you like it! I’ve gone for a simple but striking image that will stand out in the teeny tiny display of Amazon. Hopefully it prompts a few questions about the novel and will entice some willing readers in. Let me know what you think!

Adobe Spark (3)

Secondly, because the MS is back, I’ll now be able to comment posting on Wattpad and the first 1500 words of Burning Embers will be appearing shortly online. I hope that you enjoy the introduction to the world of Arenith and fall in love with the characters I’ve spent so long dreaming about (so long…so soooo long…)

Final piece of super exciting information is that I hope to make the ebook and print versions of Burning Embers available for pre-order…before the end of the week!

I love it when a daily prompt: Believe is the final shining star on an amazing day. Being able to share my fizzing excitement with you all is just amazing, and it has come from years and years of belief. Belief that I can write a full-length novel, I can edit it and make it better – I can even turn it into a book. Now belief doesn’t make things happens on their own, belief must be combined with a willingness to work hard and persist. But when you aim for those stars – my goodness it feels good when they’re finally in reach!

I’d love to hear what you think about the cover.

Happy Reading

Fibi xxx

Aesthetic – Strip it away

 

I like to write about things that are important to me.

I saw today’s prompt and I was excited. So excited that I’ve raced home in order to try and express my response in a slightly more logical, accurate and researched method than my usual ad-hoc ramblings.

Woman in fantasy writing, who are they and how are they represented? As a child I fell in love with Dragonlance. A mouldy paperback of the Dragon’s of Autumn Twilight by Margerat Weiss and Tracey Hickman was what sealed my love for Fantasy. I’d already explored Narnia (thoroughly), Hobbitton and the Hundred Acre wood and Harry Potter hadn’t arrived yet. So here was this book, for adults with all the things I loved about the computer games I immersed myself into: Daggerfall featuring most prominently.

However, as a young woman the main heroine of the saga is Lauralanthalassa. Now, not to discredit this character who grew into the Golden General, Dragon-Flying, Army-Leading incredible powerhouse – but for the entire first book of the initial series she is defined by her beauty. I love the writing of Laurana’s introduction, but it’s all aesthetic. She’d an elf, she achieves an untouchable ideal of beauty by her very race. Not only that, but Laurana is the epitome of womanhood, no trace of age is upon her. Even the mage who see’s decay, looks upon the elf-maiden and sees beauty for the first time.

Now I fell in love with Laurana – but I really wanted a sword. Before she becomes the general she needs to be rescued and protected – a lot. She’s a fairy-tale princess, although not necessarily passive. After all, she decides to follow her true-love instead of waiting for him to come back; and it is this decision that propels her into adventure.

But after I fell in love with Dragonlance, it felt like I spent years searching for a heroine that I could aspire to be. I could never reach the ideal beauty of Laurana and I really really wanted a sword. I wanted to be a knight if I’m honest, and I couldn’t find that story in any of the books I was reading.

I was seventeen when I picked up a copy of ‘First Test’ – By Tamora Pierce in the library. I read it, sat between the stacks whilst my parents did the weekly shop in the supermarket over the road. I still remember shivering with excitement, barely able to read as I was pulled into this amazing world and this story that I had wanted, so badly, for so long, to read. It was like when you watch Peter Pan, then spend all day jumping off the sofa trying to fly – hasn’t worked so far, but I might keep trying. I checked out the entire series and within a day had finished it off. I had to go back to the library over the weekend and took out as many of Pierce’s book as I could. Here were heroines who go to be girls, and be knights. To speak to animals and yet…they could still be girls.

Natalie Babbitt calls fantasy “the most wrenching, depth-provoking kind of fiction available to our children’.”[1]

My desperation was to find a strong, female role-model that I could identify with, and that’s what I want to write.  As study was conducted by Laura Solomon, who analysed 45 fantasy novels for children and young adults. This is one of the results:

Statistically in the books studied: “In Alternate World/History fantasy, beauty is a defining trait for 25% of females.”[2]

That’s it. For a quarter of heroine’s beauty is their defining trait. They don’t get to be brave, intelligent, they don’t have hobbies, talents or skills – they’re pretty.  What’s worse, is if you’re not pretty in the story then you fall at the other end of the spectrum and you’re a hag. In stories, how much emphasis is placed on appearance? It’s something hard to avoid when writing, because you want the reader to be able to visualise your protagonist. However it feels as though there is something deeply harmful in only allowing our young woman to be either an epitome of beauty, or a hag.

“Certainly most children will not describe themselves as ugly, making those at this end of the spectrum unlikely candidates for close reader relationships. Females noted mostly for or only for their appearance fall at the other end and, while some readers may relate to them (and many girls wish to be them), these types of depictions only strengthen society’s message that beauty is all-important.”[3]

I want my characters, male and female to be defined by more than their appearance. I want my readers to engage with role-models that offer ways to deal with a complex and changing world and to come away with a sense of hope; that no matter how crazy this place gets – it’ll be alright.

Here is a brilliant article about writing strong female protagonist and how we’re loosing them. When an inevitable aesthetic is stripped away, I want it to be clear to my reader that their heroine could never be replaced by a floor lamp.

I also agree that being a strong, female protagonist doesn’t mean that you can’t like pretty dresses and make-up. Readers, especially our young adult readers, should be able to engage with characters that they feel represent them or they can identify with, no matter what race, gender identity, sexuality or disability. There’s another amazing series of articles here if this is something you want to carry on reading about.

[1] AUTHOR Solomon, Laura

TITLE Images of Women in High Fantasy for Children and Adults:  Comparative Analysis.

PUB DATE1998-10-00

Solomon, Laura. “Images of Women in High Fantasy for Children and Adults: A Comparative Analysis.” (1998). – Page 6

[2] Ibid., Page 15

[3] Ibid., Page 16

My Response to the Daily Prompt: –Aesthetic