Turning 59

I loved the birthday cards I received April 30!

My children wrote heartwarming messages in theirs that had me melting with happiness. My in-laws enclosed a photo in theirs that brought back wonderful memories I’d utterly forgotten.

What fun we all had in 1996 when we were young and beautiful, and practiced yoga spontaneously!

But my husband’s greeting was the best, because it made me laugh. 😀

NUMPADENTER!

What is ‘Numpadenter’? you ask.

Thereby hangs a tale.

My husband had been playing a computer game set in the ninth century of Britain. It was filled with exotic names such as Haestingas, Wihtwara, Magonsæte, and Guthrum.

When he moused over a button in the lower corner, the label NUMPADENTER appeared, and he assumed the term was yet one more period name.

It was many days later that he realized that, as part of the end-turn sequence, it was actually num pad enter. Number pad enter!

When he told the rest of us this story, we were just as charmed by the idea of Numpadenter! as a Viking battle cry as he had been, and the joke became part of Casa Ney-Grimm lore.

So when Jeff’s card bore the legend Numpadenter! nothing else could compete! 😀

 

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New Bundle! Eclectica

Between 14 shorts and 5 collections in this massive bundle, you’ll end up with 55 stories, one of them mine!

*     *     *

Clara works hard, juggling high school, her waitress job, and eking out time with her friends.

And now, finishing work far too late on a school night, she wants nothing more than to get home and sleep.

But dark and otherworldly things lurk in the shadows of her city.

If you love fast moving urban fantasy grab “City Shadows” today.

 

A cache implies a hidden treasure, although what we find inside is not always what we hope for or expect. Sometimes it’s less; sometimes more; sometimes nothing we’ve ever imagined.

The eleven stories and two poems in this collection feature all manner of unusual things found in strange places; an alien ship in a forest hideaway, ghosts inside a computer network, a distraught goddess in a detective’s office, a teenage busker on a space station. The treasures are varied as well, from lost genomes and altered memories to alien alliances and self-discovery.

Whatever waits to be discovered, these stories suggest that sometimes the search is the important part…

 

web imageThe warriors of Torbellai brought back a prize in the night, and young Paitra wants to see it. Even hidden away in the armory, the artifact changed the whole mood of their mountain citadel from dread foreboding to hope. And Paitra’s people need hope to turn the tide in their long war against the troll horde.

Might this small triumph presage a mightier victory?

But the warlord hid the fighters’ plunder for good reason. Forged by trolls and radiating magic, it presents grave risk to the soul and spirit of any who approach it.

 

AN ALTERNATE HISTORY OF JAPAN

Japan disappeared 500 years ago. Its people didn’t.

Five hundred years ago, Japan hid itself from the rest of the world. Rather than technology, they discovered power. The emperor still rules, but the mystics hold sway.

Hitomi is the youngest warrior in the history of the fighting Mura clan, who have evolved from the rough beginnings as the Ninja into the race’s supreme weapons.

But Hitomi stumbles upon a secret, one so vast that even the emperor may not see where it leads. Unless he too seeks to bury the secret along Hitomi’s Path.

 

Specialist Jhyoti sen Chandar, exoanthropologist on the Alliance ship Solar Wind, thought she had left behind the harsh caste system of her home planet. Unfortunately, it followed her aboard in the person of Engineer Parma sen Harpar: young, hostile and with a secret that will endanger both women.

When they end up stranded on a planet with its own dangerous secret, they must confront not only the crippling legacy of the past, but their own future in the Alliance. But first, they must survive.

 
 

Petra loves books. And she loves her job at Nuovo Italiano Rare Books Library. So when a group of Bathybobles threatens to destroy those precious books—and to win a game, no less—Petra must stop them.

Once she gets the slime out of her eyes, of course.

 
 
 
 
 
 

From fantasy to space adventure, pirates, mystery, horror, historical fiction, romance and coming of age you’ll find short, snappy reads herein. There is something for everyone in this lucky dip.

14 short stories plus 5 collections.

“Blown” by Diana Deverell
“Socks and Pins and Aliens” by Thea Hutcheson
Tales of Blood and Ink by Kate MacLeod
Tales of Tomorrow by Debbie Mumford
“Shaken, Not Stirred” by Diana Deverell
“City Shadows” by Chuck Heintzelman
“Outside the Walls” by A. L. Butcher and Diana L. Wicker
Tales of an Altered Past Powered by Romance, Horror, and Steam
     by Donald J. Bingle
“Dear Brother” by Felicia Fredlund
The Cache and Other Stories by Sherry D. Ramsey
“Sword Oath” by Jackie Keswick
The Hooded Man by Barbara G.Tarn
S, F & H by Harvey Stanbrough
“Resonant Bronze” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
“Hitomi’s Path” by M. L. Buchman
“Children” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Jhyoti: Planetside” by Marcelle Dube
“Petra and the Blue Goo” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Tears and Crimson Velvet” by A. L. Butcher

The Eclectica bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more bundles with my stories in them, see:
Here Be Unicorns
Here Be Merfolk
Here Be Fairies
Here Be Dragons
Immortals

 

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Book of the Month?

Go vote! Go vote! Oh, please go vote!

So what’s all this about? ReadFreely has short listed my novella Blood Silver for their Book of the Month.

GO VOTE!

Who are they? A husband-wife team who love to read and started a website with the mission “to find the very best books and bring them to you when they’re at their cheapest—or even FREE!”

They’ve got extensive reach, so I’d love to have their push behind my book.

In a mythical Ireland that never was, mortal villages perch all unknowing beside enchanted knolls. Beneath them dwell the cruel and capricious faie folk.

Tahaern, a faie warrior by birth but not in spirit, eschews his vicious origins. Loving the bright world, he serves a mortal village as healer.

But when the faie declare war upon their neighbors, Tahaern must again take up his sword…

Votes are what narrow the short list of 6 titles down to one.

Let’s make Blood Silver that one! GO VOTE! 😀

 

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Here Be Unicorns

Not only do I have a story in a new bundle, but I have a new story in a bundle!

It was all rather unexpected and exciting. Let me tell you how it came to pass.

I first started participating in story bundles when writer, editor, and curator Alex Butcher noticed my novel Caught in Amber on the BundleRabbit site and thought it would be perfect for her Mythic Tales bundle.

Since then I’ve participated in many bundles curated by Alex. So many that I’m running out of stories to contribute!

When Alex asked me if I had a story that would fit her upcoming bundle Here Be Unicorns, I had to say, “No, I don’t.”

That just seemed wrong to me. How could I not have a unicorn story? I’m a writer of fantasy. I should have a unicorn story. My micro press is called Wild Unicorn Books. It didn’t just seem wrong that Wild Unicorn offered no unicorn stories, it was wrong!

And then I became possessed of an idea. About a unicorn.

So I dropped everything and wrote the story! “The Hunt of the Unicorn.”

Eventually “Hunt” will be released solo, but I’m currently too busy writing the sequels to The Tally Master to do anything else for several months! Luckily you don’t need to wait. You can get “The Hunt of the Unicorn” right now in Here Be Unicorns, along with the other nine titles in the bundle.

*     *     *

Dust coats Vivian’s lips. Two hours of driving into town with her ex-boyfriend Ash were bad enough. Having him dump her far away from the loading dock with her fossil is worse.

But she’s made it back to town, gotten her fossil to safety, and now she can go relax at home.

If it weren’t for the unicorns playing in her shower.

Vivian isn’t sure how her life grew so surreal but, hey, at least the unicorns have finally let her bring her fossil in.

Only question left is whether or not she gets to keep her life.

And whether they’ll eat all her pizza, too.

 

He would be king one day, and called as king to be wise for his people. But wisdom—and kindness—no longer come to him.

Brychan, princess in a corner of a Wales that never was, requires a unicorn’s horn to mend what is broken within him.

The ancient fables speak of unicorn miracles, but if she finds the magical beast of fable, will the powers of his horn prove to be living truth? Or lying legend?

 
 
 
 
 

Never admit to seeing ichur, the silvery residue of magic spells. Not if you want to stay under the radar of the Councillors of Convane.

Swift, a purebred tracker horse who can smell the smallest trace of ichur, can also remove the magic energy from any human or talisman.

Dallas, rider of Swift, knows how to create a spell without leaving residue, even if he is not a trained mage.

Neither Dallas or Swift admit to seeing and using the magic energy. If they did, Dallas would have his ability to see ichur removed, and Swift would be given to an approved mage by order of the council.

The start of a new fantasy series including mages, dragons, tracker horses, and more.

 

In Feyland, not everything is as it seems…

Feyland—the new computer game—allows Scottish teenager Corinne MacArthur to escape the sadness haunting her mundane days. In Feyland, legends come to life, the lines between reality and fantasy blur, and the impossible becomes—probable?

A stand-alone story with a full plot arc, Unicorn Magic is the first in the Celtic Fey series set in Anthea Sharp’s Feyland universe (with her kind permission). The saga continues in Kelpie Curse.

Urban fantasy in Scotland (and the faerie realm).

 

Unicorns, with their single ivory horn, are elusive and magical creatures of myth. Yet even more elusive are the purple unicorns.

First sighted at the Superstars Writing Seminar, their legend has grown year after year until it could only be contained in this anthology.

Nineteen storytellers—including Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye—invite us into worlds both near and far, across a desert oasis, a pet shop, a Comic-Con exhibition floor, and more to show us the many variations of purple unicorns.

One Horn to Rule Them All is an unforgettable collection of imagination and creativity. So, saddle up, and take a ride beyond the rainbow.

 

An elf cowboy on a fool’s errand to the Old West town of Desperation, Arizona hunts a faerie bandit queen with a powerful relic in her clutches…but his unicorn steed faces the greater test.

The one-horned magical stallion pursues the runaway love of his life, a chase that pits him against brutal men and beasts alike.

What he finds at the end of the trail will change his fate and that of the Wild West forever.

 
 
 
 

From fable to legend, these wondrous beasts enchant us. Healers or harmers, no one truly knows the heart and horn of the unicorn—dare you seek the answers?

A collection of tales featuring unicorns and magical horses.

“Hidden Eyes” by Meyari McFarland
The Dreamweaver’s Journey by Diana L. Wicker
A Game of Horns edited by Lisa Mangum
“The Hunt of the Unicorn” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Rider by Diane J Cornwell
“Unicorn Magic” by Roz Marshall
One Horn to Rule Them All edited by Lisa Mangum
“Fossil History” by Meyari McFarland
“And The Unicorn You Rode In On” by Robert Jeschonek
“Escape (The Peena Colada Song)” by Mark Leslie

The Here Be Unicorns bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more bundles with my stories in them, see:
Eclectica
Here Be Merfolk
Here Be Fairies
Here Be Dragons
Immortals

 

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Newly Released: First Book in a New Series!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here at last! 😀

“What is here?” you ask politely, perhaps taken aback by my enthusiasm.

A Talisman Arcane

This book got interrupted while I was in the middle of writing it. It feels like it’s taken much longer than usual from the moment when I started the story to now, when I’m publicly announcing its release. So I’m excited!

Not only is the book available now, but the early reviews are largely favorable, which pleases me a lot.

“Great book about an unlikely friendship…” —Karen B.

“…really enjoyed this story. I read it in a single day. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed when I was interrupted, so you might want to read it on a quiet day of solitude…” —Caroline McBride

“There’s an interesting magic system… But mostly this is a character focused book… The relationships, both new and old, were well written and well thought out.” —Sleepy

“…I really loved this book. I found it hard to put down…and when I did put it down I was often thinking about the characters and what was last going on…when I’d stopped. The characters were all well developed, with strong personalities and backgrounds.” —Dragonessa

But enough of what people are saying. What about the book itself?

Although it is the first in a series, it’s a complete story. I originally wrote the book as a standalone, but every one of my early readers demanded a sequel, because they wanted to hang out with Lealle again and revisit her world.

I feel that way myself. And I have ideas for fresh adventures! So books 2 and 3 will be coming along soon. 😀

Here’s a bit about A Talisman Arcane.

*     *     *

The mansion on Balard Square stands empty. Dirt grimes its marble columns. Cracks mar its once pristine walls. No one enters or exits.

Rumor says no one lives there. Neighbors ignore the property, glad it’s merely shabby, not derelict. Brash youths pretend a witch makes it her home, a wicked witch who hates children.

All of them—rumor, neighbors, and youths—are wrong.

Fleeing a ragged horde of boys, young Lealle discovers the truth of the history-haunted house.

She hopes to keep that truth secret.

But her silence threatens disapproving neighbors, trespassing bullies, and one gentle soul in desperate need of a lifeline.

Magic and coming of age in the tradition of Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician.

A Talisman Arcane is available as an ebook. Amazon

*     *     *

I am experimenting again with having an ebook in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. My apologies to those of you who get your ebooks elsewhere.

The paperback edition—which will release in a week or two—will be available everywhere. And I plan to make the ebook widely distributed after 90 days.

 

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Here Be Merfolk

My novel, Fate’s Door, is one of ten stories in a new bundle focusing on mermaids, sea people, and life under the waves.

The bundle includes some big names—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Alan Dean Foster—along with some newer writers creating yet-to-be-discovered gems.

The first two stories, which I’ve read, are intense and powerful. I’m eager to read onward for the rest of the bundle!

If you enjoy fantasy featuring people of the sea and the shore, or if you’ve not yet read my own Fate’s Door, check out Here Be Merfolk.
 

Whale Rock’s sheriff, Dan Retsler, considers himself a practical man. But he has no explanation for the horrible deaths that take place on his beach. Nor does he know why so many locals fear the sea. The answer lies in legends of mermaids—not the pretty kind, but the kind that lure sailors to their deaths. Retsler doesn’t believe in them, but nothing quite explains the women he sees near the beach, when he investigates a friend’s sudden and tragic death.

“Like early Ray Bradbury, Rusch has the ability to switch on a universal dark.”  —The Times (London)

 
 

When Thalassa’s Children—the mer-like, genderless protectors of the ocean—experience the trapped and suffocating death of one of their own, a single member chooses to take action. Against the wishes of the collective mind.

But can a lone mer ever hope to convince the humans of what they have done to the ocean, in a language they will understand?

And will it be worth losing everything?

“[One of] the kind of stories anyone who reads them will remember forever…inventive, heartbreaking, and wholly original.”
    —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Hugo award-winning author and editor

 

Best friends Chachel and Glint, a merson and a cuttlefish, are returning from a shark hunt when they stumble upon an unconscious female demon. Taking her back to their reef to recover, they fall into a unique friendship, one which will change their lives and community forever.

In this undersea adventure, New York Times Bestselling author Alan Dean Foster uses his extensive knowledge and experience from diving and traveling to bring to life the mysterious world of reef dwellers under the ocean.

 
 
 

Secrets, like troubles, come in threes. When you possess one of either, two more arrive to keep it company.

Nerine, a sea nymph of the ancient world, knows too much about both.

Each morning, in the chill before the sun’s rising, Nerine and the three Fates stand under the mighty branches of the World Tree, gazing into the depths of the Well of Destiny to master the dooms they must bring to life that day.

When the dawn’s visions show Nerine’s lover—shipwrecked and drowning—all her renounced yearning for him rises anew.

Surely, as handmaiden to the Fates themselves, she might tilt the odds to give her beloved a chance.

Somehow—this day, this morning, this time—Nerine must subvert destiny or lose the companion of her heart forever.

 

Setnya spies on her enemies, the land people. Humans engineered the sea people before the first world war between those of land and sea.

Once again, humans threaten to take over the sea.

Will Setnya’s choices move her people closer or farther from another war?

A thought-provoking story on the nature of humanity.

 
 
 
 

The call of the deep rings ever in our ears, from myth and legend to crime and mystery. Sea-people, mer and monster, immortals and reluctant heroes feature in this sea-worthy bundle.

“The Women of Whale Rock” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“We, the Ocean” by Alexandra Brandt
Oshenerth by Alan Dean Foster
“Deep Dreaming” by Debbie Mumford
Dolphin Knight by Robert Jeschonek
“On Desperate Seas” by Kate MacLeod
Fate’s Door by J.M. Ney-Grimm
“The Murky Depths” by Linda Jordan
“Dark, From the Sea” by Linda Maye Adams
“Ondine” by Brenda Carre

The Here Be Merfolk bundle is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, or direct from the BundleRabbit site.

For more bundles with my stories in them, see:
Eclectica
Here Be Unicorns
Here Be Dragons
Here Be Fairies
Immortals

 

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The Hunters Enter the Woods

I’m in the midst of writing a short story inspired by seven tapestries created in the late 1400s to depict the royal hunt of the unicorn.

The tapestries are gorgeous, although historians have thus far proven unable to identify the original patron and tapestry workshop from which they came. The first recorded mention of them has the works hanging in the Paris home of the de la Rochefoucauld family in 1680.

Nor is there agreement on the symbolism of the story told. Perhaps the hunt depicts two beguiled lovers, the knight represented by the unicorn, the lady by the maiden. Perhaps the hunt is an allegory for the Passion of Christ. Or perhaps both stories are present, each enriched by the presence of the other.

The first of the seven tapestries depicts the start of the hunt, when the hunters and their hunting dogs are ranging through the forest, hoping to catch sight of the mythical beast they will pursue.

So…how did I come to be writing a unicorn tale?

It all started with story bundles. A number of my stories have been included in a series of bundles entitled Here Be…

“Crossing the Naiad” appeared in Here Be Ghosts. The Troll’s Belt is part of Here Be Fairies. And all three of my dragon stories feature in Here Be Dragons.

Alex Butcher curates these fine collections, and she has several new ones planned for 2019. Here Be Unicorns will release in March or April. When she asked me if I had a story that would fit its theme, I had to confess that I did not.

But her query got me thinking. Why didn’t I have a unicorn story? I should! I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and soon an idea bloomed. After I’d scribbled four different outlines in my journal (three of which were too long), I realized I needed to take my longing to write about a unicorn seriously.

I started writing this week. 😀

Update on The Sovereign’s Labyrinth

For those of you who have been watching the progress bar on my website…

The second of the Gael & Keir Adventures is in good shape. In fact, it is in the hands of my first reader. She’s read the first few pages, reported that she was gripped by the opening, and is eager to read more. I like hearing that!

It’s time for me to reserve a cover for the book from Deranged Doctor Design.

I’ve already been thinking about the next adventure. I’ve actually written the opening scene, and I have a tentative title. Deepearth Rising. I’m just as excited about it as I was about Sovereign.

I’m not quite ready to post a progress bar for Deepearth Rising, because I need to transform the mass of ideas I have for it into a coherent outline. Usually I do this before I write the first scene. But the first scene was just here in my head, and I wanted to write it while it was fresh. So I did!

But I plan to finish my unicorn story before I do more work on Gael & Keir Adventure 3. I’ll tell you more about it as I make progress! 😀

For more about the Hunt of the Unicorn, see:
The Unicorn Is Found
The Unicorn Is Attacked
The Unicorn Defends Itself
The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn
The Unicorn Is Killed
The Unicorn Lives
Unicorn’s Lullaby

 

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That Sudden Leap

I researched and planned for The Sovereign’s Labyrinth for nearly two months. As the story grew in my mind, I found myself often murmuring, “Oh! That’s so cool! I can’t wait to write that!”

Concept for the bridges into Hantida’s Glorious Citadel

I finally did start writing on November 9, and the actuality not only lived up to my expectations; it surpassed them. How often does that happen? But it really did happen with this novel.

Each scene had me rubbing my hands in anticipation as I prepared to write it, and gasping at the end, “Oh, that was cool!”

I suspect that is why my word count mounted up so quickly. I was writing as though I were a reader, saying, “Just one scene more,” and staying up too late at night for it!

But that’s not why the progress bar in the side bar of my website leapt abruptly ahead.

Concept for the moat surrounding Hantida’s Glorious Citadel

If you’ve been watching it, you’ll have seen the word count increasing from between 1,000 to 2,000 words most days, while the blue stripe moved steadily rightward.

Then, yesterday, as it was crossing the 50% mark, it jumped past the 90% mark. What’s up with that? Did I do a spot of time traveling, so that I could write 50,000 words one night between dusk and dawn?

Well, no.

Whenever I start a book, I’m essentially guessing about how long I think it will be. The Sovereign’s Labyrinth was definitely going to be a full novel. But was it going to be a doorstopper novel of 160,000 words? I didn’t think so. As cool as it seemed, it didn’t feel l-o-n-g.

Concept for an interior garden within Hantida’s Glorious Citadel

So I estimated that maybe it would be 130,000 words, and that is what I used to calculate the percentages on the progress bar.

Once I was well into the writing of the novel, I began to suspect that it might be 100,000 words. But would it really?

I don’t like to monkey around with a gazillion different estimates while I’m writing a book. It would just distract me, when I want to reserve my brainpower for storytelling.

So I left that 130K alone, figuring I’d adjust it when I got closer to the end.

Of course, you know what happened with that! The closer I was to the end, the more exciting the events in my story became. I was writing late into the night, sometimes past midnight. Yikes!

Which meant that I was too sleepy at night to bother with the progress bar, and too excited about jumping into writing in the morning to do it then.

But today (Thursday, January 31, as I write this—or was it yesterday? bad memory!) I said, “C’mon, Jessica! Time to get that progress bar within striking distance of a reasonable total. You’ve got 71,000 words written and another four or five big scenes to go. Call it 80,000 and adjust that bar.”

So I did!

I have to catch up on sleep, so I am forcing myself not to start the next scene (I already wrote two today), even though I really, really want to. But, tomorrow? I am so going to dive on it!

I found the photos accompanying this post during the research I did for building the world of Hantida, the city in which The Sovereign’s Labyrinth takes place.

If you’d like to see more of such world building, check out:
A Townhouse in Hantida
Quarters in the Glorious Citadel
A Library in the Glorious Citadel

 

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Last Day of Kobo’s Start a New Series Sale

Kobo has been running a special promotion for first books of series.

The Tally Master is in it!

If you buy ebooks from Kobo, now is your chance to pick up The Tally Master at a discount.

Since I’ll be releasing the second Gael & Keir Adventure later this year, it’s a great time to start the series. 😀

Here’s the link to The Tally Master on Kobo. (Or click the image below.)

Today is the last day of the sale, so don’t wait!

Update: The sale is now over. I hope that those who took advantage of the deal (and there were a number of you) are now happily reading! 😀

 

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I Think I’ve Got It!

Once more, into the breach!

Yes, I dove into brainstorming the title for Lodestone Tale 5 one. more. time!

I figured the reason I couldn’t settle on any of the titles I’d considered was because none of them were right. It wasn’t that I’d asked too many people for their opinions. (Although maybe I had asked too many.) No. It was because I agreed with all of their objections.

To Thread the Labyrinth

Even though the concept of the labyrinth appears again and again as a motif in the story, it is not the heart of the story. Lodestone Tale 5 is about courage and kindness far more than it is about discerning the reality behind tricky turnings.

A Legacy Arcane

Neither is the story really about a legacy. Yes, two legacies feature in the novel, but that’s not what it is about. Furthermore, the word “legacy” has a weight to it which is all wrong for the story, which filled with hope, victory, and rebirth. “Legacy” does not feel dark to me, but it does feel weighty.

Talisman’s Reach

I have come to really like the word “Talisman” in conjunction with my story. Talisman is right! But “Reach” is not. Even if no one would mistake it as referring to a feature of the landscape, it is still wrong.

Yes, each of the lodestones in the Lodestone Tales has a long reach through time, but that’s a feature of the series. This individual story is not about that long reach; it’s about what happens between Ohtavie and Lealle. The scope of “Reach” is wrong.

Innocent Trespass

My brilliant writer friend Laura came up with Innocent Trespass. (Really, she’s been doing too much of the heavy lifting with regards to the title for this book. I should be ashamed!)

For several days, I thought this was THE ONE. The book starts off with teenage Lealle trespassing. Lealle herself is not so sure that she does so innocently, but I think the reader will be pretty clear on that. Later in the story, we learn that Ohtavie has also trespassed, also innocently, if not so innocently as Lealle.

When I wrote this story, I’d envisioned it as a standalone. But all of my early readers have requested a sequel to it. My first answer was, “No. Sorry.” But by the time the 4th request arrived, I found myself having ideas for an entire series. I grew excited about what I might do in Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, and Book 5.

Because Lealle is the daughter of the High Justice of Claireau, there will be an awareness of the law present all the books. (Yes, I am going to write them.) So titles referencing aspects of law would be a fun way to go. Innocent Trespass would follow that theme nicely.

But. But. But. Lodestone Tales 5 is very much a fantasy novel. It is not a thriller. It is not a legal thriller. It is not a mystery, although there are elements of mystery within it. Innocent Trespass does not say fantasy. Reluctantly, I loosed that choice from my grip.

What Is Central?

I revisited this question. I needed to stop devising titles that were accurate, but misleading in their focus on a tangent. The heart of my story is the idea that we redeem each other. Even within our mistakes, there is opportunity for us to save one another.

Is there some thing or place or person in Lodestone Tales 5 that embodies my theme and that can serve as the anchor point for its title?

Lealle

Lealle is central. She stumbles upon the first person she decides to attempt saving, but then through choice goes on to save another chance encounter plus an entire townful of people.

One salient characteristic about Lealle is that she is her father’s daughter. “Daughter” would be a good word to have in my title.

Talisman or Trespass

Place did not feel specifically important to my theme. Yes, setting is always important in a story. The people would not be who they are, if they lived elsewhere. The events would fall out differently in a different setting. But, for this story, place was not nearly so important as the action of trespass and the complication of the talisman.

I had three words that felt central. Daughter. Talisman. Trespass.

Models of Title Structure

I’ve read essays about title structures. There aren’t really as many possibilities for the bones of a title as one might wish. (Or, at least, as I might wish!)

It occurred to me that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles include quite a few of the possible structures. What if I used them as guidelines?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe The Daughter, the Talisman, and the Trespass
Prince Caspian ??
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trespass of Daughters
The Silver Chair The Iron Talisman Dark Talisman
The Horse and His Boy The Daughter and Her Talisman Talisman and Trespass
The Magician’s Nephew Talisman’s Magic Talisman’s Daughter
The Last Battle The Secret Talisman The Hidden Talisman

Well…maybe. But, no. I tried a few variations.

The Daughter and Her Trespass. Talisman’s Challenge. The Talisman Legacy. The Talisman Secret. A Talisman Unsought.

Wait a minute! That last was definitely not right, but it had the same structure as A Legacy Arcane. What if I pulled “Legacy” out, and replaced it with “Talisman”?

A Talisman Arcane

The talisman is definitely secret, mysterious, and understood by few. It is arcane. But unlike the weighty word “legacy,” talisman has a lightness to it. It breathes of hope and trust. Lucky pennies are talismans. We keep them for luck, for good fortune, in the hope of a bright future.

Yes! That’s it! My title! This is THE ONE! 😀

A Talisman Arcane.

 

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