on Feb 27, 2014

Today I'm excited to share an interview with Caprion, the general of the harpy army, and a seraphim in his own right. You've had a chance to meet Caprion in Volcrian's Hunt, and tomorrow will see the release of his own story, Caprion's Wings. For more info on that and to enter the giveaway, see the bottom of the post. And since I had the honor of beta-reading it, I can guarantee it's a fun but dark, action-packed story that is definitely worth picking up! Without further ado, let's welcome Caprion...



Hi Caprion, thanks for joining us today!

I realize we only have a few minutes with you (you seraphim are busy folk!), so without further ado, here are our top 5 questions:

1. At the beginning of Caprion's Wings, you've been trying for years to earn your wings and failing. You're ready to risk almost anything to gain them. Looking back from where you stand today, do you have any true, deep regrets about what unfolded? Would you change anything?

Looking back, I realize I should have been more patient. Florentine was right all along--if I had just waited for the Matriarch to awaken from her three-week slumber, I wouldn’t have put my queen (and the entire island) in danger. But everything seems more urgent when you’re young. I thought if I waited to consult the Matriarch about my visions, I would lose my chance at finding my wings forever.

2. I understand you had a difficult time with your family growing up, especially your brother. Who in your life do you most look up to and why?

Ironically, I used to look up to Sumas A LOT when I was a child. He was six years older than me, so of course, I idolized him. He would play the usual “big brother” pranks, and he could be cruel sometimes, but he never put my life in danger.

That all changed when I failed my first Singing. Sumas became more aggressive. He seemed to take my failure as a personal offense. I still don’t know if he meant to punish me or just toughen me up. Either way, that’s when the teasing turned into outright bullying.

Now, as an adult, it’s difficult for me to find anyone to look up to. My own people are constantly disappointing me. I was raised to think that Harpies are perfect, but after seeing the cruelty and pettiness of my own race, it’s hard to find any sort of real role model.

3. What is your greatest fear?

I’m afraid of losing Moss--of doing something that might lead to her death.
As a seraphim, I fear that I will be unequal to the task of protecting my people.
Mostly, though, I am afraid of becoming like them. I don’t want to become like Sumas or the Matriarch, who are both bullies in their own right. I don’t want to abuse my power or make others suffer by my hand.

4. What exactly does being a seraphim mean in the context of Harpy culture? (We know that their magic is stronger, but does that mean different abilities, expectations, etc?) And is the Matriarch a seraphim? 

We are especially good at hunting demons. You could say that is our true purpose. Beyond that, a seraphim is a battle harpy, ideal for war. Whereas normal Harpies have only one set of wings, seraphim have 3 sets (6 wings), which makes our magic about 3 times stronger than usual. Still, our physical bodies have limitations and we can die from using too much magic at once. Harpies usually live about two-hundred years, but seraphim bodies are worn down by magic, which gives us an almost-human lifespan.

In the past, a seraphim “manifests” before a great change or a great danger. We’ve been dubbed “the heralds of the One Star.” If a seraphim has manifested, it means war or an even bigger threat lies on the horizon.

The Matriarch is not a seraphim. She has only one set of wings. She is a powerful female Harpy, usually a prior soldier, who is elected by the people when the old Matriarch dies. She is seen as the “mother” of our people and is more long-lived than the rest.

5. What have the Harpies been doing since the War of the Races? And why are you willing to leave them so easily at the end of Volcrian's Hunt, rather than sending some of your own soldiers?

Since the War of the Races, my race has been recuperating. The war shattered our entire civilization and birth rates have been on the decline. You could say my people are keeping their heads down, struggling to hold onto what little they have left.

Honestly, I don’t like other Harpies very much. I feel duty-bound to protect my people, but I don’t feel that close to them, if you know what I mean…? I know I’m supposed to protect them from the Dark God...but I don’t know if they deserve it.

Imagine living your entire life under house arrest--that’s how my life’s been since becoming a seraphim. The Matriarch watches my every move. I wanted to escape for years before Sora ever arrived, then she offered the perfect opportunity. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, though I’m sure they’ll figure it out soon.

As of Volcrian’s Hunt, I’m no longer on a mission for my people. I’m on a personal quest to find an old friend. The Matriarch has probably cooked up a plan to hunt me down, cunning old crone that she is, but I won’t let her stop me!

Thanks so much for answering our questions. Is there anything else you'd like to share with your readers?

Being the first seraphim since the War of the Races is a mixed blessing. The Matriarch pushes endless responsibilities onto my shoulders. I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to carry this kind of status among my people. In Caprion’s Wings, you will see my younger self, still naive, overconfident and untried. You will come to understand the events that made me who I am. And I think you’ll get some insight into the next book, Ferran’s Map, and how my story might continue.

Thanks for having me, Intisar! Good luck to you, and the One Star’s blessing!

Thanks, Caprion! It's not every day I receive a harpy's blessing. :)


About the Book






By the age of nineteen, all Harpies know how to fly—except Caprion. He has yet pass the test of the Singing and gain his wings. His family has disowned him in shame and people are beginning to talk. Now an evil voice haunts his dreams, taunting him, drawing out his worst fears—that he will remain wingless forever.

Caprion decides to find the root of this insidious voice, no matter what it takes. He journeys to the secret prisons of the Harpy underground, where he meets a young slave named Moss. In those sunless, decrepit cells, a forbidden friendship is formed. Can Caprion and Moss find the source of the voice? And can Caprion save Moss from a terrible fate?

Join young Caprion as he journeys down, down into the earth, finding his wings and forging a friendship that will change him forever.

*Caprion's Wings is a companion story to The Cat's Eye Chronicles. As a novella, it will be between 40,000-50,000 words long.


Caprion's Wings blog tour schedule and links:
2-23-14 | Spotlight Mimsey Style | Please Don't Feed the Mimsey
2-24-14 | Spotlight/Excerpt | The O'Raven Chronicles
2-25-14 | REVIEW & Theme Song |  Lindsay and Jane's Views and Reviews
2-26-14 | Spotlight/Excerpt | Oh My Shelves
2-27-14 | Character 5Q Q&A Caprion | Intisar Khanani
2-28-14 | REVIEW & Would you Rather w/Caprion | TTC Books & More
3-01-14 | Spotlight/Excerpt | A World of Words
3-01-14 | REVIEW & Spotlight | Genieva's Book Blog
3-02-14 | REVIEW & Author top 10 | Becca Anne's Book Reviews
3-03-14 | REVIEW & This OR That with Moss | Paranormal Book Club
3-04-14 | REVIEW & Guest Post | Alina Popescu Writes
3-04-14 | REVIEW & Interview | Inkspelled Faery 


About the Author



T. L. Shreffler lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy, and thrift store shopping. She recently graduated with a BA in Badass (Creative Writing) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review. She is author of The Cat's Eye Chronicles (YA/Epic Fantasy) and The Wolves of Black River (PN Romance.)

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon


a Rafflecopter giveaway
on Feb 21, 2014

So, in spite of the fact I had been laughing at them for…well, ever, I finally caved and started reading YA paranormal romance books. They range from Alex Finn’s Beastly to Gracie Ray’s Falling Slowly, to Maggie Strietfver’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. After having read a few, I am faced with this question: Why do the guys get the superpowers?

In Erica Steven’s Captured, it’s Braith who’s the vampire. In The Goddess Test, Henry is the god. In Thirteen Days to Midnight, Jacob’s the immortal. Even in pop culture, Superman is the alien. And their love interests are pretty much normal girls. Yes, all the ladies have something special or unusual about them, but you have to admit, they’re a bit human.


I know that there are series where this isn’t true. In Nikki Jefford’s Spellbound Trilogy, Raj might be a warlock, but Graylee’s also a witch. Then there’s Rachel Morgan’s Creepy Hollow series. Vi’s the one who’s a faerie and Nate’s the human. And I know that there are others.

But enough with the exceptions! I’m talking about the generalizations.

So why is it that the guy usually gets to be the supernatural being and the girl gets stuck being human? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vampire love interest. But I wonder why the werewolf girl couldn’t fall in love with a human boy more often. (Yes, I know there’s a series where that happens, too.)


Is it that teen girls relate more to an MC who’s a normal teen and falls in love with a fallen angel than a fallen angel who falls in love with a normal teen boy? (Oh wait…that’s been done too, hasn’t it?)

I do see why it would be hard to write the female love interest as the near-invincible beast while her boyfriend is a fragile mortal. (A guy always needing protection isn’t considered a particularly attractive trait.) When it’s the guy who’s the protector, you can get away with more dramatic rescues because men are supposed to protect women anyway. (My dear feminist friends, please do not take offense. I am, after all, exposed to high levels of Arthurian lore on a daily basis.) And I admit dramatic rescues can be kind of awesome when done right…

In Fanged Princess I made Hadassah, or Haddie, the vampire and her boyfriend human, in part because I wondered about this subject. But then in the Argetallam Saga, I am guilty of making Saoven the elf and Janir the one who often needs him to save her.

What do you think? Do guys get the superpowers too often? Or is the way things are just perfect?

Originally posted to Inkspelled Faery
on Feb 15, 2014
I’ve often wondered about the “right” way to conduct a battle. It seemed important to at least know the basics of strategy for my stories and when The Principles of War came up on my required reading list, I found out that it was a great resource for just that. So here are a few important highlights, the parts that seemed most relevant to fantasy writing.


Pawns go first
Clausewitz: We must not be easily led to use [the cavalry] in open combat. Only when the enemy’s disorder or his rapid retreat offer the hope of success, should we use our cavalry for an audacious attack.
While cavalry charges make for dramatic openers to conflict scenes and are very popular in literature and film, they are impractical as an organized infantry force could repel horsemen with devastating consequences (as proven by the Scots). But if the infantry is in disarray, cavalry can easily be the fatal blow.

Wait for daylight—or don’t
Clausewitz: The regular surprise attack (by night as at Hochkirk) is the best way to get the most out of a very small army. But the aggressor, who is not as well acquainted with the terrain as the defender, is open to many risks. The less well one knows the terrain and the preparations of the enemy, the greater these risks become. In many instances, therefore, these attacks must be considered only as a desperate means.
So, to sum up, you shouldn’t attack at night unless you know the battleground well enough that the dark won’t be a problem.


Surrounding them may not be a good idea
Clausewitz: Encirclement of the enemy necessitates a greater deployment of forces in the front line for the aggressor than the defender
Clausewitz: To surround an army completely is possible only in rare cases and requires tremendous physical or moral superiority.
Encircling an enemy spreads the attacking forces thinner and means the surrounded army will be able to draw up into tighter, more stable formation. And we’ve all heard of the (insert preferred nationality) firing squad.

Do not let them get away
Clausewitz: Next to victory, the act of pursuit is the most important in war.
If I remember correctly, one of his general’s failure to follow this rule was what ultimately did Napoleon in. Letting the enemy regroup is a bad idea because it is possible for them to reorganize and renew their attack. Clausewitz also gives a small how-to on this, but that’s for another time.

Always have a way out
Clausewitz: Only when we cut off the enemy’s line of retreat are we assured of great success in victory
Getting cornered will either force a surrender or enable a massacre and has led to the destruction of armies since the days of the ancient Greeks. This might seem a little obvious, but it’s still important enough to mention.

And there you have it—the bare bones of the great Prussian colonel’s advice. I would certainly recommend the whole book itself (whether you’re a fantasy writer or not), but until you can, here’s the crash course.

Originally posted to Inkspelled Faery
on Feb 11, 2014
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Henrietta, the legendary Dragon Slayer of the Kingdom of Bleuve, can't stomach the thought of one more kill. Yet, in order to save her dying mentor, she must go on one last quest. But will misfit companions, seasickness, and an ego maniacal king derail the quest for the healing stone? And will she be able to cut past her conscience and kill the dragon?



Review:

Henrietta is a fascinating character. At 17, she's served in the army, gained renown as a dragon slayer, and walked away from it all. Now, she's made a habit of isolating herself, and while she's an excellent warrior, she balks at killing. Which makes things difficult when set upon in an ambush. The story opens as Henrietta is accosted twice in succession: once by an arrogant foreign knight who demands she accompany him back to his king, who has need of her dragon-slaying services, and immediately after, by a witch who informs her that her old master whom she has been long estranged from is dying. To heal him, she needs the special healing stone one can only win by slaying a dragon.

On this last quest she does not want, Henrietta ends up with a tagalong group of companions she would much rather do without: a girl who needs to be escorted home in return for the witch's favor, a jester who wants to go an adventure with the hero whose songs he sings (poor Henrietta!), and that unshakeable, obnoxious knight who wants to make sure she slays her dragon.

This story will quickly suck you in, even though the action is slow to build. There's plenty of tension--Henrietta is one big ball of tension--and as the story progresses, you begin to understand her more and more. Here's a girl-hero who has been a hero and wants no more of it; she's tired, she's alone, and she's lost her purpose, drifting from town to town and singing her own adventures to earn her keep. And she doesn't want any of it back--but this time she doesn't have a choice, not if she wants to be able to live with herself.

The writing is strong, though the proofreading could have been a little stronger. I did catch a handful or two of typos--not enough to detract from the story, but enough to be noticeable. While there are only a few points of serious action prior to the major climax, the book moves along well, and what isn't sword fighting and sorcery is very strong character development. I did think that we heard about Henrietta's stomach a bit too much, which was more an issue of being made a little too aware of how much she continued to stress and worry over her options and choices. And I thought Henrietta was also a little too slow to grasp what she needed to do in the lead-up to the climax of the book. But, there are plenty of characters who just don't want to see what's before them, so I can understand that.

Overall, this was a well-paced and enjoyable read, with strong character development and a varied cast.

Recommended for fans of epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, fire witches, obnoxious knights, and lost kings.


About the Author


Beth Barany has been making up fantasy and adventure stories all her life. It only took her thirty years to actually start writing them down, then grit and determination to whip them into shape. Her young adult fantasy novel Henrietta, The Dragon Slayer was released Spring 2011. She writes to empower girls and women with her kickass heroines who have to save the world against great odds.

By day she helps authors get their books done and out into the world. She also leads trainings for groups and associations and speaks to groups and conferences all over the San Francisco Bay Area and the United States about motivation, persistence, publishing, craft and marketing.

In her off hours, Beth enjoys cardio kickboxing, stick yoga, reading and watching movies with her husband, author and musician Ezra Barany.

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on Feb 6, 2014
Rating: 4 / 5

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

Description:

After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…



Review: For my review of Book 1 of the Argetellam Saga (The Key of Amatahns), go here. Warning: if you haven't read The Key of Amatahns, you are about to see some spoilery. So, go read Book 1 now!

I started this book ready for an enjoyable read, and I wasn't disappointed. As with many second books in a series, the story is a little slow to get started--kind of. The prologue, featuring Janir's half-brother Lucan, sucked me right in. And, being a follower of Ms. Wheatley's pinterest boards, I was excited to finally meet someone who I've already got a firm image of in my mind: the healer Genvissa. For all that we only saw her in the prologue, I can't wait to meet Genvissa again and get to know her: kind, wise, brave and in a really bad place, you can't help caring about her.

But I digress. The Secrets of the Vanmars can essentially be broken into two separate halves. The first half revolves around what happens while Janir is waiting to be judged by the King and his High Lords for her role in the death of a duke back in book 1. Once that's resolved, Janir and company return to her foster-father's home, and another adventure begins as Janir and Karile search out the Kryden Road that once ran through the mountains to a not-so-friendly neighboring kingdom. Who is building it and why? What is the Chalice of Malvron? And what will Janir's Argetallam father do when he finds out she's still alive?

The writing throughout the book was relatively strong. Karile, as the perfect obnoxious little-brother-type sidekick, continues to be one of my favorite characters. Ms. Wheatley's descriptions and characterizations have improved over what we saw in her first book, and I have no doubt that The Chalice of Malvron (Book 3) will deliver an engaging story as Ms. Wheatley continues to come into her own as a talented young fantasy author.

Recommended for: fans of epic fantasy, strong heroines, evil patriarchs, frost griffins, and sword and sorcery.
About the Author

Elisabeth Wheatley is a teenager of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is reading copious amounts of fantasy, playing with her little brothers, studying mythology, and training and showing her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.

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on Feb 4, 2014
Hi, everyone! This is Elisabeth Wheatley, newest addition to the collective that is The Runaway Pen. I am very excited to join the group and I thought I'd debut with a post that appeared on my personal blog awhile back. Enjoy!

The beauty of true fantasy is that there are about three rules. You need magic, you need a magical world, and you need a bad guy. Beyond that, there really isn’t a whole lot to restrict the story. But…(yes, the dreaded “but”)…there are three things that are the equivalent of talons on the chalkboard for me.

IMG_1908

Okay, okay, so I admit that technically I can’t take off points if a fantasy book isn’t historically accurate, but these are things to do with the weaponry and lifestyle. So they count, right?

1. Knights being hoisted onto horse’s back via a pulley system


I haven’t seen this one in awhile (I think the last time I saw it was in The Once and Future King), but I will mention it anyway. In reality, a knight’s armor was heavy and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t so heavy that they couldn’t mount their horses. If it had been that heavy, ground combat for knights would have been a death-sentence, particularly if they were going up against lighter footsoldiers. There was the problem of knights easily expiring from heatstroke because metal, of course, doesn’t breathe, but that’s a topic for another time.





IMG_1907

2. Boiling oil poured from castle during siege

mountain castle siege image picture and wallpaper

I’m sure we’ve all seen this one, right? The bubbling-hot, pitch-black goo sent raining down on the heads of screaming invaders and then set on fire with a flaming arrow. I think this one was in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance, though I’d have to check. Boiling oil looks really intense and scary and, let’s face it, morbidly cool. But I’ve found mixed reports on this one. Some say that it was used while others say that oil was too expensive for it to be literally thrown out the window. Boiling water was sometimes used, as well as animal fat, heated sand, resin, pitch, and they would have a similar effect. But oil was something that needed to be saved, especially if you were in a siege and didn’t know when you would be able to resupply.

3. “Fired” an arrow

Legolas - legolas-greenleaf Photo

This one bugs me the most and I can thank my former-Marine, Naval Academy-graduate father for ruining this term for me. A number of writers use this term. Heck, The Lord of the Rings movies used this term a number of times. But I started thinking about it one day and asked my father if it was accurate. He confirmed my suspicions that the term “fire” in reference to volleys, did not come into use until the advent of firearms. Up until that point they said “loose,” which makes more sense, right? I think they did sometimes use fiery arrows, but not enough to make the term “fire” stick.

IMG_1906

Any writer could get away with any one or all of these things. They’re all subjective to how “accurate” the writer wants his/her fantasy story to be. But they still drive me bonkers! Now the question is: Are they going to bug you?