Tag Archives: C. Aubrey Hall

Crystal Bones Promo

I just found out that my YA book, CRYSTAL BONES, is currently featured in a special promo from Amazon. This novel opens a fantasy trilogy about a pair of half-fae twins, and was published under the pseudonym C. Aubrey Hall.

If you need a gift for a youngster that likes traditional fantasy, then this adventure might be just the ticket.

Here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.com/dlp/038f98ec/ref=gbps_img_s-3_bb19_038f98ec?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=41fd713f-6bfe-4299-a021-d2b94872bb19&pf_rd_s=slot-3&pf_rd_t=701&pf_rd_i=gb_main&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=34S7AJW2T3ANCN93K189.

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Book Promos

I just found out that Amazon has chosen two of my YA fantasy books–CRYSTAL BONES and THE CALL OF EIRIAN–to be discounted July 12, 2016, in connection with their Prime celebration. The books were published under my C. Aubrey Hall pseudonym. So if you know any youngsters–or just the young at heart–looking for fantasy adventure, please pass the word. Thanks.

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MAGE FIRE

Announcing publication of the concluding volume of my young adult fantasy trilogy, THE FAELIN CHRONICLES. Published under the pseudonym C. Aubrey Hall and available only through Amazon.com, MAGE FIRE takes twin protagonists, Diello and Cynthe, on the final stage of their quest to regain the stolen sword Eirian and rescue their younger sister.

I wish I could share a photo of the cover, but the recent computer wipe/upgrade has left me without picture-processing software. Until I can locate that disk or download new software from the Internet, no pictures are possible for this post.

A couple of weeks ago, a hefty box landed on my doorstep. Inside were glossy hardcover editions, jacketed in 2013-color-of-the-year emerald green. Normally I keep my author’s copies stored in plastic tubs. (Yes, I know that’s bad for books in that it keeps them from breathing, but it protects them from dust and moisture.) However, with my father due to visit, I left them artfully piled in the foyer, so he had to practically step over them to get inside the house. The strategy worked: he noticed them!

My next project will be figuring out how to wedge this trilogy into the Bookcase of Pride that’s standing in my office. The bookcase is tall, and it’s there to contain a copy of all my books, including foreign and second editions. About three years ago, a much smaller bookcase had to be exchanged for this five-shelver. Currently the bottom two shelves hold reference books on the writing craft, but some of them will have to be bumped. It’s a pleasant challenge to have.

MAGE FIRE is traditional, old-fashioned fantasy. It pits the 13-year-old brother and sister against goblins, an ancient spirit that inhabits rock, and creatures that shape-shift between human and eagle forms. The twins are confronted with physical challenges at every turn. They must deal with forms of magic unfamiliar to them while struggling to master their own special gifts. And, of course, they’re still tiptoeing through the Byzantine labyrinth of Fae politics.

Although I always find the middle volume of a trilogy the most difficult to write, conclusions are far from easy. They require finding a balance among explaining what’s happened previously without an awkward info-dump, bringing the story to a finish, tying up loose ends, pushing the primary characters through an arc of change, and achieving victory over the villains.

I think the avalanche is my favorite action segment. The quicksand is my tribute to the Saturday-afternoon Tarzan movies I watched as a kid.

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Ho Ho No: Holiday Deadlines

This morning, as I was surveying my bare Christmas tree that’s not yet decorated much less connected to electricity, I realized that this is the first holiday in three years free of book-deadline pressure. I can make fudge and hang baubles on my tree with no Sword of Damocles hanging over me.

Several years ago–after struggling to work on a book during a Christmas visit to my grandparents’ home, unable to convince my disappointed grandmother why I had to shut myself away to write–I swore that I would never again agree to a December/January deadline.

But book contracts are what they are. Writers can’t always negotiate an optimum delivery date. The YA trilogy that I’ve just wrapped up with the concluding novel, MAGE FIRE, due to be published in June 2013, just so happened to have February deadlines. Which meant working across the Christmas break. And although I’ve had a little wriggle room for family time and celebrations, it’s also meant coping with that inner sense of guilt for every hour spent playing instead of writing.

Not this year! The sense of freedom is exhilarating. The sense of a work well done, an accomplishment achieved, is a good feeling to have.

Of course, the itch to get started on a new novel is already in place, but I don’t have to feel guilty about it yet. I have no worries about meeting a daily page quota or whether I have enough time to smooth a problematic scene one more time.

All of that will be back with me soon enough. Say, about January 3rd. Time enough, meanwhile, to have fun.

P.S. For any of you who might be interested … Amazon is currently running a special promotion on my C. Aubrey Hall books. CRYSTAL BONES and THE CALL OF EIRIAN are hugely discounted in the hardcover, and e-versions are free to Amazon Prime members. Also, the concluding volume–MAGE FIRE–is now available for pre-order.

I don’t know how long the promotion will last, but I thought I’d spread the word. Should there be any 12-year-olds on your shopping list ….

🙂

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New Book!

The wait seems to have been interminable, but yesterday saw the publication of my latest book, THE CALL OF EIRIAN.

Book design by Alex Ferrari. THE CALL OF EIRIAN (c) 2012 is published by Amazon Children’s Publishing.

This YA book is the second of THE FAELIN CHRONICLES trilogy, coming out under the pen name C. Aubrey Hall. I’ve always found the middle books of trilogies to be challenging to write. Similar, in fact, to the soggy center of any story where it is so easy for the tale to falter, sag, slow down, or just sink.

However, I don’t believe THE CALL OF EIRIAN suffers from those maladies. My young characters–twins Diello and Cynthe (having been orphaned in the first book, CRYSTAL BONES)–are well on their difficult journey to the kingdom of the Fae. They’re in a race against Nature; winter is coming fast. They’re hindered by not being able to use their magical powers; using magic leaves a trail for the goblins to follow. And although they’re certain that if they can just reach the Fae their problems will be over, they find that the land of Embarthi is less than welcoming to Faelin such as themselves.

Politics, adventure, and magic are entwined in this book, as in most of my fantasies. I think fantasy is always a setting for a power struggle. Whether you’re in a cute Brian Jacques yarn about an evil Portuguese rat trying to conquer the gentle mice of Mossflower or a Robert Jordan epic, the political struggle is going to be there.

I have to admit, though, that quests are not my favorite plot structure. Unless it’s a l-o-n-g chase, the conflict can unravel into just one mishap after another. I prefer tightly focused antagonism. Quests also offer a challenge in that a writer has to keep topping each segment of adventure as the story builds to a climax.

And of course, being that it’s a middle book, the climax has to resolve the immediate problems of the characters without tying up the whole story.

Whew!

Despite the hard work, coming up with the magical elements of Embarthi was a great deal of fun. I looked forward to that just as I hope readers will look forward to reaching Queen Sheirae’s palace. Originally, I wanted to pay homage to some of the visual effects of the Jean Cocteau film, Beauty and the Beast, but that didn’t come across as I’d hoped and it was cut. Trying to think up the architecture for a race that can fly led to much pondering in my office chair.

The trogs are back. The goblins are back. We find out a bit more about the Samal wolves. But I confess that my favorite part of the book involves the lions of Embarthi.

Did I plan those big felines ahead of time? Nope. They just roared their way into the book and stayed there. I’m glad they did.

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Villains Behind the Curtain

“Orders are nobody can see the Great Oz! Not nobody, not nohow!”

                                                                               –Frank Baum

One of the writing tenets I absolutely believe in is that every scene needs an antagonist. Follow this simple principle, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to write.

However, sometimes I meet resistance, puzzlement, and reluctance when I try to share this with others.

“But I don’t want my villain revealed just yet!” is usually one of the biggest laments.

Okay.

Last week, I read several Agatha Christie mysteries. Her plots are marvels; her twists are legendary. She’s deceptively simple on the surface level while offering complex human emotions and motivations beneath. If you’re writing a mystery you don’t want to reveal the villain at the start. The character will be present in the cast, but concealed within a deceptive guise.

Or the villain will come and go in the story, as in the case of the Harry Potter novels. Voldemort is mentioned in Chapter One, and the dread of him hangs like a cloud over the entire series. Yet he actually appears only occasionally, usually at the climax of each book. The rest of the time, Harry and his friends are coping with a succession of intermediary villains. Rowling keeps her young readers guessing by having troublesome teachers prove to be allies and friendly teachers prove to be cohorts of Voldemort’s.

I think that inexperienced writers often stumble here when concealing the real villain’s identity. They hide the character too well, and the individual simply isn’t in the story until the climax. Then a villain pops up out of the blue, and it all looks very contrived.

What a writer must remember to do is establish the villain’s role. Establish the existence of the villain. Acknowledge it either through character comments, the protagonist’s thoughts, or switching viewpoint to the villain for the reader’s information.

To return to mysteries: the identity of the murderer isn’t going to be revealed until the end, but as soon as a victim is discovered, readers and the sleuth alike know there’s a bad guy out there somewhere, a criminal who must be caught and punished.

In thrillers, the villain’s actions are pivotal to the plot. Readers often meet the villain before the protagonist. But the story’s emphasis doesn’t lie with discovering identity; it’s about stopping whatever the villain’s up to. So if you pick up a Ken Follett thriller, say a classic like THE MAN FROM ST. PETERSBURG, you know who the assassin is, you watch the man dodging police and mixing nitroglycerin bombs in his rented room, and you wonder if anyone in the story is going to save the Tsar’s cousin from assassination. To keep his good guys from looking stupid, Follett lets the British authorities know there’s an assassination attempt brewing, but they can’t track down the villain in time. The girl who befriends the villain has no clue who he really is or what he’s trying to do. She thinks he’s rather nice while he makes a patsy of her.

What if you’re writing a fantasy yarn and your characters are on a quest to take back the Scroll of Magick and restore it to where it rightfully belongs? Your band of sojourners aren’t going to meet the villain until near the end, but they have a concept of a villain’s involvement with the story events. They may or may not know the evil sorceress’s name or where her dark castle stands. They may have to search a long time before they confront her. But they are seeking her, and–like Harry Potter–they’ll encounter plenty of trouble along the way. Evil sorceress isn’t going to sit tamely in her castle and wait for them to show up. She’ll throw all sorts of traps and pitfalls in their path.

To satisfy the principle of always having conflict, a writer of the hidden-villain story needs two kinds of opponents: intermediary antagonists and a master villain that’s active behind the scenes.

The intermediary antagonists are often a successive string of foes. They hinder the protagonist as much as possible. Even so, it’s important to salt the plot with a few encounters between the protagonist and the master villain as well.

How?

Be clever. In fantasy and science fiction, you can have confrontations in dreams and via mental communication, teleportation, and spells, etc. In other genres, you can utilize phone calls and text messages. You can have the villain leave cryptic origami birds on the protagonist’s desk at work or inside her apartment as creepy little reminders that no place is safe and nothing is secure.

In my YA fantasy series, The Faelin Chronicles (under pen name C. Aubrey Hall), the protagonist is a boy who has visions. He’s still learning magic, so he misinterprets the information at times. In The Call of Eirian (April 2012), he “sees” a pair of eyes staring at him from the sky just before he and his friends are attacked. He mistakenly identifies the attacker and doesn’t learn the truth until much later in the story. The error keeps the boy’s characterization plausible, sets up for a plot twist, and continues to hide the identify of the real villain for a few more chapters.

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Bragging Rights

A copy of my newest book was waiting on my doorstep this week when I came home from work.  There it lay on the mat in a mangled envelope that looked like it had been across the world and back.

Inside, a jewel of a hardcover edition, featuring some smashing cover art.  Of course, I’m as prejudiced as a new parent showing off her new baby, but don’t you think it looks handsome?

Publication date: April 1, 2011 from Marshall Cavendish

My new pseudonym is C. Aubrey Hall.  This book, Crystal Bones, will be out April 1 and launches a young adult trilogy called The Faelin Chronicles.

I just completed the manuscript for the second book at the end of January, which is why some of my blogs have been sporadic lately.  Now I’m set to start writing the third book.

But today, I had to share Book One with you.

Crystal Bones is about twins — a boy called Diello and his sister Cynthe — who are half-Fae and half-human.  They fit in nowhere except at home.  On their thirteenth birthday, their world is shattered by a ruthless goblin king determined to destroy them and everything they care about.  It’s all because of something secret their parents did long before they’re born.  They have to draw on their smarts, cleverness, and the scant magical abilities they possess in order to elude the goblins … and survive.

The story world I’ve created around Diello and Cynthe is based very loosely on a medieval Welsh foundation, with plenty of my own imagination and magical wonders thrown in.  Crystal bones refers to Diello’s ability to enhance and strengthen the magic of others in use near him.  That is, however, by no means all that he and Cynthe can do.

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