Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘YA fantasy

Introducing STAND AGAINST THE LIGHT, a Great YA Novel by George Phillies

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Folks, I’m happy to introduce you to George Phillies’ newest novel, STAND AGAINST THE LIGHT. It’s a book about young superheroes, in a world where they know about such things; more specifically, it’s a book about twelve-year-old Eclipse, one of the baddest twelve-year-old girls you’re ever likely to meet (in the best of senses.) It’s an excellent book, the third in the “Eclipse: The Girl Who Saved the World” series, and I enjoyed editing it immensely.

(Note that I didn’t edit books one and two, but they are also excellent. You can get book one, ECLIPSE: THE GIRL WHO SAVED THE WORLD here for only ninety-nine cents, and book two, AIRY CASTLES ALL ABLAZE, here.)

Take a look at this gorgeous cover art by Brad Fraunfelter:

But you are probably wondering by this point, “Who is Eclipse, anyway?” Well, as I can’t do any better than George’s own blurb, take a gander at that:

Eclipse:
World’s greatest tween superhero.
World’s most terrifying tween supervillain.
Opinions differ.

She’s twelve. She’s hardworking, bright, self-reliant, good with tools,
vigorously physically fit, tough as nails, still young enough to
disguise herself as a boy. Since arriving she’s only blown up one
mountain range.  And she knows that when she faces the final doom, win
or lose, she will die trying.

I just loved working on this book, loved Eclipse, thought she was such a great character, and enjoyed everything about the milieu with the superheroes (called “personae” in their own universe). The best part of the book, though, were the friendships between Eclipse and the other young superheroes, most particularly with a girl named Trisha (persona name: Comet). And because I enjoyed the book so very, very much, I asked George for an excerpt, so you’d have some idea of just what you’re getting into — only in the best of senses! — and he obligingly sent the following:

Cloud stared at the wall clock.  Eclipse was supposed to appear in their
base in a few minutes.  Where was she?

“We’ll be ready in a moment, Cloud,” Comet said. “Just so soon as all
five of us are here.” Her wait was interrupted by the hitherto-unseen
Eclipse, who materialized in the room’s center. Her garb was freshly
washed and ironed.  Silver curls were precisely combed.  Her face was
the image of tranquility.

Star almost made a comment about girls needing to do their hair before a
fight, then bit his tongue.  When Eclipse walked, she left a trail of
power that rippled the space behind her. She moved her hands.  The air
through which her fingers passed curdled, warped by eddies and whorls
from half-called gifts. Looking near her was like staring at hot
pavement on a sunbright day. The slightest hint of screens flickered
above her garb, violet spiderwebs tracing the pattern of her motif.

“Sorry if I needed a little longer.” Eclipse’s voice was remote, as
though she no longer lived only in the here and now. “Calling the deeper
levels is more safely done through slowness and tranquility. Is all else
prepared?  Aurora?  Comet?”

The younger girl posed, arms outstretched, fading behind the pyramid and
eye that marked her powers’ manifestation. *Eclipse?  They’re a mile
down, spread along that mountain range, except that city. Their
tunnels…that mountain range is hollowed out, with barely enough rock
left to keep it from collapsing.  There! That’s all of them in Tibet,
`cept relay stations.  [Images of rock tunnels, a tracery penetrating to
the roots of the Himalayas.]  Rock’s laced with screens!*

Eclipse’s screens appeared, bright as a magnesium flare as they enfolded
her and Comet, burning the violet usually reserved for morning glories.

“We’re invisible…Now!” Comet shouted.  The two girls vanished.

“You’re invisible,” Star confirmed.

Eclipse’s teleport transported the two of them.  They hovered in the
upper air over the Tibetan High Plateau.

“How can you do this?” Comet asked. “Those mountains are huge.”

Eclipse smiled grimly. *I cheat.* This is Pickering’s world, she told
herself, not even understanding what they’re facing.  Saving them all
depends on me.  She shuddered at the name of the levels she would need.
*Lucky for us, I find breaking things real easy.* She reached into the
core of her being, deeper than the Fall of Crystal, deeper than the
Tomb, deeper than the Hall of the Lidless Eye. Deeper.  Deeper.  Beyond
the Straight Circle.  Beyond the warm touch of the Solid Rainbow.  All
the way to the bottom of the Well of Infinity.

A column of pure energy stabbed downwards from her right hand, piercing
thousands of feet of stone and tens of intertwined defense screens like
a surgeon’s needle lancing a troublesome boil.  Hidden chambers carved
from living rock were brilliantly lit, their contents transformed in
microseconds into incandescent gas.

Tibetan Empire defenses engaged. Colossal explosions shredded the air
around Eclipse and Comet.  Shock waves rolled out in all directions. 
Superheated fireballs, blindingly bright, rose through the stratosphere,
punching a hole in the sky above as they rose far into the ionosphere. 
Comet, frightened, leaned into Eclipse’s shoulder.

*Trisha,* Eclipse thought, *Don’t be afraid of these clowns. We’re
good.  Give me a little more space, please?*

Comet drifted back.

Eclipse summoned the full depth of her gifts.  For tens of seconds her
plasma torch probed through granite, a torrent of power momentarily
absorbed by the enormous mass of the mountains.

The Himalayan massif exploded.  A column of superheated gas burst
skywards, carrying with it an entire line of mountains transformed to
incandescent ash.  Steep cliff sides, crushed to white-hot sand, blew
out in all directions.  Shock waves tore through the bedrock, the ground
of the surrounding valleys rolling in great waves as majestic as the
swells of the distant Indian Ocean.

Eclipse focused her thoughts on holding her own screens against the
geological catastrophe she had created.  Her own attack lanced down,
deeper and deeper, striking to the ultimate core of the fortress beneath
her.

Comet managed a last glimpse of the doomed City of the Sun, a city whose
rigidly mathematical lines blurred under the impact of impact of earth
shocks, then disappeared behind falling rocks and clouds of glowing
ash.  She squeezed her eyes shut, knowing that her last images of the
City, architecture crumbling like a matchwood ship hurled against the
coast by gale-driven waves, would be with her until her life’s end.

From Chapter Forty-Four, Waging Peace Through Unlimited Firepower, STAND AGAINST THE LIGHT by George Phillies

At any rate, I hope you’ve enjoyed the excerpt, the cover art, and my blog…now, go to Amazon and get the e-books! (Again, book one, ECLIPSE: The Girl Who Saved the World, is only ninety-nine cents today.)

Two More Guest Blogs Up Promoting My Writing and “An Elfy on the Loose”

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Folks, I’m pleased to report that two more new guest blogs are up and available for reading.**

First, Aaron Lazar over at Murder By Four accepted a guest blog from me called “Changing Voices and Heroes,” which is about the differences between writing military science fiction and comic fantasy on the one hand, and the differences between two very good heroes — space Navy Lieutenant Joey Maverick, who was my late husband Michael B. Caffrey’s character, and my hero Bruno the magically talented Elfy.

Here’s a bit from that:

Now, how did I tailor my own writing to fit these two wildly disparate genres?

When I’m writing milSF, I try to get right to the point. And I write a more action-oriented story, too – because the action often makes or breaks the story.

But when I’m writing comic fantasy, I allow my stories to spin out any way that works. There’s more time to fine-tune characterization; there’s more time to do some nifty things with word choices and puns . . . even limericks, if the story calls for it. And fully setting up my characters also allows me to better get at the humor of whatever is going on.

Clear as mud, no?

Anyway, today’s second guest blog is up over at Stephanie Osborn’s blog site Comet Tales. This discusses exactly how I came to write my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . and exactly what my late husband Michael did to help me along the way.

Here’s a bit from that guest blog:

When a character appears, fully formed, it’s best to listen to what he has to say. But all I knew, when I started writing, were three things: Bruno liked to wear black – when his race, the Elfys, mostly loved bright colors. He was the equivalent of a teenager. And he did not like to rhyme, even if all the other Elfys did.

Even so, that was enough for me to start writing what I then called “The Elfy Story.” I wrote the first six parts or so – less than chapters, about a thousand words per part – alone. Michael took a hand when I got to the seventh part because I had some sort of problem I couldn’t immediately solve, and he got intrigued. Then he figured this story had legs, and he wanted to help me figure out where it went.

. . .

With this huge, complex plot, I could’ve easily gotten lost. Fortunately for me, Michael was there every step of the way. He told me when I’d get frustrated, “Don’t worry. The story will come.” Or he’d tell me jokes in a similar way Bruno tries to do with Sarah from time to time in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (where do you think I got that from, hm?). Or he’d help me draw diagrams when I tried to figure out why the Elfy High Council did anything at all…plus, he edited what I wrote, gave me excellent advice, and heavily edited nearly all of Dennis the Dark Elf’s dialogue to make it even nastier and more hissable.

What more could anyone ever ask from her spouse than that?

Granted, if you’ve read my blog from its inception — or even in the past year or two — you’ve probably gathered that my husband Michael was the biggest influence on my writing. I’d simply not be the same writer without his help and guidance; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

And really, with AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE finally available for purchase, I want people to know how much he did.

I’m very pleased that Stephanie Osborn was willing to share my story of how the Elfyverse came to be on her blog.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy these guest blogs. Please let me know what you think in the comments . . . and do, please, let people know about AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE as well as the Joey Maverick stories.

Because I need all the help I can get right now in order to let people know these stories exist — much less are fun stories that people should actually enjoy if they just give ’em a chance to work their magic.

———-

**

Mind, you might be wondering why I have three, count ’em, three guest blogs up in two days. This is because my fellow writer-friends are trying to help me raise my visibility, so perhaps I might be able to sell a few more books.

Besides, writing three different blogs — one about the virtues of quiet heroism, the next about the differences between the quiet Joey Maverick and the exuberant Bruno the Elfy, and the third about how I came to write AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at all — was an intellectual challenge.

So how could I refuse?

Just Reviewed Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s “Night Calls” at SBR

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Folks, today’s review of Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s NIGHT CALLS is up over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short) and it’s something special.

You might be wondering why that is.  Well, today is the ninth anniversary of my beloved husband Michael’s death.  It’s not easy for me to do much of anything on days like this, so if I feel strong enough and competent enough and capable enough to review a book, right there — in and of itself — you should realize I feel very strongly about it.

But more to the point, NIGHT CALLS is a heartwarming book that should delight all lovers of fantasy.  It features a strong, capable young woman in Alfreda Sorensson who’s no one’s plaything; unlike the meek and mild female characters in Stephanie Meyer’s conception, Alfreda does for herself, thank you.  And in taking on responsibility slowly, we can see how Alfreda grows and changes and learns . . . all good, all life-affirming, all an excellent message if you need one, but done in such a way that it’s subordinate to the story itself.

To write a novel that’s more than the sum of its parts is very difficult.  Now, I’ve reviewed four of Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s novels, and all four have been able to do this to one degree or another, in two different genres, no less — an outstanding record that I’ve rarely seen out of anyone not named Rosemary Edghill.  And best of all, to my mind, is this — NIGHT CALLS is a comfort book in that there’s so much good in it, so much meaning in it, that it’s something that I can see myself turning back to read and re-read many times over the years — just as I’ve done with Rosemary’s TWO OF A KIND and MET BY MOONLIGHT and all her shared work with Mercedes Lackey, not to mention Rosemary’s excellent “Hellflower” series (written as eluki bes shahar) and her three novels in the “Twelve Treasures” series.

That’s the highest praise I can possibly give.

Now, why would I want to write all this on one of the most difficult days of the year?  Well, it’s simple.  Michael and I both loved to read young adult novels.  We found them to be interesting, in the main, because seeing a coming of age story done well is, in and of itself, life-affirming.  If you can do it with some humor and heart — as Patricia C. Wrede did in CALLING ON DRAGONS, say, or as Diana Wynne Jones did in her “Chrestomanci series” — so much the better.

And trust me, Ms. Kimbriel did exactly that in NIGHT CALLS.

It was reading books like Ms. Kimbriel’s that inspired me to start writing ELFY in the first place.  Which is why I’m very glad to be able to read and review her work, even though until this last year I hadn’t a clue it was available.  The good part about that is that I’ve read four of her excellent books this year, and all four of them — the three in her “Chronicles of Nuala” series and NIGHT CALLS — are likely to be on my “best books of 2013” list.

This makes me wonder how many other excellent writers are out there that I don’t yet know about.  (“More writers left to explore?” I say.  “Whee!”)

And it also gives me some hope that my own writing career is not yet dead, even though my health this year has been terrible and I’ve been slow off the mark to get things done despite all the good will in the world due to that.

Anyway, that’s why I reviewed Ms. Kimbriel’s excellent NIGHT CALLS today.  For hope.  For inspiration.  For the belief that despite bad things happening, good people can still win out.

And I think that if you give Ms. Kimbriel’s work a try, you, too, will be favorably impressed.