Come on over to author Beth Trissel’s blog, One Writer’s Way for a discussion on fantasy world-building. Come see the wonderful photos that serve as inspiration!
– S.G. Rogers
There is a Japanese proverb that says: One kind word can warm three winter months. In the wake of the devastating tsunami that ravaged Northeastern Japan this past March, author Patricia Kiyono wanted to offer more than just a kind word. She partnered with publisher Astraea Press to write a novella, the proceeds of which would benefit the victims of this horrific disaster.
Back Cover Blurb:
When Andy Tanaka finds an old wooden chest in a storage shed on his family’s flower farm, he can’t wait to share his discovery with his best friend, Leigh Becker.
Inside the dusty lacquered chest are a pair of swords, some Japanese clothing, and a mysterious scroll, which could provide links to his samurai ancestor. They find someone to translate the scroll and then research the significance of the other items, intent on ensuring the legacy isn’t forgotten.
In the process, they learn not only about samurai history, but also some surprising truths about themselves.
Meet Patricia Kiyono:
“I love to travel. I guess it’s because I’ve been traveling most of my life. When I was about eleven months old my parents decided to move to a faraway land called America. We settled in Michigan, where Dad grew up. But we kept close ties with our relatives in Japan. Even though long distance calling was expensive, Dad insisted Mom call her family on a regular basis. And there were long letters, written on blue sheets called aerograms. We had English speaking cousins in Okinawa, and we’d exchange letters, pictures and cassette tapes with them.
I remember Mom struggling to understand things people said to her, and being frustrated when she couldn’t make other people understand what she tried to say. I remember older people who actually blamed us for the loss of relatives who died in World War II and refused to associate with us. But for the most part, people were interested in our differences, and were very supportive.
Money was tight in our home, so we didn’t go away on a lot of vacations, but one memorable summer Dad packed us all in the car (I have two younger brothers, so there were five of us) and we took off on a trip to see several places in the eastern part of the country. We went south to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, then up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and then farther north to Niagara Falls before going through Ontario, Canada on our way back home. I was around twelve years old then, old enough to take pictures and treasure the souvenirs we picked up.
I think the thing I treasured most about that trip was meeting and learning about people in new and different places. While traveling, we met other families visiting these sites from all corners of the country. We learned we all have the same goals for our lives, the same hopes, dreams and fears. And we got an idea of how much there is to see in this world.
In high school I got the opportunity to visit Europe with the American Youth Symphony. Again, I loved visiting places I had read about: the Swiss Alps, German castles, and the Tower of London. But more than that, I enjoyed meeting and talking to people from all over the world. People who looked and sounded different than us, but who shared our love of life and all it has to offer. People who want peace, and harmony in their lives.
So now I’m retired (sort of) and have more time and resources to travel. And in between my trips I write. There is a whole world of fascinating people out there, and their stories are waiting to be told. My job as an author is to make their stories come alive, giving you a taste of their world, and making you believe in them.” – Patricia Kiyono
Patricia has many projects in the works. In the upcoming novella, Aegean Intrigue, someone has been stealing priceless Greek artifacts, and it’s Alex Leonidis’ job to uncover the thief. She’s also working on a Christmas novella, as well as a full-length historical novel about Andy Tanaka’s samurai ancestor. To follow Patricia, go to her website, blog, or Facebook.
Blackbird Flies by Chynna T. Laird
Fifteen year-old Payton MacGregor is a musical prodigy. To him, though, his music is merely a way for him to escape from the chaos that surrounds him. All of his life, he’s had to care for his mother, who copes with her bipolar disorder with booze instead of turning to her own musical talents. He refuses to become a statistic. Then he’s thrown a curve ball.
His mother suddenly dies, leaving him to be cared for by his aging grandparents. As much as they love him, they decide to send him halfway across Canada to live with his father, Liam—the man Payton always believed abandoned him and his mother. Payton isn’t making the relocation easy on anyone until he finds out he’s going to attend the prestigious School of the Arts for musically gifted youth. Any second thoughts he has about his new life are erased when he meets Lily Joplin. Their connection is instantaneous.
Lily is a talented singer, but her struggles with drugs and bipolar disorder hit too close to home for Payton’s comfort. And when her issues become all-consuming, he wonders if his music will be enough to carry him through.
I loved the premise of this book—a young man with a shattered background heads off to reclaim a part of his heritage he thought was lost forever. His troubled mother dies and Payton is shipped to live with his father, a man he’s never known. To complicate things, his father already has a family, complete with a stepmother and siblings Payton’s never met.
This is a coming-of-age novella with an important message. Payton must embrace his past and his musical gifts before he can move forward. I loved how Payton holds on to his values throughout the story. He doesn’t really know how to interact with his new family, but despite his inner conflicts he treats his younger half-siblings well. His relationship with his father and stepmother opens like a flower, but not without bumps and bruises along the way. When he meets the beautiful Lily, Payton feels an overwhelming attraction, but he doesn’t take ownership of her problems. In many ways, Payton is a prodigy not just in music…he often seems wise beyond his years.
Blackbird Flies is a lovely story, brushing up against mental illness and drug abuse issues. Like the haunting chorus of a beautiful song, the parallels between Payton’s mother and Lily play off against one another. No spoilers here, but Payton is challenged time and time again as he struggles to find the right path. This novella, gritty in places, is well worth a read.
– S.G. Rogers
Today is release day for The Last Great Wizard of Yden! Available at Astraea Press, Amazon & BN.com. Here is an excerpt:
“Where did you get that Dragon Clan ring, boy?” Warlord Mandral demanded.
“None of your business.”
The congregants gasped, and Jon’s reply earned him a smack on the head from the nearest cygard. Mandral, however, acted as if he hadn’t heard him. He beckoned to the man with the scroll. “Minister Tyrg, what is the charge against this prisoner?”
“Theft,” Tyrg said. His voice sounded almost like the hiss of a snake. “Merchant Moala has filed a claim for the cuff.”
Stig pulled up Jon’s sleeve to reveal the transporter cuff.
“Moala is an accomplished liar. His claim is denied,” Mandral said.
Jon sighed with relief, but his deliverance was short-lived.
“Take the ring and the cuff,” the warlord said. “Then whip the boy for his insolence.”
Ophelia’s eyes remained dull, and Jon was beginning to panic.
Stig caressed his ax. “The ring and cuff cannot be removed.”
Mandral exchanged a sharp glance with Tyrg. “Is this the ancient magic of inseparability?”
Tyrg shook his head in confusion. “A wizard becomes one with his clan ring and transporter cuff, yes. But there are few wizards left, and none of them have apprentices.”
The warlord studied Jon’s features. He tugged Ophelia to confirm the ring would not leave Jon’s finger. “Who are you?”
“No one in particular. I’m not from around here,” Jon replied.
With practiced speed and agility, Mandral unsheathed a thin dagger strapped to his thigh and pointed it at the hollow of Jon’s throat. “That’s not what I asked.”
Jon felt the razor-sharp tip pierce his skin. He had no doubt the blade had meted out its share of death. He gulped. “Jon. Jon Hansen.”
A sudden commotion distracted Mandral from slitting Jon’s throat. A struggle had erupted between a newly arrived prisoner and the cygard holding him captive. Half a dozen cygards descended, but Mandral forbade them from intervention. The prisoner, covered from head to toe in a green hooded cape, was besting his captor. The cygard staggered up the chamber from a well-placed sidekick to his ribs. Then, the prisoner twisted in the air to slam a nimble hook kick to the cygard’s head. The cygard’s helmet flew off, revealing his ugly face. Audibly disgusted, the onlookers averted their eyes until the fallen cygard managed to get his now-dented helmet back on.
Mandral laughed in delight. He directed the hovering cygards to subdue the prisoner and tie his tether on the ring next to Jon’s. The dented cygard yanked off the prisoner’s cape and stepped back. The crowd murmured.
The newcomer was female, and a stunning one at that. Her full, waist-length hair was a wavy chestnut with red highlights. Her eyes were a violet color, and her skin was a golden tan. Despite his own predicament, Jon flushed. He couldn’t help but stare. From the expressions of the other men in the room, he knew he wasn’t the only one.
When a father disappears, the Dragon Clan ring he leaves behind is the clue that pulls his son into an alternate universe, where fairy tales become reality, art becomes magic and his father’s mysterious past will become the key to Jon Hansen’s future…
For those who read and enjoyed Jon Hansen and the Dragon Clan of Yden, you’ll be interested to learn that the book has been rewritten from first to third person. It also contains new scenes and new information!
Look for the release of The Last Great Wizard of Yden this fall, and in the meantime, go to Astraea Press to check out all the wonderful e-books they have to offer!
– S.G. Rogers